What are essential oils

The many essential oil benefits you're missing out on

Have you ever noticed the dinky essential oil bottles while you’ve been shopping and always wondered why people use them and what they use them for?

In this article, we’ll talk you through everything you need to know about essential oils, so by the end, you’ll be fully in-the-know about some of the different options (as there are many essential oils out there), the benefits and uses.

So, let’s start at the beginning shall we? By providing you with an overview of what essential oils are:

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are oils, but they aren’t like the oils you use to cook with, such as your vegetable and olive oils, they’re oils that capture a plant’s aromatic scent or flavour.

These oils are extracted from plant leaves, bark and roots by either using distillation or cold pressing. Once extracted, they’re then combined with a carrier oil, creating a product that’s ready for us to use. (Note – essential oils that have been created through chemical processes are not classed as being true essential oils).1

What are carrier oils?

Carrier oils are oils that are taken from a plant’s nuts, kernels or seeds and used to dilute the powerfulness of essential oils. Given the fact essential oils contain sure pure plant extracts, they’re almost too pure to use neat. Doing this can potentially result in skin irritation, such as redness, or even, burning.

So, this is where carrier oils come in. They’re vegetable oils, coconut or avocado oil, for instance, that are mixed with essential oils to reduce their potency. In turn, this can help improve their effectiveness on our skin. (Tip – carrier oils are also called base oils too, just in case you were thinking you have to use base and carrier oils).

Other types of carrier oils: jojoba, black cumin seed, jojoba, grapeseed, evening primrose, rosehip.2

Types of essential oils

Now that we’ve covered carrier oils, which are a necessary element of using essential oils, let’s focus back on essential oils again.

Just as there are different types of essential oils, there are all sorts of different essential oils too! They include:

  • Lavender
  • Tea tree
  • Peppermint
  • Spearmint
  • Geranium
  • Lemon
  • Clary sage
  • Frankincense
  • Ylang ylang
  • Patchouli
  • Tangerine
  • Orange
  • Citronella
  • Cedarwood
  • Grapefruit
  • Ginger
  • Star Anise
  • Spearmint
  • Sandalwood
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Turmeric
  • And many more….

How to use essential oils

Now this is where the fun begins, as there are lots of ways you can use essential oils. You may want to just use them in one particular way or you may want to experiment and mix up the way you work with them, each and every time you use them.

You can:3

  1. Add some drops to your bath – this can help boost their therapeutic and relaxing qualities because they affect the limbic system or the emotional brain.

  2. Pop some into a diffuser – this is a great way for you to feel the therapeutic benefits of essential oils in the environment around you. What’s more, you only need to use two to three drops at a time. The best essential oils for diffusers include: eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender, tea tree and patchouli.4

  1. Inhale them – to do this, put a few drops of your chosen essential oil on a muslin cloth and take three deep breaths. Alternatively, mix your essential oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut or evening primrose oil, and then apply a few drops on your palms and breathe in deeply.

  1. Put them on your skin – it’s really important to remember that you shouldn’t dab essential oils directly on your skin, as they may be too strong for your skin and cause some sort of reaction, which is far from ideal. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t put them on your skin, you just need to blend them with a carrier/base oil before you do. Once combined, you can apply essential oils to your face and the rest of your body. It is important to seek professional advice and to follow instructions on label carefully prior to use.

  1. Dab them on your feet – now this may sound a little unusual, but it’s a common practice when using essential oils. Just pop some on the soles of your feet and massage it in – our feet actually contain key absorption points for essential oils. (Don’t forget to blend them with a carrier oil first though).

The benefits of using essential oils

Essential oils for anxiety

It’s believed that doing aromatherapy with certain essential oils will give you a calming and relaxing effect. There are a number of essential oils that are used for this purpose.5

Chamomile

The National Cancer Institute carried out a clinical trial into the effects of massaging people with cancer with Roman chamomile oil. The study found that massaging with this essential oil (diluted) had a relaxing and calming effect.

Lavender

This essential oil is often used in aromatherapy because of is relaxing, and relieving properties.

For more advice about using essential oils and their calming effects, read this article, ‘8 essential oils for anxiety you should try.’

Essential oils for sleep

Certain essential oils are said to be beneficial in enabling people to nod off. Here are three essential oils to use at night time:

Lavender

Here it is again, lavender. As well as potentially having a calming effect, lavender is widely used for relaxation and sleep too due to its soothing scent.

Valerian

Now this is an essential oil we haven’t mentioned yet. Most herbal teas contain valerian, due to its calming properties. According to research, it can potentially help people rest and help improve the overall quality of sleep as well.6

Bergamot

Bergamot is widely known for the calming effect it can have. This is because it signals to our system that it is time for bed. For more about using essential oils for night time, read this article, ‘7 essential oils to help you sleep better.’

Essential oils benefits – at a glance


Essential oil Benefits
Lemon7
  • Improves skin
Peppermint8
  • Unblocks sinuses
Lavender9
  • Calming
  • Relaxing
  • Improves mood
Tea tree10
  • Soothing
  • Calming
Eucalyptus11
  • Refreshing
Cedarwood12
  • Refreshing
  • Relieving
Lime13
  • Helps with mood
  • Provides refreshment and revitalisation
Ylang ylang14
  • Relaxes and soothes
  • Provides hydration
Grapefruit15
  • Provides refreshment
  • Works as an astringent
Geranium16
  • Helps with relaxation
  • Mood enhancing
Ginger17
  • Refreshing
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Aids with digestion18
Frankincense19
  • Rejeuvenating
  • Refreshing
Jasmine20
  • Calming qualities
Neroli21
  • Calming
  • Soothing
Spearmint22
  • Aids concentration
Patchouli
  • Enhancing
  • Moisturising

Introducing essential oils into your life

As you gather from the information we’ve shared with you above, essential oils are a whole new world in themselves.

Take the time to do your research beforehand and, once you’ve settled on your chosen oils, don’t just rub them anywhere, as oils that are perfectly fine to use on your arms and legs, may not necessarily be safe to put inside your mouth or to inhale. Always read labels and package instructions before using an essential oil.

And when you’re doing your research always, always look into the purity of the essential oils. Ideally, you want to use oils that are in their purest form and haven’t had anything extra added to them. Finally, as with testing anything new on your body, make sure you always dilute according to instructions provided on label carry out a skin patch test beforehand to make sure you aren’t allergic to the essential oil(s) you’re planning to use.

Best of luck with using essential oils and here’s hoping you enjoy the many benefits of using them! In the meantime, for more essential oil insight, have a read of this article, ‘The best essential oils for beautiful skin and hair.’ Buy Essential Oils

Last updated: 10 September 2020

AromatherapyNatural Beauty