Gardenias are among the most fragrant flowers in the world. It’s one of the reasons why they make such a popular scent in perfumery. A good quality extract can also be used in Aromatherapy. Many people search for Gardenia scented oils, but is that search correct? Is there such a thing as Gardenia essential oil?
Find out the answer from this new article, along with other details like:
- The difference between a Gardenia essential oil and an absolute. The way this product is extracted makes a world of a difference in how we call it.
- The benefits and uses of pure Gardenia oil. They come from its chemical profile, which I will tell you more about. You’ll also get a few beauty recipes to try out. Also, find suggestions about another essential oil to substitute Gardenia oil with.
- Safety and buying tips.
- Interesting facts about gardenia flowers and other commercial oil types.
- Tahitian Gardenia essential oil benefits and uses.
- Tips and steps to make your own Gardenia macerate oil for health and beauty benefits.
Gardenia Essential Oil or Absolute? Benefits and Uses, Alternatives, Safety and Buying Tips
Botanical name: Gardenia jasminoides
Viscosity: thick oil.
Aroma: strong floral, warm and heady (similar to Jasmine).
Other names: the White Angel.
What is gardenia? Gardenia is a flowering shrub or small tree, with highly fragrant flowers. Its fruits are also used for health benefits and other purposes.
G. jasminoides is the most popular gardenia flower used for oil extraction. Other producers use G. gummifera too, which is a small tree native to India.
The botanical name of the gardenia plant genus was named after Dr. Alexander Garden. There are about 140 recognized species of gardenia. The species name is jasminoides because the smell is much like that of jasmine.
Other synonymous botanical names (different names for the same flowering plant) are:
- Gardenia grandiflora and Gardenia Florida.
Gardenia Essential Oil or Gardenia Absolute?
Gardenias are highly fragrant flowers. Humankind has always been interested in capturing strong, alluring scents. Slowly but surely, these lovely flowers became and remained highly sought after.
An essential oil is extracted with steam vapors. This method is known as steam distillation. It’s used on more than a hundred different plants and flowers. Still, there are some flowers that are extremely sensitive to this process. Gardenia flowers make it into this category. So does Jasmine.
Citrus essential oils are also extracted by cold pressing the rinds. Gardenia flowers can’t be used in a steam distiller. Why? Because many of its beneficial compounds get destroyed in the process.
This means that, unfortunately, there is no Gardenia essential oil. People extract its beautiful scent with newer methods that use solvents.
These are able to ensure a high-quality fragrant oil. The solvent extraction method produces absolutes and concretes, not essential oils.
How is Gardenia Oil Extracted?
Gardenia essential oil should be extracted via steam distillation. The flowers would go into the distiller first.
Later on, we would be able to get the aromatic oil and its hydrosol/floral water. That is not the case, though, because gardenias are too fragile to undergo this process.
Instead, gardenias undergo the solvent extraction method. First, the flowers are treated with hexane. Hexane is a solvent that extracts almost all the oils from a plant. The resulting fragrant and wax-like substance is called concrete.
The concrete is then submitted to other processes. Evaporation and condensation pull out the hexane from the concrete. The hexane is then reused for other extractions.
Ethanol (a type of alcohol) is another solvent used to remove the waxes in the concrete. This process is repeated until there’s only pure oil left. The resulting product is called an absolute.
However, this final extraction stage doesn’t guarantee there won’t be any waxy residues left.
As a result, the absolute is still thicker than a normal essential oil. Because of this, your absolute should be mixed with an essential oil. This would make it a lot easier to blend the Gardenia absolute oil with other ingredients or use in a diffuser.
Traditionally, people caught the gardenia perfume in animal fat. This method is still known as enfleurage. The flowers are soaked between layers of pure fat and left to macerate for days.
Volatile oils are attracted to fat and other oils (liposoluble). Thus, the flower oils slowly migrate into the fat (vegetable or animal) and saturate it.
Professionals can use an enfleurage product to turn it into an absolute by using alcohol. The enfleurage method is not that practical nowadays. It takes too long a time to make the product.
But back in the days, people would simply strain the infused fat and use it as it was. This method is absolutely great to make your own Gardenia oil at home.
Enfleurage is a sure way to get pure Gardenia-infused oil. It was also proved that its scent is extremely close to that of fresh flowers. As for close-to-reality scents, the solvent extraction is next.
