Essential oils are versatile and can be used in a huge number of ways. Most people think of essential oils as being used in room diffusers or reed diffusers, but you can also use them in perfumes, massage oils, and cosmetics.
To do this, you need to use a carrier oil to dilute the essential oil you are working with to ensure that it’s safe to apply to your skin. Emu oil is an unusual carrier oil that is starting to get more attention in holistic circles and might just be worth adding into your daily routine.
History of Emu Carrier Oil
Emu oil is harvested from the emu, a flightless bird found in Australia and New Zealand. The aboriginal people that were native to those lands had sophisticated farming skills and used emu for many purposes.1 The use of emu oil didn’t spread outside of those lands until the 19th century, however.
Today, emu farmers breed emu for their fat and their meat, and the idea of using emu oil for cosmetics, and as a cooking oil is starting to become more widespread.
Emu oil is rich in oleic acid and also contains palmitic acid and linoleic acid.2 Additionally, it has been found to have antioxidant and free radical scavenging properties and a high ratio of unsaturated to saturated fatty acids.3
Uses for Emu Oil
Emu oil makes a good moisturizing lotion. However, it is a good idea to mix emu oil with another carrier oil to make it lighter so that it can better penetrate the skin. Studies show that emu oil can be milder and gentler on the skin for people who suffer from eczema or dermatitis.4
Reduces Signs of Aging
Emu oil is rich in antioxidants, which can help to reduce oxidative stress and stave off the effects of aging. One recent study found that women who use emu oil as a moisturizer benefit from improved skin elasticity, fewer lines, and a reduction in dark circles around the eyes.5
Soothes Burns and Heal Stretch Marks
Emu oil contains linoleic acid, which can help soothe burns and also reduce inflammation. It can also help reduce acne scarring and improve wound healing if it is applied after inflammation has occurred, and may help with eradicating stretch marks.6
Repels Lice and Supports Hair Health
Emu oil contains compounds known as terpenes, which are natural insect repellents.7 Because of this, applying emu oil to your hair may help to ward off head lice infections. The oil can be used as an overnight conditioner, then washed off in the morning. The essential fatty acids in the oil could also help support thicker, healthier hair.
Relieves Pain and Promotes Relaxation
Because emu oil is such a thick oil, it works well as a massage product. The fatty acids in the oil have anti-inflammatory properties, which means that the oil can be useful for soothing the skin and helping people relax and recover after intense exercise.8 If emu oil is combined with other anti-inflammatory, relaxing oils, then the benefits can be greatly amplified.
Best Essential Oils to Use with Emu Carrier Oil
Emu oil is thick and creamy at room temperature, which means that it is good to use as a serum for hair and nail treatments. It can pair well with a lot of different essential oils. To make it slightly smoother and easier to work with, consider mixing emu oil with evening primrose oil and a small amount of black castor oil. This will make a lighter blend that you can massage onto your scalp or comb through your hair.
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Alternatively, if you want something that is thicker, consider mixing emu oil with coconut oil. Coconut oil is close to solid at room temperature but will melt when exposed to body heat. The emu oil will make it slightly more malleable before it is applied, so it can be used to make a thick, heavy cream that is slightly more runny than a body butter.
When choosing essential oils to work with, try to avoid ones that are known to cause photosensitivity if you are going to apply them to your skin. Tea tree oil is a good antimicrobial oil, which makes it good for skin and hair care blends.9 Lavender is thought to be relaxing and good for promoting sleep and ylang-ylang has been found to help maintain healthy heart rate and blood pressure, so both are good choices for making relaxing massage blends.10,11
There are numerous essential oils to choose from, and a major part of finding the best oils is personal preference. Look for oils that you like the scent of and that can fulfill the role you need. The aroma of emu oil is mild enough to make it a good match for most essential oil.
Safety and Precautions
Emu oil is generally considered to be safe and well-tolerated in most people. It is non-allergenic and non-comedogenic, which means that most people should be able to use it without issue. You should still conduct a patch test before applying a large quantity of the oil to make sure that you are not allergic to it. If you experience irritation, wash it off immediately, and discontinue use of the oil.
Since emu oil has been found to delay healing in some cases, you should not use it on damaged or broken skin or to treat irritation caused by exposure to something like poison ivy because this could make the damage take longer to heal. Use emu oil on healthy skin or to reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
Emu oil is usually used as a carrier oil for other essential oils. The oleic acid in emu oil can help ensure that other essential oils penetrate the skin properly, enhancing their therapeutic effects.
The price of emu oil can vary greatly, depending on where you source it from. High-quality emu oil from an ethical farm may carry a premium, but it is worth paying for. If you store the oil properly, it can last for up to two years.12
When you are making blends with emu oil, dispense only the oil that you need and store the rest in a sealed container in a cool, dark place. Keep your essential oil blends in a sealed container as well and dispose of the oils if you are concerned that they have become rancid.
If you are considering trying emu oil, but have ethical concerns, then you should research the manufacturer of the oil that you buy. Some farmers do raise emus purely for their fat, but some will try to use as much of the bird as they can, including the meat and the skin. Look for a manufacturer that makes an effort to waste as little of the bird as possible and that runs an ethical farm.
High quality emu oil is safe to use on your skin, but contaminated oil may have unexpected side effects, so make sure you find a trustworthy source for the oil. Emu oil is something that aborigines have used in their culture throughout history, and it is only just starting to become commonplace in the west, but it is very versatile and studies show that it can provide a range of beneficial effects.
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