Essentials oils have been used throughout history medicinally and as fragrance, and interest has revived over the past several years with an increase in the popularity of aromatherapy. Natural essential oils stimulate our mind and body, promote circulation and support skin cell function, and contain fungicidal and anti-bacterial properties making them a valuable component in beauty and health products. In fact tea tree oil for example, is the strongest known antibiotic in the world.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are concentrated oils extracted from fruit, flowers, leaves, and stems of plants. These fragrant oils help plants to attract insects and protect them against harmful organisms.
Each plant's oil carries a distinctive scent (or essence) with unique properties from the plant, flower, or fruit from which they are derived. Some, like lavender and rose, are used to soothe and calm. Other essential oils are more invigorating — basil and rosemary — and used to boost energy and bring about mental clarity.
How are Essential Oils Produced?
Essential oils are generally produced via two main methods of extraction; steam distillation and cold-pressing. During steam distillation, oil is released from the plant. Oil and water then separate providing the plant's essential oil, called hydrosol or floral water. Lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus oils are obtained through distillation.
Most citrus oils are produced using the cold-press method of extraction. The rinds are ground down and pressed mechanically, releasing a mixture of oil and liquid.
Use in Cosmetics
Many natural cosmetics manufacturers use a blend of natural essential oils to compose their individual product fragrances, Lavera included. These oils are a much safer alternative to synthetic fragrance, which have been linked to skin irritation, headaches, and even birth defects.
Essential oils are also used as a preservative method in cosmetics. We utilize a blend of 18 essential oils and vitamins to preserve our products and prevent bacterial growth. As a result, Lavera products have a 2-3 year shelf life from date of manufacture, without the use of parabens and other synthetic preservatives.
Concerns Over Safety
Some essential oils, like citrus peel extracts, are very effective insecticides and considered to be of low toxicity to mammals. While these oils may be detrimental to the safety of insects and small mammals, the doses used are much higher than those used in cosmetic products, and the subject is much smaller than a human. Essential oils are highly concentrated and should not be applied directly to the skin, but diluted with a base oil, like Jojoba or Sweet Almond. Essential oils should be avoided in high concentrations and not ingested unless prescribed by a health practitioner.
Essential Oils Used in Lavera Products
The essential oils used in Lavera products are 100% natural and pharmaceutical-grade. Our essential oil blend used to impart the Lavera scent is listed on Lavera labels as "Fragrance (Parfum)" with a footnote stating that only natural essential oils are used, never synthetic fragrance. For more information on fragrance labeling in cosmetics please read The Dirty Dozen on our blog.
The primary essential oils used in Lavera products for preservation are:
- Citral — found in Lemon Oil, Orange Oil, Lemon-Grass Oil and Bergamot Oil
- Citronellol – found in Geranium Oil, Muscatel Sage, Sandalwood and Citronella Oil
- Eugenol – found in Clove Oil
- Coumarin – found in Sweet grass and sweet clover
- Geraniol – found in Rose Oil, Geranium Oil, Palmarosa Oil, Lavender Oil and Ylang-Ylang Oil
- Limonene – found in Lemon Oil, Orange Oil, Grapefruit Oil, Bergamot Oil, Fennel Oil and Lavender Oil
- Linalool – found in Lavender Oil, Bergamot Oil, Geranium Oil and Ylang-Ylang Oil
Each of these natural essential oils is used in Lavera products at a range of 0.1% or less to ensure safety and gentleness. These are safe levels of essential oils that not only provide our natural and unique aroma blends, but keep our products fresh and help to prevent harmful bacterial growth. A much healthier alternative to products with synthetic fragrance and preservatives.
Natural essential oils, when used properly, are a safe and effective means of conveying fragrance in a cosmetic product, as well as ensuring the product’s safety.