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The Oils I use

Why does my Carry-On Travel Oil work?

Flora + Fiona Carry-On Travel Oil was my first product and the one I have been passionate about for nearly 10 years. I am delighted to see that we have been getting great feedback from our customers on this special oil! It is used by frequent fliers and holidaymakers alike: anyone who wants to enjoy a relaxed journey with the added reassurance of natural products that protect you and keep you well when you travel. Some customers love the aroma so much that they use it as a perfume!

So what do I put into the Carry-On Travel Oil to make such a small bottle do so much hard work?

I chose some of my favourite oils when researching this formula. Firstly, All my blends are 100% natural and carefully chosen from ethical distillers all over the world. I create and hand blend my oil formulations myself in my studio in Dublin looking out at my garden. I have been hand-blending oils for my private clients for nearly 20 years and really enjoy researching and discovering new oils . About 8 years ago, I started looking at oils for travel that had anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.  A client who suffered constantly with sinus problems when flying had asked to me to create a blend for her. My research led me to examine many of the problems associated with travel :

  • Jet lag
  • Disturbance of sleep patterns
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Exposure to contagion

I wanted a convenient roller bottle, with an oil blend designed to target some of these downsides of travelling. The oil I created became The Carry-on Travel Oil.

Powerful Oils

Powerful oils including Ravintsara and Niaouli from Madagascar, and Egyptian Sweet Marjoram, all used in their native countries for their antibacterial, antiseptic and antiviral properties, are combined in this unisex product.

I’ve written about Ravintsara previously. I love it for its strong punchy aroma. I see it as a strong protective presence in the blends I create with it.

Breathing in its powerful aroma certainly transports me to the exotic island of Madagascar, with its unique and fascinating flora and fauna. In its chemistry it contains an oxide called 1,8 cineole that is historically known to be anti-viral, anti- bacterial and an immune stimulant. This oxide is also found in more common oils such as Eucalyptus and Tea Tree. As an immune stimulant and also an energising oil I felt it was just what you need in transit.

 

Green fresh sweet marjoram (Origanum majorana) spicy herb sprouts growing close up

Sweet Marjoram oil has been used since Ancient Times as a culinary and medicinal herb. Sweet, warm and protective are words I associate with this plant native to Mediterranean regions. They are also words I would like to have close to me when travelling, like a cocoon to protect me from the hustle and bustle about me.

In aromatherapy it is used for its antiseptic and anti-bacterial qualities. It is also considered to be a muscle relaxant and have analgesic and sedative properties. It brings a wonderful sense of calm and peace. Sweet Marjoram helps to aid mental and emotional fatigue or ‘overthinking’ by settling any nervous tension and anxiety. From this description alone you will understand why I include this “all rounder” in my oil.

The Third Protector Oil in the Carry-On Travel Oil

Wild Niaouli is the 3rd protector oil and is also sourced in Madagascar. Related to Tea Tree it has similar qualities but is far more gentle on the skin. It is thought that the presence of the Niaouli Tree in New Caledonia is responsible for the absence of malaria on that south west Pacific island. Whether or not this is the case, for me it is an oil that protects and helps clear the head.

I have completed the blend with the sunny and cheering aroma of lemon and orange oils. Apart from their various properties it is essential that my blends make you feel good.  Breathing in the aroma has a direct link to the storehouse of memory and emotions in the brain. The oils I have chosen have a vitality and energy that are joyful, comforting, and reassuring, ensuring that you are refreshed and ready for anything at your destination.

If you think that sounds like how you would like to feel when contemplating your next journey, whether for business or pleasure, my 100% natural Carry-on Travel Oil in its handy 10ml rollerball bottle will be your perfect travel companion.

Frankincense – The Mystical Oil

Frankincense Trees, Boswellia sacra, olibanum-tree, Homhil Plateau, Socotra Island, Yemen

Bringing some Calm

Frankincense – Boswellia Carteri

A haunting deeply spiritual fragrance – woody, spicy with a hint of citrus

A key ingredient in my REST rollerball oil, Frankincense is very powerful oil. I love the way it calms the mind and clears the head. This ancient and mystical oil has the ability to both relax and revitalise, perfect to alleviate nervous tension and exhaustion. It is one of the oils I use a lot and and will go to in times of stress and anxiety especially when it is hard to switch off after a tough day.

It also has the advantage of being a wonderful for nourishing and rejuvenating the skin and is used in many cosmetic products.

