Aromatherapy & Herbal Preparations for the Treatment of Skin Problems
by Susanna Fox
Purpose of the Research
To research the properties of the raw materials for use in Aromatherapy and Herbal treatments for mature skin, acne and blemished skin, and eczema-prone skin conditions, and to use these raw materials as substitutes for pharmaceutical products, by making one’s own products at home.
I am an Aromatherapist, whose primary interest is in using Aromatherapy within the home, to support the holistic health of the family.
My concern is to treat two teenagers, one with long-term dry eczema, and the other with the spots and blemishes that accompany puberty. I have maturing skin and am interested in natural products that combat the aging process. This has led me to take courses in the making of creams, lotions, shampoos, conditioners, gels and lip salves for every day use.
1. JCD, male, 14 years old, entering puberty and attending school.
He is actively involved in sport and outdoor activities. He showers rather than bathes. He eats a well balanced diet at the weekend, but at school, he misses traditional dinners and substitutes snacks and sweets. He does not have dandruff and uses a normal hair shampoo. He has had mild eczema at times since he was a baby and has used hydrocortisone on occasion. He was breast-fed. The greater problem at present is an over production of sebum around the central “T zone”, leading to oil around the hair line, and causing spots on the forehead, under and around the fringe area and down the nose.
- Cut the fringe.
- A shampoo that has a medium-strong detergent, with rosemary infusion and cedar essential oil.
- A gel created from witch hazel, aloe vera, tea tree and lavender, for application on the spot itself. No moisturiser is needed for the face at this age.
- A face mask of green clay, castor oil and jojoba oil blend, and liquid made from an infusion of chamomile flowers, sorbitol, with orange and geranium essential oil.
- A face oil for acne – blend together and apply in the evening: 70% Thistle (safflower) oil, 13% Jojoba Oil, 5% Borage Oil, 10% E- vitamin oil and 2% A-vitamin Palmitate.
2. JJD, male,17 years old, attends college.
He spends a lot of the day sitting down but cycles to college in all weathers. He eats a less-than-perfect diet of high-saturated fatty foods, though his vegetable and fruit intake is increasing. The diet is acidic. He bathes regularly as opposed to showering, uses a commercial anti–dandruff shampoo for prevention of dandruff, and a mild vegetable soap that contains essential oils, more for aroma than treatment.
His eczema has been present since he was a small baby, exacerbated initially by bottle-feeding. A great improvement was seen when dairy produce was cut out of the diet. He had bottle soya milk followed by soya products until he had his MMR injection (which includes albumen) and this triggered of a major flare up of the eczema. After this, having a dairy diet or a soya substitute diet was immaterial and had no effect. The eczema is controllable, but over the years he has used hydrocortisone (steroid) when the eczema was at its worst. He is not currently using this.
- A shampoo containing an infusion of nettle leaves for itchy scalp and dandruff, that is otherwise very gentle in its detergents. An infusion of cleavers may also be beneficial as an alternative to nettle.
- Eczema treatment cream containing shea butter, castor oil, thistle (safflower) oil, evening primrose oil, a decoction of comfrey roots and wild pansy and an infusion of lady’s mantle and German chamomile. It also contains aloe vera concentrate, and vitamin E oil to nourish the skin.
- Trying to encourage a different diet at present, seems to be a battle lost.
3. SJF (Me) female, mother of three teenagers, 44 years old, with maturing skin that is medium to oily.
There are fine pores, a few red veins, and the skin round the eyes is on the brink of wrinkles. The body skin is in good condition, but needs looking after at this time. The elbows get dry and flaky due to leaning on a desk at work. The muscles of the shoulders are considerably bothersome due to an old injury from childhood where the trapezius muscle in the left shoulder was torn, and from currently sitting at a desk in front of a computer for seven hours per day. Hair is medium to dry, and coloured.
- For the occasional spot, a witch hazel, aloe vera, tea tree and lavender gel straight onto the spot.
- Cleansing using a face mask of pink clay, almond and jojoba oils, sorbitol, with essential oils of geranium for cleansing, and frankincense and carrot seed for anti-wrinkle properties and combating lack of tone and elasticity.
- Bathing foam that is PH balanced containing a small amount of omega fat restorer was added to readdress the effect of the detergents on mature skin.. Chosen essential oils can be added to the foam bath mixture before it is mixed with running tap water..
- Shampoo created from a stronger detergent mixed with a milder detergent in a 2:1 ratio, with a small amount of omega fat restorer, and essential oils to include geranium and rosemary or lemon balm and rosemary. For the liquid, an infusion of lemon balm creates a soothing aroma for the hassled working mother. Phytokeratin protein was added for extra shine and strength.
- Facial cream to combat wrinkles containing jojoba oil, shea butter, rosehip oil, vitamin E oil and rose hydrolate or infusion. Frankincense and Carrot seed essential oils were added for their anti-wrinkle properties. Siberian Ginseng extract was added at the end for firming and toning properties.
- Body Cream with shea butter for regeneration of skin cells, supported by an infusion of rose petals and lavender, which has skin regenerative properties.
- Massage oil base of almond oil with 10% jojoba added. Juniper, and analgesic essential oils such as geranium and Roman or German chamomile combat the pain that comes from the seizure of the supraspinatus muscle, and overlying posterior (lateral) triangle of trapezius muscles on the left shoulder.
The creams and lotions, bath foams and gels, shampoos and conditioners, and lip salves produced by the cosmetic industry to treat normal, oily, dry, sensitive and problem skin are often unconducive to the skin type and the treatment of the condition. Simply adding essential oils to ready made products, though quick and easy, is not the most beneficial way of treating using essential oils.
Some products actively make the problem worse. The body starts to rely on the product instead of the product supporting the body’s own natural functions. A healthy, well-balanced skin produces the right amount of sebum to enable it to function. If the skin over-produces sebum, the whole organ of the skin needs to be re-balanced. However, if products that strip away oil are used, the skin will over-produce sebum to compensate and re-address the balance. The condition of over production of sebum is then aggravated rather than diminished. This can lead to spots and blemishes, or acne.
