What are Hydrosols? (Plus Tips for Using Them!)

What is HydrosolAre you a label reader? We hope you are – whether it’s your food or your skincare, ingredients matter. If understanding what they are make you feel like you need a science degree (or two), you’re not alone. A lot of even simple ingredients come with fancy sounding names, like hydrosol. What is this ingredient, and why is it in your (and our!) skincare products? It’s not as fancy as it sounds, actually.

A hydrosol is a botanical water usually made with flowers, but any botanical will work, like leaves, fruits, barks, or other plant material. Unlike essential oils – the pure, concentrated essence of a botanicals — hydrosols are mostly water.

These dilutes typically contain less than one percent (usually 0.01 – 0.04 percent) of the essential oil. A plant that contains more water naturally will be less concentrated than a denser ingredient.

Essential oils, if you’re not familiar, are extracted from a plant through various means. These highly concentrated oils are extremely potent (thus the reason they come via such small bottles). A little goes a long, long way. Not only are they usually fabulous to smell, but they’re most often recommended to be diluted via a carrier oil. While hydrosols aren’t oils, they are by definition, already diluted.

You can compare hydrosol to a diluted herbal tea. But even though a cup of ginger tea is less potent than a whole ginger root, it’s still got much of the root’s potent benefits, which is why hydrosols are often found in skincare instead of just plain water. It’s like a naturally enhanced water that is both hydrating and medicinal, delivering a boost of plant nutrients, be they anti-inflammatory effects, toning properties, wound-healing, calming, or rejuvenating aspects. You’ve got this perfectly useful water that’s going to do great things for your skin.

Because hydrosols are less concentrated than pure essential oils, they’re also less likely to irritate the skin or cause allergic reactions when used in a product or on its own.

If you’re a fan of essential oil fragrances, you’ll still pick up notes of the botanical in a hydrosol, but it will be less potent, and may have a greener or grassier scent more like the botanical would smell in your garden.

While hydrosols are often used in skincare products, they can be used on their own as a skin toner or as an aromatherapy spray. Still — be sure to read the label on your hydrosols to make sure it’s a clean and natural product.

 

7 Natural Beauty Tricks to Avoid Summer Breakouts

How to Avoid Summer BreakoutsIs summer your favorite time of the year? The warm weather, longer days, and pool or beach time almost makes every day feel like a vacation even when you’re working during the week (almost!). But with the warm weather comes an unwelcome visitor: summer breakouts.

If you’re prone to breakouts when you’ve got that sweaty layer on you and think there’s nothing much to do about it, we’ve got some good (and bad) news for you.

Okay, first the bad news: you’re probably going to breakout this summer, especially if you have sensitive skin to begin with. Whether it’s the sweating, the layers of sunscreen (yes, we mean layers!), or irritation from chlorinated pools (or less than clean oceans), zits will probably happen. But your best defense is a good offensive strategy. Even though there’s no guarantee to keep them away, you may at least, keep summer breakouts manageable. Here’s how.

