Essential oils: the basics to get started
They're everywhere. In your perfumes, cosmetics, candles or fabric softeners. But do you really know what an essential oil is? What's essential about them? What are they for? We tell you everything.
What is an essential oil?
An essential oil is a pure, natural and complete extract obtained most often by distillation of the odoriferous part of a so-called “aromatic” plant or tree. It is considered to be pure, natural and complete because its extraction process allows all the molecules of the plant to be collected without the use of solvents, which is no small feat! Essential oils are distinguished from plant oils, which are derived from pressing the organs of oleaginous plants (which should also be distinguished from succulents — aka those you forget to water!).
There are more than 800,000 species in the plant kingdom. This is a lot, but only 10% of them are capable of producing essential oils and deserving of the name “aromatic.” Within the plant or tree, the odoriferous part, which concentrates the molecules that will be recovered in the oil, can be found in the leaves, fruit, seeds, roots, bark or flowers. It’s best to know where to look!
Distilled and released
The extraction is done gently by steam distillation, the plant equivalent of a steam room. This is a distillation process that is as simple as it is safe, and allows all the volatile molecules contained in the plant to be preserved without any alteration. This method makes the essential oil the champion of natural extracts: it ensures a very high concentration of active molecules, giving the oil unparalleled value! Hot water produces steam which, as it passes through the plant, carries with it the volatile molecules and the properties contained in the plant. By cooling on contact with cold water, the steam and the molecules return to a liquid form, which makes it easy to separate the water from the oil since these two do not mix (yes, a bit like a vinaigrette).
The only exception? Citrus fruits. These bizarre fruits are not very sensitive to the gentleness of steam. Rather, to extract their treasure, the cells contained in the skin of the fresh fruit must first be mechanically crushed, then the mixture obtained must be filtered to keep only the liquid, and the essential oil is recovered through centrifugation. This is a more strenuous process, but just as effective as steam extraction.
What are they for?
There is nothing mysterious about the ways of these oils; on the contrary, they hold no secrets for us at René Furterer. Their effectiveness and safety are the focus of our attention and each one is a champion in its own category. For a scalp that needs to be soothed and refreshed, Eucalyptus globulus or Mentha veridis essential oils are the ones to rely on. Need an antioxidant boost for the hair fiber and scalp? Use red thyme oil. Sweet orange and rosemary are THE perfect duo to cleanse even the most troubled scalps. And what about clove? Behind its seemingly trivial appearance, it is in fact a powerful sebum reducer!
Although each oil has its own mode of action, which determines how best to use it, they all have one thing in common: they provide instant well-being. Our essential oil-based treatments are applied before shampooing with a beneficial scalp massage. By activating our body's sensory receptors, they trigger psychological and physiological effects related to feelings of well-being. This does not mean that their main property is to make you smile. No, that's a little pleasure they offer you in addition to all the other services they can render to your body, such as helping it defend itself against external aggressions, soothing inflammation or stimulating the regeneration of your cells.
At René Furterer, we have selected twelve oils for their therapeutic and aromatic properties and have perfected the manufacturing process, which allows us to preserve the natural properties of the plants from which they are extracted. These concentrated active ingredients act quickly on the scalp and hair fibers, and provide immediate pleasure from the very first moment of application.
Precautions for use
While many essential oils are now readily available, their use and dosage should not be taken lightly. It’s generally strongly recommended to follow the instructions on the packaging to a T. Whether spraying, applying, or diluting, oils are living products with unique properties and their handling requires a little precaution. One should therefore avoid sniffing anything or applying the first seductively scented bottle that comes along. It’s better to follow the advice of a professional, do skin micro-tests in case of doubt, avoid administering them orally to your children without prior medical advice, and put them away during the first trimester of pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Once these precautions have been taken, you can enjoy the pleasure of using this precious gift of nature on your hair with complete peace of mind!