Important information for Base Formula Blog users

The information provided on the Base Formula blog is for personal information and interest only. It is not intended to offer professional medical advice or treatment for any condition. We recommend that you consult your GP or nurse if you have any health concerns whatsoever. Our advice has been provided on the basis that there are no known contra-indications to treatment. If you have any health problems or are taking any medication you should seek advice from your healthcare provider prior to using aromatherapy. We would also advise that you make an appointment with a local aromatherapist who will be able to take a full case history and offer you tailored treatment advice. Please note that Base Formula accepts no liability for misuse of essential oils or other products or for any reliance on the information provided within.

Please visit our website for more details on using essential oils safely and effectively.

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Base oil of the month – Castor

castorbeanCastor Oil (Ricinus communis) was one of those remedies given out in spoonfuls for all manner of ills. Yet again its various powerful properties were better recognised by those from the past rather than the present!

This extraordinarily rich carrier oil can benefit almost any massage oil or moisturising cream blend with its high levels of Essential Fatty Acids 3, 6 and 9, Vitamin E, proteins and minerals. It is thick in consistency so is best used diluted.

For mature skin with sun damage, scarring or fine lines, the rich, dynamic range of nutrients in Castor Oil help stimulate the production of collagen and elastin which in turn softens, hydrates and helps condition skin tone. For best effects the oil should be used externally on the skin and taken internally. When taking internally please ensure you use food grade oil and that it is used with care as it can be an extremely effective laxative.

Castor oil can is a wonderful skin and hair conditioner, but it also has various anti-fungal, antimicrobial properties. It is particularly rich in Ricinoleic Acid – which helps fight acne causing bacteria and restores the pH balance of the skin. This can be particularly useful in easing dry, itchy, flaky scalps and dandruff.

Aromatherapy recipes using Castor Oil

Dandruff Treatment Oil
Take 10ml Castor Oil and mix with 1 egg white and 1 tsp Glycerin. Add 3 drops of Tea Tree essential oil, 3 Myrtle and 1 Peppermint. Wet hair and massage into scalp. Leave for 5 minutes and rinse with warm water, then shampoo as normal. This oil works really well as a hair conditioner too.

Rich Moisturising Cream For Lined / Scarred Skin and Stretch Marks
100ml Moisturising Lotion, 30ml Castor Oil, 10ml Argan Oil, 25 drops Lavender essential oil, 10 Frankincense, 5 Benzoin, 5 Neroli and 5 Myrtle. Apply liberally after bath or shower.

Super Moisturising Bath Blend:
15ml Bath & Shower Gel, 5ml Castor Oil, 4 drops Ylang Ylang essential oil, 4 Geranium, 2 drops Rose and 2 Neroli. Add after bath is run and take care as you get in and out as the bath will be slippery!

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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Posted in Base oil of the month, Make Your Own Recipes, Natural Health & Beauty Tagged with: , , , , ,

Essential oil of the month – Myrtle

myrtle (1)
Myrtle essential oil (Myrtus communis) is distilled from the flowers, leaves and twigs of a vigorous, evergreen shrub that grows in Mediterranean regions and North Africa. The essential oil has a yellow to orange or greenish colour and a warm, herbaceous, slightly menthol and resinous aroma.

Myrtle was held in great esteem in ancient times! The Greeks burnt branches of this delightfully aromatic shrub as an offering to their Goddess Artemis, to ask her to watch over Nature and the natural world. It was also strongly associated with Aphrodite – the Goddess of Love and Beauty! Highly prized for its medicinal properties, various accomplishments were also honoured by the presentation of Myrtle leaves – for bravery in battle, athletic prowess and for honouring nobility.

Today (particularly in France and Spain) the herb is used in an infusion (tea) to help balance hormonal fluctuations.

In aromatherapy the principle therapeutic properties of Myrtle essential oil are:

  • Astringent: Myrtle essential oil is useful for toning and tightening dry, lined skin, balancing oily/combination skin, and combating enlarged pores and broken veins due to its astringent action. This action also makes it useful as an addition to mouthwashes, helping to soothe and tighten sore inflamed gums. Its astringent/anti-inflammatory action also makes it a useful addition to haemorrhoid creams.
  • Antiseptic: Myrtle can help to reduce blocked pores, infection and inflammation for some forms of acne. It is also useful for blackheads, spots, mild skin infections/inflammation, minor cuts, grazes, insect bites and stings.
  • Deodorant: Myrtle makes an excellent addition to vaporizers to counteract strong smells and for room freshening combinations. It works well in natural perfumes and deodorants.
  • Expectorant: Myrtle is useful in inhalations and chest rubs for sinus and respiratory infections, coughs, colds and congested breathing. It also helps to fight the infection itself.
  • Sedative and nerve tonic: Myrtle helps to balance and harmonise the emotions when stress and tension lead to anxiety or disproportionate reactions. It can also help restore mental clarity and focus, and help ease us through life’s transitions. It can also be helpful for fear, chronic stress or for nervous disorders such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and any condition that creates a lack of stability, shaking limbs, vertigo etc.
  • AphrodisiacMyrtle has a gentle tonic/mildly uplifting, stimulant effect on both the mood, emotions and the libido – so is indicated for frigidity, and some forms of impotency and erectile dysfunction.

