Has anybody formulated with essential oils?

PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
I'm doing a presentation on essential oils and wanted to get a sense of what type of oils formulators were using or even if they were using them at all.

What essential oils have you used and for what reasons?


  • I have used several, but I no longer use them because they tend to destabilise products, and also because of the safety issues. Not to mention the expense.
    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • ngarayeva001ngarayeva001 Member
    edited October 2018
    I use lavender EO in a liquid hand wash. It is not my formula but, a duplication of a product that is sold in the Wholefoods in the UK. My biggest challenge is that lavender EO from different suppliers smells noticeably different. 
    Benchmark product: https://www.avalonorganics.com/en/products/bath-and-body/hand-soap/lavender-glycerin-hand-soap/
  • MaxMax Member
    Hello, I used Lemongrass, peppermint, clove, cedarwood....  mostly used for their pleasant smell (sure depending on concentrations), no fragrance require and no colour additive. After one can argue about their specific properties... claims...
  • FekherFekher Member, Professional Chemist
    edited October 2018
    @Perry EO can be used in pharmaceutical shampoo where we can use Lavander, Romarin, Lemon , Lemongrass...and others depend on desired effect , and can be diluted in vegetable oil and used in Massage oil also EO can be used in expensive perfume where we can find them as top note , middel or base one . "I made my end study project about lemon EO extraction so if you want more details you are welcome".
    @ngarayeva001 about difference it is absoletly normal thing cause it depends on extraction method also theire are a lot type of lavender so it depends also on plant type .
  • @Perry I use Essential Oils all the time as I create organic formulas. Most popular EO’s seem to be citrus’s, lime, lemon, bergamot, sweet orange. Due to photo-instability & regulations I would use bergaptene free Bergamot for example, which are more expensive. Herbs like Sage, Carroway, Oregano etc. Florals like Lavender, Geranium, Palmarosa are used instead of the Rose, LOV, Jasmin because of price & the solvents like ethanol & hexane being used to extract them. 
    Also CO2 extracted oils are becoming popular but some do not agree that they are EO’s because it is a relatively new form of extraction to non-chemists. I feel that the CO2 process should become the new standard for EO extraction as there is no chemical change of the molecular profile through this process. It is also environmentally cleaner & safer.
    Hope this helps.

    Dr. Catherine Pratt
    (B.Sc with HONS I , Ph.D Analytical/Organic Chem and Microbiology), Cosmetic Chemistry IPCS)
  • mikethairmikethair Member
    edited October 2018
    At Indochine Natural we use essential oils exclusively for our own product line. Plus, we use EO's in all of our OEM/Private Label formulations which is about 95% of our production, both local and international. This part of our business has overtaken production for our own brand. The products produced for both local and internatioal brands are all top-end price range and include face wash, body wash, shampoo, hair conditioner, soap, face/body oils etc.

    The list includes: Aniseed, Basil Sweet CT Chavicol, Bergamot, Cedarwood Virginian, Cinnamon Bark, Clary Sage, Clove Bud, Copaiba Balsam, Eucalyptus Blue Gum, Geranium Bourbon, Grapefruit, Lavender Ang x Lat, Lemon, Lemongrass, May Chang oil (Litsea cubeba), Orange Sweet, Patchouli, Peppermint, Rosemary CT Cineole, Vetiver, Ylang Ylang. There ae others at well.

    In 40 years of formulating, I have ever only used essential oils.
    Dr. Mike Thair
    Cofounder & Chief Formulator
    Indochine Natural
  • @ngarayeva001 the lavender you use from various suppliers will be different as there are many species of lavender. Not only that suppliers selling the same spp will offer a variety of lavender notes eg lavendin . Also they will differ depending on which part of the plant they have extracted. If you are worried about the differentiation in lavender notes, then you just have to pick one supplier & stick with them, but even then the same spp can differ depending on weather during the growth cycle & harvesting. I wouldn’t worry about variations in lavender smells, as long as they are a decent pure crop. I think that is the beauty of nature ie it is not constant & it is forever evolving...
    Dr. Catherine Pratt
    (B.Sc with HONS I , Ph.D Analytical/Organic Chem and Microbiology), Cosmetic Chemistry IPCS)
  • @Dr Catherine Pratt, I noticed that the cheaper it is the more "chemical" is the smell. I am guessing that the volatile solvent that is used to separate oil from water might affect it.
  • @ngarayeva001 I think that they would be less precious parts or spp of the plants or the less concentrated, left over or even adulterated plants from extraction. 
    Dr. Catherine Pratt
    (B.Sc with HONS I , Ph.D Analytical/Organic Chem and Microbiology), Cosmetic Chemistry IPCS)
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    edited October 2018
    @DrCatherinePratt -  This seems like a significant challenge to me when working with essential oils. The fact that you don't know the chemical composition of the ingredient you are adding could make for unknown stability results and also opens up the possibility that your supplier is giving you an ingredient that might not be of the same quality.
  • @Perry yes this is correct. That is why you need to choose a well known supplier that also offers Analytical Chemistry Results  like GCMS & compare it to the standard for that EO from research journals you can find in Science Direct or such. Some companies are fully transparent with the Cofa’s with the batch no’s & full analytical information. 
    Even so non-chemists become confused when you talk about purity & EO’s. The company may give out the information but that doesn’t mean it is any purer than the next. As you know there are hundreds of oil molecules in an EO & so are far from pure. 
    To me it is the absolutes that are the pure EO’s but are not allowed to be called organic as it has been extracted with ethanol or hexane etc. Rose is a great example of this. 
    This is why I am a great advocate of CO2 extraction which does not use solvents like ethanol,  or distillation/cold pressing where microbiological organisms may end up in the resultant juice. 
    However, the organic community see the EO as pure because it is looked at holistically & reducing the EO to the 2 or 3 compounds that give that EO it’s particular well known scent will not act therapeutically because there is no more synergy once the EO has been fractionated. 
    I could go on all day but I hope that helps in some way.
    Does anyone have more information they can extend on this, especially about organic versus non-organic, the organic community versus the chemists & how we can get around the differences & work together in synergy & harmony!!! Kindest Regards 
    Dr. Catherine Pratt
    (B.Sc with HONS I , Ph.D Analytical/Organic Chem and Microbiology), Cosmetic Chemistry IPCS)
  • @Dr Catherine Pratt -- Who would you recommend for a reputable EO provider?
  • SpongeSponge Member
    I’ve used bergamot, lavender 40/42 and black pepper. It seems like you can’t find any men’s fragrance (EDP, EDT, shaving creams, shower gels) these days without bergamot, if that’s helpful? (Was it always this way and I didn’t notice?)
  • It is a trial and error thing as each system is different!
    Are you sure its Bergamot? Are you only using natural EO's? There is a wide variety of Aroma Chemicals you can use if you want to do professional perfumery for men?
    Dr. Catherine Pratt
    (B.Sc with HONS I , Ph.D Analytical/Organic Chem and Microbiology), Cosmetic Chemistry IPCS)
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    Yes, to create a fragrance profile for the product at the client's request, but always try to avoid using EO's that can cause photosensitivity.  There are some fragrancing options that are not EO's and not fragrance oils and I will use these as often as possible, but the set of options are somewhat limited.  

    For my own personal use and my preference is to use fragrance-free products and this includes products containing EO's.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    Provides Formulation Development and Lab-Scale Contract Manufacturing Services.  See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com

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