How you choose and use the right essential oil: A beginners guide !!

You’ve probably heard a lot about Carrier Oils and Essential Oils. Oils have become really popular in recent times. They have multi-use properties (can be used for the hair, skin and even aromatherapy) and are very effective. But what exactly is an essential oil and how is it different from a carrier oil? Read on to find out!

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are highly volatile and concentrated oil obtained from parts of plants; they can be extracted from a plant's flowers, bark, stem, leaves, fruits and roots. These oils capture the 'essence' of the plant they are made from in terms of scent and flavour, giving them their name ‘Essential Oils’.

Today, essential oils are widely used in the cosmetics industry. You can add them to cleansers, soaps, shower gels, and many other products as well as in aromatherapy.

How Are Essential Oils Different from Regular Plant Oils?

You have probably come across a label reading ‘Carrier Oil’. But do you know-how are those different from essential oils. Carrier oils are vegetable oils derived from the seeds, kernels, or nuts of a plant. Popular examples of carrier oils include Coconut, Jojoba, Avocado, and Rosehip amongst others. Unlike essential oils, these oils are very stable.

For topical application, essential oils are diluted with carrier oils (you can say that carrier oils ‘carry’ essential oils into the skin).

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy involves the use of essential oils to help heal the body, mind and spirit. It is also referred to as Essential Oil therapy.

A Bit of History

Aromatherapy has been around for a long long time. In fact, in ancient China, India, Egypt and elsewhere aromatic plant components were incorporated in resins, balms and oils. These natural substances were used for medical and religious purposes and were known to have both physical and psychological benefits.

The term “aromatherapy” was coined by a French perfumer and chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé in 1937. He used the term in his book that discussed the use of essential oils in treating medical conditions.

How does Aromatherapy work?

This image shows us the benefits of Aromatherapy.

So what exactly happens in aromatherapy? Well, it makes use of diffusers, aroma spritzers, inhalers, bathing salts, body oil, creams and lotions, clay masks, etc. You can use these products alone or in combination.

But which essential oil should you use? Depending on your concern, you can choose an essential oil. For example, Lavender helps with relieving stress and anxiety; as does Chamomile. Blood Orange and Mandarin are great for increasing energy levels.

Aromatherapy is said to:

  • Manage pain
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Reduce stress, agitation, and anxiety
  • Soothe sore joints
  • Treat headaches and migraines
  • Alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy
  • Ease discomforts of labour
  • Fight bacteria, virus, or fungus
  • Improve digestion
  • Improve hospice and palliative care
  • Boost immunity

Essential Oils by Effect

This is an image showing effects of Essential Oils.

Energizing: Rosemary, Clary sage, Bergamot, Lemongrass, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Spearmint, Tea tree, Cypress, Pine, Lemon, Basil, Grapefruit, Ginger

Calming: Lavender, Geranium, Mandarin, Bergamot, Ylang Ylang, Neroli, Jasmine, Melissa, Palmarosa, Patchouli, Petitgrain, Sandalwood

Detoxifying: Peppermint, Juniper, Grapefruit, Rosemary, Laurel, Mandarin, Lemon, Patchouli, Hyssop, Helichrysum

Anti-anxiety: Lavender, Geranium, Roman Chamomile, Marjoram, Sandalwood, Valerian, Bergamot, Jasmine, Black Pepper, Tangerine, Orange, Melissa or Lemon Balm

Let us take a look at some popular Essential Oils now!

Lavender

This image tells us about Lavender Oil and its uses.

Lavender is probably the most popular essential oil. It has a delicate earthy and floral fragrance and is known for its soothing and calming properties.

For Skin

It is great for the skin as well.

  • Is great for soothing any inflammation
  • Treats and prevents acne, given its antifungal properties
  • Helps reduce discolouration and hyperpigmentation.

For Hair

Lavender Essential Oil works wonders for the hair. It

  • Promotes hair growth
  • Is highly effective in soothing an itchy scalp
  • Tackles dandruff effectively
  • Curbs inflammation

Clay’s Lavender Essential Oil is a great option if you are looking to buy an Essential Oil.

This is an image of Clay's Lavender Oil.

Tea Tree

This image tells us about Tea Tree Oil and its uses.

If you have ever had to deal with acne and oily skin, you have probably used a product containing Tea Tree Essential Oil at least once. It has powerful antibacterial properties and even works well as a natural insect repellent and antiseptic!

For Skin

Tea Tree Essential Oil

  • Is great at balancing out oily skin
  • Effectively treats acne
  • Soothes dry skin by reducing itchiness and irritation

For Hair

Tea Tree Essential oil is

  • Highly effective in treating scalp issues
  • Tackles dandruff
  • Great for decongesting the scalp

If you are on the hunt for a good Tea Tree Essential Oil, the one by Clay is a great choice. 