Aromatherapy recipes using Myrtle essential oil

Myrtle blends well with most other essential oils, particularly resinous, floral and citrus oils.

Astringent Skin Tonic For Combination Skin:
Mix 150ml Orange Flower (Neroli) Hydrolat, 20 drops Geranium essential oil, 10 drops Lime, 5 drops Lemon, 5 Myrtle and 5 Juniperberry. Shake well and use on cotton wool to cleanse and tone the T-Zone and other problem or congested areas.

Rich Cream for Mature Skin:
Mix 100ml Moisturising Cream, 10ml Castor Oil, 1oml Extra Virgin Coconut Butter, 20 drops Lavender essential oil, 20 Geranium, 10 Myrtle, 5 Frankincense and 5 Neroli.

Haemorrhoid Cream (for mild conditions only):
Mix 50ml Moisturising Cream, 5ml Argan Oil, 5ml warmed Extra Virgin Coconut Butter, 10 drops Lavender, 8 Tea Tree, 5 Myrtle and 5 Sandalwood. Apply after a bath or shower and before bed.

“Boost” Body Lotion ( for skin and mood):
Mix 120ml Moisturising Lotion, 10ml Evening Primrose Oil, 10ml Jojoba, 25 drops Lavender, 15 Geranium, 10 Bergamot, 5 Myrtle, 5 Patchouli and 3 Neroli.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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Posted in Essential Oils of the Month, Make Your Own Recipes, Natural Health & Beauty Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Get your skin prepped for Winter!

aromatherapy skincareAs Autumn gradually slips into Winter there are three key factors to consider for our Winter skincare routine.

  1. Regeneration – after the Summer sunshine most of us need to exfoliate and re-hydrate– to help restore our complexion following the vagaries of the Summer season.
  2. Restoration – nourishing our skin from the inside out and the outside in helps to plump up and revitalise tired and dried out complexions.
  3. Protection – we might not want to think of it during the Autumn sunshine, but the cold wind and weather brings temperature extremes (cold outside and warm central heading inside) that create a lack-lustre, dry, pinched appearance.  Protection is the key – and aromatherapy essential oils and carrier oils are your secret weapon!

So take note of your skin condition, gather up your aromatherapy oils, and read our expert, natural skincare advice below:-


Dead skin cells and clogged pores from salty sea air, suntan lotions or simply more time outside in the Summer sunshine, can mean that your skin is looking dry, tired and lacking lustre. There’s that careful balance – all of us like a little colour or tan – but we can over do it and be left with a complexion that looks a little “worn out”. Oily or combination skin may also be suffering with a few spots if pores are blocked and congested. Try regular exfoliation, every three days, to help remove any unwanted impurities and restore that clean, clear look.

Natural Facial Exfoliator

Mix 1 tsp Fine Dead Sea Salt, ½ tsp ground Apricot Kernels, 1 tbsp French Green Clay, 1 tsp Jojoba oil, 2 drops Myrtle essential oil, 4 Geranium and 4 Lavender with enough Orange Flower (Neroli) Hydrolat to make to a smooth paste. Dampen face, then apply the paste in small circular rotations paying particular attention to the T-zone. Wipe off, splash face with cold water and moisturise as normal. If suffering from any spots, dab on 1 drop of neat Tea Tree essential oil (with a cotton bud) to help cleanse and dry out.

If you have oily, blemished or acne prone skin and want a pre-blended solution you could try our new Recovery Facial Exfoliator – blended with  fine ground Bamboo and pure essential oils of Lime, Lemongrass, Geranium Bourbon and Siberian Fir Needle. Finish off by applying our antibacterial Recovery Blemish Balm to any problem areas.


Our water intake has a tendency to drop off as the weather cools! This is not great for our skin condition, as keeping hydrated is the easiest and fastest way to give our skin the internal boost it needs. Try to drink at least 1.5 litres of water daily, more if your exercise levels are high, or if the weather is still hot. Also look at your fresh, green vegetable intake – as they are always one of the best sources of skin nourishing vitamins and minerals. Then consider those Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) for an all over body boost – great for skin, hair, joints and all renewal and repair mechanisms. Increase your intake of fresh oily fish, avocado, ground hemp seeds, and other nuts and seeds. Look at taking a Vitamin D supplement (but not to excess) and EFAs in the Winter time, to give your skin and mood that extra boost – and keep those frown lines at bay!

Skin Nourishing Face Mask:

Take ½ ripe Avocado and mash with fork. Add 2 tsp of Kaolin Clay, 1 tsp Castor Oil, 1 tsp warmed Extra Virgin Coconut Butter and 1 tsp runny honey. Then mix in 3 drops Ylang Ylang essential oil, 3 Sandalwood, 2 Rose and 2 Benzoin. Bind together with as much ground oatmeal as you need to create a soft mousse consistency. Tie hair back and smooth onto face and neck. Leave on for 20 minutes then wash off with cold water.


Prevention is the best approach when it comes to Winter elements and the harsh effects of central heating – so nourishing your skin and protecting it from getting dried out is key. Your own tailor made moisturiser can be a fabulous way of maintaining that natural elasticity and preventing moisture loss. Why not try making your own moisturiser and facial oil this year- after all, no-one knows your skin better than you!

