Dawn is the owner of Seattle Hill Soap Company and formulates natural and safe soaps and skin care items that are enhanced by herbs, botanicals, or clays. You can find Seattle Hill Soap Company at www.seattlehillsoaps.com.
Patchouli is a bushy plant with large, soft and furry leaves. It’s native to Malaysia but is now cultivated in a number of southeastern Asian countries. Its essential oil can range from light golden-brown to dark amber-brown, depending on the type of metal used in the distillation. Like wine, patchouli gets better with age. Some suppliers will hold back their premium lots, age it just like a wine, then sell it as premium oil. The fragrance, although difficult to describe, is earthy, musty, pungent and very strong. Patchouli’s fragrance can be very off-putting to some, but it is very alluring to others. My personal experience is that people either love it or hate it. I have many customers that buy my patchouli soap simply because they love its fragrance and for no other reason. Although it is known to be an aphrodisiac, I’m sure its effectiveness would be suspect if one thought it stank.
(Relax with a patchouli-infused foot soak.)
Photo by Sam Ley/Courtesy Flickr
The skin benefits of patchouli oil are plentiful. It regenerates skin cells, which makes it useful for hastening the healing of wounds and to fade scars. It tightens and tones sagging skin. Because of patchouli’s anti-inflammatory properties, it can calm skin problems such as sunburn, acne, eczema and other forms of dermatitis. It regulates sebum production and helps treat acne and dandruff. The fungicidal properties make it appropriate for combating athlete’s foot, jock itch and fungal problems of the skin such as Candida. It soothes and smoothes cracked skin and is said to be beneficial for helping brittle and weak nails. Patchouli is also known to be an antidepressant and helps treat anxiety, nervous disorders and other stress-related conditions.
Never use patchouli essential oil neat (without diluting.) There are many applications in which you can use patchouli oil: skin balms, skin oils (macadamia and emu are a couple of my favorites), soaps, lotions and bath salts are a few. My best advice is that you use patchouli sparingly. It is quite strong and a little goes a very long way.