We can throw in everything but the kitchen sink, but keeping a blend simple is often a great deal more effective. There's no need to use 15 or 20 different essential oils, carrier oils, or herbs in a blend. In fact, doing so may reduce the efficacy of the blend. Let's look at how this works by creating a moisturizing serum for dry, mature skin with age spots.
First, we make lists of EOs, herbs, and carriers that are moisturizing for the skin. (These lists include ingredients I already have on hand.)
Off the top of my head, I know that Patchouli, German Chamomile, Roman Chamomile, Lavender, Sandalwood, Frankincense, Myrrh, Geranium, Helichrysum italicum, Hemp, Ylang Ylang, Carrot Seed, and Vetiver are all great skin oils. Could I make a serum that includes all of these?
Certainly, and it would be an example of throwing in everything but the kitchen sink.
Since essential oils in a leave-on product should be limited to about 1%, putting all of these essential oils in would mean each oil would only be 0.07% of the blend. That means there's not enough of any one constituent to make much of a difference.
For a serum, herbs would be infused into carrier oils. On hand right now, I have Helichrysum stoechas, Lavender, Arnica, Calendula, St. John's Wort, Amla berries, Ginger, Comfrey Leaf, Comfrey Root, Plantain Leaf, Aloe, and Greater Galangal herbs infused in different oils -- Safflower, Olive, Castor, and Jojoba. To make our serum, the Helichrysum, Aloe, Lavender, Plantain, Amla, Calendula, and Comfrey are all great herbs for a skin serum. Using all 7, would be the kitchen sink method. We need to pare this list down to one, two, or three herbs.
Our carrier oil list will be huge. Jojoba, Castor, Hemp Seed, Andiroba, Olive, Safflower, Sea Buckthorn Berry, Sacha Inchi, Avocado, Black Currant Seed, Borage, Black Seed (Nigella), Coconut, Cherry Kernal, Cranberry Seed, Evening Primrose, Macadamia Nut, Meadowfoam, Neem, Pumpkin Seed, Red Raspberry Seed, Rosehip and many more. Again, it would be unreasonably complicated (and another kitchen sink example) to use all of these oils in our serum.
Okay, so how do we narrow it all down?
Excellent question. This is when we start looking at chemistry, energetics, and aromas and match them to the person. With essential oils, we have the recipient of the serum smell the different oils, and choose the ones (s)he most loves -- up to 4 to 6 oils (could be less). We then pull out the chemistry and EO datasheets and evaluate the chemical composition. With herbs, we'll choose 1 - 3 and use our herb and chemical datasheets to put next to the EO datasheets. Next, we do the same for the carrier oils. We may choose to use carriers that have already been infused with herbs. or we may decide to infuse our chosen herbs in our chosen carriers.
Now, to formulate. We'll make a 1 oz serum. That means a max of 6 drops of essential oil to keep it at 1%. Even though the essential oils are listed first, we'll start with our carrier oils.
We're choosing Hemp Seed Oil as the base oil because it has a perfect balance of Omega 3 to Omega 6 Fatty Acids. It has the ability to restore moisture and to heal and protect skin cells from damage. It absorbs quickly and easily and has a light, pleasant aroma. The one drawback with this oil is its short shelf life.
Hemp Seed's short shelf life influences the next carrier oil selection. Meadowfoam moisturizes the skin and adds protection from the sun. It has a high percentage of very long-chain Fatty Acids and Vitamin E which means it will help preserve less stable oils in the serum. It will significantly slow the oxidation process of the Hemp Seed Oil and any essential oils.
Finally, we'll add Castor Oil. Castor oil hydrates the skin and can help toughen fragile skin to make it less prone to cuts. It carries the therapeutic properties of all of our ingredients deeply into all the layers of the skin. This oil will be infused with the one herb we're going to use -- Aloe. Aloe is renowned throughout the world for it's moisturizing, skin-healing properties.
After checking therapeutic properties, chemistry, aromas, and energetics, we've decided on 3 essential oils. For this blend, we'll use equal amounts (two drops each) of Frankincense carterii, Myrrh, and Geranium essential oils. Therapeutically, all of these oils have moisturizing, skin healing, and skin-cell regenerating properties.
Now, we look at all seven of our ingredients and decide on quantities of each. We write it as a recipe.
.75 oz (22.5 mL) Hemp Seed Oil
0.1 oz (3 mL) Meadowfoam Oil
0.15 oz (4.5 mL) Castor Oil infused with Aloe Vera
2 drops Frankincense Essential Oil
2 drops Myrrh Essential Oil
2 drops Geranium Essential Oil
This is a simple, elegant formula, and every ingredient is designed to help moisturize and beautify dry, mature skin with age spots. The final step will be to test it and see if the recipient likes it.
Note: The Topical Recipes section of this website has instructions for how to infuse herbs into oils. Become a member and gain access to this and the many other great resources!