Essential oils are great for skincare, and with their high antioxidant content they protect the skin from free radicals and thus from aging and wrinkling. The main cause of a premature ageing process has long been known: a strong imbalance between harmful free radicals and their counterparts, the antioxidants. This phenomenon is also known as “oxidative stress”.
This produces so many free radicals that they can no longer be comprehensively neutralized by the body. As a result, they damage cell components, the body’s own proteins and even our genetic material. This is understandable when the cells become less and less efficient and – as far as the skin cells are concerned – are no longer able to maintain the skin’s elasticity and freshness. Wrinkles develop and the aging process is accelerated.
Oxidative stress causes wrinkles
Especially many free radicals are caused by diseases and infections, stress or environmental pollution. Even if too much food, or the wrong food is eaten, the level of free radicals in the body increases. The same applies when smoking or drinking alcohol, when taking medication or when mercury dissolves from dental fillings – to name just a few examples.
Free radicals are molecules that lack an electron. They are therefore always on the lookout for an electron that they could snatch from another compound. Antioxidants, the antagonists of free radicals, are molecules that in turn have some excess electrons and like to release them, often without themselves being damaged. In this way, they can inactivate the free radicals so that they can no longer do any damage to our body.
Essential oils for skincare: they supply the skin with antioxidants
We should therefore take as many antioxidants as possible in order to stay young and healthy for as long as possible. Normally we take in antioxidants through food – especially through superfoods. But these valuable substances can also be absorbed through the skin: Within 10 minutes, most essential oils applied to the skin and their antioxidants are detectable in the body.
The so-called ORAC value helps to assess how well a food or essential oil can defuse free radicals. This measures the antioxidant capacity of a substance. The higher the ORAC value, the more antioxidants the respective food or essential oil provides and the stronger its antioxidant power. (Note, however, the different units of ORAC if you want to compare different foods, essential oils or dietary supplements. For example, the following units can be used: µmolTE/100 g, µgTE/100 g, mgTE/g, etc. Comparisons are therefore only possible for one and the same unit.)
Essential oils: the leader in antioxidants
Essential oils for skincare are among the best suppliers of antioxidants and sometimes have extremely high ORAC values, which is why they have such a penetrating effect despite the tiny amounts usually used. Below you will find a table with the ORAC values of some essential oils. For comparison, the table also shows the values of some superfoods.
In skincare, the high antioxidant potential of essential oils can be easily exploited and the face, neck, décolleté and hands can be protected from premature skin ageing with a mixture of essential oils (diluted with a base oil or cream) and wrinkles can be minimised. Of course, a healthy lifestyle that slows down the aging process should also be maintained.
ORAC values of important essential oils
ORAC µmolTE / 100 g
ORAC values of some superfoods to compare
- Grape seed flour
- Aronia berries (dried)
- Mangosteen juice
ORAC µmolTE / 100 g