Heliotrope San Francisco

All-Natural Essential Oils vs Synthetic Perfume Oils

By Luna, our summer intern!

Essential oils are organic compounds extracted from plants that have healing properties. This is very often called aromatherapy, which is a holistic treatment seeking to improve physical, mental, and emotional health. Fragrance oils and essential oils are very different and really not comparable.

Fragrance (or "perfume") oils are synthetic, they are manmade and they try to duplicate the aroma that essential oils do. Essential oils have tons of benefits that perfume oils don't. One of the negatives of synthetic fragrance oils is the scent they duplicate does not have the therapeutic properties that essential oils do. For example one drop of lavender perfume oil does that have the natural benefits as a drop of lavender essential oil does.

One important difference is that many people are allergic to perfume oils; this is one of the reasons why Heliotrope products have no perfumes added (you can always add many of the essential oils on offer). Also, perfume oils dry out skin - and shouldn't be in your moisturizers!

A great NEW way to enjoy essential oils is Heliotrope's Roll-on Aromatherapy Oils. We use pure, undiluted oils and use jojoba oil as a great "carrier oil." Using our convenient roll-on glass vial makes it easy to apply & store in pocket or pocketbook.roll-on

Jojoba oil is extracted from simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seeds. This oil is beneficial to many things, including controlling oily skin. Because jojoba oil is the closest thing to human sebum (sebum is the oil that your skin creates on its own), it's very important to skin health. Jojoba oil also has anti-inflammatory benefits, and has vitamins A and E.

One mysterious quality of jojoba is that is never goes bad. Most every natural (vegetable-based) oil will eventually turn rancid. But not jojoba! Therefore, this oil doesn't have any preservatives - an added bonus!

Thanks, Luna!

Written by Heliotrope San Francisco — July 18, 2016

Introducing Luna, our Summer Intern

In Luna's own words -

My first day at Heliotrope was a really good day for me. My supervisor Jonathan has been great with me. Yesterday since I'm not really familiar with things around the store yet, it was mostly an introduction for me about what I'm going to be doing while I'm working here and what things were open for me to do.

Jonathan yesterday let me go through Heliotrope's social media such as Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook. While I was going through those, I was getting a taste of the image he wants to set for his line of natural skincare. Just on my first day, I've seen how Jonathan really cares about his products and how they are presented and how his expectations for himself are high. He wants to make sure his customers get what they want and that they are pleased with the product.

Heliotrope is an amazing line of skincare products that are natural and locally made. They are also fragrance free, which is a huge plus because other brands that contain perfume usually tend to irritate your skin. Heliotrope's goal is for your skin to look and feel great. Two of Jonathan's favorite are serums: one is called "Cucumber & Botanical Healing Serum," which combines soothing aloe and hydrating cucumber to tackle dry , tight, irritated skin; his other favorite is the "Frankincense & Rose Geranium Oil Serum," which helps balance and tone oily skin, soothe blemishes and help relieve dryness and irritation.

All ingredients are natural, and will not make your skin dry or very oily - it will balance it for your skin to feel and look great.


- Luna is a student in the San Francisco Unified School District, and her summer internship is sponsored by SFMade and JVS.

Written by Heliotrope San Francisco — July 18, 2016

Sage It Ain't So!

Clary Sage, also known as just clary or salvia scalier, is a medicinal herb and essential oil. You can find this in some areas of northern Africa, central Asia, and even the northern Mediterranean. 

This essential oil is has a strong scent, it’s also used in aromatherapy to help with anxiety, fear, and insomnia. It can also help relieve cramping and stomach aches. It's extremely soothing and relaxing. It's also perfect for skin care as it is an anti-inflammatory.



You can find clary sage in these products:




Written by Gaby Mendoza — March 05, 2016

That's Vetiver For You

Vetiver, AKA Chrysopogon zizanioides, is one of the most soothing scents out there. With its smooth, musky, and earthy smell, vetiver is an oil that calms skin and is also anti-inflammatory. A word a lot of people use to describe vetiver is sedative, due to its calming attributes. When people think about smelling earthy tones in general, most immediately feel at ease and relaxed, it’s a psychological effect vetiver has inherently created.



Vetiver is a grass unlike most grasses- it's roots grow downward. Vetiver comes from India, but can be produced from all over the world. It was first made to prevent erosion and stabilize soil, and now is also being used for skin and hair, and health benefits.



Check out vetiver in these products:




Written by Gaby Mendoza — July 20, 2015


Neroli is an oil that comes from the distillation of a flower from a bitter-orange tree (called a Neroli in Italy). So it's a floral, but it's related to a citrus. Its fragrance relieves stress and relaxes. The smell has also been known for its sensual effects; it's considered an aphrodisiac (by those that believe in such things). Neroli is used to help heal skin, it heals broken capillaries, regenerates skin, and helps promote elasticity. 

Also known as Citrus aurantium subsp. amara or Bigaradia, Neroli is also one of the safest extracts there is, it's nontoxic, non-irritating, and nonsensetizing, which is why it's great in products for skin. We're able to put neroli oil in nearly all of our products so you can have the added benefits even if neroli is not an ingredient!

