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How to use essential oils

Essential oils have become increasingly popular (and a lot more mainstream) in recent years as people seek out ways to nourish their bodies and emotional states the natural way. So, how do you use essential oils the correct way? Here are some essential guidelines.

Essential oil therapy —  using 100% pure oils that are properly sourced and reputably made— has a host of benefits, including anxiety reduction, aiding physical healing and muscle pain, boosting concentration, clearing skin and easing the mind.

1.) The essential rule

Rule number one before using any oil: never put it directly on your skin. Some EO practitioners contest this, saying that oils its safe to use small quantities of specific oils directly on your skin. We say rather safe than sorry. Essential oils are meant to be diluted, either in a carrier oil (that’s a neutral, cold-pressed oil like almond or jojoba that absorbs the essence and makes it safe to apply on the skin) or in water. The only case in which oils need not be diluted is when they are nowhere near your body, usually in a table diffuser (another great way to enjoy your oils). We as medical practitioners have seen countless cases of burns and irritations caused by oils used incorrectly by people who don’t know any better.

Carrier oils we recommend: jojoba, almond, avocado, sweet almond,and coconut oil.

2.) Where to use your oils

There are four commonly accepted ways to use EOs – either massaged into the skin once diluted, added to hot water in a bath or shallow bowl designed to steam the face, inhaled by placing an oil vial under your nose and breathing in, or in a diffuser you can place around the house in order for the vapors to disperse. There are other uses as well — some people like to add oils when making beauty and skincare products, and some food grade edible oils can be used in cooking, although it is important to read labels and do your homework before embarking on this.

3.) How much to use?

When applying oils, we need to get our ratios right. Essential oils are sold in mini bottles not because their shelf life is short (these oils can sit in your medicine cabinet for up to three years) but because they contain highly concentrated plant extracts that you really don’t need to use a lot of in order to be effective. The general recommendation is to use a 2% dilution ratio for topical application, which works out to about 12 drops of essential oil per drops per 1 fl. ounce (30 ml) of carrier oil. For bathing, you can use much less, around 6-8 drops total. How much to put in your diffuser depends on the model — it will come with instructions, but typically you will use 3-10 drops of EOs and add to water.  Keep to the recommended daily dosage to avoid problems.

4.) What not do

We’ve spoken about putting undiluted EOs directly on your skin (read: don’t) but another no-go is ingesting them. There are some edible essential oils (cumin, lavender, nutmeg) that are safe to use in some situations, but ingesting them may not be a pleasant experience unless you’ve really done your homework.

Don’t use an essential oil unless you’ve researched any credible warnings that might be associated with it, (we recommend Robert Tisserand and the NAHA  for well-researched information). Essential oils are pure natural plant extracts and are known for being gentle and side-effect free, but because plant life is diverse and so are people, there may be some EOs that don’t work with certain skin types or under certain conditions, particularly photosensitive oils that don’t play nice in the sun in large quantities (lemon, lime and bergamot are three of them). Don’t add oils to any sensitive areas, and keep to the external parts of the body. When it comes to kids, less is more – reduce the dilution and make sure to gently introduce pungent aromas, such as eucalyptus. It is always a good idea for pregnant women to chat to their midwife or OB physician before using essential oils.

Now with that out of the way, you’re free to start shopping! Soothing Scent’s essential oil range includes ten 100% pure essential oils available in 5ml mini bottles that you can order online. Shipping is free on US orders over $14.

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