Rich Moisturising Cream

Blend 60ml Moisturising Cream, 1 tsp Castor Oil, 1 tsp warmed Extra Virgin Coconut Butter, 1 tsp Argan Oil. Add 8 drops Lavender essential oil, 8 Geranium, 6 Frankincense, 4 Patchouli and 3 Neroli. Stir  well before use. Use every other night, alternating with the facial oil recipe below.

Rich Facial Oil

Mix 40ml Apricot Kernel Oil, 10ml Evening Primrose Oil, 5ml Jojoba oil, 5ml Avocado Oil, 6 drops Ylang Ylang essential oil, 6 Geranium, 4 Frankincense, 4 Patchouli, 2 Neroli and 2 Rose.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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Posted in Make Your Own Recipes, Natural Health & Beauty Tagged with: , , ,

Aromatherapy advice for the new academic year

schoolThe start of the Autumn term can be both an exciting and challenging time for parents and children alike, especially for children going off to school for the first time, changing school or going to University. So, in this article I want to explore how essential oils may help assist children and young people settle into new routines and facilitate learning.

There are numerous over the counter preparations containing essential oils which are reputed to help reduce aches and pains or congestion; it is also generally acknowledged that such preparations are absorbed into the blood stream via the skin and respiratory system thereby bringing about the desired effect. However, in this article, I want to focus specifically on how inhaling essential oils throughout the day and evening may help children and young people deal with the pressures of the new academic year.

Before discussing specific essential oils, let me first of all provide a brief overview of the olfactory system, otherwise known as our sense of smell. This system consists of the mucous membrane of the nose, cilia (extensions of nerve fibres), olfactory cells and the olfactory bulb, located in the brain. In the first instance scent molecules are picked up during inhalation. They are warmed and dissolved in the mucous produced by the mucous membrane lining the nose. In this state they can be processed by fine hairs (cilia), which are extensions of nerve fibres. The cilia are connected to olfactory cells and pick up information about these molecules. The olfactory cells lie in the upper part of the nasal cavity extending into the limbic system of the brain which receives the scent and within which lie the amygdala, septum, hippocampus, anterior thalamus and hypothalamus. The amygdala and hippocampus analyse the incoming information, and memories are invoked. The impulses then pass to the hypothalamus which regulates emotional and physical balance. Depending upon the response needed, the impulses will trigger the locus ceruleus, thalamus, pituitary gland or raphe nucleus. The locus ceruleus triggers noreadrenaline which stimulates us when feeling tired; it also stimulates our immune system. The raphe nucleus releases serotonin, a sedative inducing relaxation and sleep. The thalamus secretes encephalins, mood elevators helping to alleviate low mood. The pituitary gland stimulates hormones connected with reproduction, birth, growth and metabolism as well as endorphins which, apart from inhibiting the transmission of pain signals, also stimulate feelings of euphoria. The nervous and endocrine systems work together controlling the functions of all the body’s systems.

In light of the above information, it is easy to understand the effectiveness of essential oils upon inhalation. For example, oils such as Grapefruit stimulate the thalamus releasing enkephalins which act as painkillers. Essential oils such as Ylang Ylang, stimulate the pituitary, releasing endorphins which help to elevate mood. Oils such as Marjoram stimulate the raphe nucleus releasing serotonins which act as sedatives giving feelings of calmness and relaxation. While oils, such as Rosemary, stimulate the locus ceruleus releasing noradrenalins which act as stimulants and promote feelings of alertness.

On a practical level, the oils can be used very simply throughout the day either by placing a few drops of the chosen oil(s) into a burner or diffuser or by placing a couple of drops of essential oil on a tissue and inhaling as required. Of course, essential oils will also be inhaled whilst bathing and this is a particularly lovely way to benefit from their therapeutic properties.

Some of the more common issues that children and young people may face whilst settling into school, college or university are shown below together with recommended essential oils. Although, on a cautionary note, only Lavender, Chamomile or Tea tree are recommended for children under the age of seven.

Essential oils to improve sleeping:- 

Roman Chamomile

Essential oils to elevate low mood:-


Essential oils to reduce panic:-

Sweet Orange

Essential oils to reduce apathy:-


Essential oils to reduce tantrums:

Sweet Thyme
Ylang Ylang

Essential oils to reduce mental exhaustion:-


Essential oils to improve concentration and aid memory:-


Christine Fisk
Consultant Aromatherapist

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Posted in Natural Health & Beauty Tagged with: ,

Base oil of the month – Mustard Seed

mustard seed oilMustard Seed Oil (Brassica alba) oil is highly favoured in all parts of Indian tradition and culture. It is expressed from the seeds of the plant and is highly nutritious – being rich in antioxidants, Vitamins, E, D, A and K plus Omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids. It also contains the minerals zinc and selenium. It is highly prized in Ayurvedic Medicine and has various beneficial properties for the body, hair and skin.

This rich, warming oil has a mildly rubifacient action and can be used at between 5-25% concentration in other base oils. It can:

  • Help protect the skin from sun damage and also helps to act on sun damage – due to the high levels of nutrients particularly Vitamin E.
  • Be added to detox recipes as it helps stimulate the circulation and stimulates the sweat glands.
  • Help ease skin infections and a range of common skin ailments due to its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.
  • Be helpful for eczema and psoriasis when added at 5% to another base oil – skin patch test is always recommended first.
  • Help to prevent dry or chapped lips – an ancient traditional recipe involves massaging a few drops of Mustard Seed Oil into your belly button to prevent dry or chapped lips. Try it!
  • Help to relieve inflammation and stiffness in the joints and muscles.

