When it comes to oil, especially essential oils, people tend to have very strong opinions: They either love them and slather them on any chance they get, or they avoid them in fear of an adverse effect or reaction. We know, trial-and-error in the skincare world is not something to mess around with, so we’ve done the work for you and compiled this guide of everything you need to know about essential oils to have the best skin of your life.
First things first: What are essential oils, anyway?
“Essential oils are fragrant extracts distilled from flowers, shrubs, leaves, trees, root, and seeds,” explains Willie Tsang, CEO of essential oil brand Way Of Will. “They are non-greasy liquids composed of tiny molecules that can easily permeate the cells in your body to promote healing.” Yep, these concentrated liquids can be used for cleaning, brightening, toning and even soothing the skin.
However, before adding an essential oil into your routine, Jo Lu, founder of skincare brand ESYM insists you should “dilute the oils and administer a patch test to ensure you avoid potential irritation and redness. Essential oils are concentrated forms of plants, so people with known allergies should be cautious around using them.” Additionally, “because some essential oils can cause a chemical burn in the presence of sunlight, the need to be washed off completely before going outside, says dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, Director of Cosmetic & Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
Okay, at this point you’re wondering how essential oils work for your skin. Listen up:
If you have acne
Ingredients like rose geranium, lavender, and tea tree oil are most commonly used to treat acne because of their antimicrobial properties. These oils work to reduce the levels of acne-causing bacteria on the skin, which helps calm inflammation and clear active breakouts, says Zeichner.
If you have uneven tone
When trying to improve tone and clear up hyperpigmentation, look for an essential oil like jasmine: "The flower essence extract can reduce the appearance of dark spots and discoloration, while also restoring elasticity and moisture," says herbalist Andrea S. Barone, founder of botanical-based skincare brand Crystal Hills This gentle oil can also be used on sensitive and irritated skin.
If you need to boost radiance
If you need to step up your glow game, add a few drops of rosehip seed or camellia oil into your morning moisture to revive dull and lackluster skin. "Rosehip oils contain a high concentration of linoleic acid as well as vitamins A and E, which are both great for restoring radiance," explains Lu. If you need to eradicate hyperpigmentation, opt for lemon essential oil, says Zeichner, "because it contains skin exfoliating citric acid, which brightens and evens skin tone."
If you want to get rid of wrinkles
It's natural for collagen and elastin in your skin to weaken over time, but rosemary essential oil can stave off fine lines. Frankincense oil has also been shown to calm inflammation and promote healthy wound healing, Zeichner says, "making it a natural option for aging skin and wrinkles."
If you need to relieve dry skin
Dry skin can enjoy surge of moisture most oils, but some do perform better than others in permanently alleviating dehydrated complexions. Look for oils "filled with vitamins and minerals known as carrier oils, which are richer and provide long-lasting hydration," says Tsang. Some popular carrier oils are olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and sweet almond oil.