Essential Oil Safety – Is it OK to use lavender essential oil undiluted on your skin?

When I trained 10 years ago, I was taught that it was generally accepted to be safe to use lavender and tea tree essential oils undiluted on the skin. A drop applied neat to a specific area such as a spot, cut, burn, insect bite or a graze was considered appropriate as an anti-septic, to ease pain & inflammation and help the area to heal more effectively and efficiently. It’s something that I’ve practised myself and also advised clients to do so, but after investigating essential oil safety more deeply recently, my view on this has now changed.

The safe use of essential oils is a hot topic in the world of professional aromatherapy right now because there is a huge amount of unsafe use promoted on the internet, mainly by MLM (multi-level marketing) companies, especially with regards to using oils internally and undiluted on the skin, with severe outcomes.

You should never use essential oils internally without professional support from someone experienced in using oils in this way – it is worth noting that it would be quite rare that it would be recommended, and should definitely not be used for boosting general health.

You should never use essential oils undiluted internally; drinking a few drops of essential oil in a glass of water would expose the delicate lining of your digestive system to a neat oil, (since essential oils do not mix with water) it could burn and cause serious damage.

Mayfield Lavender Farm

If you consider how much plant material is needed to make such a tiny bottle of oil, you get an idea of how concentrated it is; 250 pounds of lavender for just 1 pound of lavender oil, 1200 rose flowers for just 20 drops of rose oil.

I had never had a ‘reaction’ to an essential oil (apart from a few I’ve disliked the scent of), but a few months ago during a course making an alcohol perfume, my skin responded in this way (see image below) after dropping an essential oil mixed with alcohol on it, it passed after about 20 minutes and may have been due to the alcohol. I have handled essential oils pretty much every day for 10 years without problems but this goes to show that you can never be sure and should always be careful.

Reaction to a blend of essential oil & alcohol.

If you do happen to get an essential oil on your skin and have a ‘reaction (which could include burning, itching, a rash or hives) then you can apply olive oil or another base product to the area as this will help to dilute it. Even if you have used lavender neat on your skin without any initial reactions or irritation it could still cause ‘sensitisation’. which can occur after over use of a product.

What does sensitisation mean?

  • it’s an immune response to using an oil regularly over a period of time,
  • symptoms could include a rash, hives, blisters, sores, burning, cracked skin & shortness of breath,
  • it could mean that you can never use that oil again.

If, like me, you use lavender for a myriad of reasons, it would be a real shame to one day find you can’t use it all, so it’s wise to take precautions.

Using essential oils is not a case of the more you use the better the effect, so you do not miss out by diluting the oil, in fact it is usually more beneficial to be used in a carrier product.

Advantages of diluting essential oils:

  • base oils are nourishing to the skin,
  • you use a lot less oil which reduces the demand which means less impact on the environment,
  • you use less and therefore spend less.

I now have a bottle of ready to use lavender essential oil blended in olive oil in the house for all those moments when I need it. If you want to make a ready to use blend you can either add 5 drops to 10ml of base oil (or 2 drops in 10ml for children & sensitive skin), or if you have a different sized container, click here to refer to the blending chart to check how many drops to use.

Click for How to Use Essential Oils in the Bath

Do not dilute essential oil when using in a diffuser or burner, in an inhaler stick, if you sprinkle lavender on your pillow at night, or use it in your ironing water. None of these are going directly on your skin and using a base oil would stain sheets or damage diffusers.

Since lavender is one of the safest essential oils to use, all other essential oils should also be diluted before use on the skin, including in the bath.

The Importance of You in a Relationship with Essential Oils

When we think of relationships most of us will automatically refer to the one we have with an intimate partner, but actually we are having a relationship with everything all of the time, even with inanimate objects such as a chair, or with our computer. We have a relationship with our environment, with sleep, with work and with food… so of course we can have a relationship with essential oils too. And, in all cases, we are either having a healthy, harmonious relationship or not.

Essential Oils and You is about bringing awareness to the relationship we have with ourselves and how that can be reflected in how we use the oils.

Essential Oils + You = Relationship.

The question is though, what kind of relationship is that?

The quality of your ingredients will play a part in the quality of the outcome, so using quality essential oils is important but what is the quality that ‘you’ bring to the relationship?