Aromatherapy recipes using Mustard Seed Oil:

Rich detox bath blend:
15ml Bath & Shower Gel, 5ml Mustard Seed Oil, 1 cup Epsom Salts, mixed together with 3 drops each of Geranium, Juniper and Lime essential oil. Add to a warm bath and soak for 20 minutes. Helps encourage detoxification, soothes tired muscles and encourages restful sleep.

Rich conditioning hair oil:
5mls Mustard Seed Oil, 5ml Jojoba, 5ml Argan Oil, 5 drops Ylang Ylang essential oil, 3 Rosemary and 3 Geranium. Massage into the scalp and right down into the ends of hair. Leave on for 30 minutes and then shampoo as normal (massaging shampoo into hair before wetting).

Rich body lotion:
120ml Base Formula Moisturising Lotion, 10ml Mustard Seed Oil, 5ml Jojoba, 15 drops Lavender essential oil, 10 Geranium, 5 Frankincense, 5 Benzoin, 3 Neroli and 3 Jasmine. Shake well before use and apply morning and evening.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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Essential oil of the month – Basil

Basil essential Oil (Ocimum basilicum), otherwise known as “Sweet Basil”, has a sweet, fresh, herbaceous aroma with rich, warm anisic undertones. It is distilled from the fresh leaves of the herb grown principally in France, Egypt, Madagascar and the Comoro Islands – with its constituent elements varying greatly depending on its origin.

The name “Basil” is derived from the Greek word “royal”, indicating that it may have been used in medicines for royalty in the past. In the 17th Century the famous herbalist, Nicholas Culpeper, recommended Basil for insect and snake bites!

Note: Basil can be a mild irritant – so should not be used in baths or massage for sensitive skin. It is not recommended for use during pregnancy.

Basil has 3 main therapeutic actions:

  • Musculoskeletal: For muscular tension, pain and physical (and emotional) stress. Blends well with Lavender, Rosemary, Geranium, Marjoram, Clary Sage and Black Pepper.
  • Nervous System: As a mild brain stimulant it is good for stress, stress-related headaches, difficulty in concentrating and post viral and general fatigue. Also helpful for emotional fragility: lack of courage, clarity and strength. Blends well with Lavender, Rosemary, Lemon, Eucalyptus, Peppermint and Neroli.
  • Digestive system: For IBS/anxiety related indigestion/stomach upsets. Blends well with Peppermint, Spearmint, Lavender, Citrus oils, Fennel, Black Pepper and Juniper.

Aromatherapy recipes using Basil essential oil:

Massage oil for muscular pain (back and neck):
30ml Sweet Almond Oil, 6 drops Lavender essential oil, 3 drops Marjoram, 3 Rosemary, 2 Basil and 2 Clary Sage.

Massage oil for high stress and PMT:
30ml Sweet Almond Oil, 5 drops Lavender, 4 Geranium, 3 Rosemary, 2 Basil and 2 Clary Sage.

Bath blend for high stress (not for sensitive skin):
15ml Bath & Shower Gel, 6 drops Lavender essential oil, 2 Neroli, 2 Basil and 1 Eucalyptus.

Stress headache balm:
20ml Aloe Vera & Rose Gel, 5 drops Lavender, 3 Neroli, 2 Basil and 1 Peppermint.

Massage oil for pre-exam stress and confidence booster:
30ml Grapeseed Oil, 6 drops Lavender essential oil, 3 Rosemary, 2 Lemon, 2 Basil and 2 Neroli.

Massage oil for IBS tendencies:
Regular massage with 30ml Sweet Almond Oil, 4 drops Sweet Orange, 4 Lavender, 2 Spearmint, 2 Neroli and 2 Basil.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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Posted in Essential Oils of the Month, Natural Health & Beauty Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Turbo charge your brain for the return to work, university or school!

aromatherapy to boost your brain

As the summer holidays draw to a close we’re faced with that time of year when “time off” suddenly morphs into “game on” and we have to speed up again into fully functioning human beings. It’s not always easy though. Hopefully, many of us have had some form of Summer recuperation, or enjoyed a slower pace of life with a little more “time out”. At the very least – we’ve hopefully had more fresh air, exercise and topped up our Vitamin D levels!

So, whilst we’re getting the kids ready for school or uni, or preparing to return to work ourselves – let’s consider what we need “on the inside” to ensure our brains are back in gear and are up to the jobs we require of them!

A turbo-charged brain is a well-nourished one – and it may surprise you to know that means an increase in FAT in your diet….yes really. The brain consists of 60% fat – so a low fat diet is about the worst sort of diet you can have for concentration and clarity, despite what we’ve been told in the past. This is particularly important whilst we’re still growing – up to our early 20s.

