One of the things that has always interested me is why cosmetic companies use aromatherapy oils so liberally. You only have to glance at the cosmetic shelf to find orange oil, lemon oil, bergamot oil and lavender oil being used frequently in cosmetics and a question I always ask is what is the purpose of it being there?
The discovery of essential oils was when Renee Gattefosse burned his hand and dowsed it into a barrel of lavender oil. As a result the skin was found to have no scarring. We must bear in mind I that this was a one off use a not put on the skin on a daily basis, as is the case with cosmetics that contain lavender. It was also at 100% concentration, something that is illegal in cosmetics and would actually be considered to be a drug.
There are many oils that have therapeutic benefits and essential oils undeniably had benefits for the skin, for example Rose essential oil has been shown to normalise skin cell turnover. Rose oil also has strong antioxidant activity. Lavender oil has been clinically proven to kill or staphylococcus aureus, however lavender is also known to cause allergies and is phototoxic. Studies were done that showed that lavender lacks natural antioxidant activity and when exposed to air actually oxidizes and forms allergenic peroxides. These react with the skin and can cause pigmentation.
Lavender contains 44% Linalool as a part of its chemical makeup. Linalool is known as an allergen. There are 26 listed cosmetic allergens and 16 of them come from mother nature. There are also regulatory compliance issues with regards to essential oils. If an aromatherapy oil contains an allergen it must be listed on the actual product. There are also cosmetic regulations with the use of essential oils that contain allergens and as such they have a maximum limit permitted for use for leave on products and rinse off off products. if Lavender is present in a cosmetic product at over 100 parts per million (0.01 %) in a rinse off product and (0.001%) in leave on products.
The listed 26 allergens are below. 16 of them are found in the majority of aromatherapy oils. Our selection of aromatherapy oils we used was scrutinized against this list to avoid those that allergenic properties.
Lavender is one of the known photo toxic agents. Upon exposure to UV light it causes an increase in burning and also can create pigmentation formation to occur at a later stage. Continued use in cosmetics is not something we advise, especially when there are a wide selection of aromatherapy oils that you could use to replace it.
What is even more interesting is that cosmetics which contained lavender (remember that there is a limit to how much they are permitted to use) where found to be absolutely useless with activity. The concentration that was used was insufficient to actually provide any antibacterial activity.
The problem with this industry is that many have been hood winked by the green beauty brigade. The allure of natural is seducing and many consumers think that just because a product is natural that it is inherently better than a synthetic one. This is not necessarily true. I am a herb freak but I am also not ignorant and naive enough to think that everything that comes from mother nature is beneficial, especially when applied topically.
There are also many home hobbyists who are making skin care who don't have any idea of cosmetic regulations of permitted concentration of some ingredients. With the advent of DIY skin care, as Estheticians we are seeing more and more damage to skin. Often we are left to try and work out how to mop up the damage that could have been avoided in the first place by using products that are correctly formulated. Something I learned years ago is that I simply can't dye my hair myself. I go orange. It ends up costing me more money then for someone to fix it. So if I choose to be blonde I go to an expert. Choosing to see an Esthetician is the same thing. They know what is best for your skin and how to get your skin fixed in the quickest time.
About the Author
Jacine Greenwood is an internationally recognised educator who is known within the industry for her up to date knowledge and her ability to deliver training in an easy to understand method.
Jacine holds 6 Diplomas and 2 Bachelor Degrees and her knowledge is well respected by her peers. She is also a qualified Cosmetic Chemist, Esthetician and Aromatherapist. With over 22 years experience in the industry and a background of cosmetic formulation, Jacine has an immense knowledge of current trends in research and new developments in the industry.
Jacine has been continually educating herself in all aspects of skin function and cosmetic chemistry for the past 22 years. Jacine's knowledge is current and has a vast knowledge of the active ingredients that are being released onto the market.