What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are the essences that are extracted from plants through a distillation process, capturing the distinctive scent of the plant. They have a variety of uses ranging from aromatherapy to body care to household cleaning. Not only will essential oils add amazing natural scents to your life, but they also have many therapeutic benefits that help with various conditions from insomnia to burns. Since essential oils are concentrated, they shouldn’t be used directly on the skin without being diluted with a carrier oil. Carrier oils are base oils that dilute essential oils and act as a carrier for the essential oil onto your skin. Good carrier oils are organic sweet almond, jojoba, sesame, and grape seed because they are light and have little to no scent.
Using Essential Oils Around the Home- Essential oils make a great addition to your natural cleaning arsenal, helping you to give nasty, chemical smell of your favorite cleaning products the boot. The best oils for cleaning are lemon, grapefruit, eucalyptus, peppermint, and tea tree oil for their antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties. I love using lemon and grapefruit oils for my kitchen cleansers. They make my kitchen smell awesome and fresh, and kind of makes me feel a little more like a June Cleaver wannabe every time I use them.
– All Purpose Cleaner– Mix 2 drops of tea tree oil with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle for an anti-microbial cleaner.
– Laundry- Mix 3-5 drops of your favorite scent with the portion of your unscented laundry detergent before each load to have magical smelling clothes. Make your own softener by mixing 20-30 drops of your favorite oil in a 1 gallon jug of white vinegar and use 1/3 of a cup for each load.
Using Essential Oils for Beauty-essential oils are great additions to your beauty routine. Their healing and nourishing properties are also well absorbed by your skin, giving you a radiate glow naturally. Using homemade beauty products featuring essential oils can save you money and help give you peace of mind since you will know no bunny was harmed to help make you beautiful. My personal favorites for my beauty routines are lavender and peppermint. Peppermint helps me to wake up and embrace the day and lavender soothes my frazzled nerves on my morning commute.
-Acne- Tea tree oil is great for healing acne. Just dab a small amount on a pimple and it will heal and reduce it’s size in no time.
-Massage– Homemade massage oil can be made by combining essential oil with a carrier oil such as walnut, sunflower or vegetable. Peppermint oil is great for sore muscles and lavender soothes and relaxes.
-Make your own bath salts- Combine 1/4-1 teaspoon of essential oil with epsom or sea salt and make a luxurious soak.
-Hot oil hair treatment- Heat a carrier oil with a few drops of rosemary essential oil to improve circulation on your scalp.
Using Essential Oils for Health- The majority of what we know about the healing properties of essential oils are recipes and tips passed down through generations. Try some of these remedies instead of reaching for the over-the-counter drugs next time and see how well they work. As a migraine sufferer, let me just say lavender works wonders when your head feels like it’s in a vice grip.
-Decongestant– Mix a few drops of peppermint or eucalyptus oil with a bowl of hot water and breathe in the steam.
-Sleep Aide- Mix a few drop on lavender oil with water in a spray bottle and spritz your pillows before you lay your head down at night.
-Headaches– Add a peppermint or lavender essential oil to a carrier oil and rub into your temples for quick pain relief.
-PMS- Add rose otto or geranium essential oil to a carrier oil and rub into your neck and shoulders to help relieve PMS symptoms. This combination can also be added to a warm bath.
-Mood enhancers- using lavender, peppermint, grapefruit, lemon, chamomile, and ylang ylang essential oils in a diffuser and you can instantly lift your spirits when you’re having a poopy day.
A good quality essential oil will be packaged in a dark brown or blue glass bottle. They may seem expensive but most essential oils don’t degrade. Since you only need to use very small amounts that means one bottle can last you up to 10 years! (Which is actually a savings!) Just remember your food allergies translate into essential oils so, for example, if you are allergic to peppermint then you would also be allergic to the oil. Make sure you do your research before playing with essential oils since many can be harmful if not diluted properly. Here are some great resources to get you started!
The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood
Related: Beauty Review – Intoxicating Natural Perfume Oils from Grasse Roots
Wash with Gentleness: Oil Cleansing Method
Also by Krystle: 10 Reasons Why You Should Be Drinking Lemon Water
Photo: ilovebutter via Flickr; Mary Hood