ORIGINS – Some of the history

The Frankincense tree originates mainly in Ethiopia, Somalia, Yemen, Iran and the Lebanon. The resin oozes from the bark of the tree and is distilled into an essential oil.

The word Frankincense means “real incense” sometimes called Olibanum meaning oil from the Lebanon. In ancient Egypt it was burned as an offering to the Gods and is used to this day in many religions for ritual and meditation. Historically it was valued nearly as much as gold, hence in Christianity, it was a gift from the Three Kings to the infant Jesus.

In Aromatherapy the oil is valued for its many therapeutic properties:

PHYSICAL

  • Naturally Sedative
  • Digestive
  • Tonic
  • Helps to ease breathing difficulties
  • Clears the lungs of mucous membranes, eases coughs and bronchitis

EMOTIONAL & ENERGETIC QUALITIES

  • Brings a sense of calm and peace to the mind and body
  • Deeply relaxing and soothing
  • Can revitalise by clearing the head and easing a cluttered mind

WHEN I USE FRANKINCENSE OIL

  • If I feel anxious, I put 2 drops on a tissue – and breathe in during the day. You can also leave the oil infused tissue by your pillow. It is very soothing when mixed with drop of lavender or orange oils.

 

  • If I have a cough, I will put 3 drops of Spike Lavender and 4 drops of Frankincense into a bowl of hot water (not too hot!) Place a towel over your head and the bowl, close your eyes and breathe. Do this for about 5 deep breaths twice a day. It really helps. The lavender is also analgesic which can help ease the pain. The drops can also be added to 20ml of sunflower oil and used as a chest rub.

 

  • It can also create a lovely calming atmosphere in the evening pre-bedtime. I would put 4 drops in a room diffuser and add something like Bergamot or Lavender (2 drops of each) to create a beautifully fragrant space.  Experiment with the oils you like but remember nothing too stimulating in the evening. e.g. no Rosemary or Eucalyptus or Tea Tree

 

  • For a facial and neck massage, I sometimes add about 3 drops of Frankincense to rosehip oil (approx. 20ml) and gently massage face and neck. It is lovely treatment to give yourself after a bath or warm shower. Ancient Egyptians used it as a face mask to rejuvenate the skin!

SAFETY

Not to be used undiluted on the skin.

As an inhalation it is non–irritating and well tolerated by adults.

Not suitable for children under 5

I you would like to look at the other precious botanical oils in my REST oil, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Prickly Pear Oil: A Precious Oil

Indian fig opuntia, barbary fig, cactus pear, spineless cactus, prickly pear. Opuntia ficus-indica. Edible cactus pear on cactus opuntia rufida

PRICKLY PEAR

Botanical Name: Opuntia Ficus Indica – distllled from the Prickly Pear Cactus seed

Prickly Pear oil is one of my favourite plant oils for the skin and one of the most precious. It is expensive but worth it because of its many benefits on skin health.  I use it in both FLORA+FIONA Facial Oil and FLORA+FIONA Velvet Skin Body Oil.

Why is it so special?

  • Exceptional skin hydrating properties
  • Rich in antioxidant, Vitamin E – It has a higher concentration than any other plant oil
  • Highest percentage of essential fatty acids. Omega 6 and 9.
  • Excellent for mature or damaged skin
  • Increases elasticity and brightens the skin adding radiance
  • Deeply moisturising and easily absorbed
  • Ideal for sensitive skin and dry skin
  • Reduces redness and hyper-pigmentation
  • Vitamin K to reduce brown spots

While these properties add to the physical well-being of your body and skin no oil is included in my blends that doesn’t also contribute to the emotional well being of the user. I talk about this in more detail in another recent post to this blog.

Spotlight on Sweet Marjoram

MARJORAM

Botanical Name (origanum majorana)

Marjoram, commonly known as sweet marjoram, is a green bushy plant native to the Mediterranean region but can be found in most herb gardens. It has a woody herbaceous aroma.

Sweet, warm and protective are the words that best describe sweet marjoram for me.

It is naturally anti-septic and contains a compound called terpinen-4-ol which has anti- inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.

In a recent clinical study into the chemical content, antibacterial and antioxidant properties of marjoram essential oil, it was concluded that the essential oils of marjoram may be an alternative source of natural antibacterial and antioxidant agents.*

I chose sweet marjoram as a companion to my “warrior” oils – ravintsara and niaouli in my Carry-on Travel oil.