  1. SPF: I know I just said sunscreen can make you breakout, and it can if it’s heavy, greasy, or loaded with synthetic chemicals that can irritate skin. But protection from the sun also means less irritated, and thus less sensitive, skin. Use a light SPF moisturizer especially around the T-zone region where breakouts can be more common in the heat.
  2. Reduce exfoliation: Well-exfoliated skin tans more evenly, but it can also make your skin more sensitive, particularly if it’s sensitive to begin with. And, it can also cause your skin to produce more oil, increasing the risk of breakouts. So, if you’re exfoliating twice a week, cut down to once a week or once every ten days or go even longer if you can.
  3. Tone instead: A good toner is like a more mild exfoliant and can help to unclog pores, detoxify, and soothe irritated skin. Plus, it can keep your skin cool (especially a spray toner), which means less sweating and less the skin is prone to breakouts.
  4. Go natural: Yes, summertime is filled with more fun events and parties you likely want to look good for, but makeup, particularly foundation, powders, and blushes, can make your skin extremely irritated. Makeup can clog your pores causing breakouts, and in the heat of summer bacteria is also more likely to spread between makeup and brushes, so be sure to clean yours often.
  5. Wash your face regularly: While overwashing the skin can lead to breakouts similar to overexfoliating (removing the healthy oils), in summer, it can reduce the breakout risk. Not only do you want to get rid of the oil and sweat, but there’s also the environmental grime, pollen, etc, you’re exposed to by being outside more often. You’ll feel it – the urge to wash your face isn’t just the body wanting to cool off, it’s a legit reaction to wanting to be cleaned. All the more reason to reduce your makeup for the season, and carry a good toner and SPF moisturizer in your bag because you’re going to need them.
  6. Stay hydrated: This is an easy one for most of us during the summer, but it’s worth repeating. Well-hydrated skin is healthy skin, so make sure you’re getting your eight glasses in every day.
  7. Moisturizing masks: If your skin is mostly cooperative you can help to keep the momentum going by doing a deeply hydrating moisture mask, whether it’s a store-bought one or a mashed avocado and banana face mask. Adding moisture to the skin keeps it from overproducing it on its own, and that’s going to make it less likely to breakout. But if you’re battling a flare-up, don’t do a mask. Spot treat, relax, and do your best to enjoy the weather regardless.

Check out our favorites for summer skin:

Argan & Yarrow Mineral Sunscreen

Coconut Milk Safflower Cleanser

Lavender Licorice Toner

Can You (and Should You) Get a Tan While Wearing Sunscreen?

Can You (and Should You) Get a Tan While Wearing Sunscreen?

If your sun protection regimen makes you look (and feel) like you’re bundling up for an Icelandic winter while wearing spackle on your face instead of a day of beach volleyball, you’re not alone. There’s no shame is warding off fine lines, wrinkles, age spots and the C word. But summer is meant to be FUN if nothing else – light, easy, and most definitely sunny. Covering up every inch of skin sure takes the pleasure out of long, lazy beach days. Add to that the expense of sun protection (on-trend hats and sunglasses aren’t cheap, and neither is great sunscreen), and you can forget the short shorts and those summer vacay plans. But what if you could have that sun-kissed summer glow while staying protected? Can you tan while using sun protection?

The short answer is: Yes.

While sunscreen, especially the natural kind that reflects the sun’s rays instead of absorbing them, is designed to minimize the damage to your skin, you can still rock a pretty decent tan while being protected from burning, which is where the real damage occurs – not just increasing the aging process, but also the cancer risk.

One of the best benefits of sunscreen is that it allows you to spend more time in the sun than you could without it, which means you’ll tan without the burn-peel-then-tan method of the 1970s and ‘80s. Look for a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects you from both the “burning” rays (UVB) and UVA rays (although there’s no standardized protection rating for those yet). This will help you stay in the sun longer while reducing the burning. Stack your skincare layers with an SPF moisturizer as well, and pay special attention to delicate skin around the eyes (especially those eyelids).

Skin exfoliation is also helpful in achieving your tanning goals. By removing the dead skin cells, your “fresh” skin will not only tan more quickly and evenly, but it will last longer, too. Exfoliating can be done with products like scrubs or cleansing grains, or with fruit acid-based products, which are generally used on the face.

But even though wearing sunscreen allows for more time in the sun, don’t overdo it. Gradual exposure to the sun reduces the risk of sunburn and helps the body boost its own melanin production to help prevent burning in the future (meaning you can stay in the sun longer each time you go out). And no matter how long you’re going out for, be sure to protect your skin every single time.

 

 

 

The Top 3 Beauty Products You Need to Make Sure are Completely Natural

The Top 3 Beauty Products That Need to Be NaturalIs there any word more dangerous than “natural”? It means so much and technically so little at the same time. Especially when it comes to our beauty products.

Just because there’s no federally mandated regulation for the word “natural” doesn’t mean it isn’t a useful term. In some cases it can be the distinguishing factor between a completely artificial and potentially harmful product, and one that’s, well, not.