Whatever it is that you are having a relationship with, ‘You’ are the common ingredient, and the relationship you have with yourself will have a great impact on the outcome. And so, ‘the way’ you relate to you and the quality of care that you bring to you is really important.

When it comes to using an essential oil, I have had many clients who ask for an oil to ‘fix’ back pain, or an oil to ‘solve’ sleep problems. It is possible to use them in this way, i.e. to match the symptom with an essential oil with properties to address that symptom.
For example, lavender essential oil has pain relieving and calming properties, so it can support back pain and sleep problems. But, what about the affect of ‘you’ in that equation?
What if it is the quality of our intention behind using the oils that matters most? Do we just want relief from a situation so we can continue living in a way that has contributed to those ailments? Or do we want the true healing on offer?

What if your purpose in using the oils was more like this:

I have back pain, there are lots of things going on in my life that I think may be causing it, and some that seem to make it worse, how can I support myself best to change or address these things that are resulting in back pain?

When we ask ourselves these questions, then there is the potential for true healing to be the result, rather than bypassing the issue that caused the symptom and just addressing the outcome. The more honest you can be with yourself, the more you get to discover about yourself and the quality of your relationship with yourself deepens. You then bring a different intention to the way you can use essential oils (support rather than relief) and a different quality to all your relationships.

So the equation has the potential to look something like this:

Essential Oils + You = an unfolding relationship with more honesty, more care, more awareness, more understanding, more nurturing, more love… in relation to everything in life, and hopefully along the way the symptoms will improve or pass as you deal with the root causes.

So, the most important relationship is the one you have with your self, because you are the key ingredient in your relationships with everything else in your life, whether it be the way you use essential oils, the way you express with your colleagues at work, or the way you put yourself to sleep each night… You are the most important ingredient in every relationship.

When you can’t see the Roses for the Weeds – Appreciation is the Key!

Each year I have the absolute pleasure of working at Hever Castle, in Kent, during their summer event: ‘Hever In Bloom’ -it’s a week in their calendar when the gardens are in full bloom and I give daily talks and run workshops for visitors about essential oils.

I can not help but appreciate my surroundings here and every day I enjoy a walk around the walled rose garden that smells so heavenly in the warm sunshine. And here I am reminded of an anecdote on the importance of appreciation that Natalie Benhayon shared at a presentation for women earlier this year, it goes something like this…

You have the most beautiful rose garden, you’ve put lots of work into it leading up to the summer and there is an entire rainbow of coloured flowers on show, delicious scents that make you swoon and an abundance of wild life enjoying the full blooms in all their glory. It’s a stunning sight and everyone that passes by is impressed and can’t help but enjoy it.

But – there has to be a ‘but’ – and that ‘but’ is a very small patch of weeds, tiny infact, just a few sprouts, but they’re really annoying you, so when anyone pays you a compliment about how beautiful your rose garden is, you respond with “Oh, but look at those weeds, I really need to get on top of them”, and when the person responds with “What weeds? I hadn’t noticed any.” all you can do is remain focused on the weeds: “Oh they’re all over the place, those darn weeds!”. And, yet, the garden is breath takingly beautiful. Yes, there are a few weeds to deal with, and if they were ignored they may begin to affect the beauty in the rose garden, but by bringing all the focus to them, you miss out on the beauty and joy in the garden – When you can’t see the roses for the weeds, it seems even a few weeds have taken over the show…

It’s worth considering how much we bring appreciation into our daily life. How often do we bat away a compliment by playing it down, ignoring it, completely denying it, or possibly admitting it with a ‘Yes, but…’ deflection. What would happen if we actually accepted that compliment and realised the importance of showing and sharing our natural, unique and lovely qualities? We are taught to not blow our own trumpet, but what if the more we blow our own trumpet, the more others will realise it’s ok to blow theirs and before long we’ll have a full blowing orchestra of people shining. The music is then enjoyed by many, just as the beauty of the rose garden is, and we too can enjoy and cherish ourselves with out holding back or playing small.

If it feels a little awkward to accept a compliment and enjoy the rose garden in full (while still taking care of the weeds) then we can start to bring appreciation into our daily life. This can be as simple as taking a moment in between the day’s tasks and recognising the completion before rushing onto the next task. We can easily get caught in the overwhelm of ‘things to do’ but if we were to appreciate each little step along the way, then the whole day doesn’t need to pass by under the pressure of trying to get a ‘to do’ list done, with a view to only appreciating and feeling satisfied if we complete it -which never happens as the ‘to do’ list is always never ending!

