Lilac Essential Oil: Why It's Really a Fragrance Oil and How it Can Benefit Your Life

June 28, 2018

The essential oil market is growing exponentially and there are more types of oils available than ever. There are classic favorites such as tea tree oil and lavender oil as well as more obscure options such as wild orange oil and vetiver oil. The demand for new oils is due to the purported health benefits and the desire to move to all-natural cures.

There is significant demand for floral essential oils that feature sweet, aromatic scents. Unfortunately, the demand for these products combined with the desire of industry manufacturers to deliver what consumers want can often lead to confusion in the market.

That brings us to lilac oil. Is it truly an essential oil or is it something else? We've put together an easy to follow guide to help you understand what lilac oil is, what it can be used for and why it's not exactly an essential oil.

Does Lilac Essential Oil Exist?

A quick search on the Internet for lilac essential oil can leave you feeling confused as to whether lilac essential oil really exists. Industry leaders don't sell lilac essential oil as a single oil, yet you can find it in online marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon. So what's the story?  

There is no such thing as true lilac essential oil. Fortunately, there are lilac fragrance oils that are beneficial and commonly used in aromatherapy. The main reason there is no pure lilac essential oil lies in the chemical composition of lilac flowers and the processes used to extract oils. Lilac flowers are derived from the leaves of the lilac plant, known scientifically as Syringa vulgaris.

Lilac flowers do not produce enough oils to undergo the process of steam distillation or cold pressing that produces traditional essential oils. A huge number of petals would be required to produce essential lilac oil. This process is simply not viable due to cost and the composition of the lilac flowers.

The lilac plant is native to the Middle East and Eastern Europe, particularly the Balkan region. Today, these plants are cultivated widely in other regions including India and North America, specifically in the United States. These plants are hardy and grow out of rocky crevices. They are known for their intense fragrance and vibrant purple blossoms.

Part of the olive family known as Oleaceae, there are several varietals of lilac flowers. The different types of lilac plant produce fragrances ranging from sweet and heady to spicy and pungent. Korean lilacs tend to have white lilac blossoms with scent molecules that feature a more pungent aroma than other varietals. The cloying fragrance is produced by the chemical compound lilac aldehyde. This chemical intensifies during late blooms and when grown in particularly sunny regions. The lilac scent pairs well with other floral oils such as jasmine, rose, freesia and violet.

Enfleurage

Since it is not scientifically possible to extract essential oil from lilacs, manufacturers make fragrance oil instead. The lilac essential oils you find online are not natural products and often contain synthetics that can cause adverse reactions. For health benefits from lilacs, opt instead for lilac fragrance oils.

Lilac fragrance oils are typically created using what's called enfleurage. This process preserves scent profiles and is especially well-suited for delicate flowers. Developed by the French, this process is a centuries-old technique that uses lard to preserve the fragrance of flowers. Typically, a manufacturer — known in French as the atelier — will use organically grown and sustainably harvested palm oil for this process.

The atelier begins by spreading palm oil on a large glass surface. The lilac blossoms are hand-harvested and then placed in the palm oil for infusion. Each day, the old blossoms are discarded and new blossoms are added to the palm oil. The blossom infusion process typically takes about one month. The atelier adds organic spirits, which encourage evaporation. At the completion of the process, all of the palm oil evaporates leaving behind only the lilac fragrance oil.

While technically not a pure essential oil, lilac fragrance oil still offers a wide range of uses in aromatherapy to improve health. Astringent properties of this oil can help to tighten and firm skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Its use in skincare also helps to speed up healing of wounds and burns. It can also be used to treat common skin conditions such as acne. Read on to find out how lilac fragrance oil can fit into your life and help you live healthier and happier.

Uses and Health Benefits of Lilacs and Lilac Fragrance Oil

1. Treats Intestinal Worms

Lilacs were used in America during colonial times as a treatment for intestinal worms and to reduce fever. While early settlers ate lilac flowers for these benefits, you should never take lilac fragrance oil orally due to its highly concentrated nature. Instead, to reap these health benefits, make your own lilac water. Simply combine a few fresh lilac flowers with warm or simmering water, strain, let cool and drink with ice. For reducing fever, apply 2 drops of lilac fragrance oil to a warm, wet washcloth and place directly on the forehead.

2. Evens Out Skin

Lilacs contain natural astringent properties that help to fight acne breakouts and improve the appearance of skin. To clear up acne breakouts and unveil firmer, smoother skin, make a skin tonic using lilac fragrance oil. Simply combine 2 drops of lilac fragrance oil with 8 ounces of water and spritz on your face once per day in the morning or evening.

3. Eases Anxiety and Reduces Stress

Lilac is one of the most most popular oils in aromatherapy. Lilac fragrance oil contains lilac linalool, an alcohol that is known for its potent powers of reducing stress and increasing feelings of happiness. A few inhalations of lilac can help to induce calm and feelings of peace. The linalool also signals the nervous system to produce lower levels of cortisol — the stress hormone that can make you feel depressed and worn out.

