Hell no, we won't EO!
E.O. is short for essential oils.
If you are reading this, you are probably interested in natural skin care, and if you are interested in natural skin care you probably know about essential oils. Most natural skin care brands use essential oils as a way to scent their products and most people think that essential oils benefit the skin. This is where we beg to differ.
While some essential oils have components that are believed to be good for skin due to the amounts of anti-oxidants they naturally carry, they also carry undesirable compounds that are already known to significantly damage the skin’s barrier. Some essential oils such as tea tree and rosemary or lemongrass have been shown to help a bit with acne (depending on what type of acne), but are not nearly as effective as the standard benzoyl peroxide, and the amount of damage to your skin that they can cause actually outweighs the small positives of using them.
Protect skin's integrity
We are very much against using essential oils for anything but aromatherapy and perfuming. We personally never use essential oils on our skin because the first rule of skin care is to make sure to protect your skin’s integrity. As we age our skin’s collagen matrix weakens naturally. There is no reason to speed that up by using volatile ingredients just because they are considered natural. Even the flower oils like lavender and rose are problematic because they contain both skin calming AND skin irritating compounds.
Legal dermal limits
There are dermal limits for most essential oils, so legally there cannot be more than 1% total EOs for "leave on" products. Although this is a small percentage, using a face product everyday can have a cumulative effect and cause irritation and phytotoxicity over time. This means, that great all natural, organic face cream you’ve been using with essential oils in it is actually sensitizing your skin.
We also know many people have plant allergies and the amount of plant stems, roots, leaves, and flowers concentrated in an oil can be very allergenic. People can develop low-level chronic skin inflammation as a result of using essential oils on an on-going basis. So if you are using an all-natural brand and your skin is STILL burning, stinging, itchy or dry, check to see if there are any essential oils in the product.
Use essential oils for your candles, your diffusers, your perfumes or your hand soaps, even hand or body cream but don't use essential oils on your face, especially if you have sensitive or aging skin!
Look for moisturizers that are naturally scented without chemicals and without essential oils. We use a pure, unadulterated natural coconut oil in our Rehydration Cream and it smells of the dreamy, creamy coconut of the Hawaiian Islands (my long time home and husband’s hometown). Along with some pure unadulterated ocean ingredients like sea kelp it has no known allergens, no volatile compounds and no irritants. Because what’s more natural than the ocean? Absolutely nothing!
P.S. If you're interested in reading more about how EOs are made, we have written a 5-part blog post "The facts about essential oils" in skincare. Check out the first in the series.