Article by Alexia Buttigieg
Also known as fixed or base, and in Aromatherapy these oils are as important as essential oils. These are thicker and not volatile, they carry vitamins and nutrients to the skin but are only able to penetrate through the surface of the skin as their molecular structure is much thicker than that of essential oils. However, they are the perfect vehicle to transport the volatile essential oil through our skin.
Oils have been used for centuries even before essential oils existed and are used in culinary, medicinal and beauty industries. As oils are essential to our diet these are also essential to our skin, and according to the skin type and purpose different oils must be used.
These contain mostly GLA’s and fatty acids. They vary in texture and penetration rate and also in function. Oils are liquid at room temperature while butters are solid at room temperature. There are also waxes that are used in aromatherapy like beeswax and candelila. Examples of butters are shea and cocoa. Some examples of oils are olive, sweet almond, borage and sunflower. The meaning of an unrefined oil is that this has been pressed and filtered but did not go under further treatment, while when an oil or butter has been refined this would have gone under treatment to change the smell and texture of final product. Virgin oil is when it has gone under pressure mostly mechanical and just filtered. When an oil is hydrogenated this goes through a process of adding hydrogen atoms to unsaturated oil or butter making it stable and increasing its shelf life but also removing some important nutrients as of the process it would have undergone. Infused oils are dry plant materials that have been soaked in the oil and the extract would have transferred into the oil making it more beneficial. Lipids, a word used to describe oils and butters in aromatherapy can be found both in animals and mostly in the plant kingdom. And they are used in massage, baths and soap making.
There is a whole study behind oils and it is very scientific. It is very interesting to know that oils are pressed from the seed of the plant and then used for its purpose. Countries like Africa produce a high amount of shea butter and Africans use it for everything, their skin is very dry and needs protection from the harmful uv rays. In Mongolia where it is very cold they use animal fats and sea buckthorn oil which also has medicinal purpose for them. In Malta we are very proud of our olive oil and Borage seed oil (fidloqqom). Both are very good to preserve moisture and are anti inflammatory, soothe damaged skin and are anti ageing. While olive oil is very thick and takes a while to absorb, Borage on the other hand is a dry oil which absorbs really fast. Organic oils are available on the market, these would have been grown naturally without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Usually they are higher in price but will retain more benefits than a hydrogenated refined oil. This does not mean that using the latter is bad for you but you get more benefits in using an oil which has not been treated but had gone only through pressing as it would retain all essential fatty acids and nutrients.
Here is a quick recipe for aching muscles:
Infused rosemary olive oil. This is done by washing the rosemary leaves in warm water with a spoon of bicarbonate of soda, dry with kitchen paper and hang dry the herb until it is dehydrated. In a glass jar place ½ a litre of olive oil and immerse the rosemary leaves in it. Attention: all matter must be under the oil as it would create mould when exposed to air. Leave in the sun for a few days, remembering to stir the jar gently once a day. After this process, transfer the oil to a dark glass bottle and label with date. This could be used on its own for muscle pain and rheumatic pains.
Reference: Power of the Seed: Your Guide to Oils for Health & Beauty (2015) by Susan M. Parker
Alexia Buttigieg is a holistic therapist who is passionate about everything that can help people feel better in a more natural approach, from massage to self-therapy to essential oils and reflexology. She believes that stress cannot be avoided but nature has given us all we need to reduce it, and live a more balanced existence. She started her career as a Beauty therapist and has achieved diplomas in Esteticienne and Physiatrics, where she was able to understand the anatomy and physiology of the human body. She furthered her studies by achieving diplomas in Reflexology (including palliative care) and Aromatherapy. Other certificate courses include tui na, facial analysis and ayurvedic stone massage. In these past years she has ventured into natural cosmetics and read for a diploma and an advanced diploma in organic skincare formulation, which harmonises her passions for Aromatherapy and organic skincare treatments. Alexia still feels like her first role is being a mother to her daughter and prioritises family and their well-being. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org