Essential oils are compounds extracted from plants, created through distillation. They're not to be confused with carrier oils such as olive, jojoba, or argan. Essential oils are very concentrated and each have a unique character and essence. Essential oils have been used for generations for their limitless benefits which can calm, energize, clarify, etc. It's important to note the characteristics of essential oils.
There are 8 main essential oil families (some oils overlap)
Lemon, Orange, Grapefruit/Bergamot, Lime, Tangerine, Citronella, Lemongrass, Mandarin, Litsea Cubela, and Tagetes.
Reputed Benefits: stimulates for mental clarity, cleansing, uplifting, energizing, reduces feelings of stress, deodorizing and refreshing.
Rose, Rosewood, Chamomile, Geranium, Jasmine, Lavender, Neroli, Ylang-Ylang, Petitgrain.
Reputed Benefits: promotes rest and sometimes sleep inducing, mood balancing, and comforting.
Bay Laurel, Angelica Root, Catnip, Chamomile, Clary Sage, Eucalyptus Radiata, Fennel, Hyssop, Marjoram, Melissa, Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Sage Dalmatian, Parsley, Tea Tree, and Yarrow.
Reputed Benefits: calming and grounding, promotes positivity, balancing and positivity.
Camphor, Cajeput, Eucalyptus, Pennyroyal, Laurel Leaf and Lavandin (Lavender).
Reputed Benefits: help clarify the respiratory system, purifying, stimulating, refreshing, and energizing.
Spearmint, Peppermint, Wintergreen.
Reputed Benefits: Cooling, mentally clarifying, invigorating, motivating.
Cypress, Carrot Seed, Juniper Berry, Pine, Sandalwood, Fir, Cedarwood, Palo Santo, Rosewood, Patchouli, Valerian, Vetiver.
Reputed Benefits: promotes feelings of comfort, balancing, grounding, and also uplifting.
Allspice, Aniseed, Basil, Black Pepper, Cardamom, Cassia, Cinnamon, Clove, Coriander, Cumin, Ginger, Nutmeg.
Reputed Benefits: stimulating, lively, helps with focusing
Benzoin, Elemi, Frankincense, Myrrh, Peru Balsam
Reputed Benefits: promotes inner calm and relaxation, grounding, balancing, and uplifting.
We all have different reactions to scents and aromas as it is a very personal preference. Interesting results come when more than one essential oil is blended. The mixing of essential oils can release enticing aromas with therapeutic effects. It's important to note that pure essential oils should not be placed directly on your skin if they have not been properly blended with carrier oils. A patch tested should be done in case of any allergies which you may not be aware of.
It's also important to note that while the benefits of essential oils are exceptional, using them safely and responsibly is crucial. Those who are nursing or pregnant should not use essential oils or in leave-on products such as creams, lotions, balms, etc. Wash-off products such as soap can be used but only on the advice of a medical practitioner.
Essential oils should always only be used externally and kept away from eyes, nose and ears. These oils should also be kept away from sensitive areas of skin as well as those with heart conditions, atherosclerosis, cancer, skin disorders, hormone related ailments, epilepsy or allergies. Essential oils should also not be used if you are going to have surgery, taking prescription drugs, or for children under the age of 8.
Having said that, once you know that you're not allergic or have adverse reactions to essential oils, the possibilities are endless. And if you're wondering which carrier oils work best on your skin, here's a quick description....
Very Quick Absorption: Hazelnut oil, Rosehip oil
Quick Absorption: Apricot Kernel oil, Broccoli Seed oil, Canola oil, Camellia Seed oil, Fractionated Coconut oil, Grape Seed oil, Meadowfoam oil, Prickly Pear oil, Safflower oil
Average Absorption: Argan oil, Babassu oil, Hemp Seed oil, Jojoba Seed oil, Raspberry Seed oil, Sesame oil
Slow Absorption: Avocado oil, Black Currant Seed oil, Carrot oil, Castor oil, Flax Seed oil, Kuikui Nut oil, Oat oil, Olive oil, Pomegranate oil, Sea Buckthorn oil, Sweet Almond oil, Sunflower oil, Tamanu oil.
Very Slow Absorption: Borage oil, Coconut (refined) oil, Evening Primrose oil, Macadamia Nut oil, Neem oil, Palm oil.
Essential oils work best when diluted in carrier oils and are best tolerated on the skin in that form, to avoid allergic reactions. However, if you have an allergy to nuts, it's best to stay away from nut oils. Here are several different types of carrier oils.
Nut oils: Almond oil, Hazelnut oil, Macadamia Nut oil, and Walnut oil.
Reputed to be: Extremely emollient and soothing for sensitive skin, stimulates circulation, anti-inflammatory, maintains skin elasticity, facilitates wound healing.
Seed oils: Baobab oil, Black Currant oil, Borage oil, Broccoli oil, Carrot oil.
Reputed to be: Soothing for itchy skin, reduces appearance of scars, repairs damaged skin and conditions to rejuvenate complexion of mature skin.
Fruit oils: Apricot oil, Avocado oil, Grape Seed oil, Peach Kernel oil, Olive oil.
Reputed to be: Gentle and nourishing, suitable for sensitive skin, exhibits anti-oxidant properties, and reduces the appearance of aging skin.
Essential Fatty Acid oils: Argan oil, Babassu oil, Calendula oil.
Reputed to be: Anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-septic, balances hormones, facilitates wound healing, hydrates and soothes acne prone skin.
So the next time you see a small bottle of essential oil, you will be better equipped to choose what's best for you. While I've given you many cautions, for the most part essential oils and their carrier oils are widely found and easy to use. Whether we apply them on our skin, use them in water in a diffuser or in potpourri, it's always best to be aware of what we buy.