12 ESSENTIAL OILS FOR SKIN + Musculoskeletal Health

Summer has arrived, and for many of us that means we’re eager to spend a lot more time in the sunshine. Before we step into the light and embark on summer adventures, we would be wise to keep our skin health, joints, and muscles in optimal condition—especially for those who will be chasing after little ones, or doing their best to keep up with the Summer Olympics athletes!

In today’s guide, we’ll delve into the top botanical treasures in our ever-expanding essential oil collection, focusing on their potent benefits for both skincare and musculoskeletal health. The majority of these oils can be used in various ways as either specific remedies or adjunct therapies for a wide range of conditions that affect the skin, joints, muscles, and connective tissues. Some are more specific for the skin, some are more specific for the muscles and joints, and some are beneficial for both.

Whether you're looking to rejuvenate sun-kissed skin or for ways to support your body after time spent enjoying outdoor activities, these exquisite scents offer versatile solutions. From soothing inflamed muscles to nourishing dry skin, each oil serves a unique purpose in promoting wellness and vitality. 

Let's explore how these 12 natural remedies can enhance your summer wellness routine.

Blue Chamomile essential oil is blue because of its high content of chamazulene, one of the more potent anti-inflammatory compounds used in aromatherapy. 

This oil helps soothe sore muscles and relieve joint pains, and reduces nerve pain; it can promote healing of repetitive motion injuries and help settle restless leg syndrome. It is highly beneficial and very gentle for skin conditions, and highly compatible with all skin types. It promotes wound healing, especially in slow healing ulcerations, helps in skin infection and inflammation, and reduces eczema, rashes, and dermatitis.

Check out our new Heal-All Arnica Relief Balm with Blue Chamomile as one of its key ingredients. To further increase the anti-inflammatory powers of this botanical formula—for either skin or musculoskeletal benefits—2-3 additional drops of the oil can be blended into ½ tsp of the balm. The oil can also be used on a compress and in massage oils, and is often mixed with helichrysum oil in natural beauty products.

Clary Sage is soothing for skin conditions that worsen with stress and anxiety; it has antioxidant and anti-aging properties, regulates sebum production, and helps in acne treatment. 2-3 drops can be added to the bath for overall relaxation, which is also soothing to the skin, and 1 drop can be applied on a warm moist compress for the face.

Clary Sage is also efficient in enhancing peripheral circulation and soothing muscle and joint pain. The active ingredients of the oil have antispasmodic properties with strong local effects in muscles. Used in applications for the musculoskeletal system, it relieves stiff joints and loosens muscles, aids in arthritis and rheumatism, and works through relaxing the nervous system to relax muscular tension. 

For massage purposes, use 1-2 drops directly on painful areas, or include 2-3 drops in a carrier or favorite massage oil. Massage topically to soothe muscles and joints, and to relieve spasms.

Conifer and Eucalyptus oils have similar chemistry and therapeutic benefits. Like all the conifer and eucalyptus species, Cypress has significant antirheumatic and anti-inflammatory benefits for the muscles and joints. They both stimulate peripheral circulation, which helps relieve muscular and joint pain and reduce arthritic symptoms.

2-3 drops of Cypress or Eucalyptus oil can be mixed into the bath water, and a soothing massage oil can be made by adding 5-6 drops to 1 oz of carrier oil. Used topically, they reduce skin inflammation, and relieve spasms and cramps.

For anti-inflammatory purposes, Cypress and Eucalyptus blend very well with each other and with other conifers such as Fir and Juniper, other species of eucalyptus, and floral oils such as Helichrysum and Chamomile. For antirheumatic purposes, they both blend well with other conifers, cooling flower oils such as Lavender, and a drop of a warming oil such as Clove. These blends are often added to macerated herbal oils, such as Arnica and St. John’s Wort, and can be applied to local areas several times a day.

Both Cypress and Eucalyptus oils promote skin health, support wound healing, and protect the skin from bacterial and fungal infections.

