Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or, let’s be honest, deeply submerged under a layer of Tim Tams bingeing on the new season of Queer Eye, you will have no doubt heard someone somewhere mention the healing powers of essential oils for our bodies and minds. Much like the app store, there is an oil for everything – whether it be a natural tranquiliser for your teething bub or a salve to numb the hammer taking up residence in your head.
In the past 12 months, the use of essential oils—and the overwhelming need for more natural remedies—has increased exponentially in Australia, with the number of users more than doubling. Whether or not you think it’s just the latest craze, the potential health benefits are massive and the testimonies are unwavering.
When used topically, essential oils require dilution for effective application. Essential oils on their own are both too potent and are not ‘fixed’, meaning they will quickly evaporate from the skin’s surface. Therefore, in order to reap the full therapeutic benefits of essential oils, users are encouraged to couple with a ‘carrier oil’ or ‘base oil’—the most popular being fractionated coconut oil—to ‘carry’ the essential oils into the body.
Grease is the word
Full disclosure, I have the oiliest skin known to mankind. I am dripping in it (slight exaggeration – but only slight). Ultimately, this means that I have enlarged pores and am prone to blemishes – but hey, hopefully my ridiculous sebum production
levels will mean I’ll age well – or at least that’s what I’ll continue to tell myself. When I started on the essential oil train, I was loving the benefits of inhaling and ingesting; however, the thought of applying oil to my face was downright off putting.
Eventually, after a bout of extreme hay fever, I followed the advice and applied peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils, diluted with fractionated coconut oil, around my nose and on my chest, and sure enough, my skin reacted.
Hemp to the rescue
Thus began my search for an alternative carrier oil. I learned pretty early on in my research that oily or combination skin required the use of oils which were high in linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated fatty acid which does not clog your pores and helps to regulate sebum production. To my surprise, coconut oil was listed as having very low levels of polyunsaturated fats and was apparently wreaking havoc on my poor powerless pores. Hemp seed oil was recommended highly for my skin type and I always have some in my fridge.
The percentage of linoleic acid in hemp seed oil was 60%, whereas coconut oil was at the bottom of the list at only at 2%. Interestingly though, coconut oil wasn’t listed for any of the other skin types either. With a comedogenicity rating of 4 (on a scale of 0 to 5 with 5 being the highest), coconut oil can cause acne in some users and has very little nutritional value for our skin in comparison to other oils. So I begged the question: why aren’t we encouraged to use hemp oil as a carrier oil? I asked around.
- Alternatives are more readily available (yes, for now)
- Price (a whopping $3 difference)
- Coconut oil absorbs very quickly into our skin (yes, but at what cost? Also, there is conflicting research on the absorption rates of coconut oil)
- Lack of knowledge (understandable)
- Is it even legal? (I’m sorry, what?)
- Scared to try (why?)
High on hemp?
It became apparent to me that there was an enormous lack of clarity around hemp seed oil and its myriad of benefits. I had perhaps taken for granted the knowledge I had for a product which, I knew, literally had no bounds. Some people I asked even admitted they thought the use of the oil might give them a high. WHAT! Clearly the confusion between Marijuana and Hemp is a common one – both being derived from different plants of the same botanical family (Cannabis). Availability and price are, ultimately, obstacles we have little control over. As the demand increases, so will the supply and the ease at which we can purchase it!
For now, however, hemp seed oil can be found at most health food stores as well as many online boutiques. My personal favourite brand is Hemple – a 100% Australian company focussed on sustainability and community. You can purchase their products online on their website or at most health food stores. As for coconut oil, it is an amazing carrier oil for essential oils as its absorption rate is very high. However, as it absorbs – it takes with it not only the essential oils you have diluted, but also the natural oils and moisture on the surface of your skin, leaving it dry and as one user put it ‘gives you sandpaper-hands’. I am conscious not to discredit the power of coconut oil and its diverse range of abilities, and I still use it every day; I just won’t be putting it on my face or décolletage anymore. I’ll put my full trust into hemp: a botanical superhero saving the world one feat at a time.
For those poor souls who aren’t aware, hemp is literally the plant that can do no wrong. Protecting the skin’s moisture barrier, hemp oil has the ability to penetrate the skin cells of all skin types. It’s packed with Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, D and E, reduces toxins and can alleviate sore muscles and joints – and this is all on its own! Imagine the benefits of using it alongside your essential oils!
Hemp oil—both emollient and absorbent and considered one of the ‘driest’ vegetable oils—won’t leave you with that horrible greasy feeling – trust me, little miss oily over here would know. I’ve even been using it as a facial cleanser with amazing results!
For the science lovers out there, the main chemical constituents of Hemp oil are: Linoleic Acid, α-Linolenic Acid, Oleic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Stearic Acid, and γ-Linolenic Acid – all of which do wonders for our skin, hair and joints. These are broken down for you below in a handy-dandy infographic; because let’s be honest, who doesn’t love an infographic.
The best kept secret
As hemp seed oil continues to gain the recognition it deserves, essential oil users will be able to reap the countless benefits of this amazing product in using it alongside the healing properties of essential oils. Give it a go and when people ask what the best kept secret is for problem skin – you’ll be able to answer.
Learn more about Holly Bush via www.thebushcollective.com