Organic certification is difficult for personal care products for many reasons. Because they often contain a lot of water (which is not organic), the volume of organic ingredients can be overshadowed by the presence of water. Other ingredients, like baking soda, salt, zinc oxide aren’t sourced from living things (i.e. plants) making them ineligible for organic certification.

Enter the word “natural” which has often come to mean what isn’t in a product as much as it means what is in there. The absence of synthetic chemicals, not necessarily the presence of organic ingredients, is one of the more common reasons you’ll see “natural” on your fave beauty products. And it’s worthwhile to take a peek at the label—especially when it comes to these three beauty products.

“Natural” beauty products can often contain a lot of truly natural ingredients–we’re talking emollient oils and butters straight from plants like shea butter, cacao butter, jojoba, almond, sunflower, or apricot oils. And speaking of oils, a product that gets its fragrance from essential oils instead of synthetic fragrance isn’t just good for your health–you’ll immediately smell the difference. And chances are, you’ll love the smell of nature at its finest.

Of course, it’s the health reasons that make making the switch so significant. Are you ready to go natural?

The Top 3 Beauty Products You Need to Make Sure are Completely Natural

  1. Deodorant – If you’re still a die-hard antiperspirant and deodorant person, consider this your intervention. Conventional deodorants have been linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer. They contain endocrine disrupting chemicals that can throw off your body’s hormonal system, leading to mood swings, weight gain, and reproductive issues, as well as the C word. Your underarms contain sweat glands (duh) and they can absorb and retain these chemicals to damaging effect, particularly if you shave your pits and then apply the chemicals soon after. Do your bod a favor and make the switch to a natural deodorant ASAP.
  2. Hair Care – Whether it’s shampoo and conditioner, styling products, or hair coloring, we give our tresses a beat down, regularly. Not only do synthetic chemical products strip our hair of natural oils, leading to more dryness, frizz, and breakage, but it can also leach harmful toxins into our bodies, particularly if they come in contact with our scalp (which they do). From the formaldehyde in straightening products to the phthalates and parabens in shampoos, you put your health at risk every time you use a conventional hair care product. There’s a reason pregnant women are advised not to color treat, relax, or perm their hair—these chemicals go straight to our reproductive system and our babies. Fortunately, there are many effective natural hair care products that can get the job done without the risk.
  3. Skin Crèmes – Whether it’s your favorite under eye treatment, moisturizing face cream, or the super rich stuff you lather into your elbows and knees, skin crème can be loaded with petroleum byproducts and ingredients damaging to the skin and the planet. Considering you likely use a skin crème daily, the quality of the ingredients is a serious issue. Add to that your sunscreen, which may include chemicals that cause skin irritation and inflammation, and you’re setting your skin up for disaster. You know, but no pressure! The good news is that there are so many brands (ahem) making lux, rich, and super amazing skin crème products that will make you never want to look at conventional skincare again.

Looking to make the switch now?

Natural deodorants

Natural hair care

Ginko and pumpkin crème

Seaweed and algae moisturizer

How to Bring Earth Day to Your Beauty Regimen Every Day

How to Bring Earth Day to Your Beauty Regimen Every Day

Birthdays should come only once a year (at the most!). But celebrating Earth Day only once a year seems a little, well, illogical. After all, it’s our home—would we only clean our house once a year? Or be thankful that we have a roof over our head only annually? Of course not. Most of us love nothing more than locking the door, queueing up the Netflix, popping up that organic popcorn, DIYing a killer face mask, and celebrating the little pleasures that take place inside our home. So why let Earth Day happen only as often as our (dreaded) birthdays?

Fortunately, we can easily make every day Earth Day—from recycling like a fiend, eating organic and local food, using a fuel-efficient vehicle, and in our body care products. Yes, our skincare. Our shampoo and conditioner—even (and especially!) our deodorant.

If that last one seems a little strange, let’s dive a little deeper into why your beauty care choices matter for the planet.

