Lavender, Peppermint, Orange, Tea Tree, Frankincense.. if you’ve even considered diving into the holistic world, you’ve undoubtedly heard the names of commonly used essential oils. They are a tool that I use often in my home for a wide variety of reasons. But.. did you know that a number of people cannot tolerate them in their skincare? And that essential oils are commonly used in skincare for targeted benefits and to add natural fragrance? If your skin fits into a certain subtype, you might be doing more harm than good when it comes to the products you choose. This post is not meant to vilify essential oils as they are an incredible medicinal addition to any holistic lifestyle, but as with anything, there are pros and cons. There are many reasons why someone may choose to avoid essential oils in their skincare routine. This post will highlight skin types that don’t tolerate EO’s as well and common reactions/signs to know if you might be one of those people. I’m also going to share one of my favourite skincare lines that avoid essential oils and work to target specific skincare needs with impeccably sourced carrier oils from all over the world.
Let me begin this post by stating, Essential Oils are incredibly valuable and hold so many important health benefits. This post should not deter anyone from the overall use of essential oils but to caution people who might react to them topically. This does not mean that everyone must avoid essential oils in their skincare and in some cases they can be beneficial to those who may need help resolving a targeted skin issue.
The Essential Oil industry has exploded in recent decades with its introduction to the Multi Level Marketing (MLM) world. While they were typically only used by those who practice a more holistic lifestyle previously, even the most conventional of households have taken up essential oils in their cleaning products, wellness cabinets and self care products these days. While I do support Essential Oils as a whole and their effectiveness cannot be doubted, this boom in widespread use has also caused a fair amount of misuse and misinformation. There are numerous accounts of MLM companies “training” sales reps to “prescribe” unsafe ingestion of certain essential oils or misapplication/overuse around those who cannot tolerate certain EO’s such as Children or pets. This brings up many concerns for me. I think anyone who wants to add the use of essential oils to their regime needs to arm themselves with a lot of peer reviewed research to ensure they are using them properly. While they are natural, that doesn’t mean you can use them however you please without the potential for side effects or contraindications. They are medicinal after all. I use essential oils in my home to disinfect surfaces and as a wellness tool for acute symptoms. I do not use them daily as there is a potential of overexposure as well as sensitization/allergy development. They must be treated the same as any medicine, as they are incredibly potent and powerful components of plants and herbs.
So, to start, I will address HOW essential oils are created and WHAT they actually are.
The Basics: What is an Essential Oil?
Perhaps it might be helpful to understand what an essential oil truly is to begin this conversation. Essential oils are hydrophobic chemical compounds that have been extracted from various plants. Hydrophobic means they repel water/do not dissolve within waters structure. If you’ve ever added drops of essential oil into your bath water, you will note that they do not dissolve into the water but rather sit on top of the water as floating droplets. They are also highly volatile which means they can evaporate into air quite easily (which explains the common use of diffusing essential oils into the air for medical benefits).
Essential oils are extracted from plants using steam or distillation. There are other methods such as cold pressing and absolute oil extraction, however, steam methods still remain the most commonly used. It requires a LOT of plant to extract a drop of essential oil in many cases. For example, it requires 60,000 rose petals to extract 1 oz. of Rose essential oil. This accounts for the price tags on specific essential oils and low prices can also tip off whether you are getting a top quality essential oil many times. These EO’s are then bottled in amber or dark coloured glass dropper bottles to preserve them and are sold.
Often times, they can be applied topically to solve a variety of skin and health conditions. However, with this practice comes many rules. The biggest rule surrounds the type of essential oil used. Warm oils (such as cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, etc.) are considered too “hot” to be applied to skin, sometimes even with the use of a carrier oil. Their composition from the plant they are derived from as well as the potency of an essential oil itself could cause burning of the skin in ANY skin type. On the contrary, there are other EO’s that are not considered warm oils and are beneficial and non irritating to the dermis in many people. They come with a wide range of benefits and can be incredibly beneficial in skincare if they are sourced properly and used for the right condition or skin type. But this is not an absolute rule. Some people are sensitive to the potency and direct application of essential oils on their skin, particularly on the facial area of the oils are an ingredient in a skincare product. It is also important that any skincare brand that creates products containing essential oils be mindful of the oil rations (dilution rate) present in their products. Adults can generally tolerate around 3-5%, while children are much lower or depending on the oil used are zero tolerance.
