There’s no doubt that having smooth, healthy-looking skin goes a long way to making us look and feel younger. Unfortunately, many of us suffer from common male skin problems such as lines and wrinkles, dry skin, spots or acne, shaving rash and greasy skin.
There are hundreds of skin problem-solving creams and lotions to choose from, all claiming to be the one you need to give you the beautiful skin you’ve always wanted but how can you be sure that those magic ingredients will do what they promise?
It is important to keep your facial skin moisturised with a good quality, vegetable based cream or lotion.
Adding certain essential oils and other plant extracts that have a reputation for their beneficial effects will help to keep your skin looking smooth, clear and fresh.
The next few pages will detail the essential oils I feel you need to include in your skin care routine simply because their benefits have been observed over a long period of time.
Flick through any men’s magazine and you will see dozens of full page, glossy advertisements for the latest ‘wonder cream’ for men. The marketing text will boast that the cream contains some new, miracle ingredient whose rejuvenating properties can be yours.
One way is to opt for a product that contains ingredients that have been used for hundreds, even thousands of years to help keep skin young looking and healthy.
Even today, practitioners around the globe use the natural plant extracts you will read about in this chapter to minimize the formation of wrinkles and keep skin looking fresh and healthy. There are a number of plant oils that have been proven to deeply penetrate the skin and rejuvenate it from within.
These oils are not like the vegetable or mineral oils you find in shop-bought cosmetics. Their texture is so fine and light they look and feel more like water than oil and it is these bio-active liquids that are the essential ingredient in a branch of herbal medicine called aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of plant-based bio-active substances from flowers, trees, shrubs, leaves, stems, roots and fruits for psychological and physical well-being and it can take many pounds of plant material to make up just one tiny bottle 10 ml of concentrated oil.
Although the word ‘aromatherapy’ was only coined fairly recently, it has its origins in the most ancient of healing practices, for the plants from which we obtain essential oils have been used in one form or another since man first became aware that he could use plants to heal.
A French chemist by the name of René-Maurice Gattefossé became interested in the use of essential oils for their medicinal use in the early 20th century. Previously, he focused on the aromatic use of essential oils, but his interest in their medicinal use grew after an accident heightened his curiosity. While working, he burned his arm rather badly. By reflex, he plunged his burned arm into the closest liquid which happened to be a large container of lavender essential oil. The burn he suffered healed quickly and left no scar.
Gattefossé is credited with coining the now familiar term of ‘aromatherapy’ in 1928 in an article he wrote supporting the use of using essential oils in their whole without breaking them down into their primary constituents. .
Robert B. Tisserand is a English aromatherapist who is responsible for being the first individual to bring knowledge and education of aromatherapy to English speaking nations. He has written books and articles including the highly respected 1977 publication The Art of Aromatherapy – the first aromatherapy book published in English.
From the late 20th century and on into the 21st century, as the limitations and unwanted side effects of mainstream medicine have become more and more evident, the public have shown a growing interest in more natural medicinal products, including essential oils, for therapeutic, cosmetic and aromatic benefit. The use of essential oils never ceased, but the scientific revolution minimized the popularity and use of essential oils in one’s everyday life.
Today’s heightened awareness regarding the use of synthetics coupled with the increased availability of aromatherapy information within books and the Internet has refuelled the use of essential oils for therapeutic, cosmetic, fragrant and spiritual use.
The natural chemical composition of each essential oil differs according to the plant from which it is extracted and therefore the therapeutic benefits of each oil can also differ.
One thing all essential oils have in common is their ability to be readily absorbed by the skin. That’s because their unique molecular structure allows them to pass through the cells that make up the outer, semi permeable layers of the skin and into the bloodstream and cells where they can have beneficial effects.
Here’s an interesting experiment you might like to try to prove this to yourself. Garlic has been used medicinally for nearly 5000 years. Its unique anti-viral and anti-bacterial chemicals help treat high blood pressure, coughs, colds, acne and asthma.
Garlic oil also contains essential oils. Break open a capsule of the oil and massage it into your skin, somewhere on your body. Within a few hours you should be able to smell the garlic on your breath without ever having eaten it! That’s because the oils have been absorbed through your skin and have made their way around your body to the respiratory system. Be careful – garlic oil has been known to irritate the skin in sensitive people.
Another thing all essential oils have in common is that they are to a lesser to greater extent, naturally anti-bacterial and antiseptic, so using a cream or lotion containing an essential oil will go some way to help keep spots and pimples at bay.
Essential oils are highly concentrated substances and should always be diluted in a vegetable-based carrier cream, lotion or oil before application to the skin. Sunflower and sweet almond oils are light and easy to use. If your skin is dry, heavier oils such as avocado or wheat germ may be more suitable. Most vegetable oils contain naturally occurring vitamins which are also of great benefit to the health and appearance of the skin.
Do not apply essential oils directly to the skin, dilute them according to the following guidelines:
20 drops of essential oil to 60 ml of carrier oil or lotion.
10 drops of essential oil to 30 ml of carrier oil or lotion.
5 drops of essential oil to 15 ml of carrier oil or lotion.
Please also note that you should use these oils for external use only and avoid contact with the eyes.
Do not use essential oils on babies or young children without the advice of a qualified aromatherapist. If you are epileptic, have liver damage, are taking medicines, have cancer, or have any other medical problem, consult qualified aromatherapist or your medical practitioner before using these blends.
A skin patch test should be conducted prior to using an essential oil that you’ve never used before. If you suffer an adverse reaction stop using the blend immediately.
The author cannot be held responsible for any adverse reactions experienced from using these home-made treatments and the reader uses them at his or her own risk. Consult your doctor or a qualified aromatherapist if in doubt.
In a series of articles, we will be looking at how various combinations of essential oils can treat common skin ailments, including wrinkles, shaving rash, spots, acne, greasy skin and more so check back soon.