First and foremost, ingredients matter. If you’re still using synthetic chemical-based personal care products—you’re putting your health at risk. There are countless studies linking common chemical ingredients in personal care products to health issues as mild as rashes and allergies to life-threatening cancer risks. You can’t exactly be a beacon of good for the planet if your own health isn’t optimal. But there’s another issue: many of these synthetic chemicals are produced in labs with limited resources that have toxic effects on the planet (looking at you, petroleum byproducts). Other ingredients that wind up in our waterways can be harmful to marine life, including our vital coral reefs.

Natural ingredients, on the other hand—whether that’s sustainably harvested shea butter, organic essential oils, or coconut-based soaps—come from renewable resources. If they’re sourced from organic producers, they contribute to healthier soil and pollinator habitats. They cause considerably less pollution (if any), and are much friendlier to our oceans, rivers, lakes, and streams.

Also consider another key component of personal care products: packaging. While most conventional products come in plastic—a petroleum byproduct deeply linked to environmental damage—many natural personal care brands opt for more sustainable packaging such as glass. While there are issues with glass, too—mainly the weight in shipping, which uses more fossil fuels—there are pros not just for the planet, but for our health, too. And every bit helps move us toward a cleaner system overall. A box that uses recycled paper and soy-based inks is one less product using virgin paper and petroleum or coal-based inks.

Supporting natural body care product companies doesn’t always mean you’re supporting a small business, but if often does. Small businesses help to shift our economy toward local, U.S. made products, and many have environmental or social causes tied to their products, making them an even healthier choice for the planet and everyone on it.

7 Animal-Free Collagen Boosters for Gorgeous Skin

7 Animal-Free Collagen Boosters for Gorgeous SkinCollagen is all the rage in the beauty world right now. This animal byproduct has been touted for its skin-boosting benefits. You can find collagen powder, pills, and the messier version—“bone broth”—rich in animal collagen, which is the gelatin produced from the connective tissues, bones, and hooves of livestock animals. But if downing bone juice isn’t your thing, you don’t have to worry about your skin suffering. There are plenty of animal-free collagen boosting foods and treatments out there. All you need is a healthy diet that includes these foods.

Why We Need Collagen

Our bodies naturally produce collagen—it’s what makes our skin look young and strong. But over time, we lose collagen, our skin starts to sag and wrinkle. Add to time environmental factors like excess sun exposure, pollution, and even smoking can deplete collagen. Our diet plays a role, too—refined sugars and carbs, too much alcohol, and processed food in general can take a toll on our collagen production.

But even though collagen supplements are incredibly popular right now, some doctors say the science isn’t conclusive about its benefits for skin. It may seem obvious, but just because you drink collagen doesn’t mean your body will produce more of it or assimilate it any more than eating a tomato makes you sprout one out of your elbow.

Fortunately, there are many vegetarian foods and supplements that can help your body boost its own collagen production naturally. Here are a few.

7 Vegetarian Collagen Boosters

  1. Silica – Perhaps the most important ingredient in collagen production is silica. It’s abundant in bananas, whole grains, carrots, and raisins. But the best plant source is horsetail (not from actual horses). Silica supplements are available in most health food stores and are relatively inexpensive, too.
  2. Vitamin C – We think of vitamin C as the cold and flu buster, but it’s also critical for collagen production in the body. It’s readily available in a diet rich in fruits and veggies—no supplements needed. But if you think you need a vitamin C boost, plenty of supplements are available. Note that vitamin C can be destroyed in the cooking process, so if you’re adding more C-rich fruits and veggies to your diet (bell peppers are an excellent choice as are kiwis), try eating them raw.
  3. Beta Carotene – Another fruit and veggie superstar, beta carotene is abundant in carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, spinach, kale, cantaloupe, and apricots. This vitamin is also important in collagen production – did Bugs Bunny or Popeye ever look sallow?
  4. Anthocyanins – Hard to pronounce but not hard to love, anthocyanins are the chemicals in deeply colored berries and cherries that help our bodies not only fight off free radicals that can damage the skin, but also to boost its collagen production.
  5. Copper – Bust out the chocolate covered almonds because this combo is rich in the mineral copper, which is critical for collagen production. Vitamin C aids in the uptake of copper (which is where the “C” comes from), so it’s no wonder both chemicals play a role in getting your glow on. Other foods high in copper include sunflower seeds, lentils, apricots, and asparagus.
  6. Soy – The versatile soybean may be controversial because of the ubiquity of genetically modified soybeans, but there’s no denying its heath benefits, specifically the presence of genistein, the isoflavone that increases collagen production. Genistein may also help to quash free radicals which can damage and age the skin.
  7. Proline – An amino acid essential to the collagen process, proline is found in a number of delicious plant foods including peanuts, watercress, chickpeas, beans, cabbage, asparagus, cucumber, and even chives.