Appreciation can then begin to really bloom, with our rose garden showing the depth of the beauty that resides in us naturally, what ever kind of day we are having.

‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’, but there is no trying to be sweet, the sweetness is just there, so take a moment to stop and enjoy it.

Click here if you would like to book a place at the Natural Perfume & Aromatherapy Workshops at Hever Castle.

If you enjoyed this post then you might like to check out details on a ‘Rose Retreat‘ in Bulgaria, May 2018 – an opportunity to deepen your understanding of appreciation in a place that will constantly reflect this. Click here for more details.

   

 

Rose Oil and Real Men

Rose Essential Oil is one I often choose to use with men.

When I first began studying essential oils and aromatherapy, I carried out a lot of practice massage sessions on friends and family and I immediately noticed that when I chose the blend of essential oils to use during the treatment, rose oil was making a lot of appearances – it didn’t make a difference if the client was male, in fact I realised that I almost always used it with men.

Rose oil has a deeply nurturing quality to it, and using it can support us to bring more of this quality to the way we treat ourselves. So, when I considered how much I was using it with men, it felt important not to shy away from it, because surely men deserve to be nurtured, cherished and adored just as much as women? In fact, it may be more important for them to feel that, because in many cases, they will not have been shown that quality by society. At heart breakingly early ages boys have their sensitivity crushed, by being told to ‘man up’, ‘don’t be a baby’ and that real men don’t cry – before they’re even born their baby grow is picked out in ‘baby blue’.

There are so many stereotypes swamping our society of what a man should be like, even the perfume industry dictates what men should smell like, there is a certain style of scent that is always marketed towards men – with more woody, spicy, musky, ‘manly’ notes – compared to a classic ‘feminine’ fragrance which would be light, delicate and floral, and definitely not seen as masculine.

Rose is one of my favourite essential oils by far, but I always choose the oils to support the client and why wouldn’t I use one of the most divine, delicate, sweet, lovely essential oils with a man? When a man is naturally himself he is absolute love, tenderness, and so deeply caring. Even the hardest, toughest man is as sensitive as a new born baby under that bravado and given a new born baby to hold he would surrender to this natural delicate tender way in an instant.

When I have experienced a man expressing that natural tenderness, it has blown me away, and far from being pathetic or soft, it is truly powerful and either melts me, or makes me feel uncomfortable because it shows me when I’m rushing and not being delicate in the way I move. There is so much more beauty for us to appreciate in men and this is why I have such a tendency to use rose with male clients, wether it be to celebrate that quality in them or to support them in letting it out.

You can buy two of the most exquisite rose oils here at Essential Oils & You’s online store: Rose Otto Essential Oil & Rose Absolute, (click text to view) or…

Order a Bespoke Rose Perfume or  Bespoke Rose Blend that’s ready to use on your skin and in the bath.

Read more on exposing our stereotypes of ‘real men’ and how they affect us…

Men Are Only After One Thing – by Leonne Sharkey
Men – Are we set up to fail? – from Unimed Living
Men and expression – a video talk on how men grow up as boys in a society determined to encourage competition and to harden our natural tenderness -from Unimed Living.

Face Oil Beauty Rituals

This week I tweaked my beauty ritual and have started to use just pure, organic, cold pressed seed oils on my face and I’m so surprised at how amazing my skin feels – I can’t stop touching it.

In the morning, after a bath or shower, I apply a few drops of raspberry seed oil to my face and neck. It smells a little like cucumber which I find fresh and pleasing and it sinks straight in -there is no shine or oily-ness left behind and my skin still feels so soft and silky, even at the end of the day. I haven’t even wanted to put foundation on my skin afterwards because it feels too good.

In the evenings I’ve been using black currant seed oil (after cleansing with a little coconut oil and a few drops of lavender and water in the basin). The scent is just like black currants, which is unusual for the seed oil to smell like the fruit, but very delicious.

I’m feeling so precious when I spend this time nurturing my skin and appreciating it when I touch my face throughout the day. It has made me consider how many more daily acts of self care there are that I can bring a deeper awareness, appreciation and simplicity to. Things like washing my hands, dressingpreparing a meal – there can be so much joy in it.