Gentle cleansing and toning using geranium essential oil with a cleansing oil such as castor oil or castor oil blended with jojoba, works very well and does not dry out the skin. Vegetable oils absorb fat-soluble dirt. Castor oil is barely absorbed as it is fatty and remains on the surface of the skin. Jojoba oil is very similar to the skin’s own sebum and is cleansing and nourishing.
Clay is an effective cleanser of impurities and while it tones the skin, it also works as a very gentle abrasive to exfoliate the dead skin cells. Used in a face pack, it increases the blood circulation. White clay is used for sensitive skin, pink clay for normal skin, and green clay for normal to oily, or problem skin.
A simple clay mask can be made from fine clay, a hydrolate such as rose, orange, lemon balm or chamomile flower water, with cleansing oils such as castor oil, or almond and jojoba blended. The hydrolates are astringent and tone the skin, tightening it and supporting circulation. Essential oils that cleanse and balance can then added. Suggestions are: geranium, ylang ylang, frankincense, and a very small amount of rosemary. Rosemary is strong and contains some ketones which may irritate, so only a little is used. Citrus oils such as lemon are cleansing, but increase the photosensitivity of the skin, and should not be used in sunny weather. However, the essential oils used on the skin as part of the clay mask, are then washed off. This is different to using a lotion that sits on the skin and is not washed off. Even so, caution and good sense should be applied.
A White Clay mask for sensitive skin, can be made from white clay, apricot kernel oil, and sorbitol (or glycerine). Chamomile essential oil is very calming and soothing, as is lavender. I would advise against using much essential oil, as this is aimed for delicate, sensitive facial skin. Instead use a hydrolate of chamomile or lavender or an infusion of chamomile or lavender flowers. This will gently benefit the skin.
A Pink Clay mask for normal and mature skin, can be made from pink clay, almond oil (or castor oil) and, sorbitol (or glycerine). Add the essential oil of geranium for cleansing, and carrot seed and frankincense to combat aging and wrinkling. Rose absolute is an excellent choice, but practically, it is very expensive, and after wearing the mask for ten minutes, it will be washed off. Instead, use an infusion of rose petals, or rose hydrolate. This additionally enhances the aroma.
A Green Clay mask for normal to oily, and blemished skin, can be made from green clay, castor oil, and sorbitol (or glycerine). Add essential oil of geranium to cleanse, with a very little rosemary. Lemongrass is helpful for treating certain skin conditions such as acne, rough skin patches, and open pores as it is antiseptic, but it contains the aldehyde, citral, which may irritate, so it is worth patch testing before use. Orange oil or lemon balm are cleansing alternatives to lemongrass, and cedar oil will give the aroma a base note.
Rather than stripping the skin of all its oil, and provoking more oil production, use the alternative method of gentle cleansing, followed by a gel that is astringent on the spotty and blackhead area.
Each of these masks has been tried and tested on myself, SJF, and are pleasant to use and give gentle and thorough cleansing.
A gel can be created using witch hazel (hamamelis) as the liquid, and xanthan gum to create the gel’s consistency. Aloe vera concentrate was added, and the essential oils tea tree and lavender give it antiseptic yet soothing qualities. Witch hazel contains a high proportion of tannins, and this is what gives it its astringent quality. It is alsoanti-inflammatory. The same gel can be used for insect bites. JCD reported that it immediately felt good to use, dried up the small pimples, and reduced inflammation around the larger spots. I have used it myself for an oily area of skin, and it worked very well. It also had a soothing effect on an itchy insect bite. It has now become a standard part of our medicine cupboard.
Facial Massage Oil for Acne
Blend together and apply in the evening:
70% thistle (safflower) oil, 13% jojoba oil, 5% borage oil, 10% vitamin E oil and 2% vitamin A palmitate. The thistle and borage oils are rich in Omega 6 and 3 fatty acids respectively, the vitamin E oil is a natural antioxidant and the vitamin A palmitate dries the skin a little and provides the nutrients for the body to support the healing of the acne as a condition. The nutrients are carried in the lubricating jojoba oil. (Aromantic Ltd – newsletters).
If products are used that seal the surface of the skin, as happens with paraffin and petroleum products, the self-cleansing efficiency and self-lubrication of the skin is affected. The pores become blocked and the skin stops functioning sufficiently. This is likely to cause problems. A vicious cycle of treatment, the condition flaring up, treatment, the condition flaring up….is set up. Paraffin and petroleum gel do not have vitamin or mineral content to nourish the skin. They sit on the surface and stop the evaporation of moisture, which gives the initial impression of moisturisation.
Commercial lip salves are to the greater extent made from petrolatum, paraffin, and paraffinum liquidum, and this has resulted in dry lips that flake, chap, and crack. Even if the salve contains ingredients such as Aloe Vera and Vitamin E (tocopheryl acetate), the salve does not promote the healing and self-maintenance of the lips that one would expect. One week after stopping using a commercial lip salve (SJF used it several times a day for 26 years!) the result was perfectly smooth healed lips.
Lip Salve p. 43 Borseth, (2007)
The lip salve uses 28% beeswax, 20% cocoa butter, 50% almond oil, along with 2% essential oils*. The choice of wax, butter and oil is crucial, as the melting points of the fats are important to gain the right consistency of product. The resulting product can be placed in a small tub, or a lip salve tube.
The essential oil choice is more difficult. Peppermint is often used by commercial companies, but using the essential oil makes the lips cold and tingly. This may be the sensation desired. Citrus oils increase photosensitivity of the skin and should be avoided. This leaves wood, herbal, spice and flower choices which a person may not wish to taste. The mixture smells very nice without any aromas being added, as the beeswax gives a mild honey smell to the product.
* If the 2% essential oils are left out the balance of ingredients must be adjusted to cater for this loss, so 2% vitamin E oil could be added instead…
A commercial massage oil with essential oil of cypress was given to SJF as a present. The content of the bottle was paraffin oil, and this, though lubricating, does not nourish the skin or benefit it in any way. Nor does it work as a good carrier oil for the cypress essential oil. This was bought from a company that prides themselves on the use of vegetable ingredients.
