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ESSENTIAL OILS 101: THE BASICS FOR BEGINNERS



So I have a secret obsession I keep hidden in my laundry cupboard that only my husband knows about. (Until now, of course, when I’m telling the whole Internet.)

It started off innocently enough: grabbing a few of them here and there at the supermarket.

But the range at the supermarket failed to live up to my growing obsession.

I took ravenously to the interwebs, researching brands, scouring for budget options, and Googling blends to boost my stocks.

Before long, my collection has taken on a life of its own: bulging from an overflowing giant shoebox I keep in my laundry cupboard.

(And from the title of this post, you can probably already guess: I’m obsessed with essential oils).

And no, I’m not here to announce I’ve signed on with DoTerra or Young Living (but all power to the badass boss ladies who have).

However, I am a happy customer of Piping Rock, who have almost every kind of oil there is (both essential and fragrance), and are extremely well priced. Their oils make up the majority of my collection.

If you’re here, I’m guessing you’re either on the fence about trying essential oils, or you’re overwhelmed about where to start.

Which company do you buy from? How can you start your collection without taking out a mortgage on your house?

And which oils should you buy to get started?

Let me turn your ear for a moment, my friend. Here’s why essential oils are … err … essential (and the best way to start a crazy oil lady collection of your own).

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THE BENEFITS OF ESSENTIAL OILS

Aromatherapy (therapeutic use of plant aromas), has been used for thousands of years to heal mind and body. Ancient China, Egypt, and India used aromatherapy in therapeutic and religious practices due to its many benefits.

Essential oils are, basically, highly concentrated plant extracts. Plants are steamed or pressed to extract the fragrance - resulting in a scent immensely more potent than its plant of origin.

Your sense of smell is one of your most primordial senses. Have you ever smelled something and felt immediately carried back through time to a memory from your childhood?

Our sense of smell is powerful. The scent from essential oils is carried from our olfactory nerves (a.k.a. the nerves in your schnozz), all the way through to the brain, where the amygdala (our emotional centre) gets triggered.

Amazing benefits of essential oil aromatherapy include:

HOW TO USE ESSENTIAL OILS


What I love most about my oils is their versatility. There are so many ways to use them, and some of my favorites include:-

Diffusing into the air

I love a purifying blend to keep my home smelling clean and fresh, or a holiday blend to make the home smell like Christmas.


Lavender promotes a restful night’s sleep, whilst jasmine and geranium create a refreshing springtime scent.


An essential oil diffuser gently disperses droplets of fragrance through the air, leaving your space feeling fresh and clean in minutes.


Just be safe - make sure to read these safety tips first, be careful if you have pets/kids as some scents irritate fragile respiratory systems, and talk to your doctor if you have any allergies, or are pregnant/breastfeeding.

Oil burner

The old oil burners have fallen from favor in recent years, but if I’m being honest, they’re still my favorite way to use aromatherapy in the home.


I get a much stronger scent than with a diffuser. Some argue that you don’t get the same therapeutic benefit from burners, but I disagree - they’ve been used successfully in aromatherapy for centuries.


Because oil burners involve open flame, always be careful, keep them well out of the way of littles or pets, and don’t leave unattended.


Also, don't leave them on for any great length of time - no more than 30 minutes at once.

In the bathroom

Diffuse your favorite scents through the steam in your shower for instant spa vibes (be careful, especially if you have asthma. Ask your doctor).


I love to put eucalyptus in my shower for an instant spa feel (especially if I’m sick). In the bath, a few drops of peppermint oil in summer, or lavender in winter adds exquisite “home spa” luxury.

In the bedroom

I cannot sleep without a light mist of a lavender-oil based spray on my pillows and linen. Lavender oil calms and relaxes the nerves, aids sleep, and relieves insomnia. You can make your own spray with 2 cups distilled water, 2 tbsp vodka, and 20 drops of lavender oil. Pop it in a spray bottle, give it a good shake, and there you have it!

As a fragrance

Essential and fragrance oils are such an economical way to wear a fragrance! Using essential oils for fragrances can seem daunting, but it’s really very simple.


When I first discovered DIY perfume with essential oils, I was skeptical. I thought I’d end up reeking like a box of incense, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.


Using a blend of essential and fragrance oils, I’ve created a flirty, sweet, and floral signature scent. It smells like Disneyland!


