I’ve been making essential oil facial blends a long time – since I first became a certified Aromatherapist, in fact. I used to have a long list of clients for whom I would customize essential oil blends, and for each of them, I would sit down and do a lengthy consultation about their top skin concerns as well as do skin patch testing with specific essential oils. Since I can’t sit with you in person and do the skin patch testing, I am going to ask that you do a skin patch test on your own whenever you want to use essential oils you’ve never used before – it’s very important. The last thing you want is to make up an essential oil blend for yourself and have it be irritating! Red and inflamed are NOT adjectives we want used to describe our face (our lips, on the other hand, are another story, but more on that later).
1.First, de-prioritize smelling good. In general, essential oils smell wonderful, but I just want to make clear that when making a blend for skin care, the emphasis is primarily on effectiveness and only secondarily on how it smells. Some of the oils I like best for skin don’t necessarily win any Fragrance-of-the-Year awards. But don’t worry – you’re not going to stink out your husband or anything.
2. Figure out your skin concerns. Some examples of concerns are oily, acne-prone, sluggish, sensitive, broken capillaries, aging, etc.
3. Choose essential oils that address your skin concerns. If you have oily skin, you’ll want to choose astringent essential oils (astringent means toning and firming of the tissues to decrease discharge). Now, a precaution: many Citrus oils are astringent, but you don’t want them on your face because they can cause phototoxicity (i.e., Bergamot – Citrus bergamia – and Lemon – Citrus limon). Examples of astringent essential oils that work well in skin care are Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica), Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea), Juniper Berry (Juniperus communis), and Yarrow (Achillea millefolium).
If you have acne-prone skin, you’ll want to choose anti-bacterial or anti-microbial essential oils. Another precaution here: some essential oils that are highly anti-bacterial can also be skin irritants (examples are Cinnamon – Cinnamomum zeylanicum, Clove – Szyzygium aromaticum, and Thyme – Thymus vulgaris). I like Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia), Spike Lavender (Lavandula latifolia), Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium var. amara), and Niaouli (also called MQV, an abbreviation of its Latin name, Melaleuca quinquenervia) for acne blends.
If you have hormonal breakouts, then you’ll want hormone-balancing essential oils to help manage cyclically-related pimples. I like Rose (Rosa damascena) for this, but Rose oil is extremely expensive (up to $500/ounce), so you can use Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) and Ylang ylang (Cananga odorata) instead if you want to be able to feed your kids.
If your skin needs rejuvenation or a boost, you’ll want a cell proliferant essential oil that promotes healing and cell turnover. Immortelle (Helichrysm angustifolia) (also called Everlasting) is amazing for this purpose – as evidence, it heals up bruises and scars very quickly. Lavender (Lavandula officinalis or angustifolia) is another good cell proliferant and astringent, so it can serve double-duty in a skin blend.
If you have sensitive skin or broken capillaries, you’ll want to choose anti-inflammatory or vasoconstrictor (constricts blood vessels) essential oils to help soothe and calm inflamed skin. The Chamomiles (both Roman – Anthemis nobilis - and German – Matricaria recutita) are probably the best anti-inflammatory essential oils around. You’ll notice (if you’re an ingredient junkie like me) that they are included in almost every bottle of organic/natural facial lotion or moisturizer. If you don’t believe me, check out the ingredients for Suki’s Intensive Nourishing Cream, Intelligent Nutrients’ Anti-Aging Serum, or Pomega 5′s Anti Rides Nourishing Cream.
The Chamomiles are also good for broken capillaries. Another good vasoconstricting oil we use a lot is Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), which is in a lot of the varicose veins and cellulite body blends you’ll see on the market. (Oh gosh, there’s just so much information to share.)
For aging skin, I really like Carrot Seed (Daucus carrota) essential oil (if you noticed, Carrot Seed was also prominent in the ingredients of the links to the facial moisturizers I provided earlier). Carrot Seed has precursors to Vitamin A, and is highly recommended by Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt, PhD, in “Advanced Aromatherapy: The Science of Essential Oil Therapy” for aging skin that is dull, pallid, and lifeless.
4. Pick your carrier oil. The base oil that you use is also very important. For oilier skins, I like to use a lighter base oil, such as Grapeseed (Vinis vinifera) oil. For drier skins, I like to use a heavier base oil, such as Avocado (Persea americana) oil. For normal skins, I like to use Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) oil, which is the closest to the sebum on the surface of the skin. Another good facial skin care base oil is Peach Nut (Prunus persica) oil, but I can never find this, so I use Apricot Kernel (Prunus armeniaca) oil instead.
5. Formulate your blend. What I would do is pick 4 essential oils that address your concerns and then use them in an equal ratio. You want to do roughly 20 to 24 drops of essential oil per 1 ounce of base oil, so you’ll be using 5-6 drops of each essential oil.
Let’s say you have both acne and hormonal breakouts, oily skin, with some sensitivity. A good blend for you would be:
- 6 drops Geranium (for hormonal breakouts)
- 6 drops Tea Tree (for breakouts in general)
- 6 drops German Chamomile (for sensitivity)
- 6 drops Clary Sage (as an astringent)
- In 1 ounce of Grapeseed or Evening Primrose oil (the latter is good for hormonal imbalances)
Or, let’s say you are concerned about aging, broken capillaries, and dryness. Then a good blend for you would be:
- 6 drops Carrot Seed (for aging)
- 6 drops German Chamomile (for broken capillaries)
- 6 drops Immortelle (for cell renewal)
- 6 drops Lavender (to balance the blend)
- In 1 ounce of Avocado oil (for dryness)
Get the picture? Of course, I haven’t gone into all the possible permutations and combinations of essential oils in this post, or even all of the essential oils you can use in caring for your skin (I’m already massively violating the 300-word blog post rule). But if you have any questions or want a virtual “consult,” please do go ahead and leave them in comments and I will respond as quickly as possible.