By Blythe Copeland, TreeHugger
Essential oils have their place secured in a natural beauty routine: They’re natural, chemical-free alternatives to everything from traditional cosmetics to potentially toxic fragrances. But many can do a lot more than just smell good: While we can’t say with authority the 10 oils highlighted here are miracle cures, throughout history they’ve been credited with treating problems including digestion issues and acne; increasing concentration; killing germs and much more.
The bright scent of peppermint does more than freshen your breath: It is also used to soothe nausea and other stomach issues, help stop itching, and cool overworked muscles (thanks to the menthol).Add drops of peppermint oil to a bowl of hot water and breathe in the steam to fight congestion, or rub diluted oil into sore muscles. And that’s not all: Peppermint is a key ingredient in oil mixtures that fight PMS, act as an all-natural alternative to VapoRub, cool sore throats, and quiet headaches — and it’s often credited with increasing concentration, so ideal for a mid-afternoon alternative to coffee pick-me-up.
Image: Dave Catchpole / Creative Commons
For Anita Boen, who runs an organic farm that provides herbs and oils to upscale spas, lavender is a go-to oil for almost any situation: Not only is it one of the few oils that is gentle enough to use undiluted, it’s a “virtual first aid kit in a bottle.”The antibacterial properties allow it to fight germs (which is why it’s also such an important ingredient in many all-natural cleaning products for home and body), and, like peppermint, it’s often credited with aiding digestion and helping fight headaches.
Lavender oil’s soft scent is said to help calm the nervous system, improve sleep quality, combat joint pain, and fight everything from urinary disorders and respiratory problems to high blood pressure and acne.
Sesame oil may be best known for its moisturizing qualities, which make it a favorite ingredient for hair and skin treatments.But the health benefits go beyond beauty: Sesame oil has a slight SPF factor, contains fatty acids believed to lower stress and blood pressure, and has been shown to help slow the growth of cancer in cells.
Image: antaean / Creative Commons
This rose by any name will smell as sweet: Look for it labeled as Rose Otto, rose oil, or rose essential oil, and choose oils produced in Bulgaria and Turkey for the highest quality. These slightly-distilled oils won’t have the strong scents of oils used for perfumes, but they are more popular with aromatherapists. Nature’s Gift calls rose oil “the ultimate woman’s oil,” because it has a reputation for improving hormone balance, treating PMS and menopause, counteracting problems in the bedroom, and improving the look and health of your skin.
Planet Green suggests including geranium oil as an ingredient in a PMS-fighting solution, but it’s also well-known for its astringent properties — which allow it to refresh skin — and its styptic aspects, which calm inflammations and stop hemorrhaging.You can also use geranium oil to treat acne, and oily skin, boost circulation, and decrease bloating. The oil can reduce the appearance of scars and blemishes, get rid of body odor, and contract blood vessels to diminish the appearance of lines and wrinkles.