Benefits and Uses of Gardenia Absolute
(Plus Beauty Recipes)
Gardenia is great for Aromatherapy. Its scent is alluring and warm, rich and beautiful, and can make one feel better in seconds. If you use a pure Gardenia absolute oil, it can also boost your health.
The benefits and uses of this scented essence are due to its unique chemical profile. Researchers tested and analyzed the extract, and now we know most of its compounds. A pure Gardenia extract contains:
- Geniposide and genipin – acids with strong anti-inflammatory properties.
- Benzyl acetate – the molecule responsible for the floral and fruity scent. It has a gentle antifungal and anti-inflammatory action. It can soothe the nervous system and skin rashes.
- Linalool – it’s anti-spasmodic, pain relieving, anti-anxiety, and sedative. It also has antibacterial and antifungal properties.
- Linalyl acetate – this molecule adds a mild herbaceous note, though it’s still sweet and floral. It has antispasmodic and soothing properties.
- Phenyl acetate – very fragrant and sweet, often used as food flavoring agent. It can inhibit cell growth and act on the nervous system.
Both gardenia and jasmine absolutes contain benzyl acetate and linalool. They are the main constituents in both extracts. This is why Jasmine is often a better replacement for Gardenia absolute. They smell very similar and their properties are also similar.
Pure Gardenia oil is hard to find. There are some sources saying that it hasn’t been produced since the ‘90s. Whether this is true or not, I haven’t found any proof yet. Jasmine, however, is not hard to find, and it has a more accessible price.
The absolute oil of Gardenia also contains traces of crocetin. This is a strong antioxidant found in saffron. The methanolic extract of Gardenia (gummifera) has proven mild antioxidant properties.
What do all these details about chemical compositions mean? I needed to tell you all that so you can understand the properties of your Gardenia absolute. This will further help us understand its beauty and health benefits.
What is Gardenia oil is used for, right? Its uses are mostly in the beauty department, but it can help with the nervous system too. Thus, you can use Gardenia absolute to:
- Relax. Gardenia oil has antispasmodic and soothing properties. Thus, the oil can relieve tension in the muscles. It can also slow down the heart rhythm.
- Relieve anxiety and stress symptoms. The oil contains linalool and linalyl acetate, which are major compounds of Lavender. Studies show that these compounds act directly on the nervous system. They have a mild sedating effect and can induce peace and sleep.
- Improve the mood and create a romantic atmosphere (aphrodisiac).
- Relieve pain locally.
- Kill bacteria and germs on the skin.
- Help speed up wound healing and prevent infections.
- Improve digestion.
- Strengthen the skin’s protective barrier.
- Improve the tonus of smooth muscles (veins, arteries, uterus, etc.)
- Increase the libido.
- Improve blood flow in the capillaries.
- Improve sleep quality.
- Decrease inflammation.
- Nourish the skin and improve premature aging signs.
That said, you can easily see how these properties of Gardenia can be useful in skin care. Like I said, you can still use the oil for other purposes.
Given its high price and rarity though, it’s best used as beauty agent and perfume ingredient. The good part is that no matter how you choose to use your Gardenia absolute, your mood can benefit too. Inhaling this lovely scent will reach your brain, blood, and lungs in a few seconds.
Gardenia Absolute in Skin Care:
- Acne and oily skin.
- Combination skin.
- Sensitive and/or dry skin.
- Natural glow.
- Scented lotions.
Gardenia Scented Body Lotion:
- Gardenia absolute: 5 drops
- Grapefruit essential oil: 15 drops
- Macadamia oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
Give this blend a good shake before each use. Apply all over the body, insisting on the thighs. This Gardenia oil blend is also anti-cellulite. You can do so every day, once or twice a day for at least 2 months.
Gardenia Absolute in Hair Care:
- Dry and/or oily scalp.
- Brittle hair.
- Split ends.
- Luster and shine.
Gardenia oil makes a lovely scent for your hair, regardless of its needs. Plus, on a long-term, it can also help restore its vitality.
Warm Oil Hair Mask:
- Gardenia absolute: 4 drops
- Macadamia(or Olive/Coconut) oil: 2 tablespoons
Mix these ingredients well and warm the mixture gently. Apply with your fingers all over the scalp and the length of the hair. Keep it on, covered with a shower cap ideally, for an hour or so.
Rinse well with warm water and shampoo. You might want to repeat the process until you feel the hair squeak.
Other uses of Gardenia Absolute Oil:
- Naturally scented candles.
- Room spray.
