How much do you know about your Skin?
Essential oils and aromatics have a powerful effect on the body, mind, and emotions; whether absorbed through the skin, inhaled, or ingested. Essential oils and the use of plant material have been found in Egyptian hieroglyphics and Chinese manuscripts. Priests and physicians in these countries were using essential oils thousands of years before Christ.
The skin is the largest organ in the body in terms of surface area. It is part of the immune system, acting as the first line of defense against infection. Our skin is also an organ of elimination, ridding the body of one-fourth of its toxic waste. Skin conditions are often the surface manifestation of deeper conditions such as toxins in the blood, hormonal imbalances, or nervous system or emotional stresses. Conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne reflect imbalance in the whole body.
Up to 25% of the body’s waste products are eliminated through the skin. Problems with elimination of wastes in the body will place a burden on the three main organs of elimination: kidneys, lungs, and large intestine. If these organs are not functioning efficiently, the skin takes over some of their function; this can give rise to congested skin, boils, rashes, and other skin problems.
The skin is a highly dynamic organ that not only protects the body from pathogens and external injuries, but it is also extremely important in maintaining body homeostasis.
The main functions of the skin include:
maintaining body temperature
protecting the organs within our body from the environment (microbes, chemicals and some forms of radiation from penetrating the body)
producing vitamin D
giving shape to the body structure, preventing body fluids and tissues from spilling out
preventing excessive loss of inorganic and organic materials receiving stimuli from the environment
The skin is a very complex organ; it is estimated that one square centimeter of skin contains approximately three million cells, thirteen oil glands, nine hairs, one hundred sweat glands, three yards of nerves, one yard of blood vessels, and thousands of sensory cells.
Structurally the skin is divided into three layers
Epidermis- the first or outer layer
It is often known as the superficial or cutaneous layers of the skin. There epidermis is composed of four distinct sub layers: stratum corneum, stratum granulosum, and stratum germinativum (spinosum and basale).
The stratum germinativum is where all new cells are produced. These cells gradually begin to die in the stratum granulosum layer and by the time they reach the stratum corneum, they are dead skin cells. It usually takes between six to eight weeks for the cells to move from the stratum basale to the surface of the skin. In psoriasis suffers, it may take three days.
The stratum corneum is quite pronounced in the thick skin of the palms and soles. It consists of several rows of clear flat dead cells.
Melanocytes or melanin pigment cells are located in the stratum germinativum layer. These dark colored granules migrate to the surface of the skin when UV rays trigger them; this gives the skin a tanned or freckled appearance.
Dermis- second or inner layer
The inner or subcutaneous layer of skin is the major layer, which lies beneath the epidermis. There is an abundance of blood and lymph capillaries, nerves, and nerve endings that pass through this layer, along with muscles, hair follicles, sebaceous (oil) glands, sweat glands, and fibrous (collagen) and elastin fibers.
The dermis is a connective tissue layer composed of relatively few cells dispersed among great quantities of collagen and elastin fibers, which act like a support structure and elastin fibers, which provide elasticity.
Running through the dermis and epidermis are hair follicle or pores. A pore is an empty hair follicle. Each hair follicle has a sebaceous gland, which produces oil called sebum. The main constituents of sebum are free fatty acids (mostly palmitic and oleic acids), triglycerides, waxes, cholesterol, and squalene. Traces of vitamin E and other fat-soluble vitamins are also present.
Hypodermis- third or supportive layer
This is the bottom layer of skin, also known as the subcutaneous tissue, which separates the dermis from the muscles, allowing the skin to move freely over the underlying structures. It is the fatty layer of the skin containing fat cells, nerve fibers and blood vessels. The hypodermis protects the organs underneath from mechanical shock and serves as a fat reservoir.
Until the late 1800s, the skin was considered by many to be totally impermeable. By the beginning of this century, scientists realized that the skin was relatively permeable to fat-soluble substances and relatively impermeable to water soluble substances such as salt and water. This impermeability to water and salt lies in the paper-thin outer layer of the skin called the stratum corneum. The cells of the stratum corneum are tightly packed and completely envelope the body, which acts as a protection against penetration to the layers underneath. This layer of skin also contains a unique fatty substance that makes the skin waterproof and protects against major loss of moisture evaporation from the skin.
Recent studies involving lavender essential oil diluted in peanut oil and then massaged over the stomach area for 10 minutes indicated that traces of linalool and linalyl acetate were detected in the blood after 20 minutes. After ninety minutes, most of the lavender oil had been eliminated from the blood.