So, if we increase our intake of healthy fats, then our mental capacities will improve. Unfortunately we tend to do the opposite – and our diets tend to be high in saturated fats from fried foods such as chips and crisps. What we really need to do is to increase the healthy Omega 3s – such as DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) – which are found in high quantities in fresh fish and grass fed, outdoor reared beef.  A recent study(1) has thrown up a huge amount of evidence indicating how important these “Essential Fatty Acids” are. The study indicates that the frontal lobes of the brain – particularly in relation to children – have a very high demand indeed for DHA to support development and functioning. These lobes are the areas of the brain that regulate behavioural centres as well as being responsible for activities such as attention, focus, problem solving and planning. This and other studies indicate that DHA is also extremely important for eye health. The area of the eye which is sensitive to light and transmits signals to the brain so vision is formed – the retina – contains very high levels of DHA. So as children tend to learn visually – the vital nature of a diet rich in this essential fatty acid is also reinforced.

In 2014 another important research paper(2) indicated that higher levels of DHA are associated with improved quality and quantity of sleep. This is particularly important as sleep problems in both children and adults are on the rise. In children though – adequate sleep is essential for healthy brain development as well as school performance and general behavior.

So, what type of fish has the highest levels of DHA? When sourcing your fish, or supplements, do ensure that the fish comes from seas low in mercury pollution (and other heavy metal pollutants), as some seas are worse than others. Research throws up conflicting advice, but the worst fish to accumulate heavy metal toxins seem to be shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.

Fish richest in DHA (in order of priority) are:-

  • Mackerel
  • Kippers
  • Tinned Sardines in Tomato Sauce
  • Tinned Sardines in Brine
  • Smoked Salmon
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Tinned Red and Pink Salmon
  • Crab
  • Seabass
  • Plaice
  • Scampi
  • Mussels
  • Cod
  • Tuna in Sunflower
  • Calamari
  • Cold water prawns

So other than eating a diet rich in EFAs especially DHA, what other elements can help improve your brain power NOW?

  • Get a good 7 – 8 hours quality sleep
  • Get at least 3 sessions of exercise a week – to release mood-enhancing endorphins and increase oxygen uptake
  • Good posture also helps ensure adequate oxygen uptake
  • Ensure you are not dehydrated – drink a minimum of 1.5 litres of water per day
  • Eat little and often high nutrient snacks with no sugar or slow release sugars from unrefined sources
  • Cook with raw organic Coconut Oil
  • Dietary recommendations with powerful effects on general and brain health: Paleo or Ketogenic Diet
  • Have a regular Aromatherapy massage to reduce muscular tension which can negatively affect blood flow to the brain and concentration. Massage also stimulates the release of endorphins, your circulation and immune response, and gives you a “feel good factor” that will help anyone’s brain to function better! Tension releasing essential oils include: Lavender, Chamomile, Marjoram, Plai, Cedarwood, Pine, Benzoin, Neroli and Petitgrain.
  • Stock up on brain stimulant / cephalic essential oils to vaporize or inhale. These include Ginger, Black Pepper, Rosemary, Thyme, Lime, Basil, Spearmint, Peppermint, Ravensara, Camphor and Eucalyptus.

Useful aromatherapy blends to try:-

Inhalation for tiredness and congestion:
3 drops Pine essential oil, 2 Plai and 2 Cedarwood

Massage oil for neck and shoulder tension (with regular headaches):
30ml Grapeseed Oil, 8 drops Lavender essential oil, 4 Marjoram and 2 Plai

Massage oil for back tension with lower back pain:
30ml Grapeseed Oil, 4 drops Pine essential oil, 4 Lavender, 3 Benzoin, 2 Neroli and 2 Chamomile

Vaporising blend for cleansing and concentration at work:
Vaporise 4 drops Rosemary essential oil, 4 Lime and 2 Camphor

Vaporising blend for lifting the spirits and stimulating the mind:
3 drops Basil essential oil, 2 Black Pepper, 2 Ginger and 1 Eucalyptus

Temple balm to release mental tension and fatigue:
20ml Aloe Vera & Rose Gel, 4 drops Lime essential oil, 3 Spearmint, 2 Camphor and 2 Rosemary

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist


(1) Kuratko CN, Barrett EC, Nelson EB, Salem N Jr. The Relationship of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) with Learning and Behavior in Healthy Children: A Review. Nutrients. 2013 July;5(7):2777-810.

(2) Journal of Sleep Research published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of European Sleep Research Society.

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Holistic home facial for post-summer skincare

Summer is a time that can cause lots of stress on your skin, with sunburn and air-conditioning drying it out and causing imbalances, not too mention problems such as prickly heat rash and sun cream blocking pores. In particular, the skin on your face, which is thinner and often more sensitive than the rest of your body, is most affected by these Summer challenges – and, due to life becoming so busy at this time of year, it can all too easily become neglected.

Post-Summer Skincare Ideas using Natural Ingredients

If you love facials, why not make an effort in the post-holiday period to rescue your skin and repair some of that Summer wear and tear! Perhaps you have you always wanted to use natural products on your skin? In the following blog, I will talk you through some ideas for an entirely holistic facial skincare regime which is suitable for post-summer skin, and filled with natural goodness! I encourage you to have a go yourself and try this facial routine at home.

