The most common use for essential oils is skincare. If you look at many commercially made skincare products, you will usually see different kinds of plant extracts in the ingredient list.
These products are great, but some people prefer to make their own skincare products. When you make your own products, you know for sure what’s going on your body, and you can tailor the final product according to your specific needs. Essential oils offer a great DIY skincare solution.
Essential oils must be diluted with carrier oil when applied to the skin or hair. Essential oils are hydrophobic, meaning they do not mix with water. Because of this, they must be mixed with oil. If you mix essential oils with water and then apply it to the skin or hair, the water will simply evaporate, and the concentrated essential oil can irritate or harm the skin.
You should choose your carrier oil according to your skin type. You can also increase the benefits of your natural skincare with the right choice of carrier oil.
Going beyond skincare, essential oils can also help you lose weight and reduce stress. We will cover these options as well.
Essential Oil Skincare
Carrier oil is used to dilute the essential oil so that you can spread it on your skin in a less-concentrated form. Carrier oil can be mixed fresh with the essential oil on the palm of your hand every time you need to use it, or you can mix the two in a bottle according to your preferred ratio to save time. The type of carrier oil will vary based on your need.
Carrier oils based on skin type:
|Dry skin||olive, argan, avocado, rosehip|
|Normal skin||sweet almond, jojoba, coconut, castor|
|To add anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties||coconut|
|To rejuvenate aging skin||rosehip, argan, avocado, castor, grapeseed|
|To heal superficial scars or sunburn||rosehip, grapeseed, coconut|
If you have multiple skin concerns and are not sure how to choose the right carrier oil, choose according to your skin type. While this may mean you won’t be able to obtain the anti-bacterial properties of coconut oil since you have oily or dry skin, you can always add anti-bacterial benefits from the essential oil you choose to use.
There is generally no precaution for pregnant or nursing women and for children in the choice of carrier oil except for allergies. If you are allergic to a certain food, e.g. nuts, it is best to avoid oils from nuts like sweet almond.
Before using essential oils on your skin, it is best to do a skin test first, especially if you have sensitive skin or commonly suffer from allergies. To do this, dilute a drop of the essential oil you plan to use with a drop of carrier oil. Apply it to a hidden part of the body like the back of the ear or the fold of the elbow. Wait for 24 hours to see if it causes irritation. If no redness or itchiness occurs, it is safe to use that essential oil.
If irritation occurs, consider the possibility that you need to dilute the essential oil even further. Use two drops of carrier oil for one drop of essential oil and repeat the skin test. If no irritation occurs, use this ratio of essential oil to carrier oil. Apply the mixture as you would a moisturizer on all affected areas.
If irritation still occurs, you need to find alternative means for your problem. Generally speaking, however, most people will find that further dilution of the essential oil is enough to prevent irritation.
For pregnant or nursing women, and for children, the essential oils mentioned in this guide are safe unless stated otherwise; but you should still do the skin test in case your skin is sensitive.
Here are some of the more common skin problems and their solutions using essential oils.
For acne that is caused by an excess of bacteria in the skin’s pores, tea tree essential oil can be very effective. In fact, it has been proven to be as effective as benzoyl peroxide, a common acne medication against bacteria. However, it might take longer to see results with tea tree oil compared to benzoyl peroxide.
Another effective essential oil for acne is lavender, though it might work even slower than tea tree oil.
Eucalyptus essential oil will work for mild cases of acne or occasional acne, e.g. acne which only occurs during stressful days. If your skin is acne-prone or if your acne keeps recurring, avoid the use of eucalyptus since long-term use might cause poisoning.
Take note that these three essential oils can sting the eyes if placed too near them. It can also irritate sensitive noses. If you have pimples near the eyes or nose, dilute the essential oil further or use an alternative treatment. It will also help to use these essential oils in a well-ventilated area.
Acne marks or dark spots
Lemon essential oil can safely bleach unsightly marks on the skin. It can also bleach your freckles. Other less effective options include the other citrus oils like grapefruit, orange, tangerine, and lime. If you wish, you can mix these essential oils.
Fine lines and wrinkles
Lavender, frankincense, and sandalwood essential oil are all good for aging skin. To help increase the anti-aging benefits, choose a good skin rejuvenating carrier oil like rosehip or argan.
These essential oils should not be used around the eyes since they may cause irritation. You can use pure carrier oil, instead, for eye wrinkles.
If you are not pregnant, you can choose jasmine or rose essential oil; otherwise, avoid them since they can cause contractions or bleeding.
