If you haven't yet seen it, PLEASE READ OUR SEPARATE GUIDE (NATURAL SKINCARE Part 1) for an introductory overview of the difference between natural skincare and commercial products, as well as the different types of skincare products, how to use them, and why they're beneficial to your skin.
This GUIDE (Part 2) outlines many of the natural ingredients readily available for your own DIY projects (with some references to the ingredients and base products that we stock ourselves). A list of beneficial Essential / Carrier Oils to each skin type appears towards the bottom of the article, along with some simple recipes on how to create your own personalised natural skincare regime.
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Continuing from PART 1 -
INGREDIENTS AVAILABLE IN NATURAL SKINCARE INCLUDE:
Australian Organic or French Argiletz Clay can be used as a facial mask with great results, particularly for oily or problem skin. The clay acts to draw toxins out of the skin, and is available in a range of colours to suit each skin type. Our own Aroma Queen clay range comes in powdered form, to which you just add a little water or hydrosol (floral water) and apply to a clean damp face - it's incredibly simple to create your own home spa experience. Facial masks are best used no more than once a week, or less for dry skin; you can also make body masks using the same clay. With troubled skin you may experience a slight skin outbreak initially, but this is just the toxins that are being drawn from deep within the skin coming to the surface. After a week or two the skin should visibly start to clear and from this point should show outward signs of improvement, with a noticeable glow to your complexion.
Use these colours to match your skin type:
* BLUE CLAY for acne or troubled skin
* GREEN CLAY, or KAOLIN CLAY for oily skin
* YELLOW CLAY is a midrange clay for normal skin
* PINK CLAY for dry or mature skin
* WHITE CLAY, the gentlest of the clays, for sensitive or dry skin
Add RED CLAY or BLACK CLAY to the above colours in small amounts as additives to give your mask an extra boost.
WATER BASED INGREDIENTS - such as HYDROSOLS AND ALOE VERA
Rosewater is a HYDROSOL, or floral water - a by-product of the steam distillation process when making Rose essential oil. It is a humectant, which means it draws moisture to itself and so when applied to the skin it assists in keeping your skin hydrated. Rose water and other hydrosols can be applied to the skin undiluted, and so you can use them as a toner, cleanser, clay mask additive, or water-based ingredient for other DIY products. They also make an excellent spritzer in hot weather, keeping your skin cool and moist. When choosing a hydrosol, bear in mind that a proper hydrosol is collected from the steam in the distillation process; a cheaper 'floral water' is often just a few drops of essential oil added to distilled water, and has different qualities from a true hydrosol. Also some commercial Rosewaters contain alcohol which will dry out your skin - a pure hydrosol contains no additives at all, just the hydrosol that was created during steam distillation.
Another natural non-greasy moisturising water-based ingredient is ALOE VERA gel, great for applying all over the body, especially when it's dry or sunburnt. Pure aloe vera gel can be squeezed from the leaves of the plant and applied directly to the skin, or you can buy it in commercial form which is usually a combination of aloe vera powder, juice and other natural ingredients to keep it in a stable gel form - carry a jar with you in Summer to apply the moment you get a bit too much sun or wind (it even has a cooling effect). You can even add a little essential oil such as PEPPERMINT or SPEARMINT for an extra cooling effect (use around 1% essential oil as Peppermint Oil can be quite strong).
CARRIER OILS (VEGETABLE OILS)
Carrier oils (which is just another name for relatively odourless cold-pressed vegetable oils that are often used to 'carry' essential oils for application to the skin) are one of the most important elements of natural skincare as many of these natural oils are very beneficial for different skin types. For eg, Jojoba oil very closely resembles the natural sebum in your skin, and so is absorbed very easily. While you’d assume that adding oil to oily skin would only make it more oily, oils such as Jojoba or Apricot Kernel oil can act to BALANCE the sebum production in your skin, rather than making it more greasy. Carrier oils can be used to ‘carry’ small amounts of beneficial ESSENTIAL OILS into the deeper layers of your skin, used for skin application or massage, or use them on their own as a form of moisturisers/skin treatment in their own right (see below for instructions on how to make your own simple moisturising serum). Some carrier oils such as Rosehip or Evening Primrose are also believed to be beneficial when treating scarring, excema, or other skin conditions.
When purchasing carrier / vegetable oils make sure that you purchase COLD PRESSED oils - HOT-PRESSED commercial or cooking oils lose their benefits to the skin due to the excessive heat used to produce them. While you can happily use a cooking oil such as olive oil as a massage base, do bear in mind that it won't have any real skincare benefits, as COLD PRESSED versions do. Carrier oils for skincare or aromatherapy should be pure oils, cold pressed, with no additives at all. Many are also available in certified organic form.
