As the search and desire for natural products continue to emerge, we face the dilemma of exactly which natural ingredients are good for us. Not all natural ingredients are equal in their profiles of health and safety. Common ingredients found in products are natural essentials oils. Read on as we explore the benefits and risks of essential oils.
So what are essential oils exactly?
Essential oils are simply the oils from the plants that they are extracted from. These oils are not “essential” for health but, rather, they are the essence of the plant’s signature scent. There are different ways that the oils can be extracted from plants including distillation, direct expression, and solvent extraction (using chemicals to extract the desired oil).
What are the most common essential oils on the market?
There are many different essential oils on the market but the most common are Roman chamomile, Clary sage, Eucalyptus globulus, Eucalyptus radiata, Lavender, Lemongrass, Mandarin, Neroli, Peppermint, Rosemary, Tea tree, Thyme, and Ylang ylang.
What benefits do natural essential oils offer?
History has shown that essential oils have been used medicinally and recently there has been an interest in their use in aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils for their healing properties. Through aromatherapy, essential oils are commonly inhaled or applied to the skin by massage. There are many claimed benefits from essential oils including anti-inflammatory potential, calming and soothing properties, and healing relief. Chamomile is known to be anti-inflammatory, calming and soothing for children. Other anti-inflammatory oils include lemongrass, thyme, and tea tree oils. Oils known to be calming and soothing are chamomile, lavender, and sage. Eucalyptus and rosemary are commonly used to help respiratory decongestion.
Which natural essential oils are the safest and have the lowest potential for an allergic reaction?
When considering the safety of essential oils, first consider the quality of the oil. You want high quality oil for your baby. Other safety considerations to review are how much it could irritate the skin, its potential for causing an allergic reaction, and whether or not it might cause a reaction to light (photosensitization).
Undiluted essential oils can be irritating to skin so almost all essential oils are significantly diluted to a 0.5% to 2.0% concentration. Essential oils commonly known to cause dermal (skin) irritancy at higher percentages are oils from bay leaf, cinnamon leaf or bark, clove bud, citronella, lemongrass, oregano, and thyme.
The potential to cause an allergic reaction (allergic sensitization) is an important risk of using essential oils in a continued manner. Since these oils commonly come from plants, there can be poison-ivy like rashes caused by essential oils over time. Allergic sensitization occurs after repeated use of a substance. When an ingredient is placed on the skin again and again, the body’s immune system can target a specific protein in that substance and become allergic to it. This can happen randomly. The essential oils having a higher allergic potential are cinnamon leaf or bark, Ylang ylang, Jasminum grandiflorum, and Balsam of Peru. Essential oils with a lower allergenic potential are oils from lavender, rosemary, and thyme.
Finally, photosensitization, or reaction to light, occurs when a substance has a reaction with the ultraviolet rays and then that altered substance produces a rash on the skin. Common photosensitizers include Bergamot, Citrus limonum, Citrus senensis, and Cumin.
So, which essential oils provide a balance between benefits and risk?
There are arguments on which essential oils provide the best balance. However, oils from lavender, rosemary, and thyme are definitely on the list.
All Baby Pibu™ products are developed from naturally-derived ingredients. Baby Pibu™ Bathtime Wash, Baby Pibu™ Baby Butter, and Baby Pibu™ Baby Sunscreen contain lavender oil in a safe, low-dose percentage. We recommend these products in your baby’s daily skincare routine. Your baby’s skin will stay protected and healthy, and your baby will smell delicious.
Here’s to healthy, sweet-smelling baby skin!
~ The Baby Pibu™ Team