Recently there has been a lot of negative press around the use of essential oils in beauty products particularly around their use on the skin.
Some beauty brands have called out essential oils as not being desirable in effective skincare and have even gone so far as to label them as harmful.
Not only has this information been inaccurate, it’s also created a genuine fear for ingredients that as long as they’re used in the correct dilutions, for the right purpose, are pure and unchanged they can be very beneficial for your skin’s health.
For years essential oils have been fundamental in therapeutic therapies because they are derived from the very life force of plants. For centuries, civilisations have used aromatic plants for therapeutic uses, Ancient Egypt, Greece and India to name a few. And even now we use these oils for massage because of their relaxing and uplifting properties, we also consume herbs such as rosemary.
Yes, some essential oils shouldn’t be used during pregnancy or if your skin has sensitivity issues, but there are hundreds of ingredients in all types of skincare products which are in this category - this doesn’t mean that they should be vilified.
How many of us have tried a face serum, mask or moisturiser which doesn’t contain essential oils, yet has irritated our skin, dried it out or flared up our eczema?
Every day our skin comes into contact with a variety of products, many of which we are unaware of their contents, where they were made and if they are even registered as a beauty product.
The issue with measuring the efficacy of essential oils is that they aren’t regulated as a medicine would be. The plant source of each oil can differ from each country, even each individual plant can produce varying degrees of concentration depending on what time of day it is. Basically essential oils haven’t been studied enough scientifically, in the same controls as a chemical compound to fully understand their benefits and capabilities.
For years, plant extracts and concentrates have been used in different types of medicine to aid healing and emotional wellbeing, and there is a reason for this. Just because they don’t give us an instant face lift doesn’t mean they are not effective. Just in the same way that meditation or having a morning coffee can’t be scientifically measured for the effectiveness they have on our wellbeing.
The beauty industry has used ingredients for years which every now and then come under scrutiny and criticism from the press, public and even other rival skincare brands. We all become more aware of these ingredients even though we’d been using them for years without any adverse effects yet we feel compelled to abandon them. Another way to view this is as scaremongering for profiteering. Brands can be quick to throw others under the bus for their own gains which creates a lot of conflicting information for consumers.
There are benefits for using both synthetic and plant based ingredients in skincare and they can co-exist in the beauty market. I get the impression that each side has defensive views of the other; that all synthetic skincare products are full of parabens and bad for your skin and that plant based products contain essential oils which too can be bad for your skin. When in fact many consumers do use a mixture of both every day because they see how effective they are.
So let’s stop mud slinging and learn to co-exist in an ever changing beauty industry – there’s room for everyone.