The use of speciality oils in the formulation of beauty and personal care products has spanned millennia, vast continents and a great many different product formulations and applications.  

Its proud history is in direct contrast to trends popular in the Middle Ages, even as recent as the 19th century where our quest for a beautiful visage certainly has a checkered past, when we used damaging ingredients, such as lead with its long and alarming history. Faced with its damaging effect on the human body, we nonetheless kept course with alternative, but just as harmful products, including arsenic, mercury – even deadly nightshade!1 

Thankfully, today’s generation of conscious consumers are focused on products with a natural ingredient positioning. Our range of over 500 specialty oils is the ideal fit for these informed consumers and we can offer guidance and information on a product’s provenance and traceability, ethical sourcing, certifications, and efficacy. 

While the market for personal care and beauty oils can trace its roots to major ancient civilizations, it is still a vital component of modern-day formulations especially as a replacement for chemical-based face creams, serums, facial oils, elixirs, balms, and haircare products. 

It is only by understanding the wide range of formulation benefits offered by these quality ingredients, and how they can assist a new generation of product developers, that we can truly celebrate the beauty of these ingredients.  

Keep reading as we take a quick look at how these incredible oils helped form the constantly evolving and vibrant industry we know today.   


Going back in time   

Egyptians are credited with the exploration and development of a wide range of beauty, personal care and therapeutic oils including castor, sesame, moringa and coconut.2 They are also cited with the development of the first extraction methods including steam distillation and the painstaking enfleurage method. 

This entailed flowers being sprinkled onto odourless fatty materials such as lard or vegetable fat that would gradually absorb their fragrance. Using solvents such as alcohol, the fragrant oil was then extracted including the wonderful and rare Frankincense, Sandalwood, Cinnamon, and Cypress oils.  

India too has a proud skincare history with essential oils, also known as attars, with Rose, Jasmine and Sweet Orange highlighted in Ayurvedic texts. Archeological digs have turned up records that show essential oils were used in 3000BC with extraction methods including pressing, pulverization, and distillation. The most loved oils in Ancient India included Rose, Jasmine, Sweet Orange, and Sandalwood.4  

Turning to Greece in 500 BC, under the leadership of Alexander the Great, this civilisation was exposed to early Egyptian and Indian teachings and undertook travels to India to discover the ancient art of beauty and essential oils. These cultures combined their knowledge on the importance and benefits of therapeutic and essential oils with a decree by Greek doctor and philosopher Hippocrates stating: “A perfumed bath and a scented massage every day is the way to good health.” In his writings, he went on to detail the powers of over 300 different plants and plant ointments including favourites of sage, marjoram, cumin, and peppermint.5  


Fast forward to the modern day … 

Fighting the visible signs of ageing with organic, vegan, and clean-label beauty oils is ongoing and has gone full circle – from the time-honoured traditions of using these oils to formulation requirements of modern-day conscious consumers.  

But whereas you had to be very wealthy with a lot of time on your hands to go through time-consuming skincare routines, the playing field has levelled, and these fantastic products are now available to most of us in affordable and easy to use skincare products.   

At Kerfoot, our range of speciality oils are available in a range of grades and pack sizes for any size of beauty or personal care business – from large corporates to smaller indies.  

And with our guarantees and accreditations, including Soil Association, COSMOS and SEDEX, we can assist brand owners in the development of products that offer a favourable positioning with this new breed of conscious consumer – fostering brand loyalty in the process.  

So why not contact us and find out what makes these specialist oils so special that they have endured in our beauty and personal care routines for thousands of years! 



1 The Most Dangerous Beauty Through the Ages ( 

2 Modern Beauty from the Ancient Egyptian Empire – Lira Clinical | Skincare Products : Lira Clinical | Skincare Products 

3 DIY enfleurage: Make your own essential oils | This Place. 

4,5 The Fascinating History of Skin Care | Elase Medical Spa