Another thing to consider is that often times essential oils should not be applied directly to the skin by themselves. They are quite potent and can create contact irritation or even burning. Diluting you’re EO’s with a carrier oil (ie. coconut oil, jojoba oil, etc.) will help you avoid this concentration issue. This is also the method used to remove essential oils on the skin if irritation occurs. If you happen to have an accident or apply too much EO to your skin, use a carrier oil to rub into the area to remove the EO. Water will not dilute or remove an Essential Oil from your skin.
How to DETECT sensitive skin that is reacting to an Essential Oil
So how do you know if you might be one of these people that should avoid essential oils in their skincare routine? Some times it is obvious and immediate, you may be someone with incredibly sensitive skin that reacts to any type of fragrance or too many compounding ingredients in skincare products. But sometimes it is no an immediate reaction and occurs over time of prolonged use or application.
Skin reacting to Essential Oils often causes:
- reddening of the skin immediately after application
- reddening of the skin hours after application that doesn’t seem to let up
- drying out of the skin, rashes or scales developing
- rosy cheeks that remain and often look like rosacea
- break outs that appear allergic or even acneic in nature
- bumps that appear when using skincare products and don’t resolve until cease of said product
In addition to the reactions that occur on the outer layer of the skin, there are other side effects that occur when using EO’s topically. Some people may experience headaches from the robust aroma of the EO itself. As we know, essential oils are incredibly potent and also take with them the aromatic properties of the plant they were extracted from. There is also the opportunity for allergic reaction based on a person’s bio individuality. Specific situations that could cause reactions should also be noted: such as specific illness, autoimmunity, pregnancy, nursing, or the dramatic hormonal postpartum period. Not to mention, children and babies are MUCH more sensitive to the potency of EO’s than we as adults are. Oils applied to babies and children must be diluted at a much lower rate than the 3-5% commonly used in adults. There are also a select few EO’s listed as safe for children so as to not cause side effects. This does not mean that certain essential oils are not beneficial for children (as I’ve stated above, I use EO’s in my household for many acute ailments), but extra caution MUST be taken when dealing with them. It is imperative that you do your own research as a parent and consult a holistic medical professional before using any essential oils with babies or children.
Photosensitivity: Side Effect of Some Oils
There are also other instances where caution should be taken when applying essential oils to the skin. Some oils cause photosensitivity which could make you susceptible to burns from UV exposure. Oils that are most photosensitive are generally in the citrus family such as: orange, lime, lemon, grapefruit, bergamot.. but that doesn’t mean they are the only ones that cause this side effect.
My TOP recommendation for Essential Oil Free Skincare: Wabi Sabi Botanicals
Years ago I began testing a brand that had created a product line that was dedicated to using impeccably sourced carrier oils and hydrosols that targeted issues like aging, acne and hyper-pigmentation. The entire line was created with sensitive skin in mind, making it a great choice for just about anyone. The products were organic, ethically sourced, and sourced for high quality. This was Wabi Sabi Botanicals, and since the first time I opened a bottle of my favourite (their best selling) Light Reveal Serum, I have adored every single thing that Elysse (the founder) has created. She is so knowledgeable and dedicated to crafting magical skincare potions that TRULY work. This is not a ‘throw a bunch of trendy ingredients together and slap a label on it’ type of operation. This brand is meticulous in their creations and the effectiveness of each product reveals itself on your skin. She really curates products with oils that are exotic and not often used in skincare making them so special and unique. Each time I’ve use a new product from the line I have been consistently blown away. This is one of those skincare brands that I strongly recommend because I personally would spend my own hard earned money on them. This is a quality control question that should be important in the world of blogging.. if you won’t spend your own money on it, why promote it? Well Wabi Sabi hits that mark and MORE. I could go forever using these products as the results you receive from them also get better and better over time!
Accessibility and Affordability
When Elysse crafted this recent re-launch, she made incredible efforts to ensure her skincare would be accessible to more people. She decided to work on bringing the price point DOWN making the products much more affordable. This isn’t a practice I see often in the world of beauty and especially not during a re-launch. Often times brands will take the opportunity to increase sales and profit margins which is completely their right. However, the respect I have for someone willing to shuffle price points to reach more people is huge.
All Wabi Sabi products range from $28-$48.
3 Step Start Set: Effective & Simplified Skincare
She also bundled her 3-Step Starter Set at a discounted price of $110 (which you can save further with my 15% discount code ‘BLOOM’ at checkout). This 3 step starter kit contains three of my favourite products:
Here are a few key quality things to consider about the Wabi Sabi brand:
- Impeccable sourcing of ingredients for their effectiveness and purity
- Skincare that could fit all skin types
- Serums that target certain skin types and ailments specifically (ie. aging, acne, hyperpigmentation, sensitivity)
- Essential Oil/Fragrance Free Skincare
- Nourishing ingredients to the skin (they literally FEED your skin the good stuff)
- QUALITY skincare products
- The use of non-irritating and incredibly nourishing carrier oils, hydrosols, etc.
