At just 12 years old, Josh Rosebrook would read product labels, test the lotions and potions in his bathroom, and painstakingly compile results. His curiosity about the connection between natural extracts from plants and herbs and true health and beauty led him to create his own products using what he calls “the greatest lab ever created: Mother Nature.” Here, he celebrates one of nature’s greatest gifts and skin care’s prized ingredients: essential oils.
THE POWER OF PLANTS
“Considered the ‘spirit’ of the plant by many wellness aficionados, essential oils are a complex mixture of plant chemicals that are physically isolated from plants’ leaves, seeds, peels, stems and flowers by either steam distilling, cold-pressing/expression or CO2 extraction,” says Rosebrook. “This mixture contains therapeutic and aromatic benefits that have been used for thousands of years, and science is finally catching up.”
Inhaling essential oils in the practice of aromatherapy can provide one of many moodhacking effects, from anxiety relief to an energy boost. “Lavender, rose, lavandin, mandarin, bergamot and frankincense have all been proven to reduce stress,” says Rosebrook, who’s working on his own anti-stress blend to launch next year. “Essential oils are volatile, so if sprayed, they evaporate. Studies show that when inhaled from a cloth or tissue, the oils are most effective because the vapors move quickly into the brain and lungs. This can change your mood, as well as lower anxiety and cortisol in the bloodstream.”
Rosebrook recommends storing your oils in a cool, dark area, as exposure to heat accelerates oxidation, which can cause them to lose their therapeutic ability.
When used on the skin and scalp, essential oils “should be pure, organic and not past their shelf life, which is generally three to five years,” Rosebrook says. They’re also extremely concentrated and must be diluted with a carrier oil—often jojoba or coconut oil—and used in exact concentrations: 20 to 30 drops per 1 ounce of carrier oil. “Store essential oils in a cool, dark area—exposure to heat accelerates oxidation, which can cause them to lose their therapeutic ability,” says Rosebrook.
“Applying essential oils without diluting them—referred to as ‘neat’—like applying tea tree to a pimple for example, should only be done after consulting a professional, and should be limited to one drop,” adds Rosebrook. As far as which oils are best for which concerns, Rosebrook has it down to a science. Have sensitive skin? Neroli and sandalwood can help soothe. Worried about environmental aggressors like UV rays and pollution? Blue tansy is a powerful antioxidant.
If acne is the issue, rose, geranium and clary sage offer anti-inflammatory, blemish-busting benefits: Rosebrook notes that “rose oil has been found to act as an incredibly effective moisturizing acne treatment due to its antimicrobial properties.” To promote a healthy scalp and hair growth, try oregano, thyme, tea tree, rosemary, or citrus essential oils.
NOT ALL OILS ARE EQUAL
“Hundreds of studies validate that essential oils are extremely beneficial for the skin and scalp, but when they are used in too high of a concentration, or if they’re impure, oxidized or fake, they can be sensitizing and damaging,” says Rosebrook. “This is part of a huge problem that continually affects public opinion of essential oils.” A reason for this, Rosebrook explains, is that inexperienced brands sometimes increase the amount of essential oils to cover the natural nut and seed aromas, often making the concentration too high for topical therapeutic benefits. To avoid an allergic reaction, do a patch test on your inner arm 24 hours before using a new product.
JOSH ROSEBROOK VITAL BALM CREAM, $85
“It’s a protective, skin barrier–reinforcing balm with botanical hyaluronic acid that finishes like a cream. Blue tansy, lavender and ylang-ylang calm my senses and lift my spirit. I truly don’t know what I’d do without it.”
H. GILLERMAN ORGANICS MUSCLE REMEDY, $48
“Hope Gillerman is a passionate pro, and this lavender, basil and spearmint blend is truly effective at relieving sore muscles, especially when my neck is sore. It assuages the pain instantly.”
OSMIA ORGANICS RECOVERY SALT BATH, $29
“I melt away from the world when I bathe with these salts. Juniper makes me feel so invigorated, and marjoram soothes my spirit. The aroma is perfection and truly rejuvenates my skin and muscles.”
28 LITSEA TOP NOTE WILD CITRUS BODY OIL, $22
“This body oil is a proprietary citrus essential oil blend using the highest-quality oils that absorb instantly. The invigorating mix of hypnotic wild orange and litsea cubeba leaves me breathless!”
MEOW MEOW TWEET LEMON ROSE CLEANSING OIL, $25
“I adore rose, but it needs to be blended with the right essential oil counterparts for me to really appreciate it. This oil is the ultimate in simplicity and a purifying treat. I love it!”
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