Do you have a daily self care task that becomes a precious moment because you cherish yourself as you do it?

There are many other nourishing oils that can be used as a face oil, including jojoba, apricot and sea buckthorn, click here to see the full range available from Essential Oils and You. Alternatively you can get in touch to request a Bespoke Blend of oils designed especially for you.

For more tips and inspiration on Self Care click here.

Cooking with Geranium Essential Oil

How to Cook with Geranium Essential Oil

It’s the leaves in the Geranium (Pelargonium) plants that yield essential oil and they come with some incredible scents, including orange, lemon, rose and even chocolate peppermint!

To use them in baking, clean the leaves and lay them at the bottom of a cake or bread tin, pour in the mix and whilst baking, the essential oil held in the leaves, will infuse giving a delicate scent and flavour. Turn the tin upside down to remove the leaves before eating (you can leave them in for show, but don’t eat them).

scented leaf pelargonium
Scented Pelargonium Leaves.
This would work really well with any cake or bread recipe that has a fairly delicate flavour to allow the scent of the geranium to come through. Here are a couple of delicious options I’d recommend:

gluten free orange and almond cake
Gluten Free Orange and Almond Cake – Recipe by Healthy Cooking for Beginners.

sugar-free-gluten-free-nut-free-cake-recipe
Sugar Free Coconut Cake – Recipe by Live Love Nourish.
 

gluten-free-bread
Gluten Free Breads – Recipes by Live Love Nourish.
Fibrex Nurseries stock a range of scented leaved pelargoniams that would be suitable for use in baking.

Attar of Roses - Scented Leaf Pelargonium
Attar of Roses – Scented Leaf Pelargonium from Firbrex Nurseries.
Coming Soon – make sure you’re ‘following’ the blog more tips on Cooking with Essential Oils, (click ‘follow’ button on top right of page). Click here if you missed the previous blog on Cooking with Essential Oils – An Introduction.

 

How to Cook with Essential Oils – an Introduction

You may not be aware of it but you’re likely to be cooking with essential oils on a daily basis.

Essential oils are made from an array of plant material that contain highly scented volatile parts. This could be eucalyptus leaves, cardamom pods, lavender flowers or rose petals. To make them into an essential oil the plant material goes through a process called distillation. This involves steam passing through and releasing those molecules then capturing the oil as the steam turns back into water.

There are many plant materials containing essential oils that are commonly used during cooking and when you apply heat to them this releases those oils that make for delicious smells in your kitchen:

Spices: When you heat up seeds like coriander, cumin and fennel,  in preparation for something like a curry or a tagine, it makes for a mouth-watering atmosphere. The essential oils also have an effect on your digestive system by stimulating digestive juices, (hence the ‘mouth-watering’).  Try this Garam Masala Recipe to experience the affect of releasing essential oils when preparing a spice mix.

Moroccan Tagine with 12 Spices!
Moroccan Tagine with 12 Spices!
Herbs:  With some herbs, such as basil, rosemary and thyme, the heat on a sunny day will be enough to initiate a waft of essential oil as you pass by, and on cooler days you may need to rub the leaves with warm fingers to release the scent.

Flowers: You can use many flowers in food for their perfume and delicate taste such as roses, orange blossom, geraniums and of course lavender.

Rose Petal Salad
Rose Petal Salad
More to come on Cooking with Essential Oils…

I have been experimenting with cooking with essential oils and scented plant materials recently and will be sharing some of my recipes and tips in future blogs. It can be as simple as sprinkling some rose petals on your meal or adding a drop of lemon essential oil to your bottle of olive oil for dressing salads. It doesn’t take much for a magic touch*.

Here are a few teasers to tantalise your taste buds.

IMG_5448
Fruit & Nut Balls

Rainbow trout and lavender
Rainbow Trout with Lavender & Lemon

cooking with essential oils
Lavender Seed Crackers
Make sure you’re ‘following’ the blog so you don’t miss out on some unusual ways to cook with scented leaf pelargoniums; a delicious alternative to chocolate brownies using peppermint or orange essential oil; and lots of ways to use lavender, including lavender lamb, lavender loaves and lavender & beetroot!*When using essential oils in cooking you need to be very sure that you are buying from a trust worthy source, where the oil is not diluted, adulterated or synthetic. Get in touch to buy Essential Oils by Laura Hoy.