Everything You Need to Know About Essential Oils — The Dos and Don’ts
What Are Essential Oils?
As its name implies, essential oils are essences or extracts from various parts of a plant that go through cold pressing and distillation to concentrate them. Aromatic and highly beneficial, essential oils can be incorporated into vegetable oils, creams, or bath gels. Essential oils are commonly used for aromatherapy so you can rub it on your temples, on the skin or add a few drops to the bath. Always seek professional help if you’re unsure about usage and product labels.
DO use it if you’re anxious
Popularly known to convey tranquillity, aromatic lavender, chamomile and rosewater are best used to soothe symptoms of anxiety. To use, you can simply rub the oil between your palms to warm it up and breathe it in or rub diluted versions on the skin. Researchers believe that the fragrance from essential oils sends chemical messages to the part of the brain that affects mood and emotion. While it may not manipulate your mood and rid you of stress, it can certainly promote relaxation.
DO Check on Quality
The adage that quality is key can’t ring any truer. It’s essential (pun intended) to buy from trusted producers that dole out pure oils without adulteration. Not all oils are made the same, so you might be prone to an allergic reaction to oils that have other ingredients. That said, extra ingredients such as vegetable oil may be normal for certain more expensive essential oils.
DO Get Rid of Older Oils
The general rule of thumb is that essential oils shouldn’t be kept for longer than three years. Why, you ask? Older oils which have continuous exposure to oxygen are more likely to spoil and may not work as intended, and might even cause irritation or allergic reaction. Keep your eyes open for any significant changes in appearance, feel or smell of the essential oil and throw it out if you do because it has most likely run its course.
DO Dilute Before Usage
Due to its potent, unadulterated nature, undiluted oils shouldn’t be used directly on the skin. You can dilute it with a carrier oil such as coconut oils or creams or bath gels, to a solution that only has about 1% to 5% of the essential oil. To make it simpler, the ratio for adults is 15 drops of essential oil per 6 teaspoons of carrier oil. Remember, the higher the percentage of essential oil, the higher the chance of developing some kind of reaction. So, it’s vital to mix it correctly.
DON’T Apply Everywhere
Topical application of essential oils on arms and legs are safe but the same can’t be confirmed if ingested or applied on your nose, eyes or private parts.
Don’t Trust Buzzwords
It has been affirmed that essential oils carry a myriad of benefits. However, just because it’s derived from a plant and is pure, doesn’t mean it can’t cause irritation to the skin. Natural substances, in its purest form, just like essential oils are too potent for our skin to accept thus its negative reaction in the form of allergies. It’s best to do a patch test to check your skin’s response before diving in.
DON’T Forget to Store Them Safely
Something potent can certainly do damage in the hands of a little one, unintentionally of course. Keep essential oils in a cool, dry place without direct sunlight and also far away from the sight and reach of your little ones.
DON’T Overdo it
Balance is key with everything, especially pertaining to essential oils. Overdoing something that is good for you can actually cause more harm than help. Even when diluted, an essential oil can cause a bad reaction if you use too much or use it too often. You can start slow and dispense it two to three times a week and build it up as you see fit.
DON’T Be Afraid to try them
When dispensed the right way, they can aid in alleviating side effects of certain conditions. For example, post chemotherapy can cause nausea and to help with this, breathing in ginger essential oil vapours does wonders. On top of that, you can also win the battle against certain bacterial or fungal infections such as the MRSA bacteria, with tea tree oil. This fact is backed up by a study that revealed the efficacy of tea tree oil as a prescription antifungal cream in treating symptoms of a fungal foot infection.