Treat yourself to a little pampering this month!  Give yourself a natural facial using pure aromatherapy oils and a few products from your food cupboard.

Natural Facial Treatments

Treat yourself to a little pampering this month!  You don't need to spend a fortune or use harmful chemicals when you can use pure aromatherapy oils and a few products from your food cupboard.

In aromatherapy, essential oils are applied to the skin after being mixed in a base or carrier oil, such as Sweet Almond oil, Rosehip seed oil, or Jojoba.  These base oils soften and nourish the skin and can be used at home with or without the addition of essential oils.  Carrier oils should be stored in a cool dark place to prevent them from oxidising and will normally keep for up to nine months.

Weekly Aromatherapy Facial

Facial skin is delicate and needs to be treated gently.  A weekly deep cleansing treatment and oil massage will help to keep your skin in great conditions.

What you'll need:

  • 1 small glass bottle (a 20ml size will give room for the oils to mix)
  • Base or carrier oils suited to your skin type
  • Essential oils suited to your skin condition (optional)
  • Ground almonds or finely ground oatmeal
  • Unperfumed cleansing lotion/cream
  • Unperfumed moisturising lotion/cream
  • Pure Rosewater or Orange Flower water (hydrolat)
  • A wide headband
  • Cotton wool pads, tissues, face cloths or facial sponge, and hand towel.

Start by preparing your facial oil using one of the following recipes (or you may prefer to use a plain base oil).  Add your chosen oils to the bottle and mix well.  Very little will be needed for a facial treatment and the remainder will keep in the fridge for a week or two.  Jojoba often solidifies when cold, but will return to a liquid at room temperature.

  • Normal skin - 10ml Jojoba or Sweet Almond oil with 1 drop of Geranium and 1 drop of Lavender
  • Dry skin - 10ml Jojoba or Sweet Almond oil with 1 drop of Rose Otto
  • Mature or very dry skin - 10ml Rosehip Seed oil with 1 drop of Rose Otto and 1 drop of Frankincense
  • Sensitive skin - 10ml infused Calendula oil with 1 drop of Lavender and 1 drop of German Chamomile or Roman Chamomile
  • Oily or blemished skin - 10ml Jojoba or Grapeseed oil and 1 drop of Lavender and 1 drop of Petitgrain

Pure Rose Otto essential oil is very expensive, buy many good aromatherapy suppliers sell this precious oil diluted in Jojoba.  If you're using a 10% dilution of Rose Otto, use up to 10 drops in each blend.

With your oil prepared, it's time to tie back your hair, wash your hands and treat yourself to a little TLC!

Start by cleansing your skin with either a ready-made plant-based cleanser or Jojoba.  It may seem strange to use oil for cleansing, especially if you have oily skin, but the chemical structure of Jojoba is similar to the skin's own natural oils.  Jojoba (which technically speaking is a liquid wax although usually referred to as an oil) has a balancing effect on the skin, making it suitable for all skin types, even skin which is oily or prone to acne.  Warm up a little cleanser or Jojoba in your hands and apply to your neck and face.  Remove with damp cotton wool pads and repeat. 

Unless your skin is very sensitive, deep-cleanse with a steam treatment to open the pores.  Fill a large heat-proof bowl with very hot water.  You may also like to add 2 drops of essential oils suitable for your skin type, or a few herbs:

  • Normal to dry skin - Lavender or Frankincense essential oil, or dried lavender or rose petals
  • Sensitive skin - Roman Chamomile essential oil, or dried chamomile flowers (a chamomile tea bag will work just as well)
  • Oily skin - Geranium or Petitgrain essential oil, or dried lavender or rosemary

Hold your head over the steam and cover your head and the bowl with a towel to trap the aromatic vapours.  Stay there for up to five minutes, or less if you start to feel uncomfortable - this is supposed to be enjoyable, not a test of endurance!  To remove the impurities which will have risen to the surface, rise your face with warm water.

