Almond (Sweet) Oil
Almond oil, Amygdalus communis, pressed from the common nut, is emollient and mild, a light and nutritious oil for the skin. Quite stable as an unsaturated oil, it is predominantly composed of monounsaturated oleic acid, and also serves as a rich source of linoleic acid, up to between 20 and 30% in some varieties. This oil is also rich in vitamin E (approximately 10 IUs per ounce), squalene, glycosides, and beta-sitosterol—all compounds to soothe the skin and keep it nourished. Sweet almond oil rates highly in its ability to retain moisture and prevent trans epidermal water loss through the skin. External use of the oil creates a light occlusive protective film for the stratum corneum, the outermost skin layer. With 70% oleic acid, and 20% linoleic acid, almond oil penetrates the skin at a moderate rate. Phytosterols also provide anti-inflammatory protection and support the barrier function of the skin. Lubricating and conserving, almond oil’s emollient properties have been shown to be present several days after application to dry or damaged skin.
As a soap-making oil, almond contributes lathering properties and is soothing to the skin. The unrefined oil is highest in the native nutrients found in almonds, and is a good oil for soap and salve making.
INCI—Amygdalus communis (Almond) OilParker, Susan M.. Power of the Seed: Your Guide to Oils for Health & Beauty (Process Self-reliance Series) . Process. Kindle Edition.
Apricot Kernel Oil
Apricot kernel oil, Prunus armeniaca, is an oil very similar to almond with a lighter, softer touch. Its linoleic acid content is higher than almond, making up 34% of the oil. Apricot kernel oil is excellent for mature skin due to its emollient, nourishing, and revitalizing properties. A generous vitamin E content provides free radical protection from oxidation of cell membranes, while the phytosterol beta-sitosterol is anti-inflammatory, soothing irritation and supporting the protective barrier function of the skin. Unrefined apricot oil is very light and can have a nutty marzipan/almond scent. In soap, it has properties similar to almond oil, providing good lather and excellent skin-nourishing properties. The kernels of apricots have an unusual property, possessing the highest concentration of nitrilosides in the plant world. Nitrilosides, also called vitamin B-17 or laetrile, have been promoted as a cancer preventative plant compound, and are a part of laetrile therapy for treatments of cancer-related conditions. Although this treatment has not been proven scientifically, scientifically, many claim its benefits. The use of apricot kernel oil in cancer salves, in skin treatments for those with high risk for cancer and for cancer patients, could be beneficial. An interesting book for exploring this subject is Ingrid Naiman’s Cancer Salves.
INCI—Prunus armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel OilParker, Susan M.. Power of the Seed: Your Guide to Oils for Health & Beauty (Process Self-reliance Series) . Process. Kindle Edition.
Argan oil, Argania spinosa, is pressed from the nuts of the indigenous argan tree, a native of Morocco, where it is a traditional food and oil. Historically the fruit was eaten by the local livestock, with the goats actually climbing into the trees to munch on the nuts. Google “argan goats in trees” for some amazing images. In this traditional traditional method of collection, the kernels first passed through the goats after they had eaten the argan fruit, and were then collected from the ground and pressed for oil. As the oil has grown in popularity, more modern methods of collection and processing the nuts are in use. Indigenous to Morocco, argan trees are adapted to harsh dry desert conditions and perform similar protective functions for the skin, sealing moisture in while protecting against harsh sun, air, and high temperatures. Light and capable of penetrating the skin without feeling greasy, argan is an excellent oil for use in skin care and for treating problem skin. Predominately monounsaturated oleic acid and polyunsaturated linoleic acid, it is emollient and nourishing. Generously supplied with vitamin E, polyphenols, squalene, and carotenes, the antioxidant compounds protect the skin against free radical damage. Considered anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and moisturizing, argan oil can be used directly as a massage oil or added to skin care combinations. Lovingly referred to as Liquid Gold by the people of Morocco for its health-giving properties, its reputation is now expanding around the globe.
INCI—Argania Spinosa (Argan) Nut OilParker, Susan M.. Power of the Seed: Your Guide to Oils for Health & Beauty (Process Self-reliance Series) . Process. Kindle Edition.
Avocado oil, Persea gratissima, is highly nutritious and therapeutic for skin care. It comes from what’s known as a “fruiting body,” the flesh that surrounds the seed, similar to olives. Pressed from the soft fleshy fruit and used for cooking and eating, skin care, and cosmetics, avocado is a popular oil. Less common is oil pressed from the hard pit, which is used exclusively for skin care due to its reportedly bitter taste. With 20% essential unsaturated linoleic acid and a generous 12% of rare palmitoleic acid, it nourishes skin and supports the health of the stratum corneum.