Massage Base Oil
A far better massage oil is grapeseed, as it nourishes the skin. A little jojoba oil can be mixed with this to increase the “length” of the oil-blend (i.e. for effleurage, it gives a ”long glide”). Macadamia oil blended with grapeseed benefits mature skin. For aches and pains, (SJF) juniper is a better choice than cypress, as it moves uric acid and toxins from the muscle areas, stimulating the circulation to support the massage techniques.
Juniper essential oil is antiseptic, anti-rheumatic, antispasmodic, astringent, and is a stimulating tonic. It is carminative, a stomachic and a diuretic, which purifies the system. It increases the circulation of the blood and may be sudorific. It heals wounds, sprains, ulcers and bruises.
The main chemical components of juniper oil are Terpenes, which restrict the accumulation of toxins and help the body, get rid of the existing toxins from the liver and kidneys. : a-pinene, camphene, b-pinene, sabinene, myrcene, a-phellandrene, a-terpinene, y-terpinene, 1,4-cineole, b-phellandrene, p-cymene, terpinen-4-ol, bornyl acetate, cayophyllene and trace amounts of limonene.
Camphor, a terpenoid, and borneol are cooling and analgesic, nerol is a monoterpene that is anti-inflammatory and analgesic.
Linalool is a terpene alcohol which has an uplifting and energising effect
Esters such as linalyl acetate are sedative and antispasmodic.
Analgesic essential oils that compliment juniper are geranium and Roman or German chamomile.
Juniper massage oil has a very therapeutic effect on the back, neck and shoulders when massaged in using effleurage, petrissage and deep tissue massage, followed by tapotement and finished with effleurage.
Creams recommended for eczema, such as E45 cream, are created from white soft paraffin BP 14.5% w/w, and light liquid paraffin Ph Eur 12.6% w/w, neither of which allows the skin to function, though it does stop moisture evaporating. It also contains the animal product lanolin 1.0% w/w, which is obtained from sheep wool, sometimes called wool fat. It should not be used where there is a sensitivity or allergy to any ingredient. Although the lanolin is stated to be hypoallergenic, it will not suit those who do not wish to use a product including animal fat.
The ever-recommended Aqueous Cream, is made from a mixture of emulsifying ointment (which contains paraffin oils) and water, with phenoxyethanol as an antimicrobial preservative. This is used by people who are allergic to lanolin, and who do not want animal fat in their products.
Steroid Creams and Ointments: the use of hydrocortisone (steroids) for eczema can seem like a lifesaver when first used, but the steroid represses the eczema rather than curing it. Using a steroid cream for a prolonged length of time, or over-using the product, can cause skin to atrophy and it becomes more susceptible to fungi and bacteria infection.. At this point, the eczema will become worse. It has also been known for patients’ skin to develop the appearance of stretch marks. Loss of skin pigment may occur, the blood vessels swell, and the blood stream may absorb the steroids, which then affect the other body systems.
If a person is using steroids, they should not stop using them and should seek medical support before weaning themselves off gradually. Zinc may be used as a replacement for the steroids, but is a helper, not an exchange of medication. In the case of JJD, who has had eczema since baby-hood, the eczema has never been “cured” by use of hydrocortisone, and the eczema has remained well into their teenage years.
Nourishing Skin Creams for Dry and Problem Skin Conditions
Active Cream for Eczema (Aromantic and Crearome 2005)
The fats used in this cream are shea butter to help regenerate the skin cells, castor oil to protect, and thistle (safflower) oil that contains.
Contains up to 81% linoleic acid (Omega 6 Essential Fatty Acid) and helps people who may have eczema because of a deficiency in linoleic acid. Evening primrose contains high quantities of gamma linolenic acid (GLA) which is used by the body to make dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid essential for the production of prostaglandin E1, an important hormone-like chemical that reduces inflammation (amongst other functions).
A decoction using 300ml spring water with 2 grams comfrey roots, and 6 gr wild pansy (heartsease) was boiled for 20 minutes. After being taken off the boil, 2 grams lady’s mantle and 2 grams German chamomile were added and left to infuse for 10 minutes. These were strained to give the liquid for the cream. A preservative must be used when adding herbal decoctions and infusions to any product..
Comfrey has a high carbohydrate content and is considered to be good for the rejuvenation of the skin.. It has healing, soothing and moisture retaining properties. It combats rough and damaged skin and can help alleviate wrinkling. The allantoin in comfrey helps promote skin cell regeneration, helps the skin’s resilience, and counteracts dryness and cracking.
Wild pansy is healing, cleansing and soothing and can be used in compresses, baths, creams and ointments. It is effective in helping to treat problem skin. When combined with comfrey it helps rejuvenate the skin.
Lady’s mantle’s leaves and roots are supposed to soothe and cleanse. It is healing for dry, sensitive skin. It combats swellings, and is good for chapped and broken skin on the hands and feet.
German chamomile has sedative and relaxing properties. It is used on the skin for its cleansing and soothing benefit. It especially benefits sensitive and irritated skin.
Other herbs that could be used are thyme, birch, lavender, nettle, linden blossom, horsetail, and cranberry blossom.
Optional: Zinc may be added to the cream to help balance the body when steroids such as hydrocortisone are being used. It can substitute the action of the hydrocortisone, while the client is being weaned slowly off the steroid. Zinc is very good for skin, hair and nails. However, it is a drying ingredient, and may be left out if treating dry eczema. As JJD has dry eczema, and is not using hydrocortisone at present, I have not used zinc.
Glycerine provides a moisturising element, and aloe vera is added to the cream as it allegedly eases pain and reduces inflammation.
Vitamin E Oil is added. Although there has been limited research, vitamin E is used to encourage the skin to heal, and reduce scarring. Natural vitamin E exists in eight different forms: four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. The Vitamin E oil added to the cream is natural, and not to be mistaken for the synthetic or semi-synthetic varieties used for capsules and general cosmetics.
