Why Your Essential Oil Is Definitely Not
JULY 26, 2021
Essential oils are great marketing. We hate to burst the lavender-geranium-and-ylang-ylang-scented bubble, but while essential oils have undeniable aromatherapy benefits, they’re bad news. Specifically, they’re bad news on delicate facial skin—and rough elbow skin and really any skin anywhere. In fact, there are a few big reasons—breakouts, irritation, inflammation, collagen breakdown—that we don’t use essential oils in any Drunk Elephant products.
Skincare formulations shouldn’t be masked by perfumes (whether naturally or synthetic in origin). We believe the best, most nourishing ingredients should be the point of skincare—and that every ingredient should either directly benefit the skin or support the integrity of our formulations. Essential oils do neither.
The damage done by essential oils is cumulative. Even if you can’t see it, it’s building up over time, effectively sensitizing the skin in a way that’s invisible to your eye—for now.
To your skin, essential oils can be perceived as volatile and unfamiliar—not exactly the biocompatible ingredients we are going for. If you’ve been using products with essential oils and haven’t noticed a problem, great. But keep in mind that the damage done by essential oils is cumulative. Even if you can’t see it, it’s building up over time, effectively sensitizing the skin in a way that’s invisible to your eye—for now. (Think of it this way: When you walk outside without sunscreen, you don’t see signs of sun damage right away. It shows up years later. It’s the same thing with essential oils: Damage is being done and you don’t even know it, but the signs of inflammation—redness, excessive oiliness, breakouts—can show up in skin weeks or months later.)
Many essential oils react to UV light and cause your skin to burn or result in temporary hyperpigmentation. And certain ingredients (namely other sensitizers, like drying alcohols or harsh surfactants), when used in conjunction with essential oils, can lead to irritant reactions that are even worse.