Avocado oil has an impressive percentage of unsaponifiable compounds. These include vitamins A, B, and E, proteins, and amino acids, as well as a small amount of the phospholipid lecithin. The oil’s action increases water-soluble collagen content in the middle layer of skin, the dermis. When lacking soluble collagen, the skin appears aged and thin. The phytosterol content of avocado oil supports the collagen and skin structures, helping prevent age spots and cell wall weakening, while calming inflammation, regenerating tissues, and protecting the barrier functions of the skin. Avocado is one of several oils high in carotenoids that provide natural protection against the effects of ultraviolet rays of the sun. Protecting and regenerating, the oil is easily absorbed. For those with sensitive or damaged skin, it will help to repair and soften skin tissues, healing scaly skin and scalp.
The unrefined oil has an especially high unsaponifiable fraction, up to 11%, and is very thick and green. The color will tint soap or cream a strong shade of green or gray, depending on the proportion used. However, avocado oil works well in soap, speeding saponification and making a hard and therapeutic bar.
INCI—Persea gratissima (Avocado) OilParker, Susan M.. Power of the Seed: Your Guide to Oils for Health & Beauty (Process Self-reliance Series) . Process. Kindle Edition.
Borage seed oil, Borago officinalis, is pressed from the seeds of the beautiful, delicate borage flower. The oil has the highest content of gamma-Linolenic acid, GLA (25%), of any oil, including evening primrose and black currant seed. The high GLA content helps regenerate, firm, and rejuvenate the skin’s barrier function, decreasing water loss and maintaining the skin’s elasticity. Along with beneficial GLA, borage seed oil contains linoleic acid (35%), helping to prevent wrinkles and premature aging, and fighting loss of skin elasticity and dryness. A broad range of phytochemicals and nutrients stimulate cellular activity in the skin while providing anti-inflammatory actions effective against pain in the joints and soft tissues. Ferulic acid, an antioxidant more effective than vitamin E, protects and soothes damage caused by sun and weather. This is an astringent oil, and the tannins create a dry feeling on the skin, while also calming redness and minimizing pore size. Ellagic acid supports the production of collagen, preventing its breakdown and regenerating skin cells.
INCI—Borago Officinalis (Borage) Seed OilParker, Susan M.. Power of the Seed: Your Guide to Oils for Health & Beauty (Process Self-reliance Series) . Process. Kindle Edition.
Calendula oil, Calendula officinalis, is an herbal oil, also known as marigold, but not to be confused with the common marigold grown in flower gardens throughout the world (Tagetes minuta).
Calendula has also be referred to as “true” marigold. The seeds of calendula are tan to brown in color, curled into a crescent moon shape, and are rather large in comparison to the flower it produces. I have never called calendula by the common name, “marigold,” and I have found that calendula is not a well known flower, regardless what name it is called.
Calendula is native to Central America, Europe, and the Mediterranean. It grows to a height of three feet with beautiful yellow, orange, or red-orange flowers. The leaves of the flower are large, pale to dark green, and leathery.
When I first began my journey with true aromatherapy, calendula essential oil was nearly non-existent and when it was available the cost was quite high. Now there are a few reputable essential oil suppliers who consistently carry CO2 derived calendula essential oil. The essential oil is CO2 extracted from the flowers. The essential oil is very dark orange, nearly brown, in color and has a potent, but pleasant flowery-herbaceous aroma. Once the essential oil is diluted with a carrier oil, or used in a lotion or salve, it becomes a beautiful yellow-gold color.
Historically, calendula has been used for dry and cracked skin, wounds, burns, rashes, insect bites, sunburn, and eczema. It has also been used for inflammation (skin and intestinal), intestinal issues, constipation, menstrual irregularity, hemorrhoids, swollen lymph nodes, cough, fever, and varicose veins. The circulatory benefits of calendula were even used by the Arabs to keep the circulatory systems of their thoroughbred horses healthy. The flowers of calendula have been used as a coloring agent for centuries; in fact, calendula flowers are often incorporated into chicken feed to boost the color of egg yolks.
Some of the known therapeutic properties of calendula include: analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, antiviral, and antispasmodic. Calendula is also known to be an astringent, cholagogue (increases bile flow), blood purifier, laxative, styptic (stems bleeding), diuretic, hepatic (aids the liver), stimulant to the circulatory system and vulnerary (heals wounds and sores).
There is no more beneficial essential oil, or macerated/infused carrier oil, than calendula. I adore calendula because of its vulnerary (wound healing) properties. Whenever I make a salve I always add calendula essential oil and/or use a carrier oil infused with calendula. I often use calendula in lotions for skin conditions. I love the color, aroma, and healing power of calendula.
Safety Precautions: Calendula is a very safe essential oil that is non-sensitizing, non-irritating, and non-toxic. It is a lovely essential oil to use with infants, children, the elderly, and during pregnancy.
INCI—Calendula Officinalis Flower Oil
INCI—Calendula Officinalis (or) Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract*Tagetes minuta (common marigold) contains a chemical constituent that is harmful to humans and causes dermatitis reactions. Tagetes should be avoided in aromatherapy, but if you do choose to use it, use with extreme moderation and with care. Tagetes is not to be used during pregnancy, with children under the age of five, and it is a photo-sensitizing essential oil.