Finally, Vitamin A Palmitate may be added. This would be added for a cream to combat wet eczema. One of Vitamin A’s functions is maintaining the skin’s health. For the best result, including Vitamin A rich foods in the diet is recommended, however, Vitamin A applied topically is said to help with skin rejuvenation. It should be noted that using Vitamin A regularly may dry the skin, and encourage flaking. As this is added as a drying agent for wet eczema, I have left the Vitamin A out of the cream for JJD.
For dry eczema, such as JJD suffers from, essential oils that are beneficial are orange, geranium, lavender, sandalwood, german chamomile, peppermint and Moroccan chamomile. (Due to the sensitivities of eczema patch test any lotions that include herbs and essential oils).
Vitamin A Cream (Aromantic and Crearome 2005)
Combining shea butter with thistle (safflower) oil), and borage oil makes a cream that is rich in rejuvenation properties and high in gamma linolenic acids. Thistle and borage oils are very easily absorbed, and balance the fattier shea butter. Glycerine and aloe vera are added along with vitamin E oil and vitamin A palmitate.
Lavender essential oil adds antiseptic qualities, along with regeneration. Its constituents include:
Esters: linalyl acetate and lavendulyl acetate are sedative, antispasmodic, and treat fungal infections. They are gentle on the skin.
Monoterpene alcohol: Linalool has antiseptic, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties and an uplifting energizing effect. This is also beneficial for those with skin problems, as the patient can become quite depressed by the condition.
Oxide: Eucalyptol has been shown to reduce inflammation and pain.
Terpenes: A-pinene, cis-ocimene, trans-ocimene and limonene are terpenes, and have cleansing abilities. The are antiseptic and cortisone-like, cortisone being the steroid in Hydrocortisone.Terpinen-4-ol is also a terpene, interestingly found in high proportions in Tea Tree oil, which is very antiseptic.
Sesquiterpene: caryophyllene which is anti-inflammatory.
This cream can be used as an alternative to the Active Eczema Cream, or it can be used for dry skin that is given to chapping, or cracking. For my role as a “housewife” it is excellent for use after washing up or cleaning.
Vitamin A cream for Mature Skin (My adaptation)
To make a vitamin A cream for mature skin I used the recipe for Vitamin A cream but exchanged the water content for an infusion of lavender and rose petals. This gave the cream astringent properties as well as a lovely aroma and an earthy pink colour. I included carrot seed and frankincense essential oils for their anti-aging properties. The frankincense added base notes to the aroma. I exchanged the borage oil, which has an unpleasant smell, for evening primrose oil.
Facial Cream for Mature Skin
The aim was to make a cream that was lighter in texture and more easily absorbed by the face. Jojoba oil was used, with only a little shea butter, which gave the lighter consistency to the cream. Rose hip oil was added for its beneficial Omega 6 and 3 fatty acids and vitamin E oil provided the antioxidant. Rose hydrolate was used for the liquid element and carrot seed and frankincense for their beneficial properties for mature skin. The frankincense masks the carrot seed smell, and grounds the delicate perfume of the rosewater. A little geranium was added to enhance the aroma (as Rose de Mai is outside my budget). Lastly Siberian ginseng extract was added to lift and tighten the skin
The inclusion of animal products in every day bath and cosmetic products, without the necessity of specific labelling, means that people may use products without knowing if the ingredients come from ethically sound sources. A vegetarian is concerned about the sources of ingredients in products other than food, but it is hard to know whether the shampoo or lotion contains animal by products.
Glycerine, bought form the high street chemist, does not state whether it is from animal sources, or plant. Glycerine must be bought over the Internet from a reputable company that labels the product as vegetal. It has proved impossible to find a source of Glycerine labelled as a vegetable by-product from high street shops in my city.
Products that are tested on animals are not within the boundaries of acceptability for vegetarian users. Many companies advertise the fact that they do not use animal testing for their product. However, the separate ingredients that are used to create the product may well have been tested on animals. When I make my own products I can use raw ingredients that are sourced separately from a supplier that does not use animal testing.
The Inclusion of Animal Products in Bathroom Products
The following is by no means an exhaustive list. However, these are commonly found in commercial products:
Lanolin – is the fat in sheep’s wool, and it is present in a wide range of cosmetics and lotions, as well as chewing gum and fabric treatments.
Oleinic acid – derived from sheep and cattle fat, is used in butter substitutes, cheese, vegetable oils, baked goods, sweets, ice cream and beverages, as well as cosmetics and soap.
Vitamin A – also listed as retinol, can be derived from cod liver oil or egg yolks, and is used to fortify foods as well as being old as a supplement on its own. It’s also sometimes found in cosmetics.
Glycerides – can be derived from either animal fats or from plant sources. They’re found in many products, including processed foods, cosmetics, hand lotion, ink, glue and antifreeze.
Allantoin – is uric acid from cows, and other mammals. It can also be found in many plants (especially comfrey). In cosmetics (especially creams and lotions) and used in treatment of wounds and ulcers.
Alpha-Hydroxy Acids – these acids are used as an exfoliant in anti-wrinkle products. Lactic acid may be animal-derived (see Lactic Acid).
Ambergris – comes from whale intestines and is used as a fixative in making perfumes and as a flavouring in foods and beverages.
Amino Acids – are the building blocks of protein in all animals and plants. They are used inn cosmetics, vitamins, supplements, shampoos.
Animal Fats and Oils – are found In foods and cosmetics,and many other products. They are highly allergenic.
Arachidonic Acid – is a liquid unsaturated fatty acid found in liver, brain, glands, and fat of animals and humans. It is used in skin creams and lotions to soothe eczema and rashes.
Benzoic Acid – is found in almost all vertebrates and in berries. It is used as a preservative in mouthwashes, deodorants, creams, and aftershave lotions.
Biotin, Vitamin H, Vitamin B Factor – is found in every living cell and in larger amounts in milk and yeast. Used as a texturizer in cosmetics, shampoos, and creams.