Here’s a rough list of which oils are good for each skin type, though any decent book on Aromatherapy will cover common carrier oils:
* DRY SKIN – Apricot Kernel or Jojoba Oil. You can also add small amounts of Avocado, Rosehip or Wheatgerm (a good preservative). Rosehip can be a little sticky, though many people swear by it and are happy to apply it straight to the skin, undiluted.
* NORMAL SKIN – Apricot Kernel, Jojoba or Sweet Almond. A small amount of additional Wheatgerm or Rosehip is also useful.
* OILY SKIN – Jojoba or Sweet Almond oil. Jojoba is also ideal for combination skin.
* SENSITIVE SKIN – Sweet Almond oil. Apricot Kernel and Avocado oils are also useful.
* MATURE SKIN< - Avocado or Jojoba oil. Rosehip and Wheatgerm are also useful in small additional amounts.
In addition you can add ESSENTIAL OILS to carrier oil, creating an oil- based serum designed for your specific skin type (see below for instructions).
Essential oils are plant-based oils with an extremely strong scent, many of which are beneficial to the skin (among other therapeutic properties). For any therapeutic benefits, ensure you are using NATURAL / PURE ESSENTIAL OIL, and not a synthetic perfume / fragrant oil copy, as these fragrant oils are just chemicals designed to smell like the natural original – they don’t have any benefits for skin, mind or health. Many precious essential oils such as Jasmine, Sandalwood or Rose are extremely difficult to produce, and so do cost more to purchase. However they’re very strong oils that only require a few drops at a time, so an initial investment will probably last you for several years. If you find these kind of oils cheaply, they’re generally synthetic fakes or already diluted in a carrier oil. Take a look at our AROMATHERAPY GUIDE for more information about essential oils and how to use them - we also stock a number of textbooks on the subject for both the beginner and advanced aromatherapist, and most books do cover a section on skincare & recipes, as many Essential Oils are known for their wonderful skincare benefits.
As essential oils are very strong, they must always be diluted first in a CARRIER OIL (see above) before application to the skin, at a ratio of no more than 1% for the face, or up to 3% for the body. Think in terms of 20 drops = approx 1ml, so for example in 100ml of carrier oil you could add up to 1ml (20 drops) total essential oils, for application to the face. Essential oils can also be added to water-based liquids such as hydrosols by using an inexpensive natural ingredient called SOLUBILISER, which enables the water and oils to blend rather than the oil sitting as a slick on top. This way you can create a hydrosol or water based spritzer or toner, and add beneficial essential oils at the same time (see below for instructions). When creating products containing essential oils, always use a glass or aluminium container for pure oils (rather than plastic - though plastic is fine if you're diluting the oils in a carrier oil or water), and use either opaque or coloured (amber or cobalt) glass, as essential oils are susceptible to exposure to sunlight. Aluminium bottles are great for putting your water or oil based blends in (serums and spritzers), as they also help keep your product cool.
Bear in mind that some oils (mainly citrus) cause ‘PHOTOSENSITIVITY’, meaning that if you apply them to the skin before exposure to UV light, they’ll encourage your skin to burn. Only use these oils if there’s no likelihood of exposure to the sun in the following 24 hours. Oils that cause photosensitivity include: Angelica, Bergamot (unless 'Bergaptene Free'), Cumin, Lemon, Lime (unless 'Distilled' rather than 'Cold Pressed'), Orange & Verbena. Citrus oils ok to use on the skin include Mandarin and Grapefruit.
Essential oils beneficial for each skin type include:
* DRY SKIN – Carrot seed, chamomile, clary sage, frankincense, geranium, jasmine, lavender, neroli, rose, rosewood, sandalwood, ylang ylang
* NORMAL SKIN – Bergamot, carrot seed, chamomile, clary sage, geranium, jasmine, lavender, lemon, patchouli, rose, rosewood, sandalwood, ylang ylang
* OILY SKIN – Bergamot, cedarwood, chamomile, cypress, frankincense, geramium, juniper, lavender, lemon, mandarin, melissa, palmarosa, patchouli, petitgrain, rose, vetiver, ylang ylang
* SENSITIVE SKIN – chamomile, jasmine, lavender, neroli, rose, rosewood, sandalwood
* MATURE SKIN – carrot seed, clary sage, cypress, frankincense, geranium, jasmine, myrrh, neroli, palmarosa, patchouli, petitgrain, rose, rosewood, sandalwood, ylang ylang
Dry brushing stimulates blood and lymph circulation within the body, as well as removing accumulated dead skin cells from the skin's surface. Rigorous regular dry brushing over fatty areas of the body such as the thighs may also help remove (or at least improve) cellulite deposits. Use a natural bristle brush with gentle but firm bristles that won't damage the skin - try a long handled brush to reach the back or other difficult to reach areas; or a hand held or shorter handled brush for easier areas.
Dry brushing is best performed prior to your morning shower to remove skin cells that have been shed during the night. Brush feet, legs, arms, torso (avoiding sensitive areas such as the nipples or moles) and back daily before showering to help improve the appearance and condition of your skin.
