Essential oils seem to be having a renaissance of late with people talking about the impact they have on their overall wellbeing.
We’re all aware of the power of music and how it can tap into our emotions so it stands to reason that smells affect our senses too.
I love the fresh smell in the air after it’s just finished raining because it gives me a feeling of newness. The smell of pine brings back one of my earliest memories of being in a forest on a family holiday.
The power of smell has the ability to transport us to moments in the past and affect our emotions. Essential oils help with this.
But what are essential oils and how do you use them?
Essential oils are concentrated liquids that contain the essence of the plants they come from. They are characterised by their smell.
People have been harnessing the power of herbs and plants for centuries. Essential oils have been used for medical treatments, religious reasons, food flavouring, perfume, skin care and aromatherapy.
Modern methods of extraction and distillation are very powerful so today’s essential oils are much more concentrated than in the past. They’re used today in everyday ingredients such as laundry detergent, washing up liquid, shower gels and candles.
However, they offer so much more than that. Essential oils are good for your mind, body and soul. I use them to lift my mood as well as around my home.
Like anything though, it can be overwhelming to know where to start.
Here’s an introduction to essential oils for beginners to help you learn what to buy and how best to use them.
Essential oils for beginners: how best to use them
I use a bamboo essential oil diffuser to diffuse essential oils into the air. Inhaling essential oils stimulates our olfactory system (the part of the brain connected to smell). There is also evidence which suggests oils are absorbed into the bloodstream when inhaled.
I also mix essential oils with distilled water and into a spritz bottle and spray into the air.
You can make blends such as bergamot and sweet orange to help lift your spirits and increase motivation and ylang ylang is said to help with depression.
Essential oils contain tiny molecules which are easily absorbed into the body when used on the skin. They must always be mixed with a carrier oil such as almond, avocado or coconut oil.
Essential oils are highly concentrated and can damage the skin if not used correctly. Please note, use with caution on children and if you’re pregnant.
I make my own candles using soy wax and add essential oils (method to follow). They smell utterly divine and so much better than synthetic fragrances.
There are a number of essential oils which act as a natural disinfectants and antiseptics. Look out for tea tree, rosemary, lavender and any citrus essential oils. Mix with white wine vinegar to create a cleaning spray.
Or try this natural DIY fabric conditioner, which will leave your clothes smelling absolutely divine.
I adapted a fragrance from a certain well known perfume brand (cough, cough Jo Malone) to make a natural body moisturising spray. As I’ve got older, my skin has started to get dryer but as someone who gets ready in approximately 47 minutes in the morning, I don’t have time to slather on a rich body cream and wait for it to settle into my skin before I get dressed. This spray moisturiser is light enough to absorb really quickly and is made from completely natural ingredients.
Use a funnel and pour the following ingredients into a spray bottle
- Lime, Basil and mandarin essential oils (approximately 3-5 drops of each depending on the size of the spray bottle you’re using and your personal preference. I tend to use less basil as I find it a bit overpowering)
- Almond oil (a couple of tablespoons)
Then mix the following ingredients following the proportions below:
- Glycerin (20%)
- Witch hazel (20%)
- Rosewater (60%)
That’s it. Spray it after you’ve had a shower and lock all the moisture into your skin.
Also try making rose petal bath salts which make wonderful gifts.
Essential oils for beginners: 4 best essential oils to get started
Lavender – great for sleep and relaxation. It can be used as a natural remedy for anxiety and helps with depression. It can be used in beauty and skin care products, as a fragrance or as a cleaning product because its naturally antibacterial. Add a few drops to a hot bath to help with relaxation. I also combine it with distilled water and spray on my bed linen for a good night’s sleep.
Sweet orange – helps support a happy mood and lifts your spirits. It’s also thought to stimulate the immune system. All citrus essential oils are astringent and antiseptic so make great cleaning products. I mix with ginger to make the most beautiful smelling candles.
Peppermint – is also thought to uplift the spirits and promote focus. Mix with a carrier oil and apply to the feet to reduce nausea and fevers and can be used in soaps and cleaners. Add peppermint essential oil to hot water to help steam away cold symptoms and unblock the sinuses. I also use to keep ants at bay which seem to like to come into the kitchen once the weather turns warm.
Tea tree – well known for its cleansing and purifying benefits. It can be mixed with castile soap and distilled water to create a facial wash. It’s antibacterial so is great for cleaning the body and the home. It can also be mixed with water to make a great bathroom cleaning spray, which gets rid of the black mould around your shower tiles really easily. I bring it with me on holiday to help treat mosquito bites.