The facts about essential oils Part 1 of 5
We see lots of oils on the shelves called essential oils, when indeed they are not. As a perfume designer, essential oils are an important part of the chemistry of fragrances. But as a skin care chemist, it’s best to leave them out. These oils were always meant for perfumes and aromatherapy, never for use on the skin. This is why they must be so diluted before using, if you do want to smell like them. If something needs so much dilution, it is strange to think it’s ok to use on your face.
Straight from the book Perfume & Flavor Materials of Natural Origin by Steffen Arctander 1960:
- “Essential oils are volatile materials derived by a physical process from odorous plant material of single botanicals and from species with which it agrees in name and color. A decent definition, but does not encompass the whole of it.
A better definition per our modern day chemists, essential oils should only be really applied to:
- Any distilled oils as the process of steam or water ensures that only the volatile components are separated from the water and collected.
But they can also apply to:
- Oils expressed from the peels of citrus fruits such as orange, bergamot, neroli, etc. where the volatile oils are separated from the water.
Notice in all three definitions we see the word volatile. Technically, for something to be called essential, it must be a volatile oil or else it’s not an essential oil. Oils pressed from nuts, olives, soy, sesame, avocado, almond etc... are non-volatile and therefore are called carrier oils or fixed oils.
In an upcoming series of posts about essential oils we’ll give you many, many reasons why we don’t use them in our skincare.