How to Choose and Use Essential Oils

April 16, 2020 5 min read

How to Choose and Use Essential Oils

Essential oils are one of the most popular self-care products at the moment. While these oils might be a huge trend now, they’ve been used by people across the world throughout history. Some debate whether or not essential oils provide what they say they will, but centuries of use make it clear to see that they can be beneficial when used correctly.


Some essential oils are well known, like lavender, but there are many essential oils that are far less common that are also worth using. When you’re getting into essential oils for the first time, having so many types can be overwhelming, but it’s easy to learn when you know what to look for.  

What Are Essential Oils?

Despite essential oils being popular, many people aren’t really sure what they are. There’s a lot of different beauty-related oils floating around, but they aren’t all essential oils, no matter how beneficial they may be. An essential oil is a very concentrated oil taken from a plant. We know that dozens of different plants can have different health benefits, which essential oils can help us access is a very small dosage. 

What Can You Use Essential Oils For?

There’s no shortage of essential oils to choose from, but they aren’t all meant for the same thing. Each type of essential oil can provide specific benefits. When you’re first getting started with essential oils, you’re going to have to do some research before you settle on the right essential oil for you. You’ll want to think about not only what you’re looking to get from an essential oil, but you should also be taking into consideration the smell. An essential oil that’s meant to be relaxing isn’t going to do its job very well if it’s your least favorite smell. We spoke with Stevie D'Andrea with Jewels for Hope who told us how she bases which oil she uses entirely off preference. "I like what I like, and whatever will help me calm down in a stressful situation, that's what works best for me." You might be able to find several different essential oils that can help treat the same thing, so keep in mind what each one will smell like and how that can affect you. 

How Can You Use Essential Oils

You can use essential oils in a variety of different ways. Many people use essential oils applied to the skin with a carrier oil, in a diffuser, in a bath, or a spray. Depending on what oil you’re using, you might be able to use it a couple of different ways to get different benefits from it. It’s important to keep in mind that not every essential oil is the same. Even if an essential oil can be applied to the skin, that doesn’t mean that everyone will react to it the same way. 


Here are a few ways that you can use essential oils. 

Mixed With a Carrier Oil

Many of the most popular essential oils can improve the health of your skin when used correctly. For example, one of the most common essential oils for skin health istea tree oil to help treat acne. These need to be applied with carrier oils to help dilute them before putting them on your skin. Essential oils, being as concentrated as they are, shouldn’t be applied to skin on their own, as they can cause irritation. We spoke with Sam Williamson with DermCollective who uses essential oils to treat hyperpigmentation and acne scarring. She told us "The best way to apply the oil is with a carrier oil such as argan oil (2:1 ratio), and simply dab the affected area with a cotton ball." To do this, you’ll also need to find a carrier oil that works for your skin, likerosehip,argan, orcoconut oil

In a Bath

A bath is one of the most inexpensive acts of self-care you can do. All you need is to carve out some free time to relax in a warm bath to make your bathroom feel like a spa. Essential oils can significantly enhance any bath. Dr. Carrie Lam, MD with Dr. Lam Coaching believes in the benefits of using essential oils in your everyday life. Dr. Lam told us that she finds incorporating oils in baths or showers to be one of the most beneficial ways telling us that it "Allow the entire body to be immersed in essential oil steam. Start with a small dosage and adjust according to your tolerance." This is a great way to create a nice smelling bath without worrying about artificial perfumes. Using essential oils in a bath can also give your skin the same benefits of using it mixed with a carrier oil. 

Used in a Spray 

Facial sprays are another self-care and beauty trend that has been huge over the past few years. There are multiple different sprays you can find on the market today, but possibly the best thing you can do if you’re interested in sprays and mists is to make your own. This way, you know exactly what’s in it. With an all-natural, homemade spray, you can give your face a nice refreshing spray any time of the day. You can also use this as a room spray which many people like to do before they go to bed at night. Julia Quade with Sleep Authorities told us, "One of the best uses for essential oils is to improve your sleep. My favorite essential oil to use for sleep is lavender. I've found that the scent alone calms me down and helps me relax, especially if I've had a particularly stressful day."

In a Diffuser

Aromatherapy is one of the most popular uses of essential oils. Although you aren’t applying it directly to your skin, you can still get the benefits of an essential oils through breathing it in with a diffuser. Even if you aren’t looking for any particular benefits of an essential oil, trying one out in a diffuser is still something you should look into. This way, you’ll get to choose what essential oil you’d like a room to smell like and have the comfort of knowing it’s a natural fragrance that you’re breathing in. We spoke to Ashton Burdick about how she utilizes essential oils in her practice with her clients and at home as well. "I love spicy, fall scents like cinnamon, anise, and clove year-round. I mix a few drops into a diffuser and take a few mindful moments throughout the day to just breathe and enjoy."


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