Lavender and tea tree are very good in killing fungi. Since most fungal infections occur on skin, which is less sensitive than facial skin, you can use a higher percentage of essential oil to carrier oil. Also, you can opt to disregard choosing your carrier oil according to skin type since you are only treating a small area.
For fungal infections, the best carrier oil is coconut oil. Saturate a gauze pad with your essential oil solution, place it on the affected area, and then cover with a bandage. This will help the essential oil to penetrate deep into the roots of the fungi. The bandage will also prevent your clothing or bedding from getting stained.
Eczema and psoriasis
For itching, you can use peppermint, patchouli, or tea tree oil. To soothe the skin, use chamomile. You can also combine chamomile with any of the first to obtain both benefits. To prevent infection in case of a break in the skin, use lavender oil.
Use the same method of application as described for fungal infections.
For hair care, essential oils must still be diluted. The method of dilution will depend on how you are going to use the oil. If you are going to use it as a leave-in treatment, you need to use a carrier oil. If you are going to use it as a rinse for the hair, you can dilute it with water or add it to your shampoo. Take note, however, that the latter is less effective than a leave-in treatment because you rinse out most of the essential oil.
Choose your carrier oil according to your hair type, e.g. whether you have dry, normal or oily hair. For scalp psoriasis and dandruff caused by fungi, you should choose coconut oil regardless of your hair type. You can use this as an overnight treatment for your scalp then shampoo it out in the morning. This way, you don’t have to worry about greasiness if ever you have oily hair.
As usual, the essential oils mentioned here are safe for pregnant or nursing women and for children unless otherwise stated.
Here are some of the common hair problems which can be solved with essential oils:
Dandruff or scalp psoriasis
You can treat this problem the same way as you treat skin psoriasis. Use coconut oil mixed with peppermint, patchouli, or tea tree oil and apply the mixture to the scalp. Leave this on the scalp for as long as possible. For overnight use, you can wrap your head with a plastic shower cap to prevent staining your pillows.
For slow-growing hair, rosemary essential oil is proven to stimulate the hair follicles. Unfortunately, this should be avoided by pregnant women since it can cause contractions. Safer, albeit less effective, alternatives are lavender and peppermint.
You can either use your choice of essential oil as a leave-in treatment for the scalp, add to your shampoo, or use as a hair rinse.
To make a leave-in treatment, mix the essential oil with equal amounts of carrier oil then massage on the scalp. To add essential oil to shampoo, start with the ratio of 10 drops for every 100 ml, and adjust depending on the results.
To make a hair rinse, add 5 drops for every cup of water used. Shampoo your hair first then remove as much water as possible with a towel. Bend over a bowl to avoid wasting the rinsing water. Try to saturate your hair with the essential oil mixture. Wait a few minutes, then rinse your hair with clean water.
Tea tree oil is considered the most effective for lice followed by lavender. Mixing these essential oils with coconut oil makes your natural treatment even more effective since coconut oil will drown the lice and dissolve the glue which attaches the nits to the hair shaft. You should saturate the hair with a 50:50 combination of essential oil and coconut oil.
To further hasten the removal of lice, add the essential oil to your shampoo by following the ratio of 10 drops for every 100 ml.
Weight loss is not a common use for essential oils, and some people are adverse to the idea because it requires the ingestion of essential oils, but with care, it can be done.
Before we discuss essential oils for weight loss, it must be clarified that they only help by slightly increasing the metabolism and by suppressing the appetite. You cannot realistically expect essential oils alone to dissolve several pounds of excess weight. That said, when combined with a reduced-calorie diet and regular exercise, they can help you lose more pounds.
Though some of the essential oils mentioned here were considered safe for skin or hair use, ingesting the essential oil is a different matter since it goes directly into the body. It will have a more intense effect compared to when it is indirectly absorbed through the skin.
The essential oils which have been proven effective for weight loss include the following: lemon, grapefruit, cinnamon, and ginger.
Choosing the Right Essential Oil for Weight Loss
If you are going to use essential oils for weight loss, you must be sure that what you are using is true essential oil instead of artificial fragrance oil. We have already discussed the dangers of using artificial fragrance oil, but the danger becomes more serious if you have to ingest the oil. Artificial fragrance oils can be poisonous.
If you are not 100% sure about the brand you use, don’t try it for weight loss. To be on the safe side, buy essential oils that are specifically sold for cooking purposes.
