The power of smell can have a real effect on our wellbeing; helping to reduce stress and lift our mood. It’s linked to our limbic system, which is part of the brain that controls mood and emotion.
One of the easiest ways of doing this is through essential oils, which are a concentrated scent of the plant they come from.
However, there are over 90 commonly used essential oils, each with their own health benefits so the choice of what to buy can be overwhelming.
How do you know what’s going to be right for you?
Then, what do you do with them?
Here’s an introduction on how to get started with essential oils.
How do you use essential oils?
There are several ways to use essential oils: topically (where they’re applied directly through the skin); inhalation; and in beauty and household products.
Here are a few ideas to help you get started with essential oils.
One of the easiest ways to use essential oils is with a diffuser. All you need to do is add a few drops of essential oils into water and the scent fills the air. There are various products on the market; I use this bamboo diffuser which works really well and turns off automatically when the water runs out.
Massage (inhalation and into the bloodstream)
Add a few drops of essential oil to around a tablespoon of carrier oil such as sweet almond, jojoba or coconut oil for a full body massage.
I also add lemongrass to a carrier oil and use to massage my legs to increase circulation after spotting some potential varicose veins (the aging process is so fun. Sighs…).
There are so many essential oil candles on the market. However, look for ones that are essential oil based rather than the scent. Essential oil based candles are more expensive but they’re not made out of synthetic chemicals and so are much better in my book. Try looking on Etsy for ideas.
One of the easiest ways to create a home spa experience is to add a few drops of your favourite essential oil into a hot bath. Job done. For added luxury, also add 1-2 cups of epsom salts (to help ease achy muscles) and a tablespoon of carrier oil (to soften your skin) and then mix before you get in.
Did you know a number of essential oils are a natural disinfectant? Tea tree oil, eucalyptus, lavender or any citrus fruit based essential oils can be used for general household cleaning. Just mix into a spray bottle with water or white vinegar (the cheap stuff).
I also love this DIY natural fabric conditioner with mandarin which leaves your clothes smelling better than any shop bought products. I promise.
Treating minor ailments
Cuts and grazes, plus insect bites can all be treated with tea tree essential oil. Always make sure you dilute with a bit of water before using to avoid your skin becoming irritated if it’s particularly sensitive.
What are the best essential oils to get started with?
I would always advise people to think about what scents that you’re attracted to. I’m not naturally someone who goes for rose or more floral smells, however, I love citrus and woody smells like sandalwood.
Here are some ideas to help you get started with essential oils.
Please note, each of these oils have several uses so I’ve just highlighted some of them.
Use for coughs, blocked noses, as a rub for aching muscles and as a natural disinfectant.
Fill a sink with hot water and add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil to steam away a blocked nose.
Use for almost everything: skin and beauty products, household cleaning, headaches, sleep, mood enhancing and can even be used for sunburn.
Try adding a few drops to your pillow to help with sleep.
One of my personal favourites. Sweet orange is said to help lift your mood and give you a sense of calm. As it’s a citrus fruit, it can also be used for cleaning products because its antimicrobial (gets rid of bacteria).
Add a few drops of sweet orange essential oil with bergamot and water into a spray bottle for an uplifting mood spray.
Bergamot is an invigorating essential oil which reduces stress and tension. It can also help you fight tiredness.
Mix with lavender in a diffuser and enjoy a moment of calm.
Use for digestive problems, colds and bronchitis.
Try spraying around ant invasions (not at the ants themselves…) to discourage them from coming into your home.
Can be used to treat insect bites, cuts and on your skin and hair to reduce oil.
Add to water and put into a spray bottle for a natural insect repellent.
Basil is a calming essential oil, which is great for mental fatigue and to help you relax.
I make my own hydrating body spray with lime, basil and mandarin similar to that of a well known beauty brand… Recipe is here.
Lemongrass is another of my favourite essential oils. It’s so multi-purpose and I love the smell. It’s great for the nerves, can be used in household products (its antimicrobial), and is great for the skin also.
Use as a natural deodorant by diluting with water. It’s also supposed to be good for cellulite (mix with a carrier oil and massage affected areas.
Use to help reduce stress and boost the immune system.
Massage 5 drops of rosemary essential oil into your scalp to help your hair grow.
Use for digestive issues, skin problems and heartburn. It’s also good for helping to balance out emotions.
Add a few drops into a carrier oil and use as a massage to help reduce fluid retention.
How do you create essential oil blends?
Essential oils can be used on their own or blended together.
Here are a few basics to help you get started with essential oil blends.
Oils from the same family tend to blend well together. For example, flower based essential oils (rose, geranium, jasmine); herbs (basil, rosemary, marjoram); and spices (cinnamon, ginger).
Spices and citrus blend well together, such as ginger and lemon, cinnamon and sweet orange.
Woody scents and citrus work well. Examples are rosewood and bergamot, cedarwood and lime.
There are some oils which dominate and take over any scent combination. These are: peppermint, fennel, tea tree, clove, thyme and camomile. Although camomile may be lightened with lemon.
Menthol and flowery scents don’t tend to work well together.
Here are some essential oil blends to try
Uplifting energy blend
2 drops eucalyptus; 2 drops peppermint; 8 drops lemon; 1 drop cinnamon leaf; and 1 drop cardamon oil.
Memory enhancer for studying blend
1 drop clary sage; 6 drops lemon; and 10 drops rosemary oil.
1 drop lavender; 1 drop ylang ylang; 1 drop bergamot and 1 drop patchouli oil.
Sleep inducing blend
10 drops sandalwood; 10 drops lavender; 15 drops bergamot; 2 drops ylang ylang and 3 drops frankincense oil.
What are carrier oils?
Essential oils are highly concentrated so only a few can be applied directly to the skin without being diluted. They can either be diluted with water or with a carrier oil.
A carrier oil is also essential for massage as otherwise it would be painful on the skin and muscles.
Here are a few different options to help you get started.
- 1. Grapeseed. This is a popular and easily available oil of a medium texture made from grape seeds.
- 2. Almond. It’s more expensive but very kind to the skin with a delightful aroma.
- 3. Apricot Kernel. Recommended for use on the face and neck, light and easily absorbed.
- 4. Sunflower. A popular choice for body massage as it contains Vitamin E and easily available.
- 5. Soya. Especially good for oily skins and easily absorbed.
- 6. Avocado. More expensive but rich in texture and ideal for dry skin, containing Vitamins A and B.
- 7. Wheatgerm. This is made from the germ of the wheat and contains Vitamin E. Excellent for dry skin but very rich – it may be used in combination with another lighter oil to prolong the life of the oil.
- 8. Sesame. Again very rich with a nutty aroma. Best used in combination with another lighter oil.
Where to buy essential oils?
Always buy essential oils from a reputable brand because some of the cheaper products can be mixed with other ingredients so they’re no longer pure.
What’s the best way of storing essential oils?
Essential oils should be kept in dark brown glass bottles and away from direct sunlight.
Keep the lids on tight.
If stored properly, they should keep for 1-2 years.
Things to note
There are some essential oils which aren’t advised to be used on young children or pregnant women so I would always check best practice first if this applies to you.
I’ve also added some affiliate links to products, which I’ve bought myself and have been happy with. I’m not saying this is the only place to buy them from – am just sharing in case its useful.
I often think the power of smell is underrated compared to other sensory experiences such as listening to music and the impact it can have our emotions. However, research shows essential oils can reduce feelings of anxiety and aid sleep and they’re a reasonably cheap way of lifting your spirits.
I hope you find this post useful.