Preparing the Facial Blends

To start, we prepare all the ingredients and make the blends in advance so that we can just line them up and do the facial in one go – this saves you starting your facial regime and then having to make the next product! Though, be warned, they don’t last very long as they are natural and do not contain preservatives, so only make them before you are about to use them. Also patch test the blends before use, in case you are sensitive to any of the ingredients. You can pick and choose which ones you make – you don’t have to do them all and you can substitute parts with pre-blended products from Base Formula, (i.e. Hydrating Eye Gel), but the option is there if you want to. So, what do we need to make?

Whipped Coconut Sugar ScrubCoconut & Orange Sugar Scrub

  1. Whip the Extra Virgin Coconut Butter until fluffy (approx 5 teaspoons – you can pre-warm it in the microwave for a few seconds to melt it if you want to measure it)
  2. Add the Coconut Sugar and mix well
  3. You should then have about 40-45ml of mixture. Add 10-15 drops of Sweet Orange essential oil for dry skin or, if you normally have an oily complexion, try Mandarin

Coconut oil is very hydrating and Sweet Orange is lovely for dry summer skin, whilst Mandarin is great for balancing and revitalising oily and congested complexions!

Aloe and Coconut MaskCooling Aloe Vera Shoulder Mask

  1. Melt the Extra Virgin Coconut Butter in the microwave for 6 seconds
  2. Mix the melted Coconut Oil (3 teaspoons) with the Aloe Vera Gel (1.5 teaspoons)
  3. With 30ml of mixture made, add 5-10 drops of Peppermint essential oil and stir well
  4. Put in the fridge to cool until use

Again, hydrating Coconut mixes well with skin-nurturing Aloe Vera – and, with Peppermint essential oil, which helps to cool and soothe sun burn, this is a great post-summer mask for over-exposed shoulders.

Rosy Avocado Clay Mask (2)Rosy Avocado, Aloe & Clay Mask

  1. Mash the avocado
  2. Separately, mix the Clay with the Aloe Vera Gel – use either Kaolin for dry skin or French Green clay for oily – using a 1:1 ratio (just over ¾ teaspoon of each)
  3. You should have roughly 30ml once mixed, to which you can add 5-10 drops of either Rose essential oil for dry summer skin (or Mandarin essential oil for oily skin) – or do 5 drops of each if this takes your fancy!
  4. Put this mixture in an airtight container in the fridge until use

All these ingredients help to combat the effects of Summer. Avocado is rich in anti-oxidants, moisturising fatty acids and vitamins so it really helps restore your skin, especially regenerating damaged cells and reducing redness and irritation; mixed with cooling Aloe Vera and cleansing, mineral-rich clay, this is a lovely post-summer mask. Rose is a wonderfully balancing oil for facial skincare after the stresses of summer – it moisturises and hydrates, reduces redness, and also acts as a general skin tonic.

Mandarin and Lime Lip Balm (3)Mandarin & Lime Lip Balm

  1. Add the Beeswax, Cocoa Butter and Apricot Kernel Oil to a large bowl and immerse it in a pan of hot water (using the double boiler method such as when you melt chocolate)
  2. Stir until it has all fully melted
  3. Carefully remove the bowl from the pan of hot water, add 4 drops of each of Mandarin and Lime essential oil and mix thoroughly (don’t let the mixture thicken yet – you can put it back in the hot water if needed)
  4. Prepare your jar or container and fill with the mixture, place this in the fridge to harden before using.

This might be worth making the night before so that it can set. A lovely, natural lip balm recipe, this makes a fantastic soothing balm to keep with you whilst on the go. With no harmful, skin-smothering ingredients like petroleum, this is a must-have recipe for natural post-summer skincare – and the scent is gorgeous.

Also prepare the following products for your facial:

Once done, ensure you line up your facial products in order, according to the routine below, and have the following items to hand (if you want, you can add some relaxing background music too!) – then we’re ready to start:

  • Small bowl of fresh, warm water
  • Cotton pads
  • Flannels x 3 (preheated in the microwave, just prior to starting and put in plastic bags to keep warm)
  • Tissues to blot facial oil
  • Facial mask application brush (optional)
  • Large bowl of warm water (optional)
  • Himalayan Pink Salt (optional)
  • Atomiser for hydrolat (optional)

