Herb Infused Oils vs Essential Oils – What’s the Difference?

Herb Infused Oils vs Essential Oils – What’s the Difference?

Both herb infused oils and essential oils have their place in natural health, but is one better than the other? Let’s look at the benefits and downsides of each to help decide which best meets your needs.

Herbs are known to contain an array of beneficial properties. But how exactly can we extract these compounds from the plants to use in skincare? Well, that’s where carrier oils (or base oils) come in handy as they make an excellent menstruum (solvent) to extract the medicinal properties from the plant. 

Herb infused oils are made by infusing whole plant material into a carrier oil (such as olive, coconut, sesame, jojoba etc.) which can then be used on its own or serve as a foundation of a skincare product such as cream, lotion or lip balm. The oils are naturally absorbed through the skin and act as a medium to carry herbal constituents deeper into the body. If you put a drop of a carrier oil onto paper, it will leave a staiin.

They can safely be used everyday in large amounts without the risk of becoming sensitized, i.e. less likely to cause a reaction. Herb infused oils are an effective way to draw out the beneficial compounds from the plant and offer a safer and far more sustainable alternative to essential oils.

Herb infused oils are a wonderful way to cleanse the skin instead of using soap and water, especially the face. Since 'like attracts like', the oil will bind to the oil (sebum) that our skin naturally secrets, bind to the impurities and help draw them out. Learn more about the Oil Cleansing Method here.

Essential oils are concentrated compounds extracted from plants, usually through the process of distillation. Essential oils are volatile compounds, which means they are emitted as gas when exposed to the open air. If you put a drop of an essential oil onto a piece of paper, it will evaporate and leave no or minimal staining.

On average, essential oils are dozens of times more powerful than dried herbs and therefore require more care especially when used on children, pregnant women, the elderly and pets. A drop of essential oils could equal to pounds of the herb.

Although a few essential oils can be used ‘neat’ (directly on the skin), the vast majority should always be diluted in a carrier oil before applying to the skin. Skin care formulators should adhere to maximum dermal dilution for specific essential oils and their blends.

Due to their powerful scents, essential oils are often used in aromatherapy, but can also be used in body care formulations to support skin issues. Before using an essential oil for the first time, always do a patch test on a small area of your skin, properly combined with a carrier oil, to see if you can tolerate it.

While both herbal infused and essential oils can be used to as part of a healthy lifestyle, herb infused oils are the foundation of Nurtur Health herbal self-care products.

A 6-week process of cold infusing the oils allows the herbal essences to fully saturate with their beneficial compounds.  These oils are potent, but incredibly gentle and can (and should!) be used in daily skincare routine.

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