HISTORICAL USES

Sweet marjoram has been used since Ancient Times as a culinary and medicinal herb,

17th century physician and herbalist, Nicholas Culpeper wrote of sweet marjoram,

Our common sweet marjoram is warming and comforting in cold diseases of the head and stomach sinews”.

The Ancient Greeks called it the ‘funeral’ herb and planted it on graves to bring spiritual peace to both the living and the dead. It was also seen to represent peace and harmony and was used to make wreaths.

WHEN I USE IT

Firstly, sweet marjoram oil is wonderful to ease abdominal cramps or trapped wind. Put 5 drops of the oil in a tablespoon of sweet almond, coconut or sunflower oil and massage gently in circular movements in a clockwise direction on the abdomen. Cover with a warm hot water bottle and relax. It really helps to soothe the cramps**

Good for period cramps too.

The same formula can be applied to aching joints but I would add lavender to the mix for extra anti-inflammatory effects and pain relief.

To aid relaxation and promote sleep, lavender and sweet marjoram work really well together. I put 3 drops of each oil into an egg cup of sunflower, jojoba or sweet almond oil and add to a pre-run warm bath or use as a bedtime massage oil**

I use sweet marjoram frequently when cooking due to its high anti-oxidant properties. It is a good addition when cooking pulses. Helps to ease the ‘wind factor’!

IN AROMATHERAPY

In Aromatherapy the oil is valued for its many therapeutic properties:

PHYSICAL

Anti-septic

Anti-bacterial

Muscle relaxant

Analgesic

Sedative

Anti- spasmodic

EMOTIONAL & ENERGETIC QUALITIES

Brings a sense of calm and peace.

It helps to aid mental and emotional fatigue or ‘overthinking’ by settling any nervous tension and anxiety. It is a comfort to the lonely or those suffering from grief.

SAFETY

Non-sensitising and non-irritating to the skin.

Do not use directly on the skin but blend with a carrier oil ( e.g. sweet almond, coconut, sunflower, jojoba etc..)

Not to be used when pregnant.

 

* Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=28375110

**Not to be used when pregnant.

Spotlight on Powerful Ravintsara

RAVINTSARA  

Botanical Name (Cinnamonum Camphora Cineoliferum)

 

A key ingredient in my Carry-on Travel Oil is Ravintsara oil. A Native of Madagascar, this powerful oil is distilled from the leaves or this great rainforest tree. It has a fresh, medicinal aroma. I use it often and see it as the great protector.

I discovered Ravintsara oil 9 years ago when a friend brought me a bottle back from a trip to Madagascar. This mysterious island with its unique flora and fauna has always had a fascination for me and the oil itself was a revelation.

Just by smelling it you get the sense that the strong ‘punchy’ aroma is powerful. In its chemistry it contains an oxide called 1,8 cineole that is historically known to be anti-viral, anti- bacterial and an immune stimulant. This oxide is also found in more common oils such as Eucalyptus and Tea Tree.

HISTORICAL USE

Historically, it holds a place in traditional folk medicine in Madagascar. The ravintsara leaves were used to fight flu, headaches and infections.  Known by the Magasy people as “gold leaf” – The bark and leaves were burnt for their aroma or used as a tea to fight infections.

IN AROMATHERAPY

In Aromatherapy the oil is valued for its many therapeutic properties:

PHYSICAL

  • Anti-septic
  • Anti- viral
  • Anti – bacterial
  • De-congestant
  • Immune stimulant
  • Headache relief

EMOTIONAL & ENERGETIC QUALITIES

I call it The Warrior Oil – It is stimulating. It boosts energy and positivity. It makes you feel protected. Also helps to calm and soothe the nerves.

WHEN I USE IT

If you feel you are getting a cold, put 2 drops on a tissue – and breathe in during the day. You can also leave the oil infused tissue at your desk by your computer screen.

It is also a very good to kick start the day. Put a few drops on the floor of your shower before you step in. It will really wake you up!

When I am travelling, I bring Ravintsara and Bergamot oils. As soon as I check in to a hotel, I put hot water the hand basin, sprinkle 3 drops of each oil and leave it there for a few hours. Not only does it make the room smell divine, the aroma is giving you a natural support.

