should you avoid essential oils like the plague?

Formulating products with essential oils has become somewhat controversial in the beauty industry. Some skincare brands have sworn off EOs completely, citing fears of irritation, especially on sensitive skin. However, the right essential oils, when used at the right levels, are completely safe to use on the skin, and on top of that, can be extremely beneficial to it.

Here’s the lowdown. 

safe, effective levels

At cocokind, in order to ensure safety and effectiveness, we limit our use of essential oils to a total of 0.8% or less of the entire formula. It’s the perfect amount to safely and consistently offer the skin benefits we want without risking irritation.

It’s also important to note that we mean 0.8% essential oils TOTAL, even if there are multiple in a given formula. You can read more about how we evaluate ingredient levels, formulate, and test our products here.

You’ll never see us formulating with essential oils that are known irritants, or that don’t offer skin benefits. We’ll also never formulate with an essential oil for fragrance alone - all of the ingredients we choose, essential oils included, are multifunctional. 

Besides being great for your skin, many essential oils can also serve beneficial functions in formulas with other ingredients. A 2014 study conducted by Anna Hermana and Andrzej P. Herman at the Polish Academy of Sciences found that essential oils including eucalyptus and ylang ylang actually helped improve the absorption of other ingredients, by reducing skin barrier resistance without causing damage.

essential oils we love

We formulate our beloved turmeric spot treatment with tea tree oil, an essential oil obtained through steam distillation. Tea tree oil soothes the skin, making it the perfect ingredient for calming a nasty breakout. It also helps eliminate excess bacteria and reduce visible signs of inflammation, leaving skin more calm and clear than before.

And sure, you can certainly blitz your breakout with traditional chemicals like benzoyl peroxide, but it’s also always worth considering the more gentle, natural route - even pure 100% tea tree oil is harder to overdo than benzoyl peroxide. Furthermore, harsh chemicals like BP often eliminate acne by obliterating all oil. This process can effectively dry out your skin and break down its defenses, leaving it dehydrated and vulnerable.

We’re also huge fans of essential oils that offer aromatherapeutic benefits, like the clary sage we use in our special edition sea kale clay mask. Clary sage, which is a staple in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, has been touted as a cure for a variety of women’s health issues, from labor pains to menstrual cramps. In our mask, its natural aroma helps soothe the senses and promote a greater sense of calm, while also balancing the skin.

Or the bergamot and eucalyptus essential oils we use in our glow essence - eucalyptus leaf oil helps calm skin and reduce irritation while bergamot oil refreshes skin and unclogs pores. They also both happen to contribute to the fresh, gently herbal scent that makes our essence so enjoyable to use. 

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Of course, we’re not recommending using undiluted essential oils directly on your skin. But the takeaway here is that when used in safe amounts in balanced formulas, essential oils can offer a plethora of skin benefits, without causing irritation. 

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