Carmine, Cochineal, Carminic Acid – this is the red pigment from the crushed female cochineal insect. It is reported that 70,000 beetles must be killed to produce one pound of this red dye. It is used in cosmetics, shampoos, red apple sauce, and other foods (including red sweets and food colouring). May cause allergic reaction.
Cetyl Alcohol is a wax found in spermaceti from sperm whales or dolphins.
Chitosan – is a fibre derived from crustacean shells and is used as a lipid binder in diet products, in hair, oral and skin care products.
Cholesterol – A steroid alcohol in all animal fats and oils, nervous tissue, egg yolk, and blood.. Can be derived from lanolin. It is used in cosmetics, eye creams, and shampoos.
Collagen – the fibrous protein in vertebrates. Usually derived from animal tissue. Can’t affect the skin’s own collagen. An allergen.
Cortisone, Corticosteroid – is a hormone from adrenal glands. Widely used in medicine. Alternatives: synthetics.
Emu Oil – from thenative Australian birds that are factory farmed due to demand. Used in cosmetics and creams.
Fatty Acids – can be liquid and solid acids mixtures, such as caprylic, lauric, myristic, oleic, palmitic, and stearic. Used in bubble baths, lipsticks, soap, detergents, cosmetics, and food.
Fish Scales – are used in shimmery makeups.
Gelatin – is a protein obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones with water. From cows and pigs. Used in shampoos, face masks, and other cosmetics.
Glycerin, Glycerol – is a by-product of soap manufacture (that normally uses animal fat). It is found in cosmetics, foods, mouthwashes, chewing gum, toothpastes, soaps, ointments, medicines, lubricants, transmission and brake fluid, and plastics. Derivatives: Glycerides, Glyceryls, Glycreth-26, Polyglycerol.
Hyaluronic Acid – a protein found in umbilical cords and the fluids around the joints. Used in cosmetics.
Hydrolyzed Animal Protein is found in cosmetics, especially shampoo and hair treatments.
Keratin – protein from the ground-up horns, hooves, feathers, quills, and hair of various animals, used in hair rinses, shampoos, permanent wave solutions.
Lactic Acid – is found in blood and muscle tissue. Also in sour milk, beer, sauerkraut, pickles, and other food products made by bacterial fermentation. Used in skin fresheners, as a preservative.
Lanolin, Lanolin Acids, Wool Fat. Wool Wax – these are products of the oil glands of sheep, extracted from their wool. Used as an emollient in many skin care products and cosmetics and in medicines. They are also found in chewing gum and products with vitamin D3. An allergen with no proven effectiveness.
Lard – comes from the fat from pig abdomens. In shaving creams, soaps, cosmetics.
Lipoids, Lipids – fat and fat-like substances that are found in animals and plants.
Mink Oil – is from minks and used in cosmetics and creams.
Myristic Acid – is an organic acid in most animal and vegetable fats. In butter acids. Used in shampoos, creams, cosmetics.
Oleic Acid – is obtained from various animal and vegetable fats and oils. Usually obtained commercially from inedible tallow. (See Tallow.) In foods, soft soap, bar soap, permanent wave solutions, creams, nail polish, lipsticks, many other skin preparations. Derivatives: Oleyl Oleate, Oleyl Stearate.
Panthenol, Dexpanthenol, Vitamin B-Complex Factor, Provitamin B-5 – has animal, plant sources and synthetic sources and is found in shampoos, supplements, emollients and in foods.
Placenta, Placenta Polypeptides Protein, Afterbirth – contains waste matter eliminated by the foetus. Derived from the uterus of slaughtered animals. Animal placenta is widely used in skin creams, shampoos, masks, etc
Pristane – is obtained from the liver oil of sharks and from whale ambergris. (See Squalene, Ambergris.) Used as a lubricant and anti-corrosive agent. In cosmetics.
Progesterone – is a steroid hormone used in anti-wrinkle face creams. Can have adverse systemic effects.
RNA, Ribonucleic Acid – RNA is in all living cells. It is used in many protein shampoos and cosmetics
Snails – crushed, are used in In some cosmetics.
Spermaceti, Cetyl Palmitate, Sperm Oil – This is a waxy oil derived from the sperm whale’s head or from dolphins. In many margarines. In skin creams, ointments, shampoos, candles, etc. Used in the leather industry. May become rancid and cause irritations.
Squalene – comes from oil from shark livers, etc. In cosmetics, moisturizers, hair dyes, surface-active agents.
Stearic Acid is a fat from cows and sheep and from dogs and cats euthanized in animal shelters, etc. Most often refers to a fatty substance taken from the stomachs of pigs. Can be harsh, irritating. Used in cosmetics, soaps, lubricants, candles, hairspray, conditioners, deodorants, creams, chewing gum, food flavouring. Derivatives: Stearamide, Stearamine, Stearates, Stearic Hydrazide, Stearone, Stearoxytrimethylsilane, Stearoyl Lactylic Acid, Stearyl Betaine, Stearyl Imidazoline
Stearyl Alcohol, Sterols – A mixture of solid alcohols. Can be prepared from sperm whale oil. In medicines, creams, rinses, shampoos, etc. Derivatives: Stearamine Oxide, Stearyl Acetate, Stearyl Caprylate, Stearyl Citrate, Stearyldimethyl Amine, Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate, Stearyl Heptanoate, Stearyl Octanoate, Stearyl Stearate.
Turtle Oil, Sea Turtle Oil – from the muscles and genitals of giant sea turtles. In soap, skin creams, nail creams, other cosmetics.
Urea, Carbamide – is excreted from urine and other bodily fluids. In deodorants, ammoniated dentifrices, mouthwashes, hair colourings, hand creams, lotions, shampoos,
Vitamin B-12 is usually from an animal source.
Vitamin D, Ergocalciferol,Vitamin D-2, Ergosterol, Provitamin D-2, Calciferol, and Vitamin D-3 – Vitamin D can come from fish liver oil, milk, egg yolk, etc. Vitamin D-2 can come from animal fats or plant sterols. Vitamin D-3 is always from an animal source. All the D vitamins can be in creams, lotions, other cosmetics, vitamin tablets, etc.