You can get creative and come up with your own signature perfume! I’ll do a tutorial on DIY-ing your own perfume and fragrance oil, but in the meantime, here’s the guide I followed.

In cleaning products

I’m big on sanitizing, weirdly love the smell of bleach, and am no stranger to a robust hospital-grade disinfectant. That said, for daily use (in ordinary times) I avoid harsh chemicals wherever I can.


I typically use a homemade cleaner with baking soda and vinegar, then I beef it up with essential oils. Oils like eucalyptus, oregano, grapefruit, tea tree, and clove are antibacterial and antiviral.


For a refreshing scent (and to keep the bugs out), I add a few drops of orange and peppermint oils too.

As insect repellent

Sure, if deadly mosquito-borne disease is a thing in your area, use DEET spray. But for home use, I’d rather not have those revolting chemicals on my skin if I can help it - especially after a shower in the evening.


For years I’ve used a homemade bug spray made from essential oils - and it’s incredibly effective (not to mention it smells delicious - like summertime). I posted the recipe for natural mosquito repellent here a while back.

MUST HAVE OILS FOR STARTING YOUR COLLECTION

No wonder essential oils feel daunting: there are SO many blends to choose from! But I recommend starting as I did: with some versatile basics you can use for almost anything.

Here are the must-haves I keep in my collection at all times. Click the pink links to head to my favourite stockist and start your own toolkit.

Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus oil is a staple in my toolkit because it’s so versatile! You can diffuse it when someone in the house is sick to relieve symptoms.


In summer, I add a few drops to my evening body oil/lotion to keep mosquitos at bay.


Because of its antibacterial properties, you can use it in homemade cleaning products. And if you want to be a domestic goddess, add a few drops to your laundry for extra freshness.

Peppermint

I’ve been using peppermint oil for AGES but a naturopath reintroduced me to it when I suffered debilitating and chronic cluster headaches. She gave me a rollerball to apply to my temples on the go.


It was more effective than anything else I’ve tried for relieving the symptoms. Now I never leave the house without it.


Peppermint oil is also simply magical to relieve nausea. Diffuse a few drops and watch your symptoms disappear like magic.

Tea Tree

There is always tea tree oil in my cupboard - and for good reason! It has amazing antibacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits. I get hormonal acne and blemishes often pop up on my skin, despite my best efforts to keep it clear.


I take a cotton tip, soak it with (diluted) tea tree oil and apply - and the zit vanishes within a day, taking the redness with it. It’s also used to treat eczema, help with wound healing, and treat dandruff. Tea tree oil is also great insect repellent, and because it's antibacterial, it’s great to use in all-purpose cleaner.

Lavender

I woke up the other night to a horrific foot cramp - the kind that bunches your toes in, one on top of the other, in spasm. I tried walking around, stretching my toes and rubbing my foot but nothing worked.


I used to keep magnesium spray by the bed, but I was fresh out, so in desperation, I grabbed my bottle of lavender spray and gave my foot a spritz. Within seconds, the cramp was gone.


Now I know that lavender oil actually has pain-relieving qualities. It’s also incredible for relaxation and sleep - and it smells so pretty, feminine and refreshing too!

Immune blend

Four thieves oil is based on an infamous blend that medieval grave robbers apparently used as protection against the plague as they desecrated cemeteries. There are several variations of the recipe on the market: but all use antimicrobial essential oils.


For an all-rounder to use in a DIY home cleaner, air freshener, or in DIY hand sanitizer recipes, this is it.

If you really want to dive into essential oils headfirst, then a starter kit is the best way to go.


It's a solid investment to amass even a basic essential oil collection if you buy single oils. Starter kits are typically the most cost-effective way to go about it.

There are plenty of brands to choose from, but Piping Rock’s collection is incredible value and contains all the essentials (pardon the pun).