MAKE YOUR OWN PERSONALISED NATURAL MOISTURISING REGIMEN USING HYDROSOLS AND OILS
If you consider the fact that moisturising creams and lotions are basically a mix of waters and oils (with a binding agent to hold them together), you can actually create the same effect by spritzing hydrosol (water based) onto the skin, and then locking it in with a carrier oil serum that suits your skin type, applied over the top (see below). The end result is similar to using a cream, where the two types of ingredients are pre-blended instead of separate. You can also add essential oils or other ingredients to pre-made creams to enhance the products, but avoid mineral-oil based creams as they tend to form a barrier on the skin that will stop the essential oils from penetrating.
HOW TO MAKE A WATER BASED SPRITZER / TONER:
Start by choosing a hydrosol to suit your skin (see HYDROSOLS above) - you can use it directly as-is, or you can add essential oils to suit your skin type (see ESSENTIAL OILS above). You can also just use plain distilled water (or tap water if you haven't got anything else). You'll need a bottle with an atomiser (spray) attachment - just cut the tubing to fit the bottle. Make sure it's clean and dry, as water based products are prone to bacterial contamination. If using hydrosol on its own, just pop it in the atomiser bottle and you're ready to go. If you'd like to add essential oils to any water-based product such as Rose Water, you can either add 1% oils directly to the water and remember to shake every time before use, or add a few drops of SOLUBILISER to the oils before you add the water - it's an inexpensive castor oil based ingredient that helps the oils and water blend together. Just add your oils and solubiliser to the bottle and give a bit of a shake, then top up with your water or hydrosol. For a cooling effect in Summer try keeping your spritzer in the fridge in an aluminium bottle!
When calculating how much essential oil to use in a blend for any natural product (water or oil), use no more than 1% total essential oils for use on your face, or 3% for your body. So for 100ml of water, use 1ml essential oils for use on the face: 1ml = approx 20 drops.
These spritzers can be used any time of the day for cooling or refreshing, or use before an oil based serum (below) to lock in the moisture for moisturising results.
HOW TO MAKE AN OIL BASED MOISTURISING SERUM:
Carrier (vegetable oils) are safe to use on your skin as is, so for the simplest solution just choose an oil to suit your skin type or condition (see CARRIER OILS above) and apply it to your damp face to lock in the moisture as well as reap the benefits of the carrier oil on your skin. You can use it straight out of the bottle, or use a SERUM PUMP fitting which will dispense a perfect amount of oil each time, while also keeping your hands out of the mixture (and so avoiding contamination). Alternately you can use a blend of carrier oils - add some of the thicker oils such as Rosehip or Evening Primrose to lighter oils such as Jojoba or Apricot Kernel, which will give them better slip and make application easier than if using some of the stickier oils alone.
You can also add ESSENTIAL OILS to suit your skin type and condition (see above), to personalise your serum and get the added benefits of the oils. Many essential oils are great for the skin and they mix in to carrier oil as simply as adding the drops to the bottle. While some of the more expensive oils have great skin benefits, many of the more inexpensive and common oils can also do wonders. When calculating how much essential oil to use in a blend for any natural product (water or oil), use no more than 1% total essential oils for use on your face, or 3% for your body. So for 100ml of carrier oil, use 1ml essential oils for use on the face: 1ml = approx 20 drops. Add the essential oil (or oil blend) to your bottle of carrier oil, and gently upend it a few times to blend them together.
Apply your serum to damp skin after cleansing and toning, to lock in the moisture and give the added benefits of the carrier and essential oils. Only use a small amount at a time (a little goes a long way), and wipe off any excess after gently rubbing in to your skin.
A FINAL THOUGHT ON THE JOYS OF AROMATHERAPY & SKINCARE
While all the ingredients mentioned above are known to be beneficial to the skin, never forget the value of choosing oils whose scents you love! Essential oils can be great for the skin, but they can also relax you, make you feel good, or even energise you. Personalising your skincare to your own tastes not only means you're treating your skin: you're also treating yourself.
For more recipes on skincare and oil blends to suit your skin type, please visit our FACEBOOK NOTES page on our Facebook fan page, where we regularly publish information, recipes and other useful reference material.
IF YOU HAVE FOUND THIS GUIDE HELPFUL: We'd be grateful if you could click on the 'thumbs up' button at the top of the page. Thank you!
WHO IS AROMA QUEEN?
Aroma Queen is an established registered Australian online business based on the mid NSW North Coast, in the Bellingen area.
If you're interested in purchasing Aromatherapy products, please visit our AROMA QUEEN STORE for our full range of Essential Oils, Oil Blends, Carrier Oils, Accessories (burners, inhalers, cases) and natural products including incense, smudging and natural skincare.
Copyright Aroma Queen Australia 2015.