Expert's Opinion

How to Handle Essential Oils

By Robin Brown , Co-founder and president of Erbaviva | December 23, 2013

What are the guidelines, and how do they impact your products?

The beauty industry is inundated with a plethora of products, making it difficult for consumers to make educated, informed decisions when checking out at their favorite retail destinations.  With a commitment to following safety practices and focusing research efforts in potency levels and other standards of product testing, Erbaviva gentle essential oils are sourced in the US and abroad and are the most effective, highest quality ingredients.
Here is some information about guidelines we follow when working with essential oils:

What type of research is done when sourcing your essential oils?
As a small brand, it is more typical to work with dealers and brokers for essential oils. However, we have always gravitated towards working direct with the producers in the country of origin for a majority of our oils. Our long, trusted relationships with them ensure that we are uncompromising on both quality and organic integrity. Erbaviva’s sourcing of new oils is based on finding the best, most trusted suppliers to provide organic certifications, while presenting batch specific analytical data on the oils.

What potency and/or percentage is considered safe when working with essential oils?               
Often an area of controversy, our general rule of thumb is to use under 1/2% for most baby and pregnancy products, and around 1% (except in specific circumstances) for most other body products. Essential oils have very different profiles, where some more potent oils can add a lot to the therapeutic qualities of a blend. We have many products that may have a fraction of a percent in the essential oil blend, which in turn is used as a fraction of a percent in the finished products. The end result is both safe and highly effective from a therapeutic standpoint.

Are there certain essential oils that you should avoid?
We look at the category of products that we are formulating to determine what degree of caution to take in designing the aroma profile for a finished product. For a baby product, we mainly use lavender, chamomile and mandarin, as those are very safe oils to use for babies in low dilution. For pregnancy, there is a slightly longer list, but one where there are still many oils we exclude from our palette. For other categories, we ensure to always use the more potent oils in very low amounts and we avoid some of the more potentially hazardous oils such as camphor, sassafras, tansy and pennyroyal altogether.

More info:
About the author:
Robin Brown is co-founder and president of Erbaviva. Established in 1996, Erbaviva is both Certified USDA Organic as well as one of the first Certified Demeter Biodynamic personal care companies in the US. In November 2010, Erbaviva became a certified B Corp.
Erbaviva has worked since inception with the Pwo Karen Hill Tribe on the border of Burma and Thailand, from whom they purchase all fabric packaging and basketry, to help support their process of conversion over from “slash-and-burn” agriculture to more sustainable permanent farming methods. With a range of over 100 products, most of which are certified organic, the Erbaviva brand is sold in some of the world’s premium destination boutiques, hotels and spas in the US, Europe and Asia.