Learning about essential oils and their uses can be fun as well as educational. If this is your first journey into the world of essential oils, welcome.
To answer essential oil related questions, we enlisted the help of Heather Boyt, our resident Certified Holistic Health Coach, Educator and Bastyr Trained Aromatherapist. She touches on the basics of essential oils and their uses.
"Essential oils are mostly plant extracts that are highly concentrated and volatile," explains Heather. "They will have the characteristic fragrance of their source and are obtained through different extraction methods. Depending on the plant,essential oils come from typically the most aromatic part. Citrus oils, to use as an example, come from the rind as where oil derived from flowers will come from the petal."
Just because they are all-natural, do not assume they are gentle. Webster starts their definition of essential oils with - any class of 'volatile' oils. Essential oils are extremely potent. "On the average, oils can be up to 70 times more powerful than their dried herb counterparts," says Heather. That being the case, "one must handle essential oils with great care." Be it known that a few drops can go a long way. Thus, using a carrier oil to dilute them is a safe practice.
When considering essential oils and their uses best practices, always dilute an oil when you first begin to use it. Especially if you are applying the oil to sensitive skin or using them on children. It is widely recommended, in the absence of competent advice, that you dilute one drop of essential oil to ten drops of carrier oil.
Carrier oils are interchangeable. Choose your carrier oil based on your needs, ways in which you will be using the oil and your own skin type. I use fractionated coconut oil for my carrier.
AVOID Baby Oil/Mineral Oil: Baby oil contains mineral oil. Mineral oil does not absorb into the skin and when evaporates, it will leave your skin feeling dryer than before. Also, mineral oil clogs your pores, making your skin look drab.
It is important to be a little cautious and understand the safety rules for essential oils and their uses. The oils are natural, yes, but not as mild as one may think at first. Consider purchasing this book written for the healthcare professional, but it is very useful to all who use essential oils.
Here is just one review of the book found on Amazon by Ann C. Wooledge. She gave it 5 out of 5 stars on June 1, 2014.
Know the oil: The first thing you do with an essential oil is to read the label. Not all brands are created equal. Some can be used internally, others cannot. Look for warnings and follow manufacturers recommendations on usage.
Sensitive Areas: Do not put oils near any sensitive region of the body, such as in your eyes, nose, inner ears or on broken skin.
Dilute the oils: Essential oils can be diluted with a carrier oil. One of the best is fractionated coconut oil.
Strong oils: This is the short list of oils that should always be diluted before putting them on your skin. There may be others depending on brand and purity, but these 5 make the top f the list: Cassia, Cinnamon, Clove, Oregano and Thyme.
Sun sensitivity: Prior to applying an essential oil topically, read the warning label to check for sun sensitivity issues. Avoid direct sunlight or UV rays (think tanning beds) for a minimum of 12 hours. Be aware that citrus oils pose the greatest risk. Some of these citrus oils include, but not limited to, bergamot, mandarin, grapefruit, lemon, lime, tangerine and orange.
Supervision of young children: The young naturally have more sensitivie skin. It is best to keep oils out of their reach. When using oils on children, start by applying the oil to the bottom of their feet before you try the oil in other locations. Always supervise the application of oils when with children.
Storage: Keep your oils away from heat and light. In excess, heat and light can alter the chemical properties of an essential oil significantly. Look to purchase oils that come in amber (or darker) colored bottles to help with proper storage.
Healthcare Professional: As with any product, check with your healthcare professional about essential oils and their uses in your particular case.
Want to learn about some specific essential oils and their uses? Check out a few more articles that target specific concerns.