The starter kit includes 12 x 15 ml essential oils for just $59.90 - less than $5 a bottle. The included oils are:

  • Lemon oil - great for purification

  • Rosemary oil - another great antibacterial oil which makes your kitchen smell heavenly

  • Orange oil - can’t live without this - your house will smell like Christmas

  • 4 Thrive oil - an antibacterial must have

  • Clove oil - another must for your DIY home cleaner kit

  • Bergamot oil - a luxurious scent, perfect for DIY perfume recipes

  • Eucalyptus oil

  • Frankincense oil

  • Peppermint oil

  • Lavender oil

  • Tea tree oil

  • Cedarwood oil - a deep, rich, earthy scent for a cozy feel

--> Want a cost effective way to get started with essential oils? Grab all the "essentials" here <--

What attracted me to Piping Rock was how affordable their oils were. Most of the basic must-haves are less than $10 for a 15 ml bottle, which will last you forever.

Even so, it’s almost $21 cheaper to buy the kit instead of each individual oils.

You don’t have to sign up to any network marketing companies, or a subscription service - it’s just an economical way to stock up your essential oil collection.

To make it even cheaper, once you’re a customer Piping Rock will give you a special code to share with friends and family. For every purchase made through your custom link, they will reward you with points - which you can then use to top up your own collection, or redeem for cash. Winning!

Why, it’s practically free money!

DON'T FORGET ABOUT CARRIER OIL

Before lavishly sprinkling oils around like pixie dust, don’t forget a carrier oil! If you use essential oil on your skin, you MUST dilute it.

Essential oils may be natural, but in no ordinary context would you ever come in contact with such high concentrations of that substance in nature.

When they’re applied directly to the skin, essential oils can cause a reaction. A more gentle oil a.k.a. a carrier oil will soften the blow to the skin.

You can use fractionated coconut, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, argan oil, olive oil, sesame oil, or even the plain old sunflower oil sitting in your pantry.

Just remember that certain oils (like olive and sesame oils) have a natural fragrance which may influence the smell of your essential oil. This doesn’t really bother me - but if it bothers you, choose an oil with low or no fragrance of its own.

SAFETY FIRST!

Do your own research and trust your instincts before you get started. Chat with your doctor first, especially if you have a medical condition like asthma or pregnancy.

Essential oils may contraindicate some medical conditions, medications, or age groups, so it’s better to play it safe.

Also, remember that just because they’re natural it doesn’t automatically mean they’re safe for everybody always. Have your thinking cap on whenever you use them!

Paracelsus, the medieval physician known as the father of toxicology, famously said (paraphrased): “the dose makes the poison”. The right dose of something is medicine: too much is toxic.

Keep this in mind when dealing with essential oils: with sensible use in every day life, they’re usually quite safe, but should be treated as carefully as with any medicine.

  • If you use an oil on the skin, do a spot test with a carrier oil first and wait 48 hours before applying it all over.

  • Beware of using essential oils around your pets - chat with your vet, as some blends are highly toxic to animals.

  • There is a difference between essential oils and fragrance oils. Essential oils are 100% natural, whereas fragrance oils are synthetic. Fragrance oils are great to use for DIY candle projects, perfumes, or in your oil burner, but just be careful. I happily use both, and am not fragrance sensitive: just know that fragrance oils will not have the same therapeutic benefits as essential oils. Also be careful if you’re sensitive to perfumes, as fragrance oils may be irritating. Don’t apply fragrance oils to the skin. A handy guide: for skin, healing and cleaning, use essential. For funsies, fragrance is okay.

  • Keep diffusers, burners, and oils out of the reach of your littles and your furbabies.

  • Always dilute your oil in a carrier oil when applying it topically.

  • Research your oil company thoroughly to make sure they are stringently safety and quality tested.

  • Essential oils are highly flammable so beware of using them around open flames. This is why you need to be especially careful when using oil burners.

  • Just please don’t swallow them. Some trained and licensed therapists do use this method - very carefully - in some therapeutic settings. From my research, there’s not enough evidence in favor of ingesting essential oils for it to be worth the risk. Especially not when there are so many other much safer ways to enjoy the benefits of oils. This article provides helpful information about the dangers of oil ingestion.

A FEW MORE OF MY FAVOURITES


Ready to venture down the rabbit hole and join me in Wonderland? See you there, Alice!

Here are a few more of my favorites to add to your collection.

--> Ready to get started? SWIPE FROM MY CART <--

Starting your own essential oil collection can feel daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. With this guide, you’ll be using them in your life like a pro, and wondering what you ever did without them.

Do you already share my essential oil obsession? What are your favorite tips for using them? Let me know in the comments!

- save some for ‘ron’

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