sunflowerHelianthus annus

Family: Asteraceae

Part used: seeds

Base oil: can be used 100 percent

Sunflower is native to America. The plant grows to a height of about 6 – 15 feet, has a tall hairy stem and red to purple rays with large orange-yellow flower petals that look similar to a large daisy. The flower disc produces edible seeds.

Contains: vitamins, minerals

Practical uses: good for all skin types. The carrier/base oil is used to dilute essential oils in aromatherapy for massage oils and other formulations.

Therapeutic Properties: antisclerotic, antiseptic, aphrodisiac, diuretic, emollient, expectorant, insecticidal, sudorific

Caution: avoid using this oil on people with nut allergies.

This oil is light-textured and nourishing to the skin. Avoid processed, supermarket-grade oil and instead choose unrefined organic oil, as it naturally contains skin-enhancing ingredients such as potassium, vitamins B and E, and omega-6 fatty acids. Sunflower oil softens the face without leaving a residue, and this carrier protects and restores combination skins.

*Special Tip: To repair damaged hair that has split ends, massage 40 ml / 8 tsp sunflower oil into dry hair, from the roots to the tips. Leave the oil in for 20 minutes, then, without wetting your hair, massage in an unfragranced shampoo, and rinse. Your hair will feel silky smooth.

Special Blends

Add these essential oils to 20 ml / 4 tsp Sunflower carrier oil:

To soften and nourish tired-looking, dry skin:

  • 4 drops Australian Sandalwood, 2 drops Patchouli, 4 drops Sweet Orange

To soothe combination skin:

  • 4 drops Geranium, 2 drops Roman Chamomile, 4 drops Linaloe Wood

*Source: Harding Jennie, The Essential Oils Handbook. Duncan Baird Publishers, 2008 is free to access and use.
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Making a Skin Mousse

Take a clean glass jar that is big enough to hold up to 20ml/4 tsp of the finished mousse. Add 15ml/3 flat tsp Aloe Vera gel, then 5ml/1 tsp jojoba carrier oil and stir the mixture with a small spoon. The oil and gel will start to combine and thicken. At this point, add another 2.5ml/ ½ tsp Aloe Vera gel and keep stirring. The mixture will suddenly go smooth and slack, taking on an opaque, pale cream colour. You will have approximately 20ml/4 tsp mousse in total – enough for around ten applications to the face.

You can use the mousse unfragranced, or you can add essential oils to the mousse blend and stir again. The mousse will last between four and six weeks at a cool room temperature and will leave your skin feeling calmed, restored and soft.

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Skin Oils and Lotions

The essential oils are prepared in much the same manner as they would be for a massage, except that the base oil should include the more nourishing oils such as jojoba, avocado or apricot kernel oil. The focus here is on treating the skin itself and dealing with particular problems. A gentle circular movement of the fingertips is often enough for the oils to be absorbed; it is important not to drag the skin, especially in the delicate areas of the neck and around the eyes.

Rose and neroli are good for dry or mature complexions; geranium, bergamot and lemon can help combat acne and greasy skin.

A few drops of essential oil can also be mixed into a bland cream or lotion, or added to a basic face mask, which might include oatmeal, honey, or clay together with the pulp of various fruits.

In some conditions, such as cold sores (herpes) and athlete’s foot, it is better to use an alcohol-based lotion instead of an oil or cream. This can be made by adding 6 drops of essential oil to 5 ml of isopropyl alcohol or vodka. This mixture can be further diluted in a litre of boiled and cooled water for treating open cuts or sores, such as those caused by chickenpox or genital herpes.

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