- Well priced (recently adjusted to be more affordable to everyone in their recent re-launch)
- No concerns over use of certain essential oils in product during pregnancy, nursing or postpartum
- Wabi Sabi supports fair trade ingredients only and has donated back to Women in developing countries in support of their business efforts.
- Wabi Sabi has a new initiative to plant trees for products sold
Wabi Sabi Product by Product Review + Guide
1. Light Reveal Serum
Light Reveal Serum is my favourite serum in the entire line. Just the colour of it alone is captivating but it also represents the oils being in their raw and most potent state. This serum is meant to illuminate a dull and tired looking skin tone. It helps reduce hyperpigmentation, scarring and uneven skin tone over time. It is the ultimate serum in providing bright, even toned complexion.
The rich and bright orange hue comes from the addition of sea buckthorn oil and astaxanthin which are both incredible oils to use for pigmentations and scarring issues. They also target and work to prevent sun damage. The oil provides a dose of Vitamin C and Vitamin E to the skin which are important aspects in facial skincare.
My skin LOVES this stuff.. I immediately notice a reduction in uneven skin tone after using this for a few days. Over time, scarring and pigmentation starts to fade. With prolonged use you may start to notice that your skin tone has evened out dramatically. It helped me reduce the scarring I had incurred from cystic acne years ago and I can’t praise this serum enough. The texture of the serum is beautiful and silky, and the naturally derived scent from the ingredients uses is intoxicating! The rich golden orange hue (pictured below) of the oil immediately gives my skin an illuminating glow. It absorbs well but leaves the skin supple, moisturized and plump. This is one I would strongly recommend and it is the serum that is bundled in her 3 step routine.
2. Blemish Correct Serum
The next serum I want to address is the Blemish Correct Serum that helps calm, heal and prevent breakouts of the skin. This is a great choice for anyone who experiences acne and wants an essential oil free option to heal their skin. As we know, acne is rooted in the liver and internal issues must also be addressed when healing this skin condition. However, the healing can be expedited with the use of a nourishing and targeted product like this one. It will create a balance of healthy oil production on the skin mantle which is imperative in reducing acneic breakouts. My personal experience with healing acne was by adding healthy and nourishing carrier oils and hydrosols to my regime, which felt backwards to me after years of hearing that I needed to “dry out” overproduction of sebum/oil. This was so far from the truth, as I learned that my skin required a state of homeostasis which was achieved by applying nourishing oils to my skin. It balanced out my skins natural oil production which had been aggravated by the stripping of moisture I had been practicing for years. When you strip your skin of moisture, it will fight back by over producing oil and causing more breakouts. By supporting the skin, you will help achieve a balanced production of protective and healthy oils.
3. The Giver Cleansing Oil
I have always been the biggest advocate for cleansing oils. They are the holy grail of cleansers for anyone who experiences acne, dryness or premature aging. It is a great way to dissolve makeup and remove it from the skin. Not to mention, oil dissolves oil.. so it will take with it any overactive sebum production but leave behind nourishing and balancing oils for the skin mantle. All Oil cleansers are not created equal, as with any product type, and my favourites are almost always the ones with the shortest ingredient lists. Organic and high quality carrier oils are the most important aspect of a good oil cleanser and there is no need to add fragrance or anything fancy unless you are trying to target a very specific issue.
Wabi Sabi has created The Giver Cleansing Oil which sits in my top 3 favourite oil cleansers. This is a huge statement considering I have tried SO MANY oil cleansers to date. Instead of adding potentially aggravating ingredients, Wabi Sabi has added skin boosting properties like coffee and vitamin C which will both help with the overall appearance and health of your skin over time.
One of the best parts about this cleanser is that with the re-launch it is RINSABLE. No need to use a face cloth to rub off the oil, it comes off with a splash of water. This makes it such a good choice for makeup removal and skin cleansing as nothing is left behind on the skin.
Coffee contains natural amounts of caffeine which is touted as a powerful anti aging and skin plumping agent. While Vitamin C is one of the most powerful vitamins available when it comes to skincare. It nourishes the skin from the inside out and creates a bright, renewed, vibrant complexion. With all of these nourishing ingredients, I also like to use this cleanser as a mask. That’s right, if you leave it on your cleansed skin for a while the ingredients will double as a mask treatment. I leave it on for about 15 minutes when I have the time before misting with their toner. This extra boost of caffeine sitting on the skin is a game changer and I strongly recommend you try this out!
