Edition 77: Mabon 21 March 2015
Carrier blends transport essential oils into the body
PURE ESSENTIAL oils are usually too concentrated to use alone and must be diluted in a base vegetable oil to use on the body.
Without these fatty, rich and nutritious base (or ‘carrier’) oils, essential oils are likely to irritate skin tissue, causing damage to the surface of the body.
Base oils provide the bulk of a blend and bring it all together. They are called carrier oils because they literally carry the essential oils, which are the actives, deeper into the dermis where they might have their healing way with the body.
‘Top Shelf’ oils of choice
A good carrier oil blend is highly compatible with human skin and better able to penetrate it; enabling the body to absorb the therapeutic properties of the essential oils.
This is especially relevant when using essential oils for massage, bath or topical application.
There are many base oils suitable to use as a carrier oil - singularly or in combination.
It could be as accessible as a cold-pressed olive oil, right up to a ‘top shelf’ organic rosehip oil.
It is always wise to avoid mineral oils or refined common cooking oils for a carrier oil, as these dead oils do not have an affinity with essential plant oils or human skin. Their low penetration impedes their absorption through the skin layers and this eventually deposits in the tissues as toxins, which deplete the skin of necessary nutrients.
The right collection of very high grade base oils can collectively stand alone - even without adding essential oils - for a deluxe, emollient body oil that will do wonders for your skin’s overall health and appearance, keeping it lubricated, soft and supple.
But a carrier blend’s fundamental use however is to provide an ideal base to create your own bespoke massage, bath or body oils at home, by simply adding the essential oils of your choice for whatever healing application you require at the time.
So what are the best oils?
Botanical, cold-pressed oils are the oils of choice. These oils contain:
• A high level of flavonoids, the natural plant components that offer a protective benefit and phytosterols, the building blocks of our cell membrane. These sterols work the same way that cholesterol does in our skin, which is one of the reasons why oil has great skin penetration abilities.
• Some of the highest sources of palmitoleic fatty acids, which delay the ageing of skin cells. As the skin ages these fatty acids are rapidly depleted.
• Linolenic acid, which is an omega 3 fatty acid that helps to improve skin conditions by softening and moisturising the skin. It is also important for the structure of cell membranes that help to prevent trans epidermal water loss from the skin’s delicate tissues, preserving the cell’s natural barrier to the environment.
• Oleic acid, an omega 6 fatty acid that also promotes skin regeneration and has moisturising properties to promote supple and moist skin and improve its overall condition.
• Vitamin A, also known as topical trans retinoic acid, (sometimes in Beta-carotene) which can also help to prevent the signs of ageing. It is helpful with skin that is dehydrated from sun exposure, fine lines, wrinkles and an uneven skin tone.
• Lycopene, an antioxidant that protects the skin from free radical damage, reducing the risk of premature ageing.
• Vitamin C, a key antioxidant that protects against free radical damage and also plays a role in the formation of collagen.
Tinderbox Top Picks
Kendi oil is a botanical oil that is extracted from the Indonesian Aleurites Moluccana tree (sometimes known as the candlenut); a flowering tree in the spurge family.
It has a unique sensory profile and is extremely rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
The beauty of kendi is that it's light, non-greasy, virtually odourless and absorbs quickly to help nourish and soften the skin.
The oil itself is particularly high in rich fatty acids and nutritional components with properties that allow for fast skin penetration and leaves the skin feeling dry to the touch after application.
Kendi oil’s high levels of powerful antioxidants help to protect against harmful free radicals, giving it remarkable anti-ageing properties.
It displays excellent tissue repair properties, lending suppleness and elasticity to the skin, and it can help heal wounds and calm itchiness.
The oil has been shown to have free radical scavenging properties that prevent cell damage; apparently higher amounts than most seed oils on the market. These properties include the enhancement of sunscreen efficacy for both skin and hair from UV rays, which means it is able to prevent DNA damage.
Jojoba oil was widely used by Native Americans and is derived from the fruit or nut of the jojoba plant that grows up to three metres high and is found in the deserts of the United States and Mexico.
It is very medicinal with excellent anti-inflammatory properties for skin disorders and an excellent cosmetic oil that is suitable for body and the face, effectively nourishing all skin types as well as hair treatments.
While most plants produce oil by combining glycerol with fatty acids, the jojoba plant produces its oil by combining alcohol, fat and fatty acid.
It is remarkably similar to a substance found in the brain cavity of the whale, which has historically been used for its emulsifying properties as a popular base for cosmetic creams.
Jojoba is highly penetrative and particularly efficacious when used at approximately 10 per cent of the overall blend.
It is particularly rich in vitamin E and unlike other oils rich in this vitamin it doesn’t oxidise and is thus not prone to rancidity.