Sandalwood essential oil has excellent therapeutic benefits for healing the skin. The oil is very mild and safe for undiluted application, but because of its cost it is generally found diluted in carrier oils. It is used as a powder in Ayurvedic Pancha Karma treatments for Ubtan, meaning powder application for dry skin brushing to detoxify the skin, improve circulation, and benefit the musculoskeletal system. 

Add 1-2 drops of the oil to ½ oz skin lotion, cream, or ointment. In this form it will promote wound healing, help reduce skin infections and inflammation, soothe insect bites and stings, and help in acne treatment.  It is highly compatible with dry, scaly, and chapped skin specifically. 

One or two drops of the oil can be massaged undiluted into the scalp to stimulate hair growth and to calm and relax the nervous system. It can also be applied directly to herpes lesions, both type 1 and 2. 

Sandalwood oil can be diluted in carrier oil and be used for massage to relieve muscular and joint pain; for this purpose, 5-15 drops can be added to a half ounce of a carrier oil, or to a medicated herbal oil. 

Two excellent ways to synergize Sandalwood oil with other herbal companions in our apothecary: (1) Mix 2 drops into the Rose Face Mask preparation, or (2) Add 1 drop to the Heal-All Balm when applying.

Although different oils, we can classify Lavender and Rosewood together, as they have very similar compounds. The primary compound that gives both oils their characteristic healing powers is linalool, which is almost twice as high in Rosewood as some lavenders.

Both oils are mild but highly beneficial, safe, and highly compatible with all skin types. They are both a first choice for promoting wound healing and reducing inflammation, so are used for treating skin infections, soothing insect bites and stings, treating cold sores, helping in acne treatment, and alleviating eczema, rashes and dermatitis. They can both be used in herbal hair oils to reduce hair loss, treat dandruff, and promote healthy skin on the scalp.

An excellent blend for healing inflamed conditions of the skin and wounds is equal parts Lavender, Rosewood, Helichrysum and Rose oils; This blend can be applied diluted in a carrier oil such as rosehip seed, or in aloe vera gel.

Both oils are also excellent additions to aromatherapy treatments for the musculoskeletal system. They both are helpful for relieving muscular and joint pains, reducing symptoms of rheumatism and fibromyalgia, and relieving various types of nerve pain.

For massage of the muscle and joints and lymphatic drainage, Lavender and Rosewood essential oils can be mixed equal parts and diluted in a base oil; or, they can be added liberally to an Ayurvedic herbal oil such as Mahanarayan.

Of all the essential oils in our collection, Frankincense has the longest history of use as an aromatic botanical medicine for treating skin and musculoskeletal problems. It has been made into salves, poultices, balms and unguents for thousands of years, in addition to its ancient use as a purifying incense for religious and spiritual purposes. The pharmacopeias of Egyptian, Greek, Ayurvedic, Unani and Chinese medicine contain numerous formulas using frankincense, powdered or macerated, combined with other herbs. It found special use in the Chinese branch of medicine known as Dit Da, meaning “hit medicine”, referring to injuries and broken bones, that was developed by the Buddhist monks of the Shao Lin monastery who practiced Gong Fu.  

Frankincense promotes wound healing, for the skin as well as other tissues. Combining the oil with Helichrysum is one of the most important synergies for bruising, pain and swelling of soft tissue injuries. For this purpose, Frankincense oil can be used on a compress, in a massage oil, and applied undiluted on the affected area; it also makes an excellent addition to our Heal-All Relief Balm, and to macerated herbal oils like Arnica, St. John’s Wort, Calendula, and Ayurvedic herbal oils. Used in these ways, it relieves muscular, nerve and joint pains, and reduces pain of rheumatism, arthritis and fibromyalgia.

Frankincense oil has significant skin healing and regenerating effects. It has antioxidant and anti-aging properties, and reduces scarring. 1-2 drops of Frankincense oil can be added to any skin lotion or cream to increase its anti-aging and collagen supporting functions.

