The same essential oils used in aromatherapy are used in high-end skin and body care products around the world. You'll find lavender, chamomile, tea tree and more in many “common” products, and essential oils like helichrysum in high end “boutique” products. Now, advances in technology are producing a sort of “super” essential oil. You can buy these yourself and create incredible, high end skin and body care products for a fraction of the cost of the boutique brands.
In the process of production of essential oils, plant material is placed in a still, and steam passed through it. The steam is captured, cooled back to water, and on top of this water floats the “essential oil” of the plant material. This extracts the lightest of the non-polar, “fat-liking” compounds. Now, some distillers are using pressurized liquid carbon dioxide instead of steam. When the pressure is released, the CO2 returns to its natural gaseous state, and leaves a greater range of non-polar, fat-liking compounds. This process is performed at lower temperature than steam distillation, such that the resultant “oil” is more akin to the original plant, and can be done on some plants that don't extract well via steam.
The CO2 oil that will most likely bring a smile to the experienced natural skin care practitioner is calendula. Until very recently, this has only been available as an infused oil, where the flowers have been soaked in another “fixed” oil such as olive. The olive oil, over a period of weeks, absorbs the therapeutic constituents of the flower, and is then used as a skin care ingredient. No more! Now one only need add a few drops of calendula “supercritical CO2 extract” to their recipes.
Chamomile extract is a very popular skin care ingredient, and a carbon dioxide distillation of German “blue” chamomile is available. It has a lovely blue-green color, unique among all these others which vary between red and orange. The color indicates the presence of a particularly potent anti-inflammatory constituent (which turns blue under the heat of steam distillation). The aroma is pleasingly cool and sweet.
Sea buckthorn berry CO2 vies with calendula as the number one therapeutic CO2 extracts for skin care. It's recommended for absolutely every skin care condition imaginable (as is calendula, actually). Whereas calendula is distilled from flowers, sea buckthorn is distilled from the whole ripe fruit — introducing a whole other complex of therapeutic molecules and antioxidants. It's aroma is wonderfully enticing, with the sweetness of ripe berries.
Rosehips are also technically a fruit — the fruit of roses. The oil pressed from their seeds is also considered one of those “miracle” skin care ingredients, with researched regenerative effects. The carbon dioxide distillation of the whole fruit (not just the seeds) brings in much more of the available nutrients into the extract. This is really a “super” rosehip oil — you could even “soup-up” rosehip seed oil by adding rosehip CO2 to it.
Thus far we have extracts from the fruits and the flowers, so we look finally to roots. Carrot root CO2, also called “Helio-Carrot” is exceptionally rich in antioxidant and regenerative nutrients that give carrots their bright orange color. This is where the word “carotene” was originally derived. These vitamin-A-like compounds are known for their contribution to the skin's health and healing. “Retin-A” is a synthetic vitamin-A pharmaceutical preparation known for its regenerative properties; carrot extract is used for its regenerative nature as well, without the extreme drying effect of Retin-A.
These five oils are the CO2 extracts with the greatest therapeutic activity for the skin (and scalp as well). Their use is very simple — they'll be blended into carrier oils (or even your current skin care products) at ratios very similar to essential oils. The general guideline is using a single extract at a concentration between 1/2 and 1 percent, or combining them for a concentration of no more than 5 percent. Consider these CO2's (as well as essential oils) the micronutrients, and the carrier oils you mix them in the macronutrients — both are necessary, and combining them properly can create the ultimate skin care “food”.
Each individual extract should be used at no more than a two percent concentration. Understand that this is a maximum — that the distillers recommend fractions of a percent in common body care products. To measure, keep this mathematical formula in mind: on-third of a milliliter (ml) of CO2 extract in each one ounce of your final product equals a one percent concentration. That's approximately 8 drops of extract per ounce of carrier oil.
Want to make one of the world's most incredible skin care preparations? Yes! Blend them all together! You can simply blend 8 drops of each extract into each ounce of your base or carrier. For the best therapeutic result, use carrier oils selected specifically for your skin's type and condition. You can simply add the extracts to whatever plain moisturizer you're using now, but to get really fancy, consider using carrier oils like Moroccan argan nut, tamanu nut from Madagascar and rosehip seed from Chile. Either way, you're likely to find your skin to absolutely love your new, super CO2-powered creation.