Here are our recommended essential oils for weight loss that are safe to ingest:
To use essential oils for weight loss, you can add 1 to 2 drops to a glass of water or other fluids. Always start with 1 drop then progress to 2 if you experience no adverse effects. You can also add your essential oil to food. To do this, take note of the number of servings and add 1 or 2 drops for each serving.
Here are further ways to add essential oils to your drinks or food:
- Add a drop of any of the above options to hot tea.
- Add cinnamon to hot or iced coffee, cocoa, or milk.
- Add lemon or grapefruit to salad dressings.
- Add any of the above as a flavoring to cakes or other baked goods.
- Add lemon or grapefruit to fruit juices.
Stress and Beauty
For many people, their use of essential oil is limited to aromatherapy or the inhalation of scents to induce a certain mood. This is likely the reason why the less expensive artificial fragrance oils were manufactured, and since most people are unable to sense the difference between the two, this inferior alternative remains in the market.
We have already mentioned that artificial fragrance oils are good enough for aromatherapy purposes, but if possible, get the true essential oil to compare their scents. Keen noses are likely to notice a difference.
Also, notice that the same essential oil can be used for a variety of purposes. For example, lavender can be used for acne, aging skin, or dandruff and lice, and its scent can also be used to relieve stress. If you or a family member suffers from any of these ailments, it might be a good idea to get the true essential oil rather than the artificial fragrance oil. Not only will you be able to solve many of your problems, you will get better quality fragrance as well.
You can also create personalized perfumed skin or hair products which will not result in irritation. While artificial fragrance oils are sometimes used for cheap soaps and other skin products, this is not recommended since they can irritate the skin.
One reason you want to use perfumed products is the aromatherapy benefits you can get from specific scents. Even if you do not have a specific skin or hair ailment, you can still benefit from the stimulating or relaxing effects of various scents. As you may know, having a good mood can go a long way in maintaining health and beauty.
Essential oils you can use to boost or relax your mood
There is no danger in the inhalation of these scents for pregnant or nursing women and for children. However, take care that the scent is not too strong. If you feel dizzy or feel a headache forming, turn off your diffuser or blow out the candle of your oil burner and temporarily leave the room.
Here are the many ways you can use these scents:
Essential oils must always be diluted. For aromatherapy purposes, if a diffuser or oil burner is used, the essential oil must be diluted in water. If you do not add water, the scent of the essential oil might be too strong and can irritate rather than improve your mood. Also, the direct heat will burn the essential oil and change its scent from pleasant to bad in a couple of minutes. Start with 5 drops of essential oil for every ¼ cup of water and adjust from there according to your preferences.
If you choose to use the essential oil as a room spray, mix together 10 drops of essential oil with ½ cup of denatured alcohol or 100 proof vodka and ½ cup of water. Store this mixture in a spray bottle and give it a shake before spraying in the room. You can spray this on curtains, beddings, or upholstery to make the scent last longer. Take note that this spray is flammable.
If you choose to use a scented candle, the essential oil will be diluted by the wax. When making your own candles, use around 10 to 15 drops of essential oil for every 8 ounces of melted wax. Using less essential oil might not create much of a fragrance.
If you choose to use potpourri, add a few drops of essential oil every now and then to it depending on how strong you wish the scent to be. If you added too much, sprinkle some water on the potpourri to dilute the scent.
Scented body spray
The same recipe for room spray can be used to make a lightly scented body spray. If your skin is sensitive to alcohol, spray it on your handkerchiefs or clothes.
Scented skin and hair care
The above recipes for skin and hair care will give you the scent of the essential oil you chose to use. However, if you do not have specific ailments to cure, you can replace the recommended essential oil with whatever scent you prefer.
Here are some ideas:
- Fragrant and moisturizing rose skin oil – mix together equal amounts of rose essential oil and rosehip oil
- Scented body lotion – melt together an equal amount of your choice of carrier oil and beeswax. For every cup, add 10 drops of your choice of essential oil.
- Scented shampoo or body wash – add 10 drops of essential oil for every 100 ml of unscented shampoo or liquid body wash.
You can also combine essential oils to create a different scent. Just make sure that you stick to the recommended number of drops, e.g., if the recipe calls for 10 drops, and you are using 2 essential oils, add 5 of each. If you are using 3 essential oils, add 3 of each and an extra drop of whichever scent you like most.
Here are some combinations you can try with the more common essential oils:
- Lavender, rose, sandalwood and vanilla.
- Lemon, rosemary, and peppermint.
- Patchouli and rose.