Wrinkles occur as the skin gets older, because the connective tissue which forms a great part of the inner layers (or Dermis), of the skin, loses its elasticity. Imagine an elastic band. When it is new it will spring back into place after it has been stretched, but when the rubber gets old it will stay stretched instead of returning to its original size. Similarly, skin which is repeatedly stretched, such as in smiling, frowning or screwing up the eyes, quickly goes back to its original smooth state when young, but not as the connective tissue ages.

Regular massage with essential oils can do a certain amount to reduce wrinkling, although the best time to apply such treatment would be, ideally, before any wrinkles have formed! Massage stimulates the local circulation, and this ensures good supplies of oxygen to the minute blood vessels in the inner layers of skin. The cells in the inner skin need oxygen for the health and growth, as does every cell in the body. Massage directly on the face needs to be ultra-gentle, since any pulling of the skin would only make the problem worse, but it is very helpful to give vigorous massage to the scalp, which stimulates the circulation to the whole head. This is something which can easily be done very day as a self-help measure: rub the head as if shampooing, and tap with the fingertips all over the scalp. Massage, and the input of plenty of oxygen, also helps to tone the muscles underlying the skin and this can give a more youthful appearance.

Two of the most useful essential oils are Frankincense and Neroli, both of which have been used in skin care for thousands of years. The Egyptians used Frankincense for cosmetic purposes, as well as for embalming and religious ceremonies and it does seem to have a preservative action on the skin. In some instances it may even reduce existing wrinkling, but it does certainly help to prevent further wrinkles forming. Neroli is particularly valuable in that it stimulates the body to produce healthy new cells, and this can help to keep the skin looking smooth by delaying the aging process in the layers of connective tissue.

The carrier oil used for the massage is important too, and richer oils such as Avocado or Jojoba are the most helpful, with the addition of 25% Wheatgerm oil. Anything which is good for the general health and vitality of the body is helpful, too, especially exercise of all kinds, which, like massage, increases circulation and improves muscle tone.

Good nutrition is important, especially foods which provide good amounts of Vitamins B, C and E, and a vitamin and mineral supplement might help. Smoking, alcohol and excessive amounts of tea and coffee lower the vitality of the skin, and increase the tendency to wrinkle.

You will notice that we have referred to the inner layers of the skin. The outer layer of skin, or Epidermis, is composed of cells which are already dead, just as our hair and nails are, so any treatment which is aimed at improving the appearance of the skin must always take into account the living layers of skin where new cells are constantly being formed.

See also the toners and creams for the different skin types in our Recipes section.

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