Recently, a patient of mine brought me an article about the ability of skin to “smell”. She was pretty surprised by this, but it’s true, your skin can “smell”. In fact, several of your organs can perceive smell – just not in the same way your nose does. Your skin can actually “hear” too and researchers are testing novel ways to perceive music through your skin called haptics.
What I was more intrigued by in the article she brought me was the idea that the scent of an ancient, essential oil actually stimulated the skin’s capability to heal and rejuvenate itself. So, I did a little research and found out some amazing anti-aging, skin-rejuvenating benefits of this oil/scent that I’d like to share with you…
Sandalwood Heals, Tightens and Rejuvenates Skin Older Skin
Essential oils have been used for thousands of years in cosmetics and medicines. One in particular, sandalwood, has been used religiously by ancient peoples for its anti-aging, skin beautifying, healing and tightening properties. Sandalwood oil is harvested from the Santalum type (sandal) tree native to Indonesia and India. Most of the sandalwood oil on the market today comes from India. Essential oils practitioners and massage therapists feel that Indian sandalwood offers the best quality because the Indian government regulates the sandalwood plantations.
Of course, those ancient cultures didn’t know the science behind how sandalwood worked; they simply enjoyed its skin rejuvenating effects. It wasn’t until recently when researchers out of Germany’s Ruhr University revealed that your skin’s “smell (olfactory) receptors” play a big part in how the skin heals itself. Especially in the presence of sandalwood!
These receptors lie in the skin’s keratinocytes – the outer most layers of skin cells. The researchers found that they behave remarkably like younger skin when exposed to sandalwood. They cause skin cell metabolism to dramatically speed up, rapidly turning over new cells. As a result, their research showed, the skin healed itself much faster.
These researchers found that a synthetic sandalwood oil (Sandalore) often used in aromatherapy, skin care products and perfumes, bound itself to skin’s smell receptors. But, unlike smell receptors in the nose that send “smell” perception to the brain, the skin sends the message back to itself. The skin cells then multiply, divide and then migrate to damaged areas of skin to heal them.
Researchers found that skin cell generation increased by 32% and cell migration by nearly 50% when the skin was exposed to the Sandalore. The Ruhr researchers concluded that adding sandalwood to anti-aging topical creams or skin treatment medications can boost the skin’s ability to regenerate, heal faster as well as tighten.
Other research cited in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention revealed that a combination of sandalwood and tea tree oil was successful in treating experimental skin cancers. And, that sandalwood alone was successful in preventing skin cancer tumor development in lab animals. An Anti-Cancer Research study done in 2008 revealed that sandalwood could prevent skin cancer from too much UV and/or toxic chemical exposure.
As I looked a little further into using sandalwood essential oil for skin healing, I learned some other healing properties of it as well:
- Helps clear acne
- Soothes itchy skin
- Rehydrates dry skin
- Tightens the skin
- Antimicrobial – helps fight fungal infection
The Best Way To Get The Skin Benefits of Sandalwood Essential Oil
If you’re intrigued by this research and want to see what sandalwood essential oil can do for your skin, it’s important that you use them safely. Pure sandalwood essential oil is too strong and concentrated to use directly on your skin. It must be diluted with a carrier oil like grapeseed, jojoba, avocado or sweet almond, or another of your choice. The ratio should be 1 drop essential oil to 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) carrier oil.
However, several brands of already diluted sandalwood oil are also available. You can find these online or in many health food stores. As essential oils are absorbed through your skin and cleared from your blood through your liver and kidneys, be sure you know if the sandalwood product is pure, or already diluted, to avoid absorbing too much.
In addition, some people may have a sensitivity, or even allergy, to sandalwood, so do a small test patch first to be sure you don’t react to it. If you have liver or kidney disease, it would be best if you used sandalwood, or any essential oil, under the supervision of a naturopath. Also, please check with your pharmacist about possible interaction with any prescribed medications you may be taking.
To get the anti-aging, rejuvenating skin benefits of sandalwood, I’ve included a basic sandalwood mask that you can use to brighten and tighten your skin. You can mix this yourself with sandalwood powder and rose water or use a commercially prepared sandalwood mask, like Ayur Herbals Sandal Mask, or Cauvery’s My Face Sandal Herbal Powder.
Anti-Aging Skin Tightening, Toning, Sandalwood Mask: Mix sandalwood powder and rose water (or whole milk if your skin is very dry) in equal parts. For greater tightening benefits, you can also break an egg into the mixture and add 2 tablespoons of honey. If you’d rather use a commercially prepared mask, simply follow the directions on the product.
Apply generously, completely over your face. Let the mask dry completely for several minutes. To remove the mask, take a washcloth soaked in cold water and hold it to your face to dampen the mask. Then, remove it by gently moving the cloth in counterclockwise circular motions on your face with cold water. Then completely rinse with cold water. Your skin will be noticeably tauter. The sandalwood/egg/honey mixture also helps remove impurities from your pores and shrinks them giving a finer, smoother, glowing appearance. Then, apply a light moisturizer.
Other Skin Treatments Using Sandalwood: There are several other skin beautifying masks that you can make from sandalwood powder. These include:
1. Acne. Just because you’re older doesn’t mean you won’t get an occasional acne outbreak. A paste made of equal parts sandalwood powder and turmeric powder can help heal pimples quickly and draw out blackheads.
2. Dark Age Spots/Suntan: Before resorting to an expensive “age spot” treatment, try equal parts sandalwood powder, lemon juice, tomato or potato juice with 2 tablespoons honey to lighten dark age spots or even help fade an old suntan for fall.
Nature has given us many substances and nutrients that can help us fight infection, fight diseases, fight aging and keep us younger longer. Ancient physicians of India, Egypt and Greece have used these substances for thousands of years – many of them are still in use today by alternative practitioners. Sandalwood essential oil is just 1 of many. You may want to look further into how other essential oils can benefit your health as well.
Jay Brachfeld, M.D.
Olfactory receptors in the skin: Sandalwood scent facilitates wound healing, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140708092555.htm
When Your Skin Smells Sandalwood Oil It Heals Itself, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/body/skin-can-smell/
Essential Oils and Skin Cancer, http://roberttisserand.com/2011/07/ron-guba-on-essential-oils-and-skin-cancer/
How To Use Essential Oils Safely, http://altmedicine.about.com/od/aromatherapy/a/safety.htm