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Are all Essential Oils sustainable?

Written by Carol Pincione • Posted on February 3, 2022

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What are essential oils?

 

Essential oils are oils extracted from plants using various methods including steam distillation, cold pressing and expeller pressing.

 

They are known for their therapeutic effect on the body, the mind and the skin.

 

Pure essential oils are all natural but they are extremely concentrated. A couple of drops go a long way and most of the time they should be diluted properly before being applied directly to your skin.

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Are essential oils sustainable?

When I started formulating my own recipes, my priority was to make sure your skin was nourished by only natural and plant based ingredients.

 

I excluded the idea of using synthetic fragrances because eventhough they are financially more affordable than essential oils, they contain chemical ingredients that are not good for our planet and our skin. In fact, fragrances are the leading cause of skin allergies and irritation.

 

I chose essential oils because they are plant extracts mostly obtained by steam distillation or cold pressed. What I like most about them is the aromatherapy effect released mostly during the shower.

 

Essential oils for sure have an environmental impact: pounds of plant material are needed to produce a small bottle of essential oil. That's why they are very concentrated.

Also when we think at the land used for these plants, the water and energy used for the process and the transportation to the main retail areas we do know there is an impact due to their production.

 

However since they are very concentrated oils, a small amount goes a long way so if they are properly used, they can be sustainable.

Photo by Ron Lach via Pexel

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Choose Sustainable Options

As I have been reading more and more about essential oils and their environmental impact, I realized that there is so much to learn: endangered species, workers rights, climate conditions, etc.

 

I have started to select the most sustainable options and avoiding the use of those oils that come from either endangered tree species or overharvested plants: Rosewood, Sandalwood and Frankincense.

 

Rose essential oil is another example of a massive plant usage to make few drops of oil: it takes 40 to 60 rosebuds to produce 1 drop of rose otto essential oil — 600 pounds of rose petals for 1 ounce of essential oil!

 

Palmarosa can be a good replacement option for Rose essential oils due to its similarity in fragrance. It's a grass plant that grows in the wild, it is a more affordable and sustainable option than rose oil and on the same time rich in therapeutic properties.

 

Photo by Tara Winstead via Pexel