Essential oils have come into the spotlight as being miraculous and life-changing, but is there more these wonder-working precious oils than that?
I'll spare you the info you've already heard a million times. We already know how great essential oils are, and if you don't know, just do a quick google search and you're bound to come up with more articles than you could possibly read in your lifetime. These articles aren't all wrong, but there's a deeper conversation we need to be having. So let's talk about what we don't hear!
There is little research done on essential oils.
There is so much we don't know about essential oils. When I first heard this, I thought about it from the perspective that there's so much good we don't know about. I was frustrated that we haven't looked further into the topic to discover how this liquid gold could be used to solve all kinds of problems. Now, I think about the fact that there are so many effects -- good and bad, long-term and short-term -- that we don't know about.
Essential oils are really strong. Just one drop has the potency of X amount of plants.
I've heard this claim touted proudly -- "This tiny bottle was made with thousands peppermint leaves. All you need is a couple drops and your headache is gone!" It certainly is true that peppermint oil can help alleviate headaches (Check out this study), but there's another side to this statement. Those who say this are bragging about how much plant material is used in one bottle of an essential oil because they're trying to emphasize how powerful its benefits are. But we aren't thinking about what that means for the plant. This is a pretty significant environmental concern, and it's probably the part that worries me the most. Some makers of essential oils grow tons and tons of, say, peppermint plants. They extract the volatile oil that makes the essential oil from one small part of the plant and waste the rest of it. That is so much waste! And the fact that so many plants have to be used up to make just one drop is actually pretty concerning when you look at it from an environmental standpoint.
Just because something is natural doesn't mean it's safe.
It's easy to think natural = safe. That's the understanding we seem to have, but the issue is a lot more nuanced than that.
A lot of natural ingredients are perfectly safe. Just like how a lot of synthesized ingredients are safe. There are also plenty of natural ingredients that are harmful or can be harmful if not used correctly. This means we can't just rely on something being natural to determine whether it's safe or not. Many essential oils can be harmful if not diluted or if used by pregnant mothers or young children. It's important to keep these things in mind when using essential oils.
You'll see that I still use essential oils in my products. I haven't decided if I want to get rid of them entirely. If I do, that's a huge task that will take a lot of time. Essential oils might be problematic based on the things I outlined in this article, but they do still have a lot of positive effects. The main thing that concerns me is their environmental impact, and that will probably be what leads me to eliminate them from my recipes.
What do you think? Do you think essential oils are harmless? What do you think about the environmental impact? Do you want to learn more about their long-term impact?
If you're looking for some essential oil-free products, check out my Cleansing Oil or Rose Bath Salts. And, as always, feel free to send me a message if you'd like essential oils left out of the product or the recipe tweaked in any way.
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