Aromatherapy

ESSENTIAL OILS BASICS

Learn the what, why, and how.

 
Image by Alice Pasqual

WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL OILS?

If you have ever enjoyed the scent of a rose, you’ve experienced the aromatic qualities of essential oils. These naturally occurring, volatile aromatic compounds are found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. In addition to their intrinsic benefits to plants and being beautifully fragrant to people, essential oils have long been used for food preparation, beauty treatment, and healthcare practices.

 
Lavender Fields

HOW DO I USE ESSENTIAL OILS?

Essential oils are used for a very wide range of emotional and physical wellness applications. They can be used a single oil at a time or in complex blends in one of three methods:

Aromatic

Certain essential oils, when diffused, can be very stimulating, while others can be calming and soothing. Diffusing essential oils can also cleanse and purify the air of unwanted odors.


Topical

Essential oils are easily absorbed by the skin and can be safely applied topically.


Internal

Certain essential oils have a rich culinary history and can be used as dietary supplements for targeted wellness.


Essential oils are both exciting and promising when it comes to taking care of your own and your family’s health.


Whether you’re applying essential oils topically, enjoying the aromatic benefits through diffusing, or taking essential oils internally, the positive effects of essential oils are boundless.


That’s why you’ll want to ensure that the essential oils you are using are capable of delivering on their promise. You’ll want to make sure that you are choosing essential oils for their potency and their purity.

 
Image by Josefin

ARE ESSENTIAL OILS SAFE?

Safety Guidelines

When it comes to using essential oils, there are a few safety guidelines you’ll want to abide by. Here are some of the best practices for safe essential oil usage: 

  • Always read the labels. Pay attention to any specific warnings on your essential oil packaging and adhere to any recommendations provided by the manufacturer.  

  • Avoid certain areas. Avoid putting oils into your nose, inner ears, eyes, broken skin, or other sensitive areas. 

  • Dilute oils. To minimize skin sensitivity, dilute essential oils using a carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil. The suggested dilution ratio is one drop of essential oil to five drops of carrier oil. Always dilute an oil when using it for the first time, applying it to sensitive skin, or when using essential oils with children. When using oils with a particularly strong chemistry, you will want to dilute one drop of essential oil to ten drops of carrier oil. 

  • Know your strong oils. Some essential oils should always be diluted with fractionated coconut oil before putting them on your skin. Some of these oils include CassiaCinnamon BarkCloveOregano, and Thyme. Keep in mind, this is not an exhaustive list, so always pay attention to labels with warnings about strong oils. 

  • Be careful of sun sensitivity. Some essential oils can pose a risk for sun sensitivity, particularly citrus oils. Some of these oils include BergamotGreen MandarinGrapefruitLemonLimeTangerineWild Orange, and any essential oil blends that contain these oils. Again, this is not an exhaustive list. Before applying an essential oil topically, check the label for any sun sensitivity warnings. Avoid direct sunlight or UV rays for at least 12 hours following the use of these oils on the skin (this includes tanning beds).

  • Practice safe storage. Make sure to store essential oils out of reach of children. This measure will help prevent accidental ingestion. You’ll also want to keep your oils away from excessive light or heat, as this can alter the chemical properties of an essential oil significantly. 

  • Supervise young children. Always supervise essential oil application with your children. Because children have more delicate skin, it’s a good idea to dilute oils before applying them topically. Try applying the oil to the bottom of a child’s feet before you try other areas. In addition to safe storage practices, you can also use Child Resistant Caps to ensure that your children don’t accidentally ingest oils on their own.

  • Talk to a healthcare professional. If you have specific health concerns, consult with your doctor before using essential oils.