4. The Offering Probiotic Orange Blossom + Frankincense Toner Mist
Toners are often overlooked in the world of skincare, but they are one of the most powerful items you can use. Not only do they hydrate the skin, but they create an environment on your face that will aid in absorption and uptake of products applied after using it. When the skin is wet, it can absorb serums and oils more effectively.
The Offering Probiotic Orange Blossom Toner was upgraded with probiotics to help restore the microbiome of your skin. We all know the important of the gut microbiome, but our skin and largest organ has its own microbiome or ecosystem so to speak. When you support the skins microbiome, you set yourself up for healthy and glowing skin. In addition to probiotics, this toner contains:
- Blood Orange: skin brightening
- Green Tea: to help keep skin clear
- Aloe Vera: calming, redness reducing
- Adaptogenic Mushrooms: soothing, calming and nourishing
- Frankincense Hydrosol: antiseptic & anti-inflammatory
- Ferulic Acid: anti-aging & aids in absorption of other products
Besides the obvious benefits of the probiotics and hydrosols used in this face toner, I have to touch on one of my pet peeves when it comes to face mists. That is how well the bottle itself mists the product into your face. Nothing is worse than spending money on a toner that shoots out in a single strong stream like a water gun. You need a toner that disperses evenly in a fine mist over your entire face. Not only is it much more satisfying, but it’s more evenly applied and you need less mists/product to achieve an application. The offering mists PERFECTLY! It’s one of my favourite bottles for this.
5. Valley of Light 2-in-1 Face Mask + Exfoliant
* FAVOURITE MASK ALERT *
I have raved about this mask for a LONG time now. I always preferred “wet” masks as I found so many dry masks dried out my skin and caused irritation from the harsh rapid drying clays commonly used. There are only a small handful of dry masks I will recommend and the Valley Of Light Mask is probably one of my very favourites to suggest. Not only does it avoid those irritating clays that don’t work for so many people, but they use such effective and exotic ingredients. I see a HUGE difference in my skin when I use this mask and it’s super AFFORDABLE at only $34 for a generously sized jar.
Not only is it a mask, but when you wash it off in circular motion you are getting a manual exfoliation that leaves your skin refreshed and ready to absorb serums and moisturizers easily. My favourite ingredient in this mask is COFFEE. That’s right, just like the cleansing oil, this product contains caffeine rich coffee to help slow down aging and invigorate your skin. Here’s what else you can find in this mask:
- Organic Arabic Coffee (Natural Caffeine)
- Raw Volcanic Cacao
- Hibiscus (Brightening & Calming)
- Reishi, Cordyceps, Chaga (Adaptogenic Mushrooms)
- Temulawak (Javanese Turmeric)
- Guarana (Natural AHA)
All of these rich, nourishing and exotic ingredients will create the most balanced and soft skin. I use this once a week with the 3-step routine. My skin is left calm, plump, and radiant.. I love applying the Light Reveal Serum after this treatment. My skin has never glowed the way it does after using this regime. It’s incredible!
After vetting this brand for years and baring witness to their dedication to the customer (this is huge), to ethical and impeccable sourcing, to creating accessibility, and ensuring skincare that works for many if not all skin types, I strongly recommend their products. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend these products and skincare routines to anyone who wants to boost the health and vitality of their skin.
My personal suggestion would be to try the 3 step routine, it will help you get a good idea of how well these products work at a very good value (only $110 for all 3 products, plus my discount code for an extra 15% off makes it a steal for luxury natural beauty). If you’re looking to take your skincare to the next level, you could choose to add on the valley of light face mask or an additional serum targeted to your skincare goals. They have a handful of serums that target different ailments: aging, moisture, hyperpigmentation, acne, etc.
I couldn’t end this blog post without talking about the ethical practices Wabi Sabi has ensured they maintain. Their sourcing is fair trade, and they ensure all artisans are given fair wage. She has been a champion in giving back to Women in developing countries who wish to grow their businesses. Most recently, Wabi Sabi has dedicated themselves to planting a tree for every product sold.
To Shop Wabi Sabi, head to their website HERE.
You can save 15% OFF at checkout with code ‘BLOOM’
* This post was sponsored by Wabi Sabi Botanical’s. As always, all thoughts and opinions are authentic and completely my own. *
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