Revitalize with Rosemary: Harnessing the Benefits of Essential Oil in Aromatherapy and Cosmetics
Perhaps when you think of Rosmarinus officials or Salvia rosmarinus (aka rosemary) your mind gravitates towards roasted chicken, stews, or incorporating the herb into delicious meals.
And yes rosemary is a staple when it comes to cooking but it also produces a highly beneficial essential oil for both aromatherapy and cosmetic formulations.
An interesting fact about rosemary essential oil is that it is available in several chemotypes. An essential oil chemotype refers to variations that occur in the chemistry of the essential oil due to geographic conditions, soil conditions, climate, and other factors.
Rosemary essential oil is often found as camphor, 1,8 cineol, and verbenone chemotypes. And occasionally bornyl acetate chemotype. These chemotypes can differ in aroma, therapeutic benefits, and of course chemistry.
As an aromatherapist we can reach for different chemotypes to better assist clients with therapeutic goals. For example the camphor or 1,8 cinenole chemotype may be well suited to blends to help ease muscle and joint aches or to help decongest or fight germs, while the verbenone chemotype might be better suited for blend to for skin and scalp.
Rosemary essential oil is noted to offer analgesic, anti-inflammatory, central nervous system stimulating, antimicrobial, antispasmodic, circulations support, and skin supportive properties.
As an aromatherapist I incorporate it into inhaler and diffuser blends to support memory and focus, in massage blends (even bath fizzes and lotions) to ease muscle and joint aches, and in blends for the hair and scalp to support circulation (which is beneficial for scalp and hair health).
One study compared a lotion with 1% rosemary to the hair growth drug minoxidil. The rosemary product was massaged on the scalp twice daily and showed comparable hair growth to the drug after six months of daily treatment. (1)
And while you may see brands out there incorporating rosemary and other botanicals into their products and claiming they have an all natural "hair growth serum" as either an aromatherapist or cosmetic formulator we CAN'T make medicinal claims about our products.
Cosmetics help improve the appearance of the skin and hair --but that's it. We can't make medicinal claims. We can conduct studies to measure improvement of a parameter or employ a company to test our product to see it it has a desired impacts.
But nonetheless, even if we don't test, incorporating rosemary essential oil into products can still offer benefits as well as a wonderful aroma.
I personally love adding rosemary essential oil to shampoo bars and scalp products not only for its uplifting aroma but also because of the possibility it may help improve hair growth, circulation, its energizing aroma. I love adding it to bath blends or massage oils for its potential to ease muscle and joint aches. And it's a wonderful aroma to incorporate into any natural or organic products.
The caveat, since it is available in a number of chemotypes if you're a cosmetic formulator that is looking to create a product with a consistent aroma you'll need to pay attention to which rosemary chemotype you're working with.
And as always incorporating essential oils into cosmetic products can be tricky. Unlike fragrance oils, essential oils can vary in both aroma and price from season to season. Add in chemotypes and you're may be taking aroma differences to a whole other level.
As an artisan formulator your clients may come to expect that your products can vary based on variations in plants based ingredients. But if you're working with a brand that needs a consistent aroma pay attention to chemotype.
Rosemary essential oil is excellent in blends to ease aches, decongest, fight germs, uplift and support focus and memory.
In cosmetic formulations it adds a lovely herbaceous aroma to products and secondarily may help with circulation, ease aches, boost hair volume, support focus and mood.
Safety: always check current guidelines for both aromatherapy and cosmetic formulations with regard to safety. At the time of writing this:
Tisserand and Young (second edition), suggests avoiding rosemary ct camphor at levels higher than 16%.
Blood pressure - there is no evidence that Rosemary raises blood pressure.
Pregnancy - the camphor content is not high enough to be contraindicated during pregnancy. As an extra safety precaution, however, you may choose to avoid Rosemary ct. camphor during pregnancy.
Children - avoid any rosemary chemotype to or near the face of infants or children under 5 years old. Use with caution for children between 5-10 years old.
Oils with 1,8 cineole may antidote homeopathic remedies. They are too strong to use with babies or children under ten years old on their faces or in a steam. Use with caution on children between 5-10 years old. Care must be taken when using with asthmatics.
Aromatic blessings and your questions and comments are welcome,
1. Panahi Y, Taghizadeh M, Marzony ET, Sahebkar A. Rosemary oil vs minoxidil 2% for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: a randomized comparative trial. Skinmed. 2015 Jan-Feb;13(1):15-21. PMID: 25842469.