(If you're asthmatic, it may be better to avoid breathing in the concentrated steam.  Try using the compress method instead:  soak face towels in the hot water, wring out, and apply to your face to open the pores.  If using this method, substitute the essential oils with a teaspoon of Rosewater or Orange Flower water to avoid getting droplets of neat essential oil on your skin).

Mix a teaspoon of ground almonds with a little more cleanser or Jojoba and apply to your face in small circular movements, paying attention to any areas of dry skin.  Rinse well with plenty of warm water, then pat dry.  Apply a toning lotion with cotton wool pads.  Rosewater or Orange Flower water benefit most skin types.  These waters are known as hydrolats or hydrosols and are a natural by-product of the distillation of essential oils.  Try keeping some in a spray bottle - spritz on your face to cool and refresh throughout the day.

Next comes a facial massage:  pour around half a teaspoon of your facial oil into the palm of your hand and massage into your face and neck with upward and outward movements.  Massage gently for a minute or two, being careful not to drag your skin or get any oil into your eyes.

Sit down and put your feet up for 10-15 minutes to give the oil time to soak into your skin.  You may like to place Rosewater-soaked cotton wool pads over your eyes and listen to some relaxing music or guided visualisation, or simply enjoy the silence.

Remove any excess oil with damp cotton wool and Rosewater or Orange Flower water, then gently pat your skin dry.  Finish your facial treatment by applying a natural plant-based moisturiser to your face and neck.

You could also ring the changes by applying a natural facepack or mask:

Yogurt mask - apply two teaspoons of live, natural yogurt to your face and neck and leave for ten to fifteen minutes before rinsing off.  Yogurt has a balancing effect which can help dry or oily skin.

Fruit mask - mash a fresh apricot or papaya and sieve it into a bowl.  Apply to clean skin and leave for around ten to fifteen minutes.  Fruit enzymes have a natural exfoliating effect, suitable for most skins except sensitive.

Clay mask - mix together 1 tablespoon of green clay, 1 teaspoon of grapeseed oil and 2 drops of Tea Tree essential oil with enough Rosewater or Orange Flower water to make a creamy paste.  Apply to the skin and leave for up to fifteen minutes before rinsing.  This mask can help to improve oily skin conditions.

Home-made Skin Cream

If you're feeling adventurous, you may like to make your own face cream.  Place 25g of beeswax and 100ml of oil in a glass bowl over a saucepan of boiling water until the beeswax has melted.  Stir until the beeswax is combined with the oil.  In another bowl, heat up 25ml of Rosewater or Orange Flower water over another saucepan of boiling water until hot.  Remove both bowls from the heat, and slowly add the Rosewater or Orange Flower water to the beeswax and oil blend, one drop at a time, stirring constantly as the mixture thickens.  Once cooled, you can leave your face cream unperfumed, or add essential oils for your skin type.  This can be up to 20 drops:  10 drops of Geranium and 10 drops of Lavender for example, or only 5 drops if you're adding a powerful oil such as Rose Otto.  Pour into small sterilised jars.  Stored in the fridge, this should keep for around two months.

With any product, whether natural or synthetic, it's always advisable to test for sensitivity or adverse reactions on a small area before using.

Remember to drink plenty of water and find time to relax - dehydration and stress will show on your face and could cause premature ageing of the skin.

Safety Precautions

  • If you are undergoing medical treatment, check with your GP before using essential oils
  • Essential oils should not be used on young children or during pregnancy except under the guidance of a qualified Aromatherapist
  • Always use good quality oils and store safely
  • Never take essential oils internally
  • Always dilute essential oils before applying to the skin
  • Keep away from the eyes
  • Do not apply to damaged or broken skin
  • Avoid prolonged use of the same essential oil
  • If you experience severe reactions to any oil, discontinue use and seek medical advice
  • Contact your local Aromatherapist if you're uncertain about using essential oils.