 

5 Apricot Oil Benefits to Boost Your Natural Beauty Routine

 

5 Apricot Oil Benefits to Boost Your Natural Beauty RoutineWhile oils like coconut, argan, and jojoba are well-known for their skin benefits, there’s another superstar skin oil you’re going to love: apricot oil.

Often called “apricot kernel oil,” apricot oil does indeed come from the seed of this delicious stone fruit, which is especially nice to think of if you’re big on reducing food waste—all those tasty dried apricots see their pits go to amazing use. But its health profile is what should really get you excited about this fruit seed oil.

Benefits of Apricot Oil

  1. Ultra-moisturizing – The mildly scented oil is rich and emollient, making it an excellent moisturizer—especially for people with sensitive skin. Because it’s non-irritating and super light and rich in oleic acidand linoleic acid. it can moisturize without leaving skin feeling greasy. Because of its light nature, you’ll often find apricot oil as a carrier for massage oils (which can be infused with fragrant essential oils). It’s especially beneficial for dry skin, too.
  2. Anti-inflammatory – It’s a hot buzzword in health these days for good reason. Our less that pure diets, environmental pollutants, and our overall lifestyle (think sitting all day), can lead to inflammation in the body, especially the skin. Apricot oil may help to reduce the appearance of inflammation—be it eczema flare-ups or just generalized puffiness.
  3. Antiseptic – Don’t go running for the apricot oil when you cut your finger, but do use it in the healing process. Apricot oil’s antibacterial and antiseptic properties make it excellent in speeding healing. It may help to speed the healing, reduce the appearance of, and even prevent acne breakouts as well. But because it’s mildly comedogenic (pore-clogging), it’s not an ideal oil for people who regularly break out.
  4. Anti-aging – Okay, so nothing stops the aging process, but with a hydrating and antioxidant-rich oil like apricot, you may be able to suppress it at least a little bit. Because it’s rich in antioxidants, apricot oil can help to prevent the skin from free radical damage, which can keep it looking healthier and, ahem, younger than it actually is.
  5. Hair shine – Keep a bottle of apricot oil in the shower for gorgeous, healthy hair. Rich in vitamin E, it’s great for enhancing growth and delivering a natural shine without looking greasy or weighted down. When applied directly to the scalp, it may help in reducing dandruff and dry, itchy scalp. And for kids, it’s an excellent detangler without any chemicals or strong odors.

Check out our fave apricot oil products:

Sea-Buckthorn Apricot Herbal Moisturizer

Sea-Buckthorn Apricot Soap 

Everything You Need to Know About Natural Sunscreens

Everything You Need to Know About Natural Sunscreens

The sun is of course the key element to spring, summer, and early fall weather. It gets you outside and keeps you there with mostly amazing benefits—you’re more active, maybe your garden is on fleek, and you’ve got a gorgeous sun-kissed glow. But, of course, it’s easy to overdo it. You need protection beyond a shady spot under a tree or a big hat and glasses. But when making the switch from conventional to natural sunscreen, there are a few things worth knowing.

What is a ‘Natural’ Sunscreen, Anyway?