Wax – is sourced from animals and plants. It is used inn lipsticks, depilatories, and hair straighteners.
“Natural Sources” This can mean animal or vegetable sources. Most often in the health food industry, especially in the cosmetics area, it means animal sources, such as animal elastin, glands, fat, protein, and oil.
Products Tested on Animals
Although many firms promote the fact that their product has not been tested on animals, and use this as a selling point, the separate ingredients may have been tested on animals. By using self-sourced raw materials from a reputable company one knows exactly where the ingredients have come from and what tests have been made. Animal tested raw ingredients can then be avoided.
The Vitamin E that is added to lotions and creams may be synthetic.
Synthetic vitamin E is derived from petroleum products. The synthetic form is not as active as the natural alpha tocopherol form (the active ingredient in Vitamin E), and although it has not been evidenced through studies, naturopathic and orthomolecular medicine practitioners cite that it is not effective in the treatment of cancer, circulatory and heart disease. While one would not treat cancer with a Vitamin E lotion, one would expect it to contain active ingredients and hope that they came from natural sources.
Semi-synthetic tocopherols are not Alpha tocopherols but have been esterified and methylated to make them more efficient. They then resemble alpha tocopherols. However, these artificially changed tocopheryl esters have not been shown to be effectively absorbed in humans. Yet such tocopherols, such as tocopheryl nicotinate and tocopheryl linolate, are used in cosmetics and by some pharmaceuticals an example of which is Tocopherol Acetate, found in lip salve.
Products containing Vitamin E are commonly used in the belief that vitamin E is good for the skin, but with no understanding as to whether that Vitamin E is natural or synthetic. The labelling on the product carries the words: “tocopherol acetate”, “tocopheryl linoleate” or “tocopheryl nicotinate”. This gives a clue to the initiated, but the average person without a knowledge of chemistry would not relate this to Vitamin E. Some people are allergic to some tocopheryl esters. They may react to it by developing a rash after using topical products with alpha tocopheryl ester
The natural alternative, “Vitamin E – Natural” INCI: Tocopherol acetate, Glycine Soya Oil, Helianthuus Annuus Seed Oil is a GMO-free, food grade Oil approved for use in organic products by the Soil Association. It is extracted from Soya and Sunflower seeds and itis activated on contact with the skin, working as an antioxidant.
Products that are disappointing, and do not meet the need for which they were bought is a more minor problem. How much better is it to concoct a product that is perfectly suited to the user? This does take trial and error. My first attempt at making a body cream was a little heavy, but the next batch was perfect, as the percentage of shea butter was reduced and the percentage of almond oil increased. The control over the balance of products is with the maker, and a product can be made that perfectly suits oneself or a client. These can be adjusted for summer or winter use. Essential oils, which are the focal point of aromatherapy, can then be added to the products to create specific products that treat a condition, or that support the body on a day to day basis, so that it does not have conditions that need treating.
Analysis of the Vegetable Fats
Vegetable fats and oils can absorbed by the skin and nourish the skin and body. Most vegetable oils contain vitamins, and stimulate the skin to function efficiently. If the skin is soft and supple it will keep its own moisture more effectively. Vegetable fats and oils include glycerine, fatty acids, and fat-soluble vitamins. These are used by the body to support its own functions, and this is in keeping with the aromatherapist’s concept of holistic health.
There are four categories of Fatty Acids:
Saturated Fatty Acids. At room temperature, these are solid, although within the body, they become a thick liquid. Animal fats high in saturated fatty acids, such as lard, beef fat and butter, have been blamed for vascular and heart disease when consumed in great quantities. Vegetable saturated fatty acids, include cocoa butter, shea butter and coconut butter. Because they are absorbed very slowly by the skin, they can be used to give massage and skin oils more lubrication. They are not good carriers of essential oils for massage purposes because the molecules are too big for the skin to absorb, and essential oils need a carrier to “carry” the essential oils through the skin into the blood stream. Saturated fatty acids do not go rancid quickly.
Monounsaturated Fatty Acids. This is Omega 9 and the most common are oleic acids, found in most oils. Oleic acids keep well.
Duo (Omega 6) and Poly (Omega 3) Unsaturated Fatty Acids. One common duo-unsaturated Fatty Acid is linoleic acid, and one common poly-unsaturated Fatty Acid is linolenic acid. They are thin liquids that are quickly absorbed by the skin and are “dry” in comparison with the other Fatty Acids. They do not keep for long periods, and have a tendency to go rancid. As a result the anti-oxidant Vitamin E can be added to help preserve them. (Vitamin E is not a preservative).
“Butters” are heavy and not easily absorbed. They are used for protection and the slow feeding of the skin.
Coconut Oil/Butter: this butter remains solid at room temperature, and yet it melts when in contact with the skin. It is used for thickening less fatty massage oils, and stops easily absorbed oils from being absorbed too quickly by the skin. It is often found commercially used as a sun oil.
Palm Kernel Oil/Butter: is very heavy for the skin, and may cause the skin to break out. It Is not absorbed easily. It can be used to add moisturising and protecting properties to all products. It is especially used in soaps, as it saponifies easily. It has a 2-4 year shelf life.
Cocoa Butter: a firm butter used in lip salves along with beeswax and almond oil. It nourishes but protects. It is also good for massage bars, body butter and ointments. It is not easily absorbed by the skin. It adds consistency to products that need to be firm.
Shea Butter: used in skin care products, it has anti-inflammatory properties, and can be used to treat stretch marks. It is also good for combating dry skin and eczema. It gives a beneficial consistency to ointments, creams, oils, lip salves and body butters, as it is in itself softly solid at room temperature. It has a natural sun protection factor of 2 – 3. Because it contains phytosterols, which encourages the formation and growth of new cells, it can be placed on small wounds and infections to help healing take place.
Oils with a medium absorption rate. They are used in lotions and can be blended in a massage to increase nutrition and lubrication.
Neem: this is a half-fat Oil, which is very smelly. It should be used sparingly in Skin Care products. It is a traditional Ayurvedic Oil used for regeneration of dry and sensitive skin, can be used for dry hair, and is used in a range of products to combat gum disease as it is said to be antiseptic.