- (at home) SPA treatments.
I saved the most important use of Gardenia extract for last. I’m talking about perfumery. It’s a huge industry that uses this alluring fragrance in industrial quantities.
Use of Gardenia Absolute as Perfume:
The scent of gardenias is sweet and rich, warm and fruity, floral and feminine. This essence could be used as a perfume in itself, because its notes reveal slowly, over time. Or it can be added to a perfume mix to enhance and fixate its notes.
Now you know there’s no Gardenia essential oil. But Gardenia absolute can still blend well with others. You can blend Gardenia extract with the following essential oils or absolutes:
- Ylang Ylang
How to Use Gardenia Oil/Absolute
First of all, no essential oil or absolute should be applied topically undiluted. They can irritate or sensitize the skin, or cause other allergic skin reactions. It’s best to also test each new bottle on a small skin patch before any widespread use.
Generally speaking, you must dilute your Gardenia absolute with some carrier oil. This should be done for each topical application. Use up to 8 drops of absolute per Oz carrier, and more for body lotions.
When using Gardenia oil as a perfume, you can again mix it with some carrier and then apply it to pulse points. Or you can mix it with alcohol and spray it onto clothes and/or skin. You’ll find more about homemade essential oil perfumes here.
Gardenia absolute can also be thinned with other essential oils and used in room sprays. Use water and a neutral base to help the oils disperse. Salt, baking soda, gels are all good bases for mixing essential oils and absolutes.
You can also:
- Add a drop in a facial steam.
- Use it in aphrodisiac massages, but not only.
- Create your own SPA aromatic baths. Mix some Gardenia oil with salt or shower gel and add it to hot bathwater.
- Diffuse Gardenia extract, only after thinning it with another essential oil. You can use an ultrasonic aroma diffuser for your Gardenia oil. It’ll help scent your home or working space very fast.
- Direct (and quick) inhalations, from the bottle or the palms of your hands. You can also place a drop on a cotton pad and place it near you for constant air diffusion.
How and When Not to Use Gardenia Absolute (Safety Tips)
Like any remedy or natural beauty ingredient, one should consider some precautions:
- Don’t use in the first trimester of pregnancy or the first 3 months of breastfeeding. It is thought that this oil can increase the milk production. Seek medical guidance if you do want to use it for this purpose, though.
- Use topically only after the absolute is well diluted.
- Avoid using this essence on children or elderly people. You should always talk to a doctor in advance.
- Avoid using it near or around the eyes, nose, mouth or ears. It’s important not to touch sensitive mucous membranes. The essence can cause burning and/or irritation.
Gardenia Oil Buying Tips
This absolute is unique in composition. Nonetheless, Jasmine absolute shares almost half of the compounds found in Gardenia. This makes Jasmine a lot more safe to buy and use for that characteristic scent.
Being so expensive and rare, it’s only natural to want to know whether you can buy Gardenia oil from Amazon or not.
Today, there are synthetic fragrances used to replicate almost any scent possible. Gardenia makes no exception. Because of it, you should pay very close attention to details.
Pure Gardenia extracts take a long time to produce. It also requires the use of very large amounts of flowers. All these make the absolute very expensive and rare to find.
As a consequence, the product is usually very pricey. If you find a reliable source, this price will be worth the investment, though.
For perfume use, natural extracts that imitate the scent of Gardenia are fine. They’re not, however, good for beauty and therapeutic purposes.
So, unless you completely trust your supplier, make a good research before buying. Ask the seller for the GC/MS report of the absolute. That’s its quality assurance. There, you’ll find information on how it was extracted and what else it contains.
Gardenia Facts & Types and DIY Gardenia Macerate
I’ve found lots of interesting facts about this popular fragrance. I thought of compiling them here, in an easy-to-read list, so you too can have this knowledge.
- Belong to a plant genus with 140 accepted species. They’re all very fragrant and white, though there are exceptions too. Some gardenias can be colored too (yellow and red mostly).
- The gardenia plant genus belongs to the Rubiaceae family. This family contains thousands of flowering plant species (13.500). Some of them have an impressive economical importance too. One of the relatives of gardenias is Coffea, from which we get coffee beans.
- Are native to China. Gardenias grow in tropical and subtropical climates (Asia, Madagascar, Africa, etc.). In the U.S., we can find gardenias in the south and west.
- Gardenia shrubs or trees make edible fruits too. Yet, these fruits are also used in the dyeing industry.