The Holistic Facial Routine

  1. In a large bowl, mix Himalayan Pink Salt with warm water and 10 drops of Lime essential oil and begin by soaking your feet! You could add some loose Berry Tea if you fancy a lovely addition to this blend.
  2. Begin by cleansing the skin using the Lemongrass & Lime Cleansing Lotion – smooth it over your face and massage in with your fingers using a circular motion, really working every area of your face. After a minute or so of massaging, remove the lotion with wet cotton pads.
  3. Now exfoliate your skin using the Coconut & Orange Sugar Scrub. Paint it on with your fingers and gentle massage it in to the skin (be careful not to rub too hard as this part is abrasive and avoid if you are on skin-thinning medication). After a minute or so, remove the exfoliant blend with cotton pads and then wipe a hot flannel over your face (take care it is not too hot after being microwaved). Once it is all removed, rest another warm flannel over your face (remember to allow some space to breathe!) and enjoy the warmth until it is cool.
  4. Tone your skin using your selected Hydrolat – either spritz it over your skin (if you have an atomiser) or put it on cotton pads and gently dab your face. Blot with your dry fingers to remove any excess.
  5. Now for the relaxing part: using the Rose or Mandarin Facial Oil blend, apply it to your skin and massage in using your fingers. You can swipe over the face applying the oil, then do small and large upward and outward circles with your fingers around your face and up your nose, as well as sweeping over your brows and cheeks and down your neck. Then lightly tap your fingers over your face and smoothly circle round your eyes with your ring finger. Finish with some slow sweeping movements, from the centre of your face outwards, to drain any toxins to the lymph.
  6. Blot with a tissue to remove any excess oil.
  7. Next, apply the Aloe Vera Shoulder Mask using your fingers to sweep it across the neck and shoulders. Get a good coverage and then wash your hands and, also, replace the warm water in the small bowl.
  8. Retrieve the Rosy Avocado, Aloe and Clay Facial Mask from the fridge and apply with either a facial mask application brush or with your fingers. Avoid the eye area completely.
  9. Pop the Green Tea teabags on your closed eyes and leave the mask on for 5-10 minutes.
  10. After 5-10 minutes, remove the mask using cotton pads and a fresh hot flannel.
  11. Tone your skin again with Hydrolat (as above).
  12. Sparingly apply the Rose or Mandarin Eye Cream to the eye area using your little fingers – avoid getting it in your eyes. Then apply the Rose or Mandarin Moisturising Lotion sparingly to your face.
  13. Apply the gorgeous Mandarin & Lime Lip Balm.
  14. Finally – you could finish by adding a few drops of Lime essential oil onto a cotton pad and inhaling it to refresh and reawaken you!

And we’re done! It might seem like a lot of steps for the whole routine but, if you enjoy making natural skincare products, it really is a lovely way to spend an afternoon whilst also making time for some pampering, and saving your summer skin! If you’re time-limited, you could just try one blend – maybe the mask or the moisturiser – as an addition to your normal skincare routine. Enjoy what’s left of this lovely season – just don’t forget to care for your post-summer skin, naturally!

Nicole Barton
Guest Blogger & Consultant Aromatherapist
Chalet Holistics

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Aromatherapy & managing the anxiety state of children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder

childrens massageAlthough it was first identified in 1943, autism is still a relatively unknown disability.  Yet autistic disorders are estimated to touch the lives of over 500,000 families throughout the UK. People with autism are not physically disabled in the same way that a person with cerebral palsy may be; they do not require wheelchairs and they ‘look’ just like anybody without the disability.  Due to this invisible nature it can be much harder to create awareness and understanding of the condition.

While it is quite normal to feel anxious about certain situations, people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can feel anxious a lot of the time and it’s important to handle the stress or feelings of insecurity appropriately.  It is vitally important for parents or primary care-givers to find out when the worrying behaviour occurs as identifying the trigger allows the carer to apply strategies which may help overcome the problem.  The provision of massage and essential oils may also help the child manage his/her anxiety and facilitate their learning.  In an interview with Freeman and Lawlis (2001) developmental psychologist Tiffany Field, Ph.D., founder of the Touch Research Institute states that:

 “In a study on children with autism it was shown that the children with autism not only liked the massage, but they were also able to spend more time on task in the classroom; they related to their teachers better, and they showed fewer stereotypical behaviours.” 

It is important not to underestimate the importance of managing the anxiety of children with ASD.  Research outcomes have clearly identified a link between emotion and physiological reactivity and immune competence.  Our interpretation of events and our emotional responses to those events are the mechanisms by which the mind affects physiology and biochemistry and, consequently, health outcomes (Freeman et al 2001).  Complementary therapy may, therefore, have an important supportive role in the management of this disorder.  While there are many benefits relating to providing massage (and especially with the use of essential oils) such as creation of body awareness, enhancement of sensory awareness, promotion of well-being and self-worth, building a relationship with others, relief of stress and tension, increasing tolerance of touch and handling, enjoyment, time to reflect and talk, relaxation or stimulation depending upon techniques and oils used, data from questionnaires distributed to parents and primary care-givers by this author would suggest that very few in the piloted areas used massage or essential oils as a tool for managing the anxiety state of their children with ASD.

A study carried out by Field et. al in 1986 investigated the effects of touch therapy, another term for massage therapy, on three problems commonly associated with autism including inattentiveness (off task behaviour), touch aversion, and withdrawal.  The results showed that touch aversion decreased in both the touch therapy and the touch control group, off task behaviour decreased in both groups, orienting to irrelevant sounds decreased in both groups but significantly more in the touch therapy group and stereotypic behaviours decreased in both groups but significantly more in the touch therapy group.

When using essential oils in massage, it is important to use the correct dilutions, for example: Infants aged 1 – 5 years 1 drop of essential oil in 10ml of carrier oil, Children aged 6 – 12 years 2 drops in 10ml of carrier oil, Children aged 12 years and over 5 drops of essential oil in 10ml of carrier oil.  There are a number of essential oils reputed to be useful in helping children with ASD.  Bergamot is excellent for agitation, Roman Chamomile is calming, Frankincense is helpful for anxious and obsessional behaviour, Lavender is reputed to possess antispasmodic properties, Sweet Marjoram has analgesic properties, Orange is cheering, Peppermint is cooling and refreshing, Rose otto is balancing, whilst Sandalwood is a tonic (see table below).