It’s important to know that the word “natural” isn’t regulated by the FDA. That means that just because a brand says it’s natural, doesn’t mean it is. Generally, the term is found on sunscreen products that rely on minerals like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which work like tiny mirrors to reflect the sun’s rays away (conventional sunscreens often just absorb those rays instead via synthetic chemicals).

But a sunscreen is so much more than the active UV protection. Most are lotion or crème based and that means oils and butters used for ease of application—so that the product smooths onto the skin. For a “natural” product, you want to avoid any of those coming from petroleum (like mineral oil), and instead opt for natural oils like almond, jojoba, shea butter, etc.

A truly natural sunscreen product won’t contain artificial colors or fragrances or other fillers. A good rule of thumb is to look for easy to read ingredients lists. The only difficult-to-pronounce words should be the SUV ingredient (titanium dioxide) and the Latin words for botanicals, as is the common practice (but don’t worry, they usually come with an English translation as well).

Is Natural Sunscreen Worth It?

Only you can decide what’s right for you and your family. But according to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit dedicated to health and environmental safety, chemicals, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, found in conventional sunscreens, may be hormone disruptors and cause skin allergies. Some ingredients, like retinyl palmitate, have been linked to an increased risk of developing cancer.

Do Natural Sunscreens Work?

According to Consumer Reports, the answer is a resounding maybe. Among the “natural” sunscreens it tested, none received higher marks than “Good” (there are “Very Good” and “Excellent” options as well).

The caveat, according to Consumer Reports, is that the natural products don’t often apply evenly enough to provide full coverage and protection. That’s due to the particle nature of the zinc or titanium dioxide. The easy workaround? Multiple applications (which you should be doing every few hours, anyway), and many natural brands are now offering sprays, which can be easier to apply than sunscreen lotions.

You can also increase the SPF—Consumer Reports recommends a 40 or higher for a natural product, but at least an SPF 30.

We also recommend layering your sun protection. For example, Zatik offers several sun protective moisturizers that work great for keeping your skin healthy and gorgeous and offer SPF protection as well. So if you’re already wearing a sunscreen to begin with—at least on your face—you’re giving yourself additional protection right from the start.

Check out our Argan & Yarrow Sunscreen Mineral Moisturizer.

 

3 Skin-Loving Benefits of Cacao Butter (Chocolate’s Best Kept Secret)

Cacao Butter BenefitsChocolate is more than just a kid’s confection—it’s a magical savior for many of us (hi, fellow moms!). Some chemicals in chocolate have been shown to provide a legit feel-good boost in mood; and that silky, smooth, and creamy texture is the perfect delivery mechanism for, well, pretty much anything, right? But while eating chocolate is likely always to be the preferred way to engage with this potent bean, there are notable benefits to digging into the creamy goodness of cacao butter (also often “cocoa butter”) and slathering it all over your body.

What is Cacao Butter?

All chocolate comes from a fruit—cacao. Shaped like a small football, cacao pods are filled with a white fleshy fruit pulp and dozens of quarter-size beans. The purple beans are dried, fermented, and ground down into chocolate. But there are really two notable components to these beans: what’s often called cacao (or cocoa) powder and the fat that’s leftover, called cacao butter. In making chocolate, you often separate these two parts of the bean and then reintroduce them in making a chocolate bar. When extracted from the cacao solids, the butter is void of the signature dark brown color of chocolate. It’s often off-white or cream-colored. Like coconut oil, cacao butter can be eaten as a healthy fat source. And, also like coconut oil, cacao butter can find its way into many of your personal care needs. Technically speaking, cacao butter is more similar to shea butter than coconut oil, but it performs like either of them, offering moisturizing benefits aplenty.

