Essential oils are great for your physical and mental health. With so many different kinds, there are seemingly endless combinations, blends, and uses for essential oils. That said, even though you technically can throw together whatever oil you want and hope for the best, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should. There are several “right ways” to use essential oils, and here we’re going to go over what those right ways are. Read on for tips and tricks on how to use essential oils the right way.
Despite the several benefits of them, not all essential oils are created equal. Some are “carrier oils,” while others are not. A carrier oil is an essential oil that serves as a base oil. It’s meant to be mixed in with other oils before use, thus “carrying” the other oils in an essential oils blend.
Some of the most popular carrier oils are olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil, argan oil, and jojoba oil, just to name a few. Olive oil helps relieve joint pain and is full of vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Despite these benefits, it’s more of an oil to be used when you aren’t able to use anything else. It can be mixed with other carrier oils. Coconut oil is most known for its moisturizing properties, but is one of the pricier carrier oils. Almond oil works great with all skin types, and unlike coconut oil, is relatively inexpensive. Argan oil, like coconut oil, is a good moisturizer, and is gentle on the skin. Jojoba oil works well with sensitive skin, especially those who may have eczema or acne, and pairs nicely with several other carrier oils, such as almond oil.
Aromatherapy is more than just throwing oils together and making a random blend; it’s defined on “the use of aromatic plant extracts and essential oils in massage or baths.” Typically, aromatherapy is applied to physical and emotional wellbeing, but it is becoming more common to use the practice for spiritual wellbeing. Many people look to aromatherapy for a variety of reasons, whether that be curing a cold, minimizing symptoms of depression, or trying to have a higher energy frequency.
The use of essential oils has been present in several countries and cultures throughout history, but the first known instance of aromatherapy started with the French chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé in 1928. He applied lavender oil on his skin to treat a burn on his hand. This kickstarted his research on the healing properties of lavender oil. With the intention of helping wounded soldiers in World War I, the practice of aromatherapy spread to the cosmetic industry and massage therapists. It eventually made its way to America in the form of scented body and home products, and is now one of the fastest-growing practices for physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
Essential oils don’t need to be rubbed into your skin to give you the benefits. There are several ways that they can be applied. A topical application is the most common, but essential oils can also be ingested. Essential oils pack a big punch, so no more than three drops should be used (with water) in one sitting. Another way that people use essential oils is by using a diffuser. Topical and ingestion-based applications are typically used when treating physical issues, while using a diffuser, and even burning essential-oil based candles and fragrances, are used for emotional and spiritual health.
Skin Care Benefits
Each essential oil has a variety of benefits for the skin. However, some essential oils don’t do too much for your skin, and depending on your skin type, others can actually hurt you. Here, we’ll look at the different skin care benefits that essential oils can give based on your skin type.
Out of all of the skin types, dry skin is one that has many limitations as to what essential oils are good or bad. For example, pretty much any and every citrus essential oil should be avoided. Despite all the antioxidants they contain, citrus oil is drying, so it would irritate skin that’s already dry to begin with. Luckily, despite these limitations, there are still tons of oils that can be used.
Coconut oil is the most popular example. Used in several body lotions and lip balms, it’s no secret that coconut oil is known for being a great moisturizer. Coconut oil is one of several carrier oils, so it can be used by itself and mixed with other oils to treat multiple areas of concern. Other oils for dry skin include frankincense oil, lavender oil, and sandalwood oil. Frankincense oil’s dry skin benefits come from its anti-aging properties. Lavender oil and sandalwood oil are soothing on the skin and have softening agents.
The idea of using oil to fight the over-production of oil sounds silly at first, but there are lots of essential oils that fight the ailments of oily skin without completely drying it out. Jojoba oil and geranium oil are two great examples because they each control your skin’s oil production in their own ways. Jojoba oil stops the skin from over-producing sebum because it’s the closest to sebum on a molecular level. Geranium oil simply regulates sebum production. As a bonus, it also smells great and helps with acne.
Most of the oils that work for dry skin tend to work with sensitive skin, since the two skin conditions often go hand in hand. In addition to those oils, patchouli oil is another great product to use on sensitive skin. Patchouli is known for treating skin issues such as acne and dryness. However, patchouli is not a carrier oil. It shouldn’t be used by itself; jojoba oil goes well with patchouli. Despite the healing properties of patchouli, many cannot stand the strong smell of the oil. And that’s okay! There are plenty of other essential oils that help treat sensitive skin. Rosewood oil is compatible with all skin types, from dry to oily to mature. Rosewood is primarily an anti-inflammatory oil, helping to fight skin conditions such as eczema.
Many of the oils used to treat oily skin can also help with acne, since oily skin tends to also be acne-prone. Two oils that help with breakouts are chamomile oil and ylang ylang oil. Chamomile oil minimizes redness and inflammation, as well as revitalizes the skin, leading to less breakouts. Ylang ylang oil fights acne without stripping your skin of its oils.
Essential oils won’t reverse 100% of the aging that your skin goes through, but they can minimize fine lines and wrinkles, as well as keep your skin healthy and moisturized to prevent some of the aging in the future. Pomegranate seed oil, carrot seed oil, and jojoba oil are just a few oils that fight aging. Pomegranate seed oil is a natural sunscreen, protecting your skin from sun damage. Carrot seed oil has similar effects when mixed with a carrier oil. Many anti-aging oils are anti-aging because they protect your skin from outside factors that can cause damage and early aging. Jojoba oil is an oil of many talents, as it’s compatible with any skin type. Jojoba oil reduces fine lines and keeps you moisturized.
There are endless different blends that target different emotional and spiritual health. Blends typically require a diffuser, though these blends can also be made into candles. In order to create an essential oil blend, it’s important to think about the different components that go into making a blend. It isn’t just a matter of combining things that smell nice (though there isn’t necessarily any harm in a purely scent-based blend), since blends typically have a specific purpose, such as to uplift mood or help with sleep. Factors such as fragrance should be taken into consideration in conjunction with the note of the oil, as well as the emotional and spiritual-based benefits of each oil.
Essential Oil “Notes” and Fragrance
Every essential oil has a “note,” or a fragrance longevity. An oil’s note determines how long or short its fragrance lasts once exposed to oxygen. It boils down to basic chemistry; those with the shortest fragrance time have smaller molecules, and the longer the scent lasts, the larger the molecule in its composition. Top notes last the shortest, while middle notes last longer and base notes linger for the longest amount of time. Top notes tend to be sweet and flowery, while base notes are earthier.
When creating essential oil blends, it’s important to note that not all scents go together. Vanilla and cinnamon make a sweet and spicy blend, for example, but cinnamon and peppermint may leave something to be desired. While fragrance is not the most important factor in a blend, it’s still critical to think about, as fragrance has a strong impact on mood.
There’s a little math involved in oil blends. In order to get the full effect of a blend, it should follow a blending ratio – that is, the percentage of different oils. There are different kinds of ratios you can follow, but one of the most common is the 30-50-20 rule. The 30-50-20 rule means that your blend should be 30% top note oil, 50% middle note oil, and 20% base note oil. Following this ratio means that your blend should be ten drops total – notice how the numbers add up to 100%.
There’s a lot to learn about how to use essential oils, but luckily, it’s not as overwhelming as it sounds! Some information about certain oils is all but common knowledge at this point, and if you’re unsure about a particular oil, then several dermatologists, skincare companies, and aromatherapists have dedicated countless websites and articles to informing you so that you can make the healthiest choices for yourself.