Trends in fashion and beauty always come full circle. First, it is shunned, then after a few years it slowly comes back into trend and then, it is the Holy Grail. The latest product to join the list is oil.

There was a time when oil (consumed and applied) was considered the reason behind every skin woe. But ask anyone on the internet now; Essential oils are everywhere right from skin and hair care to mental wellness and even building immunity.

Essential oils are the essence of plants that are extracted through various processes of distillation and concentration- which separates the oil and water-based compounds of a plant by steaming – to maintain the pristine flavour and aroma of the plant. The oils are comprised of very small molecules that your body can absorb through the skin or nose. Once in your system, they interact with your body in various ways.

Essential oils are also slightly on the expensive side because a lot of produce is required for its production. About 2, 50,000 rose petals are required to distill 5mL of rose oil and approximately three pounds of lavender flowers are required to produce just 15mL of lavender essential oil. They are highly concentrated and only a small amount is necessary to induce a powerful benefit.

Historically such aromatic and therapeutic oils have been used in various capacities across ancient civilizations of Egypt and Rome and India. The Indian medicinal branch, Ayurveda has promoted the usage of oils such as kumkumadi and nalapamaradi since times ancient but with the advent of cosmetic moisturizers and hydrating creams, this old tradition was forgotten. But now it is slowly gaining popularity with a lot of celebrities and actors endorsing it too!

TOP PICKSPopular essential oils include lavender, chamomile, rosemary, tea tree, thyme, frankincense, clove, sandalwood, rosemary, sage etc. There are supposed to be more than 150 types of essential oils. All these oils have to be diluted with a base oil which is referred to as carrier oil. Some of the best carrier oils include jojoba oil, coconut oil, almond oil and grapeseed oil.

USAGEEssential oils can be used to create an array of homemade skin/hair care products such as face wash, body butter, deodorant, scrub, hair conditioner and a lot more. They can soothe irritated skin, reduce signs of ageing and acne, protect your skin from sun damage and thicken your hair. Surprisingly these oils are also used on the face, but it is tricky to find the right oil so that you don’t end up breaking out!

But the benefits of essential oils aren’t just restricted to the beauty hemisphere. They can be used as a massage oil as they have de-stressing and sleep-inducing capabilities. Some oils are used to decongest the respiratory system in a steam inhalation and even diffusers that can deodorize a room. Some essential oils such as wintergreen and cypress are used to relieve body pains and achy muscles and joints. Certain essential oils have a rich culinary history and can be used as dietary supplements supporting a variety of health conditions. The most common usage is however in a bath or during a shower which can relax the senses.

TIPS

It is wise to research well before you go about joining the essential oil bandwagon. Each oil has its own set of benefits and procedures for dilution and usage.

They should be stored in glass or stainless steel bottles with tightly sealed lids out of direct sunlight as they can evaporate and deteriorate quickly when exposed to light, air, and heat.

Every individual has a unique sensitivity threshold and hence it is crucial to test the oil in small quantity before regular usage. Do this by applying a few drops of the oil an inconspicuous area of skin like the inner thigh or arm. Once the oil is fully absorbed into the skin, observe the area for several hours. If any redness, pain, itchiness, swelling is seen you may have a sensitivity to that oil. . The irritated area can be soothed with coconut oil.

Like all products, there is always the possibility for adulteration in this too. Hence it is important to check for labels that certify that the product is 100% organic and pure, therapeutic grade and indigenously sourced.

Homemade Shampoo

Mix lavender oil, rosemary oil or any other fragrant essential oil with aloe vera gel and coconut milk. Store in an air tight jar. This can be used as a regular shampoo.