Helichrysum is the most recent essential oil to receive global recognition for its outstanding healing properties. Over the last twenty years, it has become one of the most important ingredients in skincare products, but it also has spectacular wound healing powers that make it a major oil for musculoskeletal formulas.

Helichrysum can reduce infection and inflammation affecting the skin; it can help treat eczema, rashes, and dermatitis. It is a common ingredient in products for supporting vein health, through its circulation improving powers. It is famous for preventing and removing scar tissue, and is considered a superior anti-inflammatory and skin regenerator with potent cicatrizing properties. It is reputed to be even more effective at treating burns than lavender oil. It is mild on the skin, highly compatible with all skin types, and can be applied undiluted. 

To support the healing of skin wounds and burns, and to reduce scarring, helichrysum essential oil can be applied undiluted. An excellent combination for reducing scar tissue is two parts helichrysum and one part carrot seed essential oils, diluted in a carrier of rosehip seed oil. Helichrysum can also be added to skin creams, lotions, and ointments to enhance their effects.

In the musculoskeletal system, Helichrysum promotes healing of bruises and swelling of soft tissues injuries. Used in massage oils it relieves muscular and joint pains, aids in rheumatism, and can be beneficial for fibromyalgia and restless leg syndrome.

To amplify the potency of the Helichrysum, another key ingredient in the Heal-All Arnica Relief Balm, you may add more Helichrysum oil, which will help enhance both skin and musculoskeletal health.

Geranium and Rose essential oils are similar in many ways, so much that Geranium has been one of the oils that has been used historically for adulterating Rose oil. While both of these can be used for musculoskeletal conditions, they are primarily regarded as unsurpassed oils for treating the skin.

Both oils have an affinity for the skin due to their high content in antioxidants and regenerative ingredients.  Both oils are also regarded as having balancing effects on the sebaceous glands, and are both used for a wide range of conditions including slowing aging of the skin, treating rashes, eczema, seborrhea, psoriasis, dermatitis, acne and other skin conditions. Both oils promote healing of wounds and burns, help treat bruises, reduce scarring, and support skin cell regeneration. 

Because they balance sebum production, these oils are useful in skin conditions associated with both excessive dryness and excessive oil, and are highly compatible with all skin types. 

Both Rose and Geranium promote the health of hair, skin and nails, help restore damaged skin, and are moisturizing and hydrating. 1-2 drops of either or both can be added to a face lotion or cream that will give antioxidant, anti-aging, and skin regenerating effects where topically applied. 

In the musculoskeletal system, these oils have soothing, cooling effects that help relieve tension, pain, and spasms. Add 2-4 drops of each to ½ oz of carrier oil to create a massage oil that will enhance peripheral circulation and moisturize the skin. A massage oil with Rose and/or Geranium will have slightly cooling properties and can be used to relieve muscle and joint pain or as a soothing post-workout application.

Like Rose and Geranium, Ylang-Ylang is considered a quintessential oil for the skin. It is said to regulate sebum production and promote overall skin health. It helps in acne treatment, and like Clary Sage it reduces stress-triggered skin conditions. It is used in carrier oils to help reduce scarring and stretch marks, and promotes healing of wounds and soft tissue injuries in a similar way as Helichrysum. It is gentle on the skin, and compatible with all the skin types. It has antioxidant and anti-aging properties, and promotes skin regeneration. It is also excellent for the hair, and promotes its healthy growth.

Ylang-Ylang oil is easily incorporated into skin creams, lotions and ointments, and is mild and safe. It is often found mixed with other flower oils such as Geranium, Lavender, and Helichrysum. 

Ylang-Ylang is cooling, soothing and relaxing for the musculoskeletal system. Used in massage oils, compresses, baths and balms, it helps relieve sore and aching muscles and reduce joint pains. It aids in rheumatism, reduces neuralgias, reduces pain of repetitive motion injuries, and calms restless leg syndrome.

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