This guide is intended to quickly teach you the most important things you need to know before using any essential oils. If you have never used them before, or if you simply want to refresh your memory on the basics, then this article is for you.
Aromatherapy is the process of using essential oils, which are very strong and powerful, to obtain certain benefits. The most important rule to remember is to always dilute essential oils before using them on the skin with a carrier oil.
Tips for Buying
Be sure to only buy essential oils that come in a glass bottle that is a tinted color such as amber or cobalt blue. If they are stored or packaged in plastic, they will naturally break down the plastic and quickly deteriorate the quality, making them lose their benefits. Only excellent quality oils inside dark colored glass bottles will have the ability to give you benefits.
How to Dilute & Store
When mixing up large quantities of diluted oils for using on the skin, use a ratio of 80 percent carrier oil and 20 percent essential oil (for example, a large batch might be a total of ten teaspoons or ten tablespoons). Mix together gently with a silver spoon inside a glass jar or bowl. Then, pour into amber glass bottles to store (save and reuse empty bottles). Use a silver spoon with a silver or glass funnel to get diluted oils into smaller bottles easily. If you do not have any amber colored glass bottles for storing diluted oils, simply use any glass jar with a lid, like a mason jar. Then, wrap the glass jar inside a towel to protect from light.
Always store essential oils inside a glass container in a cool, dark area away from sunlight, artificial lights, and heat. All forms of light and heat quickly deteriorate oils making them ineffective.
It is extremely important to always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil before using on the skin. Carrier oils dilute the intensity of the essential oil. Good examples of carrier oils include olive, grapeseed, sweet almond, and jojoba. The only exception to this rule is for lavender which may be used without diluting as long as no skin reaction occurs (test on a small patch of skin first for sensitivity). Never ingest; only use topically away from the eyes and away from sensitive skin areas. Before using any essential oils on children under 3 years old, or when pregnant, consult a professional aromatherapist for additional safety information.
For occasional use, mix two to five drops of essential oil with some carrier oil (about a half to a full teaspoon) in a glass bowl before putting on the skin. Start with fewer drops and increase only if needed. Start with only one drop if you are new to aromatherapy and/or if the scent is very strong. Typically, the stronger the scent, the less you need to use to obtain the benefits.
Rub diluted essential oil(s) all over the bottoms of the feet, back of neck by the brain stem, or over the area of the body that needs the benefits.
The Most Common Essential Oils
Aromatherapy can be fun by experimenting with different scents that give various benefits. The most common ones for getting started include lavender, lemon, orange, jasmine, tea tree, peppermint, and ylang ylang. Both lavender and lemon are adaptogenic which means they give the body whatever benefits it needs most including energy or being relaxed. Lemon, orange, and other citruses are often the cheapest and offer uplifting benefits. If you only start with one essential oil, the best option is lavender, and it's also great for using on children.
The following list describes the properties of each oil.
Lavender: antiseptic, anti-bacterial, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, decongestant, reduces muscle spasms, deodorant, balancing, soothing, calming, relaxing, reduces anxiety, stress relief, promotes sleep, aids in releasing tension and headaches (massage the temples), aids in earaches, aids in hair loss, aids in digestion, repels insects, and more.
Lemon: antiviral, antiseptic, antibacterial, antihistamine, uplifting, refreshing, cheering, and great for cleaning homes. Be sure to dilute very well to avoid burning the skin. Do not use lemon if you plan on being outside in the sun because it will make your skin more likely to burn.
Orange: cheering, refreshing, and uplifting.
Jasmine: calming, relaxing, sensual, romantic, eases depression, helps with respiratory problems, reduces tension, reduces stress, and more.
Tea Tree: antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, antiviral, antiseptic, repels insects, supports and enhances the immune system, purifying, and uplifting. Tea tree is also good for cleaning homes.
Peppermint: analgesic, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, disinfectant, refreshing, energizing, relieves bad breath (add a few drops to a splash of water and gargle as mouthwash), repels insects, relieves nausea, relieves and reduces migraines, energy-boosting, enhances mood, sharpens focus, alleviates symptoms of congestion, improves digestion, and more. Do not use on children under age 3. Do not use while pregnant. Do not use if you or someone around you is epileptic because the scent of peppermint can trigger seizures.
Ylang Ylang: aphrodisiac, antidepressant, soothes anxiety, reduces muscle spasms, sensual, euphoric, soothes headaches, decreases nausea, stimulates hair growth, treats hair loss, fights intestinal problems, and more.
Never forget that it is extremely important to always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil before using them on your skin. Discovering the benefits of aromatherapy can be a fun adventure that has great potential to improve your quality of life.