The trouble with essential oils


You’ll find essential oils in lots of natural products. Essential oils seem to be everywhere and in everything, from what we clean with to what we eat and apply to our skin. People even purchase essential oils ‘neat’, mixing various different ones to inhale, applying directly to skin and even ingest - for themselves and their little ones. We love the fragrance of them and even burn them in our homes, and apply them to our sheets and clothes. They’re natural, so they must be good for you! Or are they?

Unfortunately, it’s not so simple. At Four Cow Farm, unlike many other skincare brands, we use very few essential oils and when we do, only in very low concentrations. Why? Because essential oils are some of the most potent natural substances known. To illustrate this, it takes 250 kilos or more of lavender just to make 1 kilo of lavender essential oil!

So think of essential oils as highly concentrated forms of the herbs and flowers they come from. That can make a huge difference to just using the original ingredient. For example drinking one cup of lavender tea can be calming, but drinking ten cups can have all sorts of strange side-effects. They were the original medicines, and as with all medicines, dosage is extremely important. That’s even more true when it comes to babies and children who have much, much smaller bodies than adults - too much and the side-effects are disturbing (lavender becomes a stimulant if overused) or worse, toxic.

So when it comes to Nanna’s skincare recipes, we only use the safest, well-documented essential oils and only at low dosages. It also means that we only use essential oils sparingly for therapeutic purposes and never for fragrance (think of all the heavily-fragranced natural products out there).

Natural might be better, but it must always be safe!

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