Can Rose Essential Oils Save Your Skin? Plus: Aromatherapy 101
Mais oui, according to a new study.
We told you a few weeks ago that thyme has been shown to be more effective than benzoyl peroxide—that skin-destroying ingredient that, in my opinion, totally doesn’t work if you’re over the age of 15. Many of you jumped with joy (which is to say posted comments about how awesome that is), and now we have even more interesting news: Rose essential oils can block the effects of stress on skin when inhaled—not applied topically.
This is the kind of research that gets me excited. As anyone with skin woes can tell you, the impulse to reach for a product to fix the problem is tough to beat. Unfortunately, as we’ve said many times, this doesn’t do much for you in a big-picture way. It’s the old “treating the symptoms, not the condition” thing. When it comes to just about everything, and especially our skin, this kind of spot treating (ha) does not work. Or if it does, it doesn’t work for long.
Rose has been shown—in a human and rat study—to significantly inhibit cortisol, the stress hormone that causes inflammation (which causes zits). It also blunted transepidermal water loss, which happens when your skin’s barrier function is compromised.
Or you can seek out a potion that contains rose and huff the stuff when you’re stressed. Here’s some things that are worth knowing about aromatherapy:
1. Not all oils are created equal. The tidy rows of bottles you see lining the counter at health food stores? Not what you’re looking for. To work, essential oils need to be super-concentrated and carefully crafted, and when they are, they are incredibly powerful for your mind, body and your spirit. Many of these plants and flowers have incontrovertible evidence supporting their use to heal us, but you’re not going to get these benefits unless you’re working with high-quality oils. That means organic, wild crafted and, ideally, made in small batches.
2. You can use them anywhere, anytime. I basically always have aromatherapy and flower essences in my handbag, as anyone who’s been to a bar with me can attest. (I like dosing people whether they ask for it or, as with our friend Erika, violently protest.) I also keep some on my desk at work, which many a coworker has gotten in the habit of popping by to borrow. This makes me happy.
3. Understand that they can seriously affect your mood. This is important! Essential oils should not be used willy-nilly. The sleep potions I use, for instance, feel almost narcotic when I take them (looking at you Hope Gillerman and Essence of Vali). But investing in high-quality oils can be an amazingly effective (and completely drug-free) way to reduce stress, sleep better, and even look better.
Different ways to use them:
—Drip a few drops on a tissue and hold it to your nose taking 10 deep, meditative breaths.
—Put a few drops on your hand and rub them together, warming the oil and releasing the fragrance. Cup your hands over your nose and inhale as above. Remember that oils are super-concentrated, and can irritate or even burn the skin if you use too much. You may be better off skipping this approach altogether, though I’d be lying if I said this isn’t what I usually do.
—Put four or five drops in the bath for a sinus—and stress—clearing bath.
—Bring it with you in the shower and apply a few drops to your hands, rub them together and pretend you’re at a spa.
—Dab a few drops on the corner of your pillowcase at bedtime.
Have you ever tried rose essential oils?