You’ve probably been sick at one point in your life or another, haven’t you? Whether it was just a runny nose or a mild cough, you were probably too busy to visit a doctor. Or too busy to go to your local pharmacy for some cold and flu mediation. You just rode the cold out. But what if I told you didn’t have to? What if I told you all you had to do to get rid of your cold was simply breathe? It’s true. If you’ve heard of essential oils and hydrosols, you probably know where I’m going with this.
There are hundreds of different essential oils and hydrosols available on the market for countless therapeutic purposes. For example, if you suffer from asthma, cough, cold, or any kind of respiratory tract problem, there’s bound to be an essential oil or hydrosol that you can inhale to get rid of your problem. All you have to do is inhale it directly or add it to a diffuser and you’ll be fighting your respiratory problems for hours on end. So what are essential oils and hydrosols?
What is the difference between Hydrosols and Essential oils?
First of all, you should know that both essential oils and hydrosols come from the same source. They’re both products of plant distillation processes. So what’s the difference? Well, distillation usually gives off two things: an oily product and a watery product. Essential oils are the concentrated form of all the oils and fat-soluble components in your plant material. On the other hand, hydrosols are water-based products that contain aqueous compounds. That’s actually how they got their name. If you were to split the word hydrosol in half, you’d get two parts: “hydro” and “sol”. Hydro means water in Latin while “sol” means solution. It literally translates to a watery solution. To keep things simple, remember: hydrosol is like water and essential oils are like, well, oil.
Which Essential Oil or Hydrosol should I get for my Skin Type?
Oily, dry, combination skin
If you’re someone who suffers from oily skin and you’re thinking about getting a hydrosol or essential oil, you’ll want to know which ones are the best. When it comes to hydrosols, the ones best suited for oily skin are basil, bergamot (organic), chocolate mint, and grapefruit (organic). Basil has been praised for quite a long time and has been used in several mixtures such as basil/ginger blends and basil/witch hazel blends. On the other hand, if you’re thinking about going for a stronger option, like essential oils, then the best ones for oily skin are orange, lemon, lime, bergamot, geranium, and cypress. They have the ability to regulate your skin’s sebaceous glands, which helps normalize your oil production.
If your skin is more of the dry, chapped type, then there are different options for you to choose from. The best hydrosols for dry skin are German chamomile, Roman chamomile, cornflower, and fennel. You can also try out a blend of carrot seed, rose and germanium. As for essential oils, your best choices are cedarwood, geranium, myrrh, sandalwood, palmarosa, Roman chamomile, and German Chamomile.
If your skin isn’t dry or oily, but a little bit of both, then you probably have combination skin. Not to worry, there’s another list of hydrosols and essential oils for you. The best hydrosol options are bergamot (organic), chocolate mint, grapefruit (organic), juniper, neroli (orange blossom), and nettle. You can also try the basil and witch hazel mixture because it works just as effectively on combination skin as it does on oily skin. Last but not least, the best essential oils for combination skin are patchouli, lavender, bergamot, and orange.
Which is stronger, hydrosol or essential oil? Should I dilute them?
Generally speaking, hydrosols tend to be gentler on skin and other organs because they’re much more diluted than essential oils. They already contain high water content so you rarely have to dilute them. However, if you’re going to use a hydrosol for your child or infant and you’re a bit worried then go right ahead and dilute it. Hydrosols are usually diluted according to personal preference to adjust their taste to your liking, rather than to adjust their safety. On the other hand, you should always dilute essential oils before use. Very few essential oils can be used straight from the bottle. That’s because essential oils are very powerful. And let’s not forget that they’re oil-based while our bodies are mostly made up out of water, so there’s a high chance that they’ll be irritated by the concentrated essential oils.
A few precautions to keep in mind
Most essential oils and hydrosols are quite safe. They have to be because they’re utilized by countless people all over the world on a daily basis. They’re recommended by hundreds of physicians and to this very day, some people prefer hydrosols and essential oils over any form of medication. However, as safe as they are, there are a few precautions that you should be aware of. They might not apply to you, but you’ll feel better knowing them, right? The first thing you should know is that pregnant mothers are advised not to use several kinds of essential oils and hydrosols or to at least consult their physician first before using them. Why? Well, the thing about pregnancy is that it’s a very sensitive period of both the mother and the fetus’s life. Practically everything can be potentially harmful to either of them. It’s not that hydrosols or essential oils are bad or anything but when it comes to pregnancy, anything that hasn’t been tested specifically on pregnant women is usually contraindicated or preferably avoided. That’s why you’re better off waiting till after you’ve safely delivered your baby before you try out most essential oils or hydrosols.
The second precaution worth mentioning is that some people-and I mean very few, rare people- are often allergic to certain hydrosols and essential oils. When they apply them topically to their skin or use them in any way, they develop a minor allergic reaction which often manifests in the form of skin irritation. Honestly, your chances of being one of the few people who are actually allergic are pretty slim, but it’s worth double-checking if you don’t want to end up with an annoying rash. Or worse. To check whether or not your skin is sensitive to a certain hydrosol or essential oil, you should do a skin patch test. It’s a pretty easy method of determining whether or not your body is allergic to a certain substance. It’s recommended not only for essential oils and hydrosols but for pretty much any skin product you try out for the first time. Here’s how to do a skin patch test. Get a cotton pad or a small cloth, and add a few drops of the product you’re testing. Next, apply this minute amount to a small, preferably well-hidden area of your skin. Give it some time for your skin to recognize the oil or product and wait to see if any signs of allergy occur. If within 48 hours you notice any swelling, redness, itchiness, or pretty much any form of irritation, then you might be somewhat allergic to the product you’re testing or one of its components. If not, then you’re all good to go.
What to look for when buying your Hydrosol or Essential oil
When you’re out buying your hydrosol or essential oil, it’s easy to get tricked into buying something of very poor quality. A lot of manufacturers leave out tiny details about their products or include them and assume that customers won’t know any better. That’s why you should always be careful to pick a good, decent brand. That way, the chances of your product being adulterated, excessively diluted, or impure, are very slim.
Both hydrosols and essential oils are usually packaged in dark and opaque bottles because they’re sensitive to heat and light. Without this insulation, their components could easily degrade into less beneficial or potentially harmful substances. One thing that sets hydrosols apart from essential oils is that they can’t be manufactured synthetically. You can’t just whip up a batch of hydrosol in the lab. You have to use the right plant materials and the right distillation process. So if you’re going to buy a hydrosol, rest assured that you’re paying for a 100% distilled product and not some adulterated synthetic products.
As for essential oils, there are a few things that can help you determine their purity. First of all, if your essential oil is truly pure, then it won’t feel greasy on your skin. They may be called oils but they sure don’t feel like them. Second of all, pure essential oils disappear when a few drops are added to a sheet of white paper. Another quality of pure oils is that they don’t dissolve in water. Last but not least, if your essential oil smells rancid or smells like alcohol, then it’s not pure.
Whether you’re going for hydrosols or essential oils, you can’t go wrong. Choose wisely or choose foolishly, it won’t matter because at the end of the day, either choice will make your life easier.