Benefits of Cacao Butter

  1. Moisturizing: Like most any topical oil, cacao butter is great at hydrating the skin and locking in moisture. Because it’s rich in saturated fats, it’s easily absorbed into the skin and can keep it feeling soft and smooth for hours after application.
  2. Healing: Cacao butter doesn’t just moisturize, it helps to protect it from dryness and may speed healing of dry, cracked skin or chapped lips. Apply liberally and generously—and yes, if you put it to your lips you will taste chocolate!
  3. Reverse Aging? Call it chocolate’s magic, or call it the Willy Wonka Effect, even. But there’s some truth to the rumors that chocolate is a bit of a fountain of youth. We all know that eating chocolate is preferred by our inner child, but did you know cacao butter can help to keep skin looking as young as you feel? Credit the cocoa mass polyphenols in cacao butter that may help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. And , yes, even eating chocolate helps fight free radical damage, thanks to chocolate’s antioxidant-rich polyphenols.

How to Use Cacao Butter on Your Skin

You can purchase cacao butter in its raw state, and you can often find it whipped or softened for easier use. You’ll also see cacao butter listed as an ingredient in numerous skin care products. To use cacao butter by itself, apply a generous amount to clean, damp, or dry skin and massage in until absorbed. If using cacao butter in a skin care product, follow instructions on product package.

The 5 Reasons Essential Oils are Healthy Life ‘Essentials’

Benefits of Essential OilsIf you’re a fan of natural beauty products (and we hope you are!), then you’re likely familiar with essential oils. Whether they’re used as a source of natural fragrance or other benefits, essential oils are in everything from skin cleansers and moisturizers to shampoo and deodorant.

But you can go deeper with essential oils than just finding them in your beloved personal care products. In fact, they can be a natural beauty lover’s BFF. Check out our favorite reasons why.

What are Essential Oils?

First things first, what are these peculiar (and pricey) little bottles, anyway? Essential oils get their name from “essence” or the pure extraction of a botanical—usually a fruit, seed, leaf, flower, root, or bark. There are hundreds of botanicals used in making essential oils. While a bit more complicated a process, if you’ve ever squeezed a lemon rind until you get an oily residue on your fingers, you’re getting the “essence” of this extraction method.

Why Use Essential Oils?

Botanicals in most any form are nature’s first healers. Many of our medicines come from botanicals, so do our personal care products, and of course, so does our food. Unlike synthetic fragrances that can be irritating and even cause allergic reactions, essential oils are about as natural as you can get—and that concentrated aroma can have some pretty amazing results. While the scientific research is still being created around the use and benefits of essential oils, they’re commonly relied on for relief of minor ailments.

How to Use Essential Oils

Because essential oils are so concentrated, they should always be diluted before using with a carrier oil like jojoba, almond, apricot, or grapeseed. This is particularly true for topical applications. Some inhalation methods or recipes that use essential oils may require full-strength. Essential oils are never for internal use.

Here are some of our favorite reasons to use essential oils:

  1. Stress-busting: No matter how big or how small, we’ve all got stress levels to manage. Essential oils might be a good choice in reducing your stress. Lavender is regarded for its calming and balancing effect without making you drowsy or irritable. Other stress-reducing essential oils include frankincense, rose, and chamomile.
  2. Energize, naturally: Running out for a latte at 3 o’clock can help push you past the mid-day slump but it can also lead to our next issue—insomnia. Boost your energy and focus levels without the caffeine boost (and crash) with essential oils. Try orange, lemon, peppermint, bergamot, lemongrass, or thyme.
  3. Improve sleep: Insomnia—both chronic and acute—affects as many as one out of three people. If you’ve experienced insomnia, you know how challenging it is to go without a good night’s rest. Essential oils of tangerine, lavender, chamomile, and sandalwood may help.
  4. Aide during allergy season: Watery, itchy eyes, runny noses, difficulty breathing, and irritated skin are among the lovely symptoms of allergy season. Essential oils like rosemary and eucalyptus may assist in opening up your sinuses, and lavender may help to calm irritation.
  5. Clear skin: While chronic acne is usually a sign you should schedule a visit with your dermatologist, mild occasional breakouts affect us all. A dab of tea tree essential oil (or tea tree and lavender) can help to dry out and speed the healing of the blemish.

 

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