Lilac fragrance oil can also help to remove bacteria in the air thanks to antibacterial chemical compounds. The pleasant aroma permeates the air, resulting in a fresh scent that can eliminate stinky odors from garbage and other offenders. Inhaling lilac fragrance oil before bed can help alleviate symptoms of insomnia. The sweet scent reduces stress and repetitive thoughts that can keep you up at night. Simply add 1 or 2 drops of this fragrance oil to your diffuser in combination with rose or lavender oil and breathe deeply.

4. Makes a Great Perfume

Lilac fragrance oil also excels as perfume oil that can add a delicate, floral finish to any outfit. Lilacs are known for their lovely scent and can easily be grown right in your own garden to make homemade perfume. You can harvest lilacs straight from your garden or opt for a bunch grown organically at your local farmer's market or grocery store.

To make your own lilac perfume at home, you'll need a few ingredients. Start with fresh lilacs, distilled water, glycerin, a pot, bowl, string and cheesecloth. Start by lining a large bowl with cheesecloth, making sure to drape the edges over the sides of the bowl. Harvest a large bunch of fresh lilac blossoms and combine with 2 cups distilled water in the bowl. The lilacs should be totally submerged under the distilled water.

Next, cover the bowl using a lid or a large plate and infuse overnight. Gather the edges of the cheesecloth and create a small satchel by tying the ends together with string. Pour the lilac water into a pan and simmer before adding the lilac blossom sachet. Simmer on low for 1 hour, remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Next, pour the perfumed liquid into a bottle and add 4 drops of glycerin to preserve the perfume.

5. Makes a Protective Massage Oil

Lilac fragrance oil can be used in combination with massage oil to eliminate and prevent fungal infections. For these health benefits, combine a few drops of lilac oil with carrier oil such as coconut oil and massage into feet. The sweet fragrance of lilac oil means you can leave this oil on to hydrate skin after a massage. It has an added bonus of smelling great all day long.

Alternatively, you can use lilac fragrance oil in the bath to further induce relaxation and relax sore muscles. Lilac oil is commonly found in soaps and bath salts along with lavender to induce relaxation. Simply add 4 to 5 drops of lilac fragrance oil to a running bath and soak away your problems. You'll get the bonus skin healing benefits of the lilac fragrance oil while you unwind and alleviate achy muscles.

6. Makes an All-Natural Cleaning Product

The sweet, floral scent of lilac is the perfect choice when it comes to natural household cleaning products. Similar to lavender, lilacs provide a delightfully fresh aroma that can leave your house smelling clean and bright. To make your own all-natural cleaner, combine 20 to 30 drops of essential and fragrance oils in a large spray bottle. For the best results, use lemon, orange, eucalyptus or tea tree oil in combination with lilac oil. Add equal parts warm water and vinegar. Shake well before using.

Side Effects and Warnings for Lilac Fragrance Oil

Lilac fragrance oil does have a few side effects that can largely be avoided through proper use. The most commonly noted side effects include skin irritation and overwhelming aroma. There are also a few things to note about proper use of this oil.

Pungent Aroma

The floral scent of lilac fragrance oil can be overwhelming or border on nauseating for some people. The strong, floral scent can also make sensitive individuals feel dizzy and light-headed. Start off using only small amounts to avoid these side effects. You can also blend lilac oil with other essential oils to balance out the floral scent. Some oils that counteract the floral aroma include tea tree oil, vetiver and cinnamon. If you have allergies to fresh lilac flowers, definitely avoid lilac fragrance oil.

Never Consume Orally

Since lilac fragrance oil is not a true essential oil, it should never be eaten or consumed orally. Internal consumption of lilac fragrance oil can lead to a host of health problems including digestive disorders and heart conditions. Take extra care to keep the oil away from sensitive areas such as your eyes, nose and mouth when applying topically.

Skin Irritation

As with other products derived from plants, lilac fragrance oil can cause skin irritation when applied topically. Steer clear of lilac oil to avoid causing irritation, blisters, rashes and skin infections if you have hypersensitive skin. Seek medical attention immediately if you develop serious side effects. Always dilute lilac oil with carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil, olive oil or jojoba oil for topical application. Another way to avoid skin irritation is to dilute the fragrance oil with water. Simply mix 1 or 2 drops of lilac oil with water or your normal face cleanser before applying to skin.

Use Lilac Fragrance Oil for an Aromatic Experience

Just because lilac is a fragrance oil doesn't mean it doesn't offer health benefits and exceptional uses. The refreshing floral scent is a great way to relax and unwind with a soul-soothing aromatherapy session. Lilac fragrance oil can be used topically on skin with carrier oil to reduce the appearance of age lines and as a massage oil to fight of infections and induce relaxation.

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