Castor: a fatty, thick oil, absorbed very slowly into the skin, and therefore very good for cleansing the skin, rather than moisturising it. It is excellent for lip salves, face packs, and for lubrication in a massage oil. However, it will not carry the essential oils through the skin, into the blood stream, so needs blending with an oil that will function as a carrier. It is a first choice for cold processed soap, as the soap stays transparent. It keeps well.
Macadamia Nut: this oil contains anti-oxidising properties and is good for tired, mature skin and skin that needs rejuvenation and moisturising. It is a fatty oil, but despite this, it is readily absorbed into the skin.
Olive: It is best to used cold pressed virgin olive oil. It is a fatty oil, and good for infusing herbs. It is good for massages intended to increase circulation, therefore a good base oil to address cellulite. It has good lubrication, enabling the therapist to work the cellulite deposits without having to re-administer the oil. However, it has fairly large molecules and is not fine enough for solo use in a massage to carry essential oils through the skin, and into the bloodstream.
Almond: a light fine and odourless oil that is ideal for a general massage. It relieves itching and soreness, and helps to reduce inflammation. It is used to combat aging and wrinkling. It can be used on the body and facial skin and is good for most skin types. It can be mixed with grapeseed for massage.
Peach/Apricot Kernel: this is another prunus oil (as is almond) and very good for massage. It is excellent for dry skin, or sun baked skin, mature and sensitive skin. It is semi-fatty and easily absorbed.
Jojoba: excellent for massage, or blending with another oil for massage as it has a long glide effect. It is very similar to the skin’s own oils (sebum) and is cleansing.
Avocado: this is usually blended with another oil, such as grape or almond oil, and contains many nutrients such as Carotene (Provitamin A) Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) and Vitamins D and E. It contains Fatty Acids, Phytosterols, and Lecithin. This oil helps to prevent stretch marks and is good for dry and tired skin. It is good for treating damaged or injured skin.
Sesame: this oil is semi-fatty, and can be used in sun-care products as it has a natural sun protection factor of 2-3. Most people, including babies, can tolerate this oil, and it is a good oil for use round the eyes.
Pumpkin Seed: is high in zinc content and it excels where a lifting effect is sought. It can be used in products for the face, abdomen, upper leg, and breasts. It is also high in vitamins, minerals and Omega 3, 6 and 9.
Sunflower Seed: This oil contains a high level of linoleic acid (Omega 6 Essential Fatty Acid) and can be blended with other oils, and used in many kinds of products that contain vegetable oil. It is a “dry” oil, so best suited to oily skin. It helps reduce the size of pores. It is absorbed fairly quickly and spreads easily. It is used for massage, though often in a blend with grapeseed.
Grapeseed: an excellent all round oil used for massage. It has good lubrication, yet the molecules are small enough to carry the essential oils through the skin, into the blood stream. It gives excellent lubrication and can be enriched by blending it with oils high in omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids.
Thistle (safflower) oil: this is a very useful oil for delicate areas such as the face, and can be used as a beauty oil. It is thin, runny and absorbed easily by the skin. As a result, it is beneficial for people with oily skins. It contains up to 81% linoleic acid (Omega 6 Essential Fatty Acid) which is vital for maintaining body health. People with skin problems may have a deficiency in linoleic acid. Use thistle oil in blends to render other oils less fatty, and increase the absorption of the blend.
Borage (Starflower): this oil contains a high content of Gamma Linolenic Acid, which the body needs to create prostaglandins. Prostaglandins combat wrinkling and aging of the skin, the suppleness, and light sensitivity. It contains up to 24% more GLA than evening primrose oil, and has become very popular taken internally as a capsule. It is also taken for premenstrual tension, menopausal symptoms, and arthritis. It is usually blended with another oil, and a minimum of 5% needs to be used for it to be effective. Eczema and psoriasis can be treated with borage oil, and it has proved effective.
Evening Primrose: an excellent oil for treating the effects of eczema and psoriasis. It helps to combat premenstrual tension, and the symptoms of the menopause. It is high in Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA)
Hemp Seed: this oil contains Omega 6 Essential Fatty Acid, and Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids and can be used to improve conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and acne. It is rich in Gamma Linolenic Acid which benefits sufferers of premenstrual tension, menopausal symptoms, and it may help combat diseases such as arthritis, and inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. It is very dry, and good for normal and oily skins, but for massage it needs blending with an oil such as grapeseed.
Rosehip Seed: – softens dry chapped skin and reduces redness. It can be used to treat the effects of eczema and psoriasis. It contains Omega 6 and 3 Essential Fatty Acid.
Saturated fats are very nourishing for dry skin. Good lubrication is needed because the skin does not respond well pulling the when massaging. However, they do not absorb easily. Duo oils are “dry” oils and should not be used, or only added in small amounts and balanced by adding an oil such as macadamia or jojoba which are very lubricant. A moisturiser containing sodium lactate and sodium PCA, urea, hydrolysed vegetable protein and sodium pH (www.aromantic.co.uk sell it as “NNF” Moisturiser) can be added to products for mature skin that is losing its natural moisture, as this helps.
Use the oils and fats, but not the essential oils (or very sparingly), as these might irritate the skin. If lavender or chamomile essential oils are desirable, test on a patch of wrist or inner elbow skin first, as they may well be found to be suitable. Hydrolates or infusion of chamomile flowers are suitable inclusions for sensitive skin products.
Jojoba oil mimics the skin’s own oils and cleanses it. Caster oil is very cleaning but sits on the skin’s surface. Although caster oil is cleansing it is fatty, and is best kept for cleansers rather than lotions and creams.
Duo unsaturated oils reduce the size of the pores and they are “dry” oils so suitable for people with oily skins. Astringent hydrolates or infusions such as witch hazel and rose are suitable inclusions in cleansers. Rose infusion can be included for the liquid element of a cream. Gels dry the skin, so use of aloe vera gel, perhaps one containing a percentage of witch hazel hydrolate, will clear blackheads, open pores and sooth pimples.