It is the perfect vehicle to carry very expensive absolute essential oils such as rose or jasmine and because it is odourless, it provides an excellent base for fine cream perfumes.
Hazelnuts come from the Hazel (Corylus) tree; the tree is native to the Northern Hemisphere.
This nut oil, with its fine texture and slightly nutty fragrance, is very good to repair dry and damaged skin as it is rich in essential fatty acids.
Hazelnut is very nutritious and rejuvenating for regular skin usage and is one of those natural oils that offers a mild protection from damaging UV rays.
It is slightly astringent so is suitable for oily skins, helping to calm over-active oil glands, yet it also suits sensitive skin as it is a gentle oil that is unlikely to irritate and doesn’t feel greasy.
Hazelnut oil is slow to go rancid because it has a high vitamin E content, providing antioxidant protection.
Even though the oil helps absorb and balance sebum (skin oil), it also has a lot of natural fats that help moisturise and condition skin, leaving it soft and plump, while helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Sweet almond oil is obtained from the dried kernels of the almond tree (Prunus amygdalus var. dulcus).
It is quite stable as an oil and is clear pale yellow with medium viscosity and a faintly sweet and nutty aroma.
It contains lots of vitamins including A, B and E and is a good lubricant so can help with itching, eczema and inflammation. Alone it can provide instant relief from muscle pain.
It is wonderful for all skin types and is particularly good for a facial massage.
Although it is suitable for all skin types, it is especially good for dry, sensitive skin and helps balance the moisture in facial skin.
Rosehip oil comes from the ‘hip’ of the rose, (rosa canina) which is the seedpod or fruit of the dogrose that occurs after the rose petals fall off.
This oil is extremely beneficial for the skin and a fantastic moisturiser, as it will moisturise the dry areas of your skin while not adding too much moisture to oilier areas.
Rosehip oil is a very rich source of essential fatty acids – in fact, it is 80 per cent fatty acids.
These are vital for regenerating skin cells and repairing skin tissue.Rosehip oil has been shown to improve the following: dry skin, premature ageing, skin elasticity and resilience, scarring in general, stretch marks, hyper-pigmentation, dermatitis, fine lines and wrinkles, burns, skin damage caused by sun exposure.
Macadamia Oil is lightweight and a very stable oil with a shelf life of 24 months.
It has a chemical profile that is very similar to human sebum, and has a non-greasy feel on the skin, giving it a nice workable film on the skin
Very rich in the best nutrients such as phytosterols, it is the perfect choice for dry skin, helping to retain moisture and enhancing tissue repair.
Its protective phytosterols act like cortisone on the skin, helping to reduce itchiness and inflammation.
The Pleasure of a Good Massage
One of life’s most pleasurable experiences would have to be receiving a good aromatherapy massage.
Like the aromatic bath, massage is a truly divine way of getting the essential oils into our body.
The therapeutic properties of the plant oils combine with the power of human touch to promote healing on many different levels for our body, emotionally and physically.
It is an instinctive act for us to touch and rub a painful spot on our body, and from this primitive reflex, the concept of massage has evolved into a sophisticated therapy where the hands are channels of healing energy.
Different cultures have developed their own techniques but they all share the same faith in the healing powers of human hands on human bodies.
With aromatherapy, we add to this ancient art of touching one of the treasures from nature’s pharmacy - essential plant oils, just as the ancients would have done.
The right essential oil blend for massage can treat a whole host of bodily ailments, such as rheumatism, arthritis, poor circulation, headache, insomnia, sciatica, menstrual pain, aching muscles; even anxiety and nervous tension.
Besides these therapeutic values, we must not forget the indisputable cosmetic benefits of massaging the moisturising and healing oils into the skin.
Active medicinal constituents of the plant oils are delivered into the bloodstream, immediately bringing relief to troubled areas.
Quality of the oils is paramount to achieve positive results.
Aromatherapy Bliss in the Bath
The comfort and pleasure of the scented bath provides the perfect setting for healing with essential oils.
The skin absorbs the beautifying and softening oils, which eventually penetrate to deeper parts of the body.
Meanwhile the nose inhales the relaxing aroma, compounding the treatment.
Add 5 to 10 drops of an essential oil blend to two tablespoons of a scentless carrier oil or full cream milk.Take care to avoid those oils which maybe irritating to the skin.
When the bath is ready, add the blend to the bath water and agitate to disperse the oil.
Essential oils can also be added to sea salts and epsom salts for a detoxifying bath.
For tired, aching feet, a few drops can be added to a foot bath, which is an excellent precursor to reﬂexology treatment.
The feet absorb essential oils readily and foot massage affects the entire body.
Sitz baths may be employed for gynaecological problems.
Dilute 6 to 10 drops of chosen essential oils in honey or carrier oil before adding to the bath water.