Oils are an integral part of everyone's self-care regime. From fragrant massages to weekly oiling sessions for your hair, concoctions derived from coconut, olives or almonds are the mainstay in most beauty cabinets.
So, while the benefits of adding oils in your regime are plenty, their efficacy relies on their purity. So, Cosmo spoke to aromatherapy pioneer Dr Blossom Kochhar, chairperson and founder, Blossom Kochhar Group of Companies to know the TRUTH about your everyday oils. Here are her suggestions:
"Coconut oil is one of the most versatile oils, which is also believed to be the healthiest. Pure oil acts as a natural source of food and medicine for the body. This oil can also be used for cooking, boosting energy levels and is also very good for brain functioning and memory," says Dr Kochhar.
• Purity- Good and pure coconut oil will have a very natural pleasant aroma and sweet taste. The first thing to identify the purity of coconut oil is colour. High-quality coconut oil should be snow-white in colour when it is solid and water clear when liquid. The other thing to look for in high-quality coconut oil is aroma and flavour. Virgin coconut oils should have a mild coconut smell and taste.
• Beauty Benefits- Coconut oil is used in many natural face & body products. It also contains vitamin E and healthy fats, which help to make skin smooth. Coconut oil has anti-oxidants such as Vitamin E and Vitamin A that slow down the ageing process and may help to reduce the damage from free radicals and the sun. Coconut oil can be applied directly to the skin in order to fully reap its benefits. It can also be used as part of your regular bath time routine. Adding coconut oil to your bath water will help to moisturize your skin from head to toe. It is excellent for hair growth.
• Health Benefits- This oil contributes to higher energy levels and a stronger metabolism. It's good for diabetes and also helps fight back against Alzheimer's disease.
"It is great for dry skin. When combined with essential oils, it is at its best when used in massages. It helps in maintaining the moisture levels of your skin and is absorbed quickly without blocking your pores. For extremely dry and sensitive skin, it serves as an effective balm providing relief from itching, inflammation and muscle pain. It nourishes your skin and makes you look fresh and radiant," says Dr Kochhar.
• Purity- The purity of almond oils can usually be measured by how sweet the oil is. It has a pleasant smell and a pale yellow colour.
• Beauty Benefits- Almond oil is known to have a lot of beauty benefits when used on the skin. One of the main features is that it treats dry skin and issues such as eczema and psoriasis. Almond oil is known for reducing the appearance of scars due to its Vitamin E content. It is also an effective treatment for preventing and reducing stretch marks. The fusion of fatty acids helps in reversing and preventing signs of ageing
• Health Benefits-. It is a great source of potent antioxidant Vitamin E. Having just one tablespoon of almond oil delivers the recommended daily intake and helps in weight loss. A diet that includes a healthy amount of whole almonds has been shown to help people shed excess weight.
• How to use- Refined almond oil can be used for roasting and sauteing. It’s less expensive and more heat-tolerant than the unrefined kind, as the refinement process destroys much of the nutrients in unrefined almond oil. There are several ways to use unrefined oil such as salad dressing, to add a nutty flavour to the meals and pasta.
As part of the beauty routine, it can be used as a moisturiser, homemade hair mask, or can also be combined with essential oil as a carrier oil.
"Lavender is also known as a universal oil because it has qualities which soothe nerves, eases pains and fights palpitation. The oil tones skin and helps prevent hair fall. It relieves aches, pains and rheumatic conditions. The oil can also be used to soothes burns. When having migraine and headaches, take one drop of Lavender essential oil on your fingers and massage on the temples," says Dr Kochhar.
• Purity- One can also check the purity by doing a blotter test. Simply dispense a drop of your pure essential oil on your perfume strip or a clean white sheet of paper. A pure essential oil will dry without leaving a telltale oily stain. Secondly, you can also do a stain test. Drop the oil in a piece of cloth. After washing, a pure essential oil does not leave a stain.
• Beauty Benefits- Lavender oil works to kill bacteria, and this can prevent and heal acne breakouts. It unclogs pores and reduces inflammation when you put it on your skin. It is great to soothe sunburns and sensitive skin. It's good for reducing the visibility of scars.
You can also use lavender oil as a facial toner. Lavender has antifungal properties and reduces inflammation, it can help keep eczema at bay. The lavender oil helps cleanse your skin and lessen redness and irritation.
• Health Benefits- Lavender oil is believed to have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to heal minor burns. It may be useful for treating anxiety, insomnia, depression, and restlessness. Lavender is used to relieve pain from headaches, sprains, toothaches, and sores. It can also be used to prevent hair loss.
• How to use- you can mix it with aloe vera gel and apply on the skin. The oil can be applied directly and regularly. For hair, you can simply massage a couple of drops of lavender oil into your scalp as a calming end to the day. You can mix it with vegetable oils for skin and hair. For sunburn, take some ice, add 2 drops of lavender oil and apply on your skin.
"Sandalwood is commonly known for its wood and has a very sweet smell. It is frequently used as a base for products such as incense, perfumes, cosmetics and aftershave. Traditionally, sandalwood oil is a part of religious traditions in India and other Asian countries. The sandalwood tree itself is considered holy. It promotes mental clarity when used in aromatherapy and is also believed to have anti-cancer effects," says Dr Kochhar.
• Purity- Since sandalwood is in such high demand and is so often adulterated, it has become increasingly important to those purchasing sandalwood essential oil that what you buy is authentic and pure. An expert in essential oils can detect an adulterated oil simply by the aroma. As a general practice, it is recommended that one purchases essential oils from a reputed manufacturer and/or buy from a place where it is widely grown.
• Beauty Benefits- Sandalwood has the ability to promote healthy and clear skin. It is very mild but still has a powerful effect on the skin. Due to its antiseptic properties, the sandalwood powder prevents acne and the oil prevents rashes, heals itching and inflammation, cools and soothes sunburns, gently exfoliates, helps fade scars, and moisturizes dry skin and tones the skin with mild astringent action.
• Health Benefits- Sandalwood oil is believed to be beneficial in treating both physical and mental disorders, including anxiety and depression. It also helps promote a healthier sleeping pattern. Sandalwood oil is considered safe when used for aromatherapy. However, the oil should never be applied to the skin at full-strength and should always be diluted.
• How to Use- There are multiple uses of sandalwood essential oil. You can add a few drops in your bath water and also the massage oil.. You can also use a few drops in your candle for a good aromatic fragrance.