Its natural anti-inflammatory and anti-redness properties make it a natural for skin care products meant for the face. 

You can find neroli in these products:




Written by Gaby Mendoza — August 04, 2015

Purple Mangosteen

Purple Mangosteen is one of the cutest fruits we've ever seen! It's a small white fruit inside of a red/purple shell that grows on trees. It's primarily grown in Southeast Asia, in countries such as China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, etc. They're not usually sold in other countries, so consider yourself lucky and stock up if you spot purple mangosteen in the fruit section at your grocery store.

Purple Mangosteen is full of antioxidants and contains a ton of vitamin C, and it does wonders for skin. Only the white part of the fruit is consumed and is primarily used in skin/hair products. It has anti-inflammatory properties, and is used to treat acne and soothes scars, burns, etc. It can be used as a topical medication as well, since it can treat skin infections and wounds. 

You can find purple mangosteen in this product:


Written by Gaby Mendoza — August 05, 2015

Gotu Kola sounds delicious

If there were a soda called "Gotu Kola," I would definitely drink it.  However, Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) is actually found in the wetlands of Asia; it’s very herby, leafy, and green - and sometimes has small white and lavender colored flowers in its center. Gotu kola is used for its anti-aging properties - it increases collagen production while decreasing inflammation. It gives a rejuvenating feeling; in some cultures, gotu kola is used to balance chakra and used for meditative purposes.

A lot of the times, gotu kola is said to be given the sensation of a coolant; it helps heal burns and bruises. It has also been helpful in reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in the face, stretch marks, scars, and psoriasis. 

In many other countries gotu kola is actually used for eating; it can be eaten raw, cooked, chopped you name it! It turns out, there are actually drinks with gotu kola in it. I guess I can drink it after all!


You can find gotu kola in these products:



Written by Gaby Mendoza — July 06, 2015

Babassu is the New Coconut

I know, Babassu sounds like somewhere you’d want to take your next vacation. In reality, it yields an essential oil that - just like an exotic trip - is calming, relaxing, and leaves you feeling refreshed.


Attalea speciosa oil comes from Babassu palm trees in Brazil and is used to calm redness, treat dryness and itchiness, and is a useful moisturizer. Babassu is becoming more and more popular due to its many health and skin benefits, slowly but surely making its way as being the new coconut oil. The properties in babassu oil are one of the main reasons the oil is rising up in the beauty biz; it’s composed of a ton of fatty acids, made up of 70% lipids. In case you haven’t guessed, that’s a good thing when it comes to applying the oil on your skin; it’s a solid that melts on contact. It’s not greasy either, when you use it on your hair it leaves a nice sheen that doesn’t look or feel wet like other oils normally do.


You can find babassu in these products:




Written by Gaby Mendoza — July 06, 2015

"What's our botanical ingredient with the oddest name?" That'd have to be Bladderwrack, of course!

I’m one for interesting names, and no oil has amused me as much as Fucus vesiculosus, AKA Bladderwrack. Bladderwrack sounds so silly, and yet the way it’s used could not be any better. It’s a really nice refresher and it leaves you feeling energetic and ready for your day. Bladderwrack is a common algae from the northern waters near the islands of the Pacific Northwest; and because it’s made from sea algae, it’s extremely soothing. It’s used to treat skin diseases, burns, and in general, dry skin. It’s an antioxidant agent so it definitely keeps you looking young.

Bladderwrack was the original source of iodine, and iodine is essential for a healthy body. "Bladderwrack" is not a common name, even if the name is pretty amazing. It's also known as rock weed, sea oak, red fucus, and rock wrack. The names come from the way Bladderwrack looks; a wrack is coarse brownish seaweed, and in Bladderwrack’s case it comes in a reddish tint. Bladderwrack floats due to its air bladders, which give the algae some oomph and buoyancy.

You can find bladderwrack in these products:



Written by Gaby Mendoza — July 06, 2015

How are our Olive Oil Soaps made?

We use the cold process soap-making process. This means organic oils are saponified* at a (comparatively) low temperature. It also means that our soap bars can be stored unwrapped and exposed to air. 

Here's what happens:

1. extra virgin organic olive oil is blended with organic palm & coconut oils

2. a strong base (lye) is added to the oil mixture, which - through the magic of chemistry - creates three soap molecules plus one glycerin molecule

3. as this mixture is stirred and warmed to just above room temperature, soap begins to form

4. essential oils and other pure botanicals & natural additives are added for scent, texture, and efficacy

5. the new soap is poured into wooden molds and covered

6. after a few days, when the soap is still warm & not quite hard, the bars are cut and our logo is stamped into each bar

7. the soap then cures for four to six weeks


We absolutely adore our Organic Olive Oil soaps. Please check them out here. Also, note that we've discontinued the Orange Cinnamon soap in order to being in a fabulous new fragrance later this year. It'll be phenomenal, trust me.


* "saponification" - those of you who studied high school French will recognize le mot français <savon> which derives from the Latin <saponem> for "soap" SO... "saponify" = "to make into soap"

Written by Heliotrope San Francisco — October 28, 2014

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