Essential oils are typically some of the first ingredients that people encounter when they are just starting out in natural skincare formulation—or using natural products in general! They are typically accessible, affordable, easy to use, and provide wonderful benefits just by themselves. But essential oils aren’t just useful for the beautiful scents they can provide! There is an amazing therapeutic benefit to choosing the right essential oil or oils for your product. And the combination of both of those factors—fragrance and function—is where you have the opportunity to really hone and expand your formulation skills.
Scent is important! While some customers smell a product first, before then testing it on their skin, and others test first, then smell on themselves, the fact still stands that getting the right fragrance is imperative. Something that works well but doesn’t smell good won’t build the same emotional connection—and people will pass, no matter how soft it makes their skin feel. Scents are so powerful because of the way our brains are wired. Smell is linked to and controlled by the limbic system in the brain—this is the pleasure center. It controls what we like and dislike, influences how we feel and what we think, and is a key part of how we judge things. Scent triggers an immediate emotional response that is distinctly different from all other sensory input… which means that scent is often the deciding factor between making a sale or having something put back on the shelf.
As important as scent is, the real power comes from selecting essential oils that provide both the fragrance as well as the therapeutic properties. There is no other ingredient in your skincare that will offer the physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual wellness benefits that essential oils offer.
So, if the goal is to incorporate both an evocative, beautiful fragrance as well as the functional wellness, how do you do that?
Successfully Formulating with Essential Oils
To really combine the powerful sensory and therapeutic effects of essential oils, you need to follow a process in selecting the right oils that asks the right questions—not just choosing the scent and hoping the effects are what you want, or choosing for effect and hoping the scent combination is appealing.
You should also consider the following questions when selecting essential oils to use in your skin care formulations:
- What is the purpose of the product?
- Who is the target market?
- What skin type are we making the product for?
- What problems should the product focus on?
- Are there any contraindications we need to be aware of?
- What therapeutic properties will help to solve those problems and deliver the required solution and suit the specific skin type?
Which essential oils match the criteria you are looking at here?
With that information gathered, it’s then important to begin to consider the aromatic properties:
- What essential oils possess the fragrance that you like the most?
- What is your favourite aroma/essential oil?
- Which ones resonate the most when thinking about the purpose of your products, the audience and the problems that need solving?
- What aromatic quality are you striving for? For example, uplifting and refreshing, grounding and relaxing, spicy and mysterious?
Which essential oils possess the qualities you are looking for here?
Are you able to find a match between those you chose to start with when thinking about the therapeutic properties and the oils you looked at for their aromatic qualities?
If so, hooray!
If not, then some compromises need to be made on one side or the other. One thing is certain, you are now starting off from a more informed place with a good selection of possible essential oils. You’ve deliberately chosen them because they match what you are looking for and now it is a case of finding a blend that works for you from both therapeutic and aromatic perspectives.
One top tip that has worked for some is to select one oil that resonates the most, one oil that you find absolutely divine (your favourite oil) and one oil purely for its therapeutic purpose. This way, you are combining the power of your intuition as well as imbuing your products with the passion you feel when you are making them. And then, of course, using the essential oils that address the therapeutic or health challenge. With these three things in mind, the blend you then create actually works on all levels—emotional, spiritual and physical.
Note: You must make sure that it is safe to use the oils you select, and that they are not contraindicated for use, and that the dilutions are correct and safe. Essential oils are powerful tools, and they should be handled with respect and care!
Taking it One Step Further
This is, obviously, just one very small drop in the broader knowledge of essential oils—and we encourage you to study and inform yourself about their uses, benefits, and safety considerations! It’s extremely important to know what you’re doing with essential oils, as well as what not to do with them, so you can harness the optimal health and wellness benefits without causing accidental harm or injury.
If you want to get started incorporating essential oils into your products in a thoughtful, intentional, and powerful way, then getting the right information is key! Our Certificate in Making Natural Skincare Products is a wonderful place for absolute beginners to start their journey into making amazing, effective, and safe products, and for those who might have a little more experience, learn how to formulate like a professional with our Diploma in Natural Skincare Formulation.
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