Helichrysum in Skin Care

by Magdalena Tomczak

If I had to choose only one essential oil to work with for skin care purposes, hands down Helichrysum italicum would be the one.

In a way it’s interesting to hear myself say this because it took me many years as a formulator to feel ready to incorporate this essential oil into my products.

I’ve always admired Helichrysum for its healing powers but for a very long time I felt like I was not ready for it or like it wasn’t our time yet. But a couple of years ago, during my last trip to Greece I visited a wonderful herbalist who lives on the island of Crete. Finally I got to meet the Helichrysum plant in person and it was right then that I knew our time to work together had finally arrived.

I proudly flew with a large supply of Helichrysum plants back to my home in Canada and upon arrival I immediately started an oil infusion. Then I took out a bottle of my Corsican Helichrysum italicum from my essential oil cabinet, and for over a year I played with formulating and testing until I had a lovely night serum ready to share with my clients. It is now one of my very favourite formulas which I have ever created.

So let’s take a closer look at Helichrysum italicum and its healing powers for the skin.

This highly fragrant plant grows up to 20 inches high and it has beautiful golden yellow flowers which keep their colour even when dry. Helichrysum italicum’s common name is Everlasting, Immortelle or Curry Plant (the last one kind of takes the romance out of it for me so I never use it).

It is part of the botanical family of Asteraceae (Compositae) – daisy family. The Helichrysum plant grows happily in very hot and sunny climates and it likes dry, rocky and sandy soil. You can say that in the plant world Helichrysum is one of the tough cookies because it will often grow where no other plant can. And I love it for that too.

The aerial parts of the plant are the source of essential oil, which has a strong spicy, warm and herbaceous aromatic profile. According to Ayurveda it is balancing to all three doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha:)

There are numerous countries in the world which produce Helichrysum italicum essential oil like: Croatia, Italy, Slovenia, France. The Corsican Helichrysum italicum is highly regarded by many in the field of aromatherapy and that’s the one which I like working with the most.

The main biochemical components of Helichrysum italicum essential oil are esters (neryl acetate 40%-50% and sesquiterpene hydrocarbons 30%) which make it highly anti-inflammatory and cell regenerating. Also, interesting biochemicals found in this oil are diketones (italidiones) which are present in a range up to 10% and are very regenerative in their action and speed up tissue repair.

*It is very important to note that not all Helichrysum essential oils are created equal. We can see big differences in its biochemical composition depending on the plant species, and of course each will present us with different therapeutic properties.

If you’d like to learn more about different species of Helichrysum read this post written by Jade Shutes.

Helichrysum italicum Essential Oil in Skin Care Application

Helichrysum italicum is highly regarded as a potent and effective skin healer and you will find it in many skin care formulas. It is probably most famous for its action on hematomas.

I have personally experienced how fast undiluted Helichrysum italicum essential oil stops bleeding and how effectively it sanitizes fresh wounds and speeds up their closure. And there is absolutely no better oil to heal existing bruises as well.

Helichrysum italicum is said to be the strongest presently known natural anti-hematoma agent. And if you’ve ever used it in a situation of trauma to the tissues, you know exactly why.

It is important to know that Helichrysum italicum essential oil must be applied on the traumatized area without any delay. Applied immediately it will prevent the hematoma formation and it will activate the resorption of black and blue spots. It’s truly like no other and the bonus is that it also provides some pain relief.

I find that a blend of Helichrysum italicum and Tamanu oil works wonders on fresh hematomas.

This simple formula applied 2-3 times a day will bring fast results.

3ml Helichrysum italicum essential oil
2ml Calophyllum inophyllum oil

Helichrysum italicum also proves very effective in the treatment of rosacea and other inflammatory skin conditions.

Redness, skin flushing, acne, dermatitis, allergic skin breakouts and general skin inflammation are soothed and calmed by the inflammation modulating and harmonizing properties of this oil. It’s very effective at gently supporting the skin’s return to its natural healthy state.

Scars can also be helped or prevented from forming through the application of a local massage with an oil blend which includes Helichrysum italicum essential oil. If scar tissue is allowed to form extensively it will cause distortion of the tissues and create adhesions. What follows is impaired circulation to and away from the area and undernourishment and toxicity of tissues. It is important to note that tissues are malleable and if carefully tended to, can be helped to regenerate and be healthy again.

Helichrysum italicum’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and cell regenerating properties lend themselves very well to applications in skin rejuvenation and prevention of premature aging. This essential oil is well appreciated for its ability to stimulate new healthy cell production.

It also has a very positive effect on collagenase and elastase, two of the dermis enzymes involved in the development of wrinkles and skin sagging. Helichrysum italicum essential oil inhibits both these enzymes making it a perfect ingredient in formulas aiming to slow down the aging process.

This beautiful oil is said to also heal emotional wounds, open the heart and bring the feeling of peace. It lifts depression, lethargy, nervous exhaustion and stress.

Helichrysum italicum is certainly a very complex and powerful essential oil which is beyond valuable for skin health and much more. Personally I’m looking forward to getting to know it deeply as I move along on my skin care formulating journey. I know that there is way more to discover.