I've always had a special place in my heart (erm, nose?) for the scent of patchouli essential oil, possibly stemming from my youth in New Hampshire. The scent of patchouli permeated many bonfires of my youth, alongside offbeat Sublime or Bob Marley covers and the gentle sound of a Hacky Sack tapping against a pair of Birkenstocks. When a bottle of patchouli essential oil was sent to me to try out in a clay mask, the scent immediately brought back memories of driving in a friends Volkswagen at a suspicious 15 miles per hour on the back roads of the town I grew up in. Patchouli oil is definitely one of the most popular aromas for essential oils and it seems largely due to its natural calming and grounding effects it has on our minds. I'm sure I don't need to say that these effects are always great attributes in natural skincare.
Patchouli stems and leaves have been used to normalize the life force or chi in Ayurvedic and Chinese traditional medicine. Like its mint family cousins, sage and rosemary, this plant is excellent for balancing problems that are skin deep too! Patchouli is incredibly versatile, being used more frequently in fragrances and beauty products. Contrary to popular misconception, using patchouli for DIY beauty will not turn you into a hippie instantly (that takes years), but it just may provide balance and order to your skin.
The essential oil is made through steam distillation of dried and fermented leaves of the patchouli plant. According to oil experts, the leaves are easily extracted from the plant without harming the actual tree which makes it one of the more affordable essential oils. It's an excellent aid to sunburns, acne, and eczema, providing calming effects and regenerating skin cells. Patchouli is also known to standardize sebum production, which is often the cause for many skin problems like acne. Patchouli is also an anti-inflammatory and is known to speed up the healing of scars and wounds — another reason it's awesome for relieving rashes and dry skin.
Although the patchouli plant thrives in tropical regions, many gardeners in colder temperaments are able to successfully keep their plant happy during the warmer months. My penchant for natural beauty may trick you into thinking I have a green thumb when it comes to DIY beauty, but I must confess: I have killed a cactus and my goldfish, Chairman Mao, only lived in my care for four days. Fortunately for anyone else that has a problem caring for other living things, patchouli essential oil is fairly cheap and easy to come by. You can buy the essential oil at Whole Foods, Vitamin Shoppe, and online.
Now that you know why you need it and where to buy it, here's how to use it!
1. Homemade Moisturizer
I know I've found a great moisturizer when my face is still soft and moisturized at the end of the day, but my pores aren't smothered and clogged, either. This is one of those moisturizers. Add five drops each of patchouli and of frankincense to a cup of argan oil and apply directly on a fresh, clean face. This scent is totally calm and smooth — JUST like your face will be.
2. DIY Hand/Food Salve
Be honest: You've been avoiding high fives not because they are almost always an awkward mistake, but because your hands are so dry, you fear if you actually make contact with their hand on the first go that you may actually cut them. Right?? Fortunately, patchouli is great for cracked skin and you can make a healing salve that can have your hands feeling some instant relief. You'll need:
- 1/16 cup of beeswax
- 1/4th cup of coconut oil
- 1/4th cup of safflower oil
- 1 tablespoon of castor oil
- 1 teaspoon of vitamin E
- 8 drops of patchouli essential oil
- 5 drops of lavender essential oil
Mix all your ingredients together, throw it in a blender, and store your new salve in a dark container that you can bring with you on the go. Try to avoid heating your ingredients because you'll really need the healing, hydrating, and emollient properties to actually cure dry, cracked hands.
3. Nail Treatment
One way to step up your home manicures is by adding a treatment to restore brittle, uneven nails and plant some antibacterial, antifungal, and hydration into your beloved nail beds. I use a treatment of castor oil, four drops of eucalyptus essential oil, and four drops of patchouli to restore some much needed order to my chipped nails. Soak your fingernails into your mixture for at least 15 minutes after you cut, file, and buff.