Essential Oils: The Ultimate Guide

There’s a lot of information out there about essential oils, and it’s no wonder. They’re more popular than ever among consumers. We’re becoming more conscious of the environment, not to mention the rising popularity of aromatherapy.

You can use essential oils for their remarkable fragrance, or for their numerous health benefits. There truly is a reason for everyone to jump on the essential oil bandwagon. Here you’ll learn about the benefits of essential oils, what they’re commonly used for, some of the most popular essential oils, and some issues to be aware of.

What Are Essential Oils?

Put simply, essential oils are the essence of the plant. The insides of a plant—that is, in its resin, seeds, bark, leaves—are chemical compounds that make up essential oil. Lavender oil, for example, comes from the fresh lavender flowers, whereas citrus oils are sourced from the rind.

These oils are naturally fragrant and capture a plant’s essence. This essence contains small molecules that can be absorbed into our skin and nostrils through inhalation, thereby giving us the oils beneficial properties.

essential oil distillation

Essential oils are extracted from the many parts of the plant through distillation, commonly steam distillation. It’s important to note that oils extracted from plants through the use of chemicals are not essential oils—the method of extraction matters considerably.

Don’t assume these oils are gentle just because they’re natural. They are actually extremely potent and volatile and should always be diluted before they’re applied to the skin. It is highly recommended that you do not consume essential oils.

Common Uses of Essential Oils

There are many different ways you can use essential oils, but the most popular is through aromatherapy. Aromatherapy involves absorbing the beneficial properties of the oil into your skin through inhalation or direct contact. Some people swear by putting lavender on the bottom of their feet before bed!

Another method is to allow the essential oil to be absorbed into your skin, so you receive the benefits directly. One of the most common essential oils used directly on the skin is tea tree oil, which when used effectively can help combat acne. 

These magic oils can also be used in dilutions to form a massage oil, helping soothe inflammation and muscle aches. 

Essential oils are commonly used as cleaning products and for their favored scents, often being the primary ingredients of household essence and air fresheners. Another use is as a natural insect repellent.

What Is Aromatherapy?

Known as a pseudoscience, aromatherapy involves using essential oils extracted from plants to promote well-being and ease certain health conditions. Essential oils are aromatic, and inhaling the scents can have various effects on mental and physical health.

It’s only recently that aromatherapy has been becoming more recognized as a credible alternative treatment.

what is aromatherapy?

Some of the various benefits include a reduction of stress and anxiety, pain management, and improved sleep.

Check out our favorite fall essential oil blends!

How to Dilute Essential Oils

Diluting your essential oils is necessary before use, especially when you’re applying them topically. We typically dilute our essential oils in carrier oils such as jojoba, olive, avocado, and grapeseed oil. Your choice of carrier oil is based on personal preference.

By using a carrier oil, you’re actually doing more than making it skin-safe. Essential oils tend to evaporate quickly when exposed to air. But when mixed with a carrier oil, essential oils stay true to their form and are more easily absorbed.

Specific dilution ratios vary based on use and individual essential oils. To help, we’re going to break down the correct dilution ratios for your case. Note that these are general dilution rates which may vary based on the essential oil in question—do you research!

1% Dilution

A small dosage is appropriate for daily use and for facial application. For example, you could create a toner 100 mL toner and use 30 drops of tea tree oil. This would be enough for it to combat acne and oily skin.

We recommend starting low and working your way up. That will allow you to identify any sensitivities without causing too much damage.

2% Dilution

A bit stronger but safe to use on children above ten. This is also the percentage you’d use for your bath or body products. After all, the skin on your body is tougher than your face.

3% Dilution

For specific discomfort, like body aches and pain, this dilution should be adequate. Again, it’s alright to use this dilution long term as long as you notice no side effects.

You can use dilutions of up to 10% infrequently, but most people only ever need to use up to 3%. For acute pain, a higher dilution can help if used for a short amount of time.

Popular Essential Oils

While there are hundreds of essential oils, a select few are commonly used.

Lavender Essential Oil (Lavandula angustifolia)

What may be the most widely used essential oil, lavender is a must-have for every level of user. It’s regarded as the best smelling floral scent and has a host of aromatherapeutic properties.

Properties:

  • Relieves anxiety and depression
  • Promotes relaxation
  • Sleep aid

Peppermint Essential Oil (Mentha piperita)

This essential oil adds a fresh, minty scent to cosmetic and household products. When used correctly, it can be used to treat headaches, as well as:

Properties:

  • Relieves sore muscles
  • Soothes indigestion
  • Erases symptoms of cold and congestion

Lemon Essential Oil (Citrus limonum)

Perhaps the most recognizable essential oil, lemon essential oil has a powerful, refreshing scent. Aside from that, it has several health properties.

