Selecting skincare products is simply daunting these days. There is so much out there, so many benefits, so many potential problems too…it’s a lot to sort through. Something that comes up a lot are questions about essential oils. What’s the difference between a true pure essential oil, and an extract? Extracts are beneficial and ubiquitous, almost found in every skincare products out there, and they are obtained by a steeping process, much like tea. They are primarily fragrances, but gently benefit the skin in a plethora of different ways and you find them in many, many products. Generally, they will be listed on ingredient labels as themselves, for example “lavender extract”. This June Jacobs Rapid Repair Healing Cream a super re-hydrator, utilizes lots of extracts:
ALLANTOIN 0.50% SKIN PROTECTANT
DIMETHICONE 1.50% SKIN PROTECTANT
INACTIVE INGREDIENTS: WATER/AQUA/EAU, STEARIC ACID, GLYCERIN, CAPRYLIC/CAPRIC TRIGLYCERIDE, BUTYROSPERMUM PARKII (SHEA) BUTTER, C12-15 ALKYL BENZOATE, GLYCERYL STEARATE, GLYCERYL STEARATE SE, ARGANIA SPINOSA KERNEL OIL, CETEARYL ALCOHOL, CAPRYLYL GLYCOL, PEUCEDANUM OSTRUTHIUM LEAF EXTRACT, LEONTOPODIUM ALPINUM EXTRACT, CAMELLIA SINENSIS (GREEN AND WHITE TEA) LEAF EXTRACT, ASPALATHUS LINEARIS (RED TEA) LEAF EXTRACT, LYCIUM BARBARUM (GOJI BERRY) FRUIT EXTRACT, PUNICA GRANATUM (POMEGRANATE) EXTRACT, VITIS VINIFERA (GRAPE) SEED EXTRACT, COLLOIDAL OATMEAL, SQUALANE, TOCOPHEROL, CERAMIDE NP, LINOLEIC ACID, LECITHIN, BISABOLOL, OLEIC ACID, PALMITIC ACID, TRIOLEIN, PHYTOSTEARYL CANOLA GLYCERIDES, CAPRYLHYDROXAMIC ACID, SODIUM HYDROXIDE, XANTHAN GUM, DISODIUM EDTA, COUMARIN, CITRIC ACID, POTASSIUM SORBATE, SODIUM BENZOATE, LEUCONOSTOC/RADISH ROOT FERMENT FILTRATE, FRAGRANCE (PARFUM).]
Essential Oils are also very beneficial, but in a much more potent form of delivery – and are even thought of as medicinal due to the strength of these oils. Essential oils are obtained by steam distillation or cold pressing processes that result in a highly concentrated “oil”. Essential oils are not a true “oil” since they are not lipid based, though. They are placed in carrier oils for use, but generally do not contain the fats that other oils do; they are used for targeting specific issues and are so powerful that few are on the list as “ok” for use by pregnant women. At high concentrations, they should only be used once a day, and once at night, as mixing can be considered adverse. However, many skincare and fragrance products contain low concentration of essential oils so are safe to use liberally. Keep in mind when mixing brands, that using skincare based on essential oils can change the chemical makeup of other skincare you are using with it, so a good general rule is to stick with essential oils brands as a whole for a skin care cycle (60-120 days) and to try other non-essential oil based brands for different benefits in a separate cycle. Our brands that are mostly essential oil-based include: Decleor, Aromatherapy Associates, Pai, Mio Skincare, The Organic Pharmacy, Odacite and a a few others.
This great De Stress Muscle Gel from Aromatherapy Associates includes many essential oils and some extracts as well. The label is helpful because it designates both:
AQUA (WATER), LAVANDULA ANGUSTIFOLIA (LAVENDER) FLOWER DISTILLATE, ROSMARINUS OFFICINALIS (ROSEMARY) DISTILLATE, LAVANDULA ANGUSTIFOLIA (LAVENDER) OIL, ROSMARINUS OFFICINALIS (ROSEMARY) OIL, MELALEUCA CAJUPUTI (CAJUPUT) OIL, PARFUM**, POGOSTEMON CABLIN (PATCHOULI) OIL, JUNIPERUS COMMUNIS (JUNIPER) OIL, ZINGIBER OFFICINALE (GINGER) ROOT OIL, PINUS SYLVESTRIS (PINE) OIL, PIPER NIGRUM (BLACK PEPPER) OIL, SODIUM HYDROXIDE, CARBOMER, DEHYDROACETIC ACID, BENZYL ALCOHOL, CITRAL*, COUMARIN*, GERANIOL*, LINALOOL*, LIMONENE*.
*Natural Essential Oil Contents **Natural Plant Extracts ]
That label makes it very clear. The Pai Rosehip Oil is slightly confusing until you read its label as well; but it’s natural, organic oils with botanical extracts only, no essential oils. Here’s what you see:
[rosa canina (rosehip CO2) seed extract*, rosa canina (rosehip CO2) fruit extract*, mixed tocopherols (natural vitamin e)
*Certified Organic by the Soil Association (Organically produced 99.8% of product).
Suitable for Vegans. Not tested on animals.]
Zelens Z Matrix Energy & Moisture Infusion (pictured at top) is a powerful product, but is not formulated with essential oils, but with botanical extracts:
[Full list of ingredients
Aqua (Water), Glycerin, PEG-8, Dimethicone, Sodium Polyacrylate, Dicaprylyl Ether, Phenoxyethanol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Tromethamine, Sodium PCA, Linoleic Acid, Benzophenone-4, Butylene Glycol, Polysilicone-11, Chlorphenesin, Disodium EDTA, Parfum (Fragrance), Borago Officinalis Seed Oil, Glyceryl Acrylate/Acrylic Acid Copolymer, Magnesium Aspartate, Zinc Gluconate, Tocopherol, Isohexadecane, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Lactose, Milk Protein (Lactis Proteinum), Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Gossypium Herbaceum (Cotton) Seed Extract, Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Extract, Polysorbate 80, Polysorbate 20, Copper Gluconate, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Althaea Officinalis Root Extract, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) Nut Extract, Sodium Benzoate, Linolenic Acid, Castanea Sativa (Chestnut) Pericarp Extract, Linalool, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Soluble Collagen, Yellow 6 (CI 15985), Red 4 (CI 14700), Pentapeptide-28.]
Odacite Mo + P Serum Concentrate (also pictured at top), an essential oil-based product:
Ingredients: Highest-grade cold-pressed certified virgin Moringa (Moringa oleifera) seed oil, Petitgrain, Neroli, Lemon Myrtle, Rose (Citrus aurantium, Citrus aurantium amara, Backhousia citriodora, Rosa damascena) essential oils, Certified GMO-free Vitamin E (Tocopherols) oil.
Hope this helps any out there that may find this ingredients landscape confusing, or mysterious. So many ingredients…so little time…