A Beginner’s Guide to Using Essential Oils for Wellness & Beauty!
If you’ve ever been to a spa, had a massage or gotten a mani/pedi in a high-end salon, odds are you’ve come in contact with essential oils. Nowadays, these aromatic treasures are no longer confined to the professional world of beauty treatments.
Scent is so powerful in affecting our limbic brain, creating change in our moods, emotions and our everyday experience of life. It’s such a great, easy way to accomplish all these things!
One of our talented podcast guests, Charlynn Avery, a national Aromatherapist and Educator for Aura Cacia as well as national yoga conferences, has brought us a wealth of information about how essential oils and aromatherapy. All of which can help with everything from weight loss to stress and sleep. Check out this podcast for her tips on using them in daily life!.
Quality Essential Oils
Take special care, of course, of what you put in, on, and around your body. Essential oils are not monitored by any specific regulatory body. Quality can vary greatly between essential oil producers and some even contain nasty chemicals or pesticides.
Make sure that you find pure essential oils in order to best reap their medicinal benefits. Also be aware of their power! These are highly concentrated substances that are often recommended to be diluted in water or a carrier oil (such as coconut oil), especially for topical applications.
Pregnant and nursing women should always consult a physician before using essential oils. When it comes to ingestion, it is imperative to be careful and beneficial to speak with a doctor or naturopath familiar with the subject beforehand (I personally use them topically and do not ingest them myself).
That being said, essential oils can be an amazing- even life-changing- aid for a holistic lifestyle! I am pretty passionate about them and excited to share more about them with you.
Here is some basic information about essential oils and their uses to get you started:
What are essential oils?
Essentially (chuckle), these oils are the uber-concentrated forms of a particular plant or herb. They are also known as volatile aromatic compounds. The scented liquid is extracted via steam or pressure and contains the natural chemicals that give said plant its “essence.” This is highly concentrated.
In fact, it takes over 200 pound of lavender to produce 16 ounces of lavender essential oil! Isn’t that wild?! That’s why certain oils, such as rose essential oil, are so expensive. That’s a lot of roses that goes into creating just a small amount of concentrated oil!
Historical evidence suggests that the ancient Egyptians first used essential oils somewhere between 3500 and 4500 B.C.E. as aromatic components in religious rituals, cosmetic fragrances and medicines for common ailments.
Essential oils and their uses
The olfactory nerve is your sense of smell pathway that begins in the nose and attaches to the brain. It is responsible for transmitting signals to all sorts of cranial systems, including the central nervous system and those that regulate mood.
Smells are capable of producing physiological reactions almost instantaneously.
Essential oils are used medicinally in aromatherapy to trigger specific areas of the brain, most commonly, neuroreceptors related to stress and sleep. Lavender, lemon and ylang ylang are some of the most popular oils for stress relief.
A couple drops can be applied to the palms and rubbed in. Followed by cupping the hands and inhaling deeply. Again this depends on the exact oil and if it is in a carrier oil. Certain oils should not be used directly on the skin before being diluted and mixed first!
Another popular way to breathe in your favorite essential oils is through a diffuser. Unlike the close-up palm method, a diffuser will distribute the scent evenly throughout a room. Not only will you feel the relaxing effects, but also your home will smell great!
Various essential oils are proven to improve common skin conditions, including acne. Regular facial application of rosemary oil, usually diluted in a carrier oil, has anti-ageing and complexion-clearing effects.
A few drops of frankincense essential oil mixed with pure aloe vera gel provides soothing relief for sunburns, rashes and any inflammation of the skin.
Perhaps the kingpin of the skin essential oils, tea tree oil is a virtual panacea for many issues. From the melaleuca plant in Australia, it has powerful anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
Tea tree oil can be used topically as a disinfectant treatment for insect bites, pimple zapper and razor burn reliever. Dilution in water or oil is suggested.
If you’ve done your research, you know that there’s some pretty scary stuff lurking in brand name hair and dental products, soaps and cleansers. Parabens, EDTA and other noxious ingredients are mainstays in our most used bathroom and shower products.
This knowledge has prompted many to take matters into their own hands, and create their very own toiletries. It’s easy on the wallet and a fantastic way to detoxify your hygiene routine.
Tea tree oil is a big player in this field too. It can be used to make mouthwash and anti-dandruff shampoo (simply combine with baking soda). Use lavender and geranium essential oils combined with castile soap for a wonderful face wash. Dozens of different oils can be combined to make homemade soap too.
With so many wonderful combinations, it’s no wonder why essential oils are skyrocketing in popularity. Go ahead and give your bathroom an essential oils makeover.
Essential oils provide an effective cleansing solution that won’t harm any children or pets and on top of that, smells amazing.
Combine one cup water and one cup white vinegar with your choice of lemon, wild orange, grapefruit or tea tree essential oil. Pour into a spray bottle and voila! All three of these oils have antibacterial for your kitchen or bathroom.
This is where things get a little murky. Those who ingest pure essential oils regularly really stand by it. But remember, essential oils are by nature volatile substances. They can be highly unpredictable, and there is limited scientific data to back up safe ingestion practices.
A good example of this is rosemary essential oil. This oil has been shown in clinical trials, performed on animals, to have powerful anti-cancer properties when ingested. On the flip side, it can also be incredibly harsh to the system, and that of a growing fetus too. The takeaway is: be sure to consult your doctor or a naturopath well-versed in essential oils if you’re considering making this a mainstay.
Here are some quick and easy guides to our favorite ways to use oils:
If you’re new, tea tree oil is one of the best essential oils to get you started. Its uses are seemingly endless and will quickly make you a believer in these powerful gifts from the natural world. Also here are a few other of my personal faves:
Lavender: for sleep and relaxation. I add some to the shea butter I use as a body lotion.
Roman chamomile: for sleep! I add this onto a cotton pad and tuck it in my pillow to smell all night.
Clary sage: I love this for meditation. I mix it with a carrier and put it on my hands before meditating.
Frankincense: Magic! Same as clary sage for meditation. Seems mysterious and to possess ancient wisdom.
Check some of these out and please share some you love with me also!