Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Geranium (or Lavender)—spot remover for breakouts

As you have (or will) read in these blog posts and hear me say if you’re a client: I used to always recommend geranium essential oil as my go-to spot remover for blemishes. I now recommend lavender essential oil. Why? Too many people over the years have complained about the “awful smell” of geranium. I know if you don’t like the smell of something, you’ll be less likely to use it. Lavender has a wonderful aromatic that most people like, so anytime you read “geranium” in this post, think lavender!

The following is taken from my second book, Skin Care A to Z, and while I certainly could have changed the name of the essential oil from geranium to lavender, I decided to write this preliminary paragraph and let the piece stand on its own untouched. You can absolutely still use geranium! But if the aromatic is too much for you, switch to lavender. Either way, your skin will benefit.

I’m looking for a spot remover that will help with my occasional breakouts. I’ve used something in the past that stung a little when I put it on, but it was great for drying out the blemish. I can’t find it now. Do you have any recommendations?

The best thing to use as a spot remover for problem skin is essential oil of geranium. The product you used may have had benzoyl peroxide as its main ingredient. Sometimes it can sting a little. If it worked for you, great. But drying out the skin isn’t the best way to get rid of blemishes. I prefer the gentle yet highly effective effects of essential oils. They are generally antiseptic and antibacterial but do not dry the surface skin out. They are concentrated extracts from plants, herbs, or flowers, so they are quite aromatically intense. Give essential oils a try—they are better for your skin then benzoyl peroxide spot treatments.

Can you use geranium oil “neat” on the skin? I was under the impression only lavender and tea tree could be put directly on the skin?

I realize the box of geranium oil I sell says not to put it neat (straight or undiluted) on the skin. However, the way I tell my clients to apply the geranium is just to put a single drop on each blemish. If anyone was to put geranium all over his or her face, that would be too much. I only recommend putting it on the blemishes themselves, and there is no harm in doing this.

Any essential oils in the mint family (like peppermint, for example) should definitely not be used in very large amounts on the skin—neat. These oils are way too potent and can cause burning as well as redness. But other than these, most essential oils, used in very limited amounts, are fine to use neat—providing caution is used around the eyes and sensitive tissue of the inner nose and mouth. I suppose anything can be misused, and perhaps that is why the manufacturers label their products with that warning.

How often should I apply the geranium and where? Do I dab it on my blemishes or put it all over my face?

Do not mix geranium or any essential oil in with your creams, and under no circumstances should you rub it all over your face! In reference to the previous email, this is no doubt why manufacturers say not to use it neat—as a precautionary measure because someone may unwittingly put it all over their skin.

Geranium is best used on infected blemishes only. If the spot is red, which generally indicates infection, use the geranium. If not, don’t. In other words, using this essential oil on blackheads won’t do you any good. Just dab it on infected places for 2-3 days or until there is improvement in the spot(s). Apply it at night after your Basics 1-2-3 Program or right before bedtime.

Can I mix water and geranium oil together to make a spritzer toner?

I have read in several books on essential oils to do just that—to mix essential oils and water to make your own toner. The essential oils, however, will not truly mix with water and may cause burning. If you choose to make your own, be sure to have the toner in a glass or metal bottle and remember to shake it well before spraying each time. Hopefully this will help to mix the oils and water together. Personally, I prefer a manufactured toner with essential oils.

If I put geranium on overnight, should I wait until the mask dries then put on the geranium, or can I put both on at the same time?

I recommend waiting until the mask dries. Otherwise, when you apply the geranium to the wet mask, your finger will usually take the mask off. So, wait a few minutes after applying the mask, then put a drop of geranium on the clay.

My husband says the fragrance of the geranium oil is “stout.” I like it because it helps clear my breakout and clears my sinuses too!

Another client writes:

The geranium oil seems to be helping with the healing of my blemishes although my husband and I agree—it stinks!

If you like the results of the geranium oil but just can’t stand the smell, try lavender essential oil. Truly, almost any essential oil will be good at a base level for healing spots since essential oils all have antibacterial abilities. Many people like tea tree oil, although this is not one of my personal favorites. Not only do I not like the smell, but I also have better results with geranium, juniper, or even lavender on skin problems.

Although using geranium on your spots is of great benefit, if you have breakout anywhere near your mouth (lips), I would skip the essential oils and just put clay mask there instead. Essential oils might irritate the lip tissue, and worst of all, it will taste horrible!

No essentials oils either!
As an experiment, I used geranium oil on a few tiny places right near my mouth one evening. I knew the oil would seep into my mouth, but I’m a scientist at heart, and I wanted to see what would happen. The geranium did indeed get into my mouth and, as expected, it tasted awful! So I went into my bathroom and gently rubbed the essential oil off my skin, knowing it wouldn’t just magically come off. Essential oils are very vaporous and easily absorbed into the skin, so there was very little to actually come off. Next, I reached for my mask and dotted the small places with the clay. Clay will stick wherever you put it and won’t migrate like an essential oil will.

My advice is if you have blemishes (large or small) anywhere near your mouth, just apply clay mask. It won’t cause a bad taste in your mouth, and the clay won’t irritate the lip tissue like an essential oil can. Hopefully you don’t need me to tell you to keep essential oils away from your eyes.

I do not recommend the following—remember I am experimenting for your benefit! I put peppermint oil in the same area near my mouth. I did this knowing the results, and I wanted to see how much it would burn. Less than a minute later, the entire side of my mouth and outer skin felt like it was on fire! Peppermint oil is great to use inside your mouth but should never be used near your eyes or mouth or any other sensitive area.

I wanted to let you know I’ve been using your tip about putting the clay mask and geranium oil on places where I have breakout, and it clears everything up so quickly! I’m feeling so much better about my skin. Thank you!

HOT TIP: Geranium makes a great “spot remover!”

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