Gardenia Fruit Health Benefits
Gardenia fruits are also called “chija” or “Zhi zi”. They’re considered superfoods, with an impressive nutritional value. They’re very common in the Korean kitchen, for example.
These fruits contain high amounts of crocetin. It’s also found in saffron and it gives these plants/fruits their yellow/golden color. Crocetin is known and studied for its antioxidant properties. It is also anti-inflammatory.
Crocetin can also protect the liver and the heart. It has neuroprotection potential and it can relieve stress, exertion and fatigue symptoms.
Gardenia fruits also contain geniposide and genipin. They’re good anti-inflammatory agents. Of course, the dried fruits will also contain volatile oils. They’re the same ones you extract for absolute production.
These fruits have a cooling effect and they’re widely used in the Chinese medicine for all sorts of ailments. The fruit can be used in cooking, consumed raw or with other foods.
Other Known Types of Gardenia Oils
One other very popular gardenia flower is Gardenia tahitensis. This flower is also known as Tahitian gardenia or Tiare flower, and it’s a symbol of Tahiti. It’s a white fragrant flower, with seven petals with a characteristic perfume.
Monoi de Tahiti (Tahitian Gardenia Oil) Benefits and Uses
The Tahitians know how to highlight this beautiful flower. It’s how the famous Monoi de Tahiti appeared.
As with the Gardenia absolute, there is no Tahitian Gardenia essential oil. In fact, it’s an infused carrier oil. People there use the enfleurage method for this beauty product.
They use about 10 Tiare flowers per liter of pure Coconut oil. This one is usually solid, not fractionated. But I don’t see the problem if it were fractionated either. It will still saturate with gardenia scent and molecules.
Monoi oil has been tested in vitro (lab) and in vivo (living organisms). The benefits of Tahitian Gardenia (Monoi) oil are as follows:
- Very good skin tolerance.
- Easy to apply.
- Has a very pleasant texture and fragrance.
- Absorbs very quickly and doesn’t feel greasy.
- Its moisturizing effects last a long time.
- Protects against lactic acid effects.
- Effectively seals in moisture.
- Makes the skin smoother, supple and firmer.
- Repairs and restructures hair.
- Strengthens and beautifies the hair fibers too.
The label of the purest form of Monoi oil should state the following ingredients:
- Cocos nucifera (Coconut oil).
- Gardenia tahitensis (Tahitian gardenia flower).
Sometimes, you’ll also find tocopherol (vitamin E) too, because it’s a good preservative.
As you can see, Tahitian Gardenia makes a very interesting beauty ingredient. You can improve the aspect of your skin and hair, in an easy and pleasant way.
I have tried Monoi de Tahiti and I fell in love with its scent. I’ve also tested it in a warm oil mask and the results were incredible.
Do you have some gardenias at hand? Did this article make you impatient enough? If you’re sure, then here’s how you can make some Gardenia-infused oils.
How to Make Gardenia Oil at Home
It’s not hard to make your own DIY Gardenia oil. You’ll be using the enfleurage method, and as you’ve already noticed, you don’t need many tools either.
Check out this video here to learn how to proceed and to find out more details:
Tools Needed for a Homemade Gardenia Oil:
- Fine mesh strainer
- Coffee filters
- Clean glass jar with a tight lid
- Dropper bottle
Plant Materials Needed for Your Homemade Gardenia Oil:
- Fresh gardenia blossoms/flowers (preferably, harvested in the morning).
- Carrier oil. You can use refined Coconut oil or any other odorless carrier.
You’ll need to submerge your blossoms into a bit of carrier and leave it to macerate for a few days. You’ll know when they’re done once the petals look wilted and change their color.
You can then repeat these steps until you’re satisfied with the scent and color. An intense golden color means you’ve got more of the crocetin into your base oil. That’s good for the antioxidant properties.
You can also use the enfleurage method to make Magnolia or Lilac oils at home. There are no Magnolia or Lilac essential oils, but they can be used for infusions. Peonies smell amazing and that scent can, once again, be trapped with enfleurage.
Their main benefits will be their unique fragrances, which you can use as a perfume.
What is there to say about Gardenia essential oil? We can start by saying that it isn’t an essential oil at all. Gardenia is an absolute that smells divine. It can also be replaced by Jasmine absolute.
Gardenia is full of benefits and its uses revolve around the beauty department. So does this other Gardenia oil called Monoi de Tahiti oil. Have you ever tried any of these oils?