Essential oils are ideally suited for skin care because they are readily absorbed through the skin and are often used because they:
highly antiseptic- the skin is continually exposed to microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria. If the skin’s natural defenses fail, infections, boils, and other skin disorders can result. One way the skin protects itself is its acid mantle. The acidic nature of the sebum helps to neutralize bacteria.
Essential oils such as cajeput, eucalyptus, lemon, myrtle, niaouli, tea tree, lavender, and myrrh are antiseptic, bactericidal, or anti-fungal and may be useful to assist the skin’s protective functions.
help speed up the removal of old skin cells and stimulate growth of new cells- the cytophlylactic properties of essential oils increase the speed at which skin cells in the stratum germinativum layer reproduce. This promotes rapid healing of wounds, burns, and reduces cicatrisant.
Essential oils such as helichrysum, lavender, myrrh, cistus, frankincense, neroli, Palmarosa, patchouli, petitgrain, chamomile, howood, and yarrow can be used to maintain a healthy youthful complexion and minimize stretch marks and scarring.
improve muscle tone and blood circulation- the skin has the ability to control temperature through the expansion and contraction of the superficial capillaries. It also controls the production of sweat, which regulates body temperature by the evaporation of perspiration. By increasing the microcirculation in the skin and by strengthening the capillaries, essential oils like black pepper, cypress, cedar, chamomile, lemon, rose, lavender, and peppermint are useful in the treatment of spider veins and varicose veins.
Rubefacient essential oils such as ginger, clove, black pepper, and rosemary assist to increase circulation and regulate the body’s temperature regulation, useful for general detoxification of congested skin.
reduce inflammation- many essential oils such as chamomile, lavender, melissa, myrtle, neroli, yarrow, and helichrysum have anti-inflammatory properties and have been shown to be effective in the treatment of eczema and dermatitis.
regulate sebum production- sebum lubricates the surface of the skin and keeps it supple and moist. If the skin is well balanced, it produces just the right amount of sebum to prevent pimples from forming or drying out the skin. The majority of people produce too much or too little sebum. Sebum slows down in the aging process; generally, older people have drier skin. Essential oils like clary sage, geranium, palmarosa, and howood can be used to help correct the particular imbalances represented by imbalanced skin types.
reduce the impact of emotional stress- skin provides the interface with the world. The sensory nerves in the skin respond to the environment. The sense of touch is considered one of the most powerful and important senses influencing the physical, emotional, and psychological well-being of a person.
The skin reflects the emotional state. Poor skin may indicate the level of stress, anxiety, lost love, spiritual crisis, or other problems. Essential oils can be used to reduce and sooth the underlying disharmony on the emotional, psychological, or spiritual level. Essential oils of chamomile, benzoin, neroli, and lavender are used to not only sooth and calm the skin, but also the mind. Essential oils of lemon, geranium, and lavender may assist to ease tensions resulting from worry and over thinking. Rose, ylang ylang, and rosemary assist to correct the imbalance of the mind-body relationship, while rose, sandalwood, and chamomile will also assist the skin directly.
Essential oils and carrier oils can be easily incorporated into any base creams, lotions, ointments, salves, gels, floral waters, hydrosols or perfumes.
Common Skin Conditions
Acne- usually caused by improper production of sebum, causing infection of the pustules that harbor bacteria.
Acne Rosacea- usually occurs in adults over 30, characterized by red eruptions on the face, and generally beneath the surface.
Athlete’s Foot- is a contagious skin condition on the feet, which is caused by a fungus, characterized by peeling skin, and possible blisters.
Dandruff- flaky skin occurring on the scalp often accompanied by small scabs underneath the scaliness, which is usually caused by a virus combined with improper liver and kidney function.
Eczema- is typically caused by under functioning of the immune system and possibly stress, which peeling, small blisters, and irritation of a localized area characterize.
Keloid- scar formation characterized by dark discoloration and raised texture.
Psoriasis- non-contagious skin disease characterized by elevated red patches, which are covered by thick, dry, and silvery flaking skin. Regarded as a hereditary disease that worsens with stress and bowel irregularity.
As our blood type and underlying conditions vary from one another, it is advisable to seek a certified aromatherapist before any application. A certified aromatherapist who is trained in a clinical aromatherapy setting and is able to provide you a proper analysis before any therapeutic recommendations.
For more information, please do not hesitate to reach out or contact Dr Christina. Email us