Obtaining consent from the primary care-giver and medical practitioner is, of course, of paramount importance.  When planning the treatment, I recommend using one essential oil in a suitable carrier oil initially and providing a shorter treatment; a hand and arm massage would be ideal. Feedback can be given at subsequent visits, with changes made to the blend and treatment as appropriate.

The use of essential oils for children with ASD

Essential Oil Pointers
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) Excellent for agitation
Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) Antispasmodic, Calming, Sedative
Frankincense (Boswellia carteri) Helpful for anxious obsessional links to the past
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Balancing, Calming, Antispasmodic
Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana/hortensis) Obsessional, analgesic, antispasmodic, balancing, calming
Orange (Citrus aurantium amara) Cheering, Calming
Peppermint Cooling, Refreshing
Rose otto (Rosa damascena) Antispasmodic, Balancing, Calming, Sedative, Tonic
Sandalwood (Santalum album) Calming, Sedative, Tonic

Christine Fisk
Consultant Aromatherapist

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Aromatherapy & Sun Care

SUNBATHING-630x338The skin, comprising of the epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous layer, is the largest organ of the body and varies in thickness, being thinnest on the eyelids and thickest on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. A healthy skin is slightly moist, soft and flexible. It possesses an acid mantle of pH 5.6 and is free from any blemish or disease. Its texture revealed by feel and appearance should be fine and smooth (pores will be tight) with a healthy colour.

Although the skin has several functions such as temperature control, absorption, excretion, secretion and touch, this article will touch on its ability to protect, and how we can help defend it against the harmful effects of the sun.
The skin is greatly involved in protecting the body against the ultra-violet rays of the sun which in excess are lethal to living cells. The epidermis defends against harmful rays which are partially reflected by the outermost layer of the skin (Stratum corneum) so that very little penetrates the full thickness of the epidermis. The melanin pigment produced by melanocytes in the epidermis (Stratum basale) also acts as a sunscreen to protect us from ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight. However, more than 90% of skin cancer is caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun (1) with skin cancer being one of the most common cancers in the UK. It is, therefore, of crucial importance to protect our skin, not only during the summer months, when the risk of sun damage increases, but throughout the year, as the winter sun may not be warm, but can still be dangerous. Adhering to the NHS SunSmart message will help to prevent skin damage (Spend time in the shade between 11.00am and 3pm, Make sure you never burn, Aim to cover up with a T-shirt, hat and sunglasses, Remember to take extra care with children, Then use factor 15+ sunscreen) (2).

While I would hesitate in recommending essential oils and carrier oils as an alternative to pharmaceutically prepared sunscreens, it is interesting to note that research into Calendula officinalis L. suggests that calendula oil cream can be used to protect the skin from UV radiation in the form of sunscreen cream and to maintain the natural pigmentation of the skin (3). I do believe, however, that a number of oils can be used as effective alternatives to commercially produced after-sun creams and lotions by helping to moisturise and reduce inflammation caused by over exposure to the sun.

St John’s Wort, also known as Hypercium (Hypericum perforatum), is noted for being effective on burns and inflammation and can help to lower the skin temperature (3), although excessive use may cause skin allergy, especially for those individuals with sensitive skin. In fact, some experts recommend avoiding any sun exposure if ingesting the herb itself, as the active ingredient, Hypericin, causes skin sensitivity to sunlight. Calendula oil (Calendula officinalis) is reputed to reduce inflammation and promote skin healing. Both of these oils can be blended in a 25% strength with Sunflower oil (Helianthus annuus L.), commonly recognised as an effective skin softener and moisturiser. Sandalwood essential oil (Santalum album) and, in particular, Lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia) are excellent for helping to reduce the painful effects of sunburn and can be added to the aforementioned carrier oils in a 2.5% strength. A typical synergistic blend using these oils is provided below:

For those people with a sensitive skin, simply replace St John’s Wort with an additional 25ml of Calendula oil thereby avoiding the risk of skin sensitivity to sunlight.

Apart from applying the blend directly onto the affected area(s), it can also be applied to the skin prior to bathing in luke warm water. Alternatively, sunburn can be relieved by applying a compress to the area. To make a cold compress, pour about 100ml of refrigerated Lavender Hydrolat into a bowl and add 5-6 drops of Lavender essential oil. Place a folded piece of muslin on top of the water and let it soak it up. Next wring out the excess water and place the cloth over the area to be treated; a cold compress should not be left on the affected area for more than 10 minutes.

Prevention is, of course, always better than cure, and by following safety guidelines it is possible to enjoy the great outdoors whilst staying safe in the sun!

Christine Fisk
Consultant Aromatherapist


  1. Gallaher, RP; Lee, TK’ Bajdik, CD; Borugian, M (2010) Ultraviolet radiation. Chronic diseases in Canada 29 Suppl 1: 51-68.
  2. NHS Choices Protect your skin and eyes in the sun Available at (Accessed on 21 June 2015).
  3. Price et al (1999) Carrier Oils for Aromatherapy and Massage (3rd Edn), Riverhead, Stratford upon Avon.
  4. Mishra A, et al. (2012) Assessment of In Vitro Sun Protection Factor of Calendula Officinalis L. (Asteraceae) Essential Oil Formation Available at (Accessed on 21 June 2015).

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