What are Essential Oils and their Benefits?


This week we will be diving into essential oils and their benefits. Many cultures around the world have used essential or aromatic oils for thousands of years. A unique aspect of the history of essential oils is that they seemed to have been developed independently by different cultures as they saw their unique value.

Essential oils have been used in a variety of ways throughout history. From supporting the overall improvement of well-being to being used in skincare, body care, cleaning products, and historically, some have used it for medicinal purposes. The uses of essential oils continue to grow.

We are finding essential oils are more popular than ever right now. So this week, we are going to look into some of the ways we can use essential oils in our day to day lives.


What are Essential Oils?


Essential oils are 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. Each essential oil has a unique composition of chemicals, and this variation affects the smell, absorption, and effects on the body. The chemical composition of essential oil may vary within the same plant species or from plant to plant. Once extracted, they’re then combined with a carrier oil, creating a product that’s ready for us to use. Synthetic oils, which are oils produced through a chemical process, are not considered authentic essential oils.


What are carrier/base oils?


Carrier oils, also known as base oils, are taken from a plant’s nuts, kernels or seeds and are used to dilute the powerfulness of essential oils. Essential oils contain pure plant extracts, which are almost too pure for us 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.

Some oils can be used neat in certain circumstances. It is always essential to read the manufacturer’s instructions or speak to a professional to use your chosen essential oil.


Types of essential oils


There are many different types of essential oils, and you can buy them singularly or also blended. We will look at some of the popular essential oils and the various benefits they provide.

Lavender Oil: Undoubtedly, a lavender essential oil is among the most used and most versatile oils. It is known worldwide for its soothing properties that relax the mind, body, and soul.

Sandalwood Oil: This magnificent oil forms the most vital ingredient of Ayurveda in India. The exotic essential oil helps calm anxiety, improves focus, is a natural aphrodisiac, and has anti-viral, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Tea Tree Oil: tea tree oil is believed to be antibacterial. Tea tree oil is commonly used to treat acne, athlete’s foot, lice, nail fungus and insect bites. Tea tree oil is available as an oil and in many over-the-counter skin products, including soaps and lotions. However, tea tree oil should not be taken orally. If swallowed, it can cause severe symptoms.

Peppermint Oil: One of the best essential oils used to treat headaches; naturally, peppermint oil is known for its strong minty aroma and fast, effective treatment. It can be applied topically to the painful area or mixed with other oils to tone down its intense aroma.

Chamomile Oil: If you have ever tasted the soothing flavour of chamomile tea, you know how relieving and calm you start feeling with just one sip. That’s the magic of this herb. The oil is an excellent mood booster. The oil is usually inhaled through vapour therapy or is ingested in the form of chamomile tea.


How do I use my essential oils?


There are many ways we can use essential oils. In the salon, we use it mixed in a carrier oil for massage, and we also use them in diffusers.

Here are ways you can use them at home:

  1. Pop some into a diffuser – You can completely transform the character of a room in just a few minutes using a few drops of a favourite essential oil or synergy blend in a diffuser. This is an excellent way 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. When used in a diffuser, do check which oils you are using if you live with pets. Some essential oils can be toxic to animals.
  2. Add some drops to your bath or shower – this can help boost their therapeutic and relaxing qualities because they affect the limbic system or the emotional brain. Lavender and Camomile are the safest oils for everyone to use in the bath because of their gentle non-irritant qualities. If you want to experiment with others, watch out for oils that may be photosensitising when in direct contact with the skin.
  3. Direct Application – Some essential oils such as lavender and tea tree can be applied directly to the skin to soothe minor insect bites, scratches and burns. It is advised to mix with a carrier oil to prevent irritation from occurring. It is vital to seek professional advice and to follow instructions on the label carefully before use.
  4. Inhalation and Steam Inhalation – Sprinkle a few drops of aromatherapy oil onto a handkerchief or tissue, and inhale as required. Alternatively, add three drops of your essential oil to a bowl of steaming water. Cover your head with a large towel, close your eyes, put your face above the water and inhale deeply. Repeat as required. Remember, not all essential oils can be used in this way.
  5. Massage – Aromatherapy massage is one of the best ways to experience aromatherapy essential oils, combining the benefit of touch and the therapeutic effect of the essential oils. Massage relaxes muscles and improves circulation and lymph flow, soothes physical tension and relieves mental stress. Pure essential oils should always be diluted in a good quality carrier oil before applying to the skin.

I want to add essential oils into my daily routine, but what ones do I get?


Take the time to do your research and once you’ve settled on your chosen oils, always read the label and instructions before using the essential oil. 

You can always chat to a professional where you are buying your oils and get recommendations of oils to use with what you would like to achieve. Once you have your 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 inhale. 


Our Top Tip 


When you’re doing your research, always look into the purity of the essential oils. Ideally, you want to use oils 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 the label. Before your first use, carry out a skin patch test to ensure you aren’t allergic to the essential oil(s) you’re planning to use.

As always, we’re more than happy to chat you through the process of finding your ideal products, from essential oils to skincare – we’re here to help. Either pop in our Maidenhead salon or give us a ring on 01628 298040.

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Ana Harmony

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