This is an image of Clay's Tea Tree Oil

Peppermint

This image tells us about Peppermint Oil and its uses.

With it’s sharp and minty scent, this Essential Oil carries a freshness with it. It is widely used in skincare and haircare products.

For Skin

Peppermint Essential Oil has a very soothing and cooling effect on the skin and is known to help with itching.

For Hair

Peppermint Essential Oil is also very good at helping with hair loss and promotes hair growth.

Lemongrass

Lemongrass Essential Oil has a grassy and citrus scent and is used in aromatherapy to help relieve stress, anxiety, and depression.

For Skin

Lemongrass has a great many benefits for the skin. It

  • Has antibacterial properties and helps with skin infections
  • Has anti-inflammatory properties and helps soothe irritated skin
  • Is effective against acne

For Hair

Lemongrass Essential Oil

  • Helps soothe an itchy scalp
  • Strengthens hair roots

Clay’s Lemongrass Essential Oil is a great option if you are looking to try one.

This is an image of Clay's Lemongrass Oil.

What are some popular essential blends you can make at home?

While each essential oil has its own properties and characteristics, you can mix one or more together with a carrier oil. Here are a few popular blends:-

For HairThis is an image showing how to Blend Essential Oils for Hair.

  • Mix several drops of Lavender Essential Oil into 3 tablespoons of carrier oil, such as Olive Oil or melted Coconut Oil, and apply it directly to your scalp. Leave it in for at least 10 minutes before washing it out and shampooing. You can do this several times per week. 
  • Mix 2 drops of Peppermint Essential Oil with a Carrier Oil of your choice. Massage it into your scalp, and leave it on for 5 minutes before washing out thoroughly with shampoo and follow it up with a conditioner.
  • If you are struggling with dandruff, mix 10 drops of Tea Tree Essential Oil into your shampoo or conditioner and use it daily. Alternatively, you can mix 3 drops with 2 tablespoons of a Carrier Oil, and leave it on for 15 minutes before rinsing it out.
  • Mix 5 drops of Ylang Ylang Essential Oil with 2 tablespoons of warm oil. Massage it into your scalp, and wrap your head with a warm towel. Leave it in for 30 minutes before washing it out.

 

For SkinThis is an image showing how to Blend Essential Oils for Skin.

  • If you are struggling with eczema, mix two drops of Lavender Essential Oil with an equal amount of Tea Tree Oil, along with two teaspoons of Coconut Oil. You can use this blend daily. 
  • To treat the inflammation on a burn, combine one to three drops of Lavender Essential Oil and one to two teaspoons of Moringa or Coconut Oil. You can apply the mixture three times a day.

How do we blend Essential Oils?

You will need to dilute your essential oil with a carrier oil of your choice before you apply it to your skin. Do not apply an essential oil directly to your skin! It is too concentrated and may result in burns, redness and inflammation!

You can use a separate bottle for mixing, or you can add the essential oils to the bottle of carrier oil. A good rule of thumb is to use about 10 drops of essential oil per 1/2 ounce of carrier oil.

Once you’ve mixed your serum, be sure to conduct a patch test before applying the mixture to your face. Choose a small area of skin that’s away from your face. The inside of the elbow is a popular choice. If you notice any reaction within 24 hours, you could be allergic to the oil and should discontinue use. You can also consider adding fewer drops of essential oils to the mix.

What are some Things to Keep in Mind When Using Essential Oils?

This is an image showing what to keep in mind before using Essential Oils.

Don’t Apply An Undiluted Essential Oil

We have said this before and we will say it again - don’t apply an essential oil directly to any part of your skin! Always make sure to dilute it with a Carrier Oil.

Throw It Out If It’s Too Old

In general, don’t keep them for more than 3 years. Older oils are more likely to be spoiled because of exposure to oxygen. They may not work as well and could irritate your skin or cause an allergic reaction. If you see a big change in the way an oil looks, feels, or smells, you should throw it out, because it has probably spoiled. 

Be Careful With Phototoxic Oils

Phototoxic oils such as Citrus Oils make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Be sure to use sunscreen and protect yourself for up to 24 hours after essential oil application. 

Don’t Use Them On Damaged or Irritated Skin

While Essential Oils may be mixed with a Carrier Oil, they still are still highly potent. If you have any cuts, bruises, or irritation, make sure you are using the right oil.

Summary

Essential Oils are rightly very popular today from aromatherapy to personal care, they are everywhere. These oils are a great addition to your skincare and haircare routine if you use them properly. Depending on which essential oil you pick, each will perform a different function. Be sure to always dilute your Essential Oils with a Carrier Oil and don’t be afraid to mix oils, create your own custom blends and really pamper yourself.

- Gauri Sindhu

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