Essential Oil Basics:
Did you recently ask yourself, “Why is everyone using Essential Oils?” Over the year you may have heard, or been recommended to use oils like orange and lemon to boost your immunity, or see calming lavender found in every household product you buy to ensure you can remain stress-free.
If you’ve ever been gifted a diffuser, and have grown in curiosity why it is that aromatherapy has been coined one of the most effective complementary therapies, then I encourage you to explore while also understanding the responsibility to using this tool safely.
Since before the pandemic, essential oils (EO's) have been trending up in popularity, even though people have been using herbs, oils and extracts for centuries. The intention is to utilize the plant’s therapeutic benefit for our own well-being. In fact, it has sparked interest in scientists who know that plant essence has been used for medicinal purposes, but are now looking for the empirical evidence as to how and why they help us.
An important factor to be aware of is that we still need tons of research to prove that EO's can cure specific diseases. Nevertheless, we are on the right track, and I’m going to share what you need to know before experimenting with oils yourself.
Your essential oils can last anywhere between 1 & 3 years depending on the plant source. Heat, sunlight & oxygen are best avoided as well. For all of these reasons you will commonly see oils stored in glass bottles with a blue, amber or frosted color.
When you have a liquid based blend that’s organic, know that it’s completely normal to see separation. Although we do have some natural emulsifiers (the stuff that binds liquid ingredients together) separation of ingredients will naturally occur.
If your oils have gone bad, the liquid typically looks cloudy, or discolored and may have a rancid aroma. You can always make a simple surface cleaner with a couple drops of EO in some vinegar and distilled water. (I personally enjoy adding Orange Oil when mopping my tile floors.)
EO’s are heavily concentrated and extremely potent, so you MUST dilute appropriately. Dilution means to mix with a carrier oil or liquid, like coconut oil or witch hazel.
2-3 drops of EO in carrier oil can help amplify the experience of a therapeutic massage, or help you combat an unwanted pimple on your face. Doing this will prevent possible irritation as well as allergic reactions (trust me, I’ve been my own guinea pig and don’t want anyone else to make the same mistake!).
Test Before Using: Apply oil to a small patch of skin before using anywhere else on the body.
If you find that your skin is irritated from an oil then do not remove with soap and water first. You use a calming carrier oil (sunflower, olive, or vegetable oil are easy to find) and wipe the area with that first. Oil gets removed with oil, then you can use the soap and water.
Remember, with great power comes great responsibility.
Have fun exploring this new found tool, but always keep yourself informed and aware of the safest guidelines. Do not ingest essential oils, and always speak to a doctor before using if you are not sure Essential Oils are safe for you. Some oils can interfere with specific medical condition(s). If irritation or allergy occurs, discontinue using and speak with your physician.
Shutes, J. (n.d.). Foundations of Aromatherapy. New York Institute of Aromatics. New York, New York: Jade Shutes.