Properties:

  • Astringent and detoxifying
  • Disinfectant; used often as a cleaning agent
  • Boosts mood and enhances concentration

Eucalyptus Essential Oil (Eucalyptus globulus)

This soothing essential oil has many uses when used in aromatherapy or topically. It has over 500 varieties and is one of the most widely used oils in the world.

Properties:

  • Often used in natural deodorants
  • Supports the respiratory system and relieves physical pain when applied topically
  • There are over 500 varieties of eucalyptus

Tea Tree Essential Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)

Backed by science, tea tree oil is known for its germ-fighting and anti-bacterial qualities. This is thanks to Terpinen-4-ol, a beneficial compound present in the essential oil.

Properties:

  • Used as a traditional medicine for decades by the Aborigines
  • Often used to treat acne
  • Studies have shown that it is capable of preventing E. coli and other common viruses

Chamomile Essential Oil (Chamaemelum nobile)

A common tea, chamomile also produces oil that has a host of benefits. There are two varieties, both backed by science.

Properties:

  • Offers protection against digestive upset
  • Effectively reduces anxiety symptoms
  • Commonly used to relieve pain caused by inflammation

Rosemary Essential Oil (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Frequently used as a food seasoning, the rosemary plant produces an oil that has many benefits. It’s only recently begun scientific testing, but some benefits include:

Properties

  • Stimulating hair growth
  • Used often as a natural bug repellant
  • Can reduce situational stress

Patchouli Essential Oil (Pogostemon cablin)

This oil has a signature woody scent that makes it ideal for adding fragrance to products. Aside from that, it can also:

Properties:

  • Reduce swelling caused by inflammation
  • Flavor foods when used as an additive in low concentrations
  • Combat dandruff

Essential Oils for Sleep

If you're struggling to get a good night's sleep, it may be time to turn to aromatherapy. Various essential oils have proven their ability to induce sleep, some even being as effective as sleeping pills. A study found that a mixture of lavender, neroli, and chamomile essential oils reduced sick patient's anxiety and helped them sleep.

Another study found that lavender acts as a mild sedative. It helped young men and women fall asleep (and stay asleep). Try using a pillow spray or, like many love to do, putting lavender directly on the bottom of your feet.

Essential oils that help induce sleep: lavender, valerian, bergamot, marjoram, clary sage, chamomile

Essential Oils for Anxiety

Many of the oils that help induce sleep also relieve anxiety and depression. Again, lavender essential oil has proven itself as a method of improving your mental health. But really, you can just use any essential oil that you find calming. Different strokes for different folks.

Essential oils to relieve your anxiety: lavender, vetiver, ylang ylang, geranium, jasmine, chamomile

Essential Oils for Energy and Mental Acuity

Need some help combatting that mid-day fatigue? Have a big test coming up? Try inhaling some peppermint essential oil, which can improve your memory recall and help you focus. Citrus and minty scents seem to have powerful effects on our memory, so give them a try.

Essential oils that'll give you a boost of energy: peppermint, sweet orange, spearmint, rosemary, lemon

Essential Oils for Pain Relief

If you suffer from aches and pains caused by inflammation, essential oils diluted with carrier oils could be your savior. Many plants are anti-inflammatories and can be remedies for muscle soreness. Peppermint oil has a high concentration of menthol, which has proven to combat pain from many sources.

Essential oils that relieve pain and inflammation: peppermint, rosehip, rosemary, lavender, eucalyptus

Sustainability Issues of Your Favorite Essential Oils

Are essential oils really sustainable?

Producing your favorite essential oils requires large amounts of the plant in question. According to doTERRA, it takes 10,000 pounds of rose petals to make a single pound of rose essential oil. This is why it’s one of the most pricey essential oils out there.

When it comes to essential oils that are derived from trees, things are dire. Planting and harvesting small plants is less environmentally taxing than harvesting tree resin, which often requires trees to be cut down completely. Using essential oils from these trees is problematic for many reasons, but deforestation is the primary concern.

Frankincense is a commonly used essential oil for beauty, wellness, and even spiritual practices. Unfortunately, frankincense forests have been disappearing at a rapid rate due to their popularity.

We make a conscious effort to avoid using essential oils that are not sustainable, which is why you’ll never see frankincense in our products.

Some other oils that face sustainability issues include sandalwood, juniper, and rosewood.

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