Essential oils are just oils that you can’t live without. Right?
While it might feel that way, the term actually comes from the word essence. Essential oils are, quite simply, the essence of a plant - concentrated liquids containing the fragrance compounds of individual flowers, trees, herbs, spices, shurbs, shoots or greenery.
Essential oils are predominantly extracted through the process of steam distillation. And, because they usually only require heat, water and the plant itself to obtain, they’ve been used for centuries for all manner of things, including perfume, medicine and flavouring - in fact, cave paintings dating back to the ancient Egyptian era, show people extracting essential oils.
Benefits to body and mind
Nowadays the use of essential oils in medicine is less prevalent, but the oils are still used in everything from bath bombs to fine fragrance - and experience shows that the wonderful smells and aromas really can work wonders for mind, body and soul:
The name lavender is derived from the latin word meaning ‘to be washed’. This is because stems of the fragrant flower were traditionally added to baths to perfume the water. The floral, yet earthy aroma of lavender is calming - and is often added to product formulas and perfumes to aid relaxation and even sleep.
Neroli has long been used to perfume skin - in fact the name is thought to originate from an Italian princess who used the oil to scent her body and clothing. Neroli is often used to lift moods and ease nerves - in fact neroli is one of the few essential oils to be scientifically proven to increase serotonin production in the brain, which makes us feel contented and cheerful.
Peppermint was a favourite ingredient of the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. As well as being very obviously invigorating, the oil is cooling as well as stimulating on skin and can relieve irritation.
Not all essential oils are created equal.
In a world where profit often comes before quality, essential oils are often diluted or mixed with other, cheaper, ingredients to keep costs down. Even though our noses can’t detect it, imitation chemicals, that are not listed in the ingredients, are often added, but these can have lesser, or even adverse effects on skin. This means that well sourced essential oils are, well, essential.
A common ingredient in cosmetics and perfumery, rose oil is a commodity that is in high demand. It takes a large quantity of rose petals to produce even a small amount of oil, which makes it an expensive process - a factor that is reflected in its price. Some rose oil can be found for extremely low prices though, and this discrepancy comes down to quality. Many cheaper oils, when tested, are found to have added chemicals or other, less expensive oils added into them. It’s a tricky world to navigate, and one that can only really be tackled by having control over supply chains.
So, while essential oils may not be strictly essential, responsible buying is. All essential oils used at Lush are sourced from trusted suppliers - so you can be sure to get all of the lovely benefits they boast!