Acne and Teenage Spots
Witch hazel infusion or hydrolate, with tea tree and lavender have been tested and found excellent in combating pimples and spots. Gentle cleansing using essential oils and infusions with soothing antiseptic properties have been proven in the case of JCD to work well.
Eczema comes in many different forms: atopical which is hereditary, discoid which are circular areas and occurs only in adults, gravitational or statis eczema caused by bad circulation in the veins of the lower legs, seborrhoea eczema occurs where there are sebaceous glands and may be associated with dandruff fungus infections, pompholyx eczema occurring in bubbles on young adults, usually on areas of thicker skin.
Compresses of chamomile, green cabbage and ribwort or chickweed can be used to alternately soothe, and then draw the eczema, then soothe again.. At first, a soothing chamomile compress can be used for up to a week but after that different compresses should be used each night.
The diet can be changed to include a lot more alkaline foods as this will help the body heal itself. Chamomile infusions make soothing baths, again only use for seven days in a row before changing the infusion. The body gets used to the herbal treatment and the condition starts to become immune.
Massage oils can be made from rich combinations of nourishing fats and oils: shea butter, olive and jojoba oil, apricot kernel, rosehip, thistle (safflower) oil, and borage oil.
Oils for creams are chosen depending on whether it is a dry or wet condition. Dry eczema responds to thistle (safflower) oil, rosehip oil, evening primrose oil and borage oil, apricot, jojoba, sesame, macadamia, shea butter, and olive oil. Wet eczema responds better to Thistle (safflower) oil, Borage oil, Rosehip oil, jojoba, camellia, and shea butter.
Zinc, and Vitamin A Palmitate benefit the treatment of wet eczema conditions, and Vitamin E is used as an antioxidant.
Infusions and decoctions for dry eczema are wild pansy, thyme birch, lavender, nettle, linden blossom, horsetail, and cranberry blossom. For wet eczema use lady’s mantle, sage, hyssop, chamomile and yarrow.
Essential oils should be carefully used as the eczema may react. However, with care (and testing before use) dry eczema responds to orange, geranium, lavender, sandalwood, german and morrocan chamomile, and peppermint.. Wet eczema responds to bergamot, tea tree, geranium, juniper, german and morrocan chamomile, and myrrh.
Herbal Compresses, Infusions and Decoctions
Using compresses, and incorporating infusions and decoctions in the products, is where Aromatherapy and Herbal therapy overlap.
The essential oils from the plant, in a compress, are absorbed by the skin, and this treats the condition. Infusions of soft plant matter and flowers, and decoctions of stalks, seeds, kernels and roots can be used in the making of lotions, creams, gels, shampoos and conditioners.
Working with essential oil combinations
The basic formula for choosing a balance of essential oils is to choose a top note, a middle note and a base note and blend the essential oils together in a carrier oil. This works well for massage oils. However, knowing the essential oils chemical compounds and understanding how they work on a particular condition is vital to prepare a product for treating a particular condition.
Sometimes top note essential oils are not suitable, and sometimes base notes are too heavy. Many top notes are citrus and encourage light sensitivity, so are not suitable for inclusion in a face lotion. Hands, the tops of feet (in sandals) arms and the backs of legs are also vulnerable areas for the sun to catch. A lotion containing top note citrus essential oils, applied hours ago may create a sunburn condition that was not wanted or intended.
Some essential oils smell quite unpleasant (carrot is not a personal favourite) yet the benefit gained by using it outweighs the smell. This can be masked by choosing a suitable essential oil with a strong aroma that supports the less favourable essential oil’s function.
An oil containing ketones may be too irritant even though it may have the beneficial chemical compounds for the condition if used in tiny amounts. I avoid sage oil, but will use rosemary in shampoo to stimulate the scalp because it is soon washed off. I would not use rosemary in a facial cream.
Patch testing the inner elbow or wrist is necessary to ensure that the skin will not react to the blend of essential oils used. Also, when an infusion or decoction has been used in a product, then essential oils from the herbs and plants used are already within the liquid. Add essential oils with care to ensure that the product is not being over laden with “goodness” to the detriment of the condition it is treating.
Fats and oils from vegetal sources are excellent for the skin, but the therapist needs to understand the ways the fats and oils work. Some highly lubricating oils (castor) sit on the skin’s surface and will not carry essential oils through into the bloodstream. Grapeseed’s molecules are small enough to allow that function, as will prunus oils. However, grapeseed has the “long glide” that ensures good effleurage. Prunus oils benefit from 10% added jojoba to increase the gliding effect. Dry, “short” oils need mixing with other oils, and add the Fatty Acids that the body needs for health. If essential oils are being used to treat a condition, their healing properties can be re-inforced by choosing a carrier oil that supports the healing of that condition. The finished products are honed by trail and error. It gives huge pleasure and satisfaction to use creative skills to make these products, and then to have the treat of using them, understanding the beneficial healing properties of all the raw materials that combined to make them.
I acknowledge the part that Aromantic Ltd has played in my research into the raw materials, the recipes and tuition to enable me to conduct the research and make the products, and the availability of the raw materials from the website www.aromantic.co.uk
Aromantic and Creearome Recipe Brochure 19, 2005 (Active Cream for Eczema)
Borseth, Kolbjorn The Aromantic Guide, Aromantic Ltd 2007
Aromantic Ltd newsletters available on www.aromantic.co.uk
(Animal Product research)
Copyright © 1999-2008 HappyCow’s Vegetarian Guide (Animal Product research)
Lim, Evelyn Side Effects With Using Hydrocortisone Cream As Eczema Treatment ©2008 EzineArticles.com – All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
http://ezinearticles.com/?Side-Effects-With-Using-Hydrocortisone-Cream-As-Eczema-Treatment&id=496825 (Eczema Treatment research)
Evidence on the effects of Aloe vera sap on wound healing is contradictory ref. Aloe vera: a systematic review of its clinical effectiveness.
B K Vogler and E Ernst
Department of Complementary Medicine, School of Postgraduate Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Exeter.
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