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Essential oils eight saints daily ritual organic oils

Essential Oils 101: How to Use Essential Oils and What Kind to Buy

If you’re into self-care, mindfulness, and taking care of your body, chances are you’ve dabbled in using essential oils (or, at the very least, you’ve used skincare products that incorporate them).

After all, there are tons of scent diffusers and essential oil products out there, and they can be a great and easy way to make your house smell good, to spruce up your lotions, or even just to make yourself feel better.

That said, there’s a right way and wrong way to use essential oils - and there are certain oils that can deliver real, tangible benefits that might help you every day. Here’s what you should know.

The History of Essential Oil Use

Essential Oil Use Throughout History

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Essential oils have been used by various cultures around the world for centuries:

  • Ancient Egyptians used oils like anise, cedar, myrrh, and rose starting in 4500 BC for cosmetics and ointments
  • Essential oil use was first recorded in Chinese and Ayurvedic Indian medicine between 3000 and 2000 BC.
  • In the 18th and 19th centuries, chemists began documenting the active chemicals in plants that were useful to people: things like caffeine, quinine, morphine, and atropine.
  • In 1937, the term “aromatherapy” was coined by French chemist Rene Maurice Gattefosse, who used lavender oil to heal from a terrible burn on his hand.
  • Doctors treated soldiers with essential oils during the Second World War.

In short, the many uses of essential oils -- for cosmetics, aromatherapy, medicine, and even cooking -- have been explored successfully for centuries. Which brings us to the current moment.

Essential Oil Use Today

Today, essential oils are used in a variety of ways to boost mood, ease stress, help with pain, quell sleeplessness, and more. Most commonly, they are:

  • Inhaled or diffused into the air
  • Applied directly to the skin, most commonly to ease pain, kill bacteria, or provide anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Diffused into the air
  • Ingested (though this is not widely recommended)

That said, it’s important to keep in mind that not all essential oils were created equal, and there are certain varieties and best practices you should follow to get it right.

How to Use Essential Oils the Right Way

1. Pay Attention to How They Were Made

Believe it or not, this matters. The way that essential oils are extracted has an effect on the final composition of the oil depending on the heat and pressure that’s applied during the process.

There are a few main options of extraction:

  • Steam distillation:This process, as the name suggests, uses steam to vaporize a plant’s “volatile compounds” -- which are eventually extracted as essential oil.
  • Solvent extraction: This process uses food grade solvents, or chemicals, to extract the oils. This works for plants that don’t yield a lot of oil on their own.
  • Co2 distillation:This is similar to steam distillation, but it uses Co2 rather than heat to extract the oils.
  • Maceration: Also referred to as infused oils, macerated oils are extracted by mixing ground up plant particles with a carrier oil. The oils come out and are then strained for use.
  • Water distillation:This process is used for more delicate plants like roses and orange blossoms, and it involved submerging those petals into boiling water to extract the essence. This is how rose water is produced.

Of these processes, steam distillation is the most volatile and the most likely to change the essential oil structure. Why? The high heat often used in steam distillation can alter the chemical composition of the oils and kill off some of its active properties. So if you’re looking for bioactive chemicals, you might be wary of high heat steam.

2. Don’t Use Skincare Products With Pure Essential Oils

Many essential oils can be really irritating to the skin, particularly when applied at full strength. Even oils that doprovide significant topical skin benefits - like tea tree, which has antiviral and antibacterial properties - should not be applied in their purest form.

Instead, you should look for products that dilute these oil in a carrier oil or mix them into a more c comprehensive formulation.

Some oils that are particularly known to cause irritation when applied directly at full strength include:

  • Bay
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Lemongrass
  • Citronella
  • Clove
  • Cinnamon

3. Patch Test Before You Apply Essential Oils to Your Skin

In the same vein, it’s always important to patch test any essential oils before you start using them. This can help you avoid serious allergic reactions along with issues like contact dermatitis, burns, or skin irritation.

4. If Diffusing, Clean Your Diffuser Regularly

This goes for your humidifier, too. Diffusers generally use water in some kind of plastic container to diffuse essential oils into the air. And what does sitting water encourage? Mold and bacteria! If that starts to grow, you’ll be diffusing more than great smelling oils (yikes). So make sure that you’re cleaning your diffuser regularly to avoid any problems.

5. Apply Essential Oils On Pulse Points

This trick of the trade is helpful if you’re applying oils topically for mood support or just to enjoy the smell. Applying essential oils to your pulse points - on your wrist, behind your ears, or on your temples, for example - allows the oils to soak into your system more quickly. The increased blood flow in these areas also warms the oils up a tiny bit more, which means you’ll get stronger aromatic benefits, too.

Finding the Best Essential Oil Scents For Your Needs

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So what essential oils should you try? Well, it depends on what you’re going for:

For Energy

If you want a little pick-me-up, we recommend energizing essential oils like:

For Mood Support and Anxiety

If work, the pandemic, or general lingering 2020 vibes have you feeling a little stressed, we recommend:

Bonus: This combination can help fade scars and stretch marks when applied directly - yay!

For Sleep and Relaxation

Ready to drift off into dreamland? Try oils like:

  • Lavender, the MVP of relaxing oils
  • Frankincense: An oil used since biblical times (frankincense and myrrh, anyone?) frankincense can treat dry skin, reduce wrinkles, and more. Some studies even know that it has anti-cancer properties!
  • Chamomile: This is right up there with lavender as an ultimate simmer-down go-to, and you really can’t go wrong.

Ready to start exploring essential oils? You can find a full suite of essential oils for every situation in the Daily Rituals Essential Oils Box.