Are Essential Oils Overrated? For Your Skin, Maybe

Are Essential Oils Overrated?
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Essential oils are touted as miracle elixirs that offer a host of benefits. But when it comes to skincare, are they really all that and a bag of chips?

To say Marie Veronique knows what she is talking about when it comes to skincare is an understatement. The eponymous founder of Marie Veronique is a trained esthetician with degrees in math and science and was once a high school chemistry teacher. Her daughter Jay Nadeau is a physicist and bio-medical engineer and works with Marie Veronique to create effective products that target and absolve real skin issues, from acne to aging.

Essential Oils: Fair-Weather Friend

Veronique’s approach to skincare goes beyond blanket qualifications, such as “toxin-free”, and avoids playing into marketing hype. R&D is the fastest growing department in the company and it reflects her quest to provide real results to her highly-selective customers.

So, when Marie Veronique released a collaborative line with Kristina Holey that entirely omitted essential oils, we scratched our heads: Does this mean essential oils are bad?

Veronique clarifies her intentions with the line: “We do not oppose using essential oils. We use them judiciously in many of the CoreLine Marie Veronique products. We chose to omit them entirely within the collaborative line with Kristina Holey to eliminate one factor in the guesswork with sensitive skin issues.” There’s the catchphrase: sensitive skin. Everyone I know, including myself, seems to have this elusive condition. Does that mean all of our essential oils elixirs have been doing us dirty all this time?

Veronique clarifies, “My general stance on essential oils is that their beneficial aspects are overrated. Many studies attest to the value of micro-nutrients likevVitamins A, C, E and B complex, as well as lipids that supply essential fatty acids, effecting positive change across a wide range of skin care concerns such as aging, breakouts and sensitive/sensitized skin reactions,” she explains. “And while there are studies demonstrating the benefits of individual essential oils with respect to anti-microbial or anti-fungal properties, when it comes to the category of reactive skin there are other studies emerging that suggest that the overuse of volatile organic compounds can initiate or exacerbate skin sensitivities, or even cause contact dermatitis.”

The quality of the essential oil, its measure, and the way it interacts with other ingredients in the formulation all have an impact on how the essential oil will affect your complexion. A subtle variation in any of these factors could be the make or break for your skin. Trusting the company behind your skincare products is, well, essential.

Dara Kennedy, founder of Ayla Beauty, an online non-toxic skincare shop that lists thoroughly-vetted natural skincare products and provides sage skincare guidance, insists that we should all care more about where we are getting our skincare products and advice from.

“It’s important to use products that are formulated by bona fide experts,” she says, “and it’s also important that the essential oils in those products are of the highest possible quality. Variation in raw materials can have a major impact on the activity of an essential oil.”

And  Kennedy says she doesn’t recommend a full regimen of essential-oil-heavy products, “especially if you have sensitive skin, because that’s usually when problems occur: they might be in everything from your hand soap to your body lotion to your facial products, all of which you’re using every single day.” Marie Veronique formulated Dara’s Oil specifically for Kennedy’s super sensitive skin as a skincare step that gives the skin a break from essential oils and thus minimizes potential reactions.

The Takeaway

While essential oils indeed have their praise-worthy benefits, their use doesn’t always equate with safe. The best way to know if essential oils are right for you is to test them out on your own skin, but, and I mean BUT!, only if you’re getting your essential oil laden products from the right source.

Kennedy knows a thing or two about choosing the right skincare companies to worth with and, ultimately, trust with her complexion. She says, “With all products in general, try to find out if there’s more to them than a pretty package and a nice scent. I love brands like Marie Veronique, TWELVE, and BioRecept, where the founder is the formulator — and the formulator is very, very highly skilled — because there’s a real understanding of how their products work on people. I also love brands like MyHavtorn, which actually grows the sea buckthorn they use in their products on their own farm. There’s a real closeness to the product that leads to a great quality level and great results.”

At the end of the day, if you find your skin reacts sensitively to skincare products containing essential oils, opt for a skincare line that is essential-oil-free.

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Aylin Erman
Aylin Erman

Aylin is founder of GlowKitchen, a food blog with an emphasis on vegan and gluten-free fare. Aylin has been living in Istanbul, where she is founder and CEO of a cold-pressed juice and healthy foods company JÜS (www.jusistanbul.com).