It can also be beneficial as a steam blend to aid sinus congestion, I put 3 drops of Lavender and 2 of Ravintsara into a bowl of hot water (not too hot!) Place a towel over your head and the bowl, close your eyes and breathe. Do this for a few minutes twice a day. It really clears the head and can help to relieve the sinus congestion. The lavender is also analgesic which can help ease the pain. I have done this when I want to stop sinus congestion developing into an infection. I find it really helpful.

For a room diffuser, I would put in 4-6 drops of oil. On its own the aroma can be too strong so I experiment with other oils to soften it, by adding a citrus oil like Bergamot or lemon, another woody oil like Juniper or a more grounding oil like Frankincense to balance the blend.

SAFETY

  • As an inhalation it is non–irritating and well tolerated by adults.
  • Can affect those with severe asthma condition.
  • Not to be used undiluted on the skin.
  • Not suitable for children under 5
  • It is stimulating so don’t use it at night.

 

 

 

Spotlight on Vetiver

 

A key ingredient in our newly launched Flora + Fiona Velvet Skin Body Oil Vetiver is a great stress reliever long renowned to aid sleep. In this blog post we turn the spotlight on this oil distilled from the roots of a wild grass that grows in India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Madagascar.

VETIVER

Botanical Name (vetiveria zizanoides)

Vetiver is a wild grass that grows in India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Madagascar. The oil is distilled from the root of the grass.

Vetiver is my number one oil to relieve stress, to feel calm, relaxed, to aid sleep and to be at one with the world. In addition, because it comes from the root of a grass, it is a wonderful oil to make you feel grounded and balanced.

As with Ravintsara, a friend brought me a bottle back from a trip to Madagascar and the Vetiver was truly enchanting. I had never smelt anything quite like it. It has a deep, smoky and earthy aroma, and has a depth to it that is hard to define. Oils like this are always special and a little unpredictable.

It has cooling properties and is used in India to alleviate fevers. This makes it helpful in cooling sprays during hot flushes in the menopause.

It is very safe to use on the skin and is often used as a perfume either directly on the skin or mixed with a little jojoba oil.

It is very soothing and healing on the skin with anti-inflammatory properties. I have put it for this reason into both my facial oil and body oil but also for its profoundly calming effect on the emotions.

It has the added bonus in my body oil of acting as an insect repellent.

HISTORICAL USE

Known as the “Oil of Tranquility” Vetiver has been used for centuries for its aromatic properties. The dried grass and roots are woven into shades and blinds for houses which are cooling and fragrant while being anti-septic and acting as an insect repellent. It has been traditionally used in India and Sri Lanka as cooling oil to alleviate fevers and relieve headaches. It is anti-inflammatory properties also help as a balm or ointment for arthritis and aching joints.

IN AROMATHERAPY

In Aromatherapy the oil is valued for its many therapeutic properties:

PHYSICAL
  • Anti-septic
  • Promotes scar healing and tissue repair
  • Sedative
  • Anti- depressant
  • Cooling
  • Anti-inflammatory
EMOTIONAL & ENERGETIC QUALITIES
  • Deeply comforting.
  • Eases the over thinking and frazzled mind when you feel overburdened and exhausted. It brings you to a quiet gentle place – to sleep and return to your natural rhythm.
WHEN I USE IT

I love using this oil.  It clears all thoughts and brings such a sense of wellbeing.

For the bath before bedtime, it is a perfect choice. You are sleepy and relaxed, a perfect way to get a good night’s sleep.

It blends really well with many floral oils so it is good to try and experiment with the various options. I often put 3 drops of vetiver, 1 drop of rose or neroli (orange blossom) or jasmine. (1 drop of each if you are feeling extravagant. They are costly oils!) Add them to a dessertspoon of carrier oil and pour into a pre-run bath.

Soak for 10 minutes. No noise no distraction.

Vetiver is also good with lavender or bergamot – or if you want to go for the heady and the exotic, ylang ylang oil works wonderfully with it too.

This bath blend also makes lovely body oil for massage at bedtime. As well as its sedative action, it is also anti-inflammatory and soothing for any skin irritation.

I use jojoba oil as the carrier oil. It is not too greasy and is also very nourishing for the skin. This is why it has been blended with Egyptian Jasmine Blossom Prickly Pear, Black Cumin Seed, Calendula and Rosehip seed oils to create Flora + Fiona Velvet Skin Body Oil.  They are all rich in vitamins, omegas 3,6,9, and antioxidants with wonderful benefits to heal and soothe skin conditions.

SAFETY

Is skin safe oil and not know to cause any irritation.