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The Multiple Uses of Oils
Healthy Options
Personal Care

A year ago, essential oils seemed to be just a hippie-dippy trend, making their rounds among those who were moving towards natural beauty and products with no harmful chemicals. Today, with more research seeming to prove their efficacy and growing anecdotal evidence among avid users, essential oils seem to have become more mainstream. After all, each oil has specific uses so there’s bound to be one for everyone, no matter what the issue. Thinning hair? Skin problems? Trouble sleeping? Clogged nose? There’s an essential oil for each of these concerns—and, in fact, many oils have more than one use.



A Primer on Oils

Essential oils are highly concentrated oils extracted from plants through distillation. Because they are incredibly potent, they are usually used in small doses, often mixed with more neutral carrier oils. Carrier oils, meanwhile, can likewise come from plants or from animal fat. The best ones are cold-pressed, unrefined vegetable oils. Carrier oils in themselves come with their own uses and benefits. Two of the best-known ones with many uses are:

Jojoba Oil. This oil is said to have been used in folk medicine by Native Americans for treating sores and bruises. Today, you can use it as a makeup remover, which effectively lifts the gunk off your face with no harsh chemicals. It can also moisturize skin without clogging pores and has other skin benefits like speeding up wound healing, as suggested by a study done in Italy.

Jojoba oil is also good for hair health. Aside from smoothing away frizz and detangling locks, jojoba oil may be an effective treatment for alopecia, when used in conjunction with essential oils, according to a study conducted at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Coconut Oil. Coconut oil is the current darling of the health world, touted as a healthy oil that can take the place of unhealthier oils we’re used to cooking with. Harvard Medical School does cite coconut oil’s wondrous ability to increase good cholesterol, despite being quite high in saturated fat—but cautions against going overboard when it comes to cooking with coconut oil, stressing that current available studies on coconut oil have been short-term and thus have no conclusive evidence when it comes to its contribution to heart disease.

Nevertheless, coconut oil offers plenty of other uses and benefits, from skin care to hair care to dental care, and even to removing stains (when mixed with baking soda) and buffing up wooden furniture.

You can use jojoba oil and coconut oil as a base for some versatile essential oils:

Peppermint oil. Got the sniffles? Reach for some peppermint oil and place a few drops in a diffuser. It contains menthol, which is found in nasal sprays, chest rubs, and cough syrups. Peppermint oil has also been studied for its effects on stomach issues like irritable bowel syndrome and colic. Mixing a few drops into your conditioner may also help promote hair health—a study published in Toxicological Research suggests that peppermint oil may be used to promote hair growth without negative side effects. Just make sure you start with as little as possible; if you feel a burning, rather than a tingling, sensation on your scalp, rinse off immediately and use less oil the next time around.

Tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is a popular oil for treating skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, and athlete’s foot but it has so many other uses outside of skin care. It can be used as an ingredient to make hand sanitizer as well as to make an all-purpose cleaner for surfaces (just mix it with water and apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle and shake before use).

Frankincense oil. Many of us probably know of frankincense as one of the gifts of the magi. It does make a great present as it’s a gift that keeps on giving: Frankincense oil’s many purported uses and benefits include relieving stress, enhancing the immune system, fighting aging, helping with digestion, killing bacteria, and promoting sleep. When using topically (to, say, address fine lines and wrinkles), make sure to mix it with a carrier oil.

While all of these oils are natural and contain no harsh chemicals, it’s always safe to start with the minimum dose. If your skin doesn’t react, then you can try increasing the concentration bit by bit. 







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