Aromatherapy Done Right: How to Use Essential Oils

24 Apr 2020
Dana Grace

Essential oils are increasingly popular natural products. When used properly, these highly concentrated extracts from the leaves, flowers, and stems of plants have the power to improve our physical and mental health. So, how to use essential oils the right way? By following the experts’ advice, of course.

Pick a Safe Method of Application

The single most important “don’t” of pure essential oils is to not take them internally without the appropriate advanced aromatherapy education and understanding of the safety issues involved in doing so. Instead, choose a method of use that’s considered to be safe/less risky. Here are the top four ways of using essential oils.

#1: Diffuse Them

Dispersing your favourite essential oils in the air with the help of a quality essential oil diffuser is an enjoyable and effective way to practise aromatherapy in your home or office. Oil diffusers are devices that need just a few drops of high-quality essential oil to clear the air, create a pleasantly fragrant environment, and, most importantly, deliver therapeutic aromatherapy throughout the room.

Oil diffusers turn essential oils into a fine vapour so the body can absorb them through the respiratory system with ease. The aroma in the air can prompt the nervous system to send signals to the limbic system (the set of structures in the brain that controls emotions, memories, and bodily functions, among other things). The brain’s response may be a release of hormones, pain relief, or a positive boost in mood.

If you intend to smell your way to better health with the help of an essential oil diffuser, you’ll be glad to learn that there are many different types to choose from. Ceramic, electric, candle, ultrasonic, and lamp rings are the most popular ones. However, it’s important to keep in mind that cold air diffusion is typically preferred over heat diffusion because heat can cause essential oils to evaporate and degrade quickly. Whichever type you opt for, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety tips.

Always diffuse in well-ventilated areas and never exceed 30- to 60-minute intervals because it won’t amplify the oil’s benefits. It can only create stress on your nervous system.

Essential oil vaporisers are widely used because they’re practical and offer the chance of using single essential oils as well as several oils together to create a custom aroma with multiple therapeutic benefits. The use of aromatherapy diffusers is recommended for stress and anxiety, insomnia, air purification, motivation improvement, fatigue reduction, relaxation, etc.

#2: Simply Inhale Them

According to the USA’s National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, inhalation of essential oils presents a very low level of risk for most people. Even in a relatively small closed room, and assuming 100% evaporation, the concentration of any essential oil is unlikely to reach a dangerous level. However, considering pregnant or breastfeeding women, children, and animal companions in the environment is a must when dispensing essential oils in the air.

Essential oils can be inhaled through various methods. Simple inhalation is the easiest one. All you need to do is open a bottle of essential oil and inhale deeply several times. Make sure not to let the undiluted oil touch your skin.

The steam method is another easy way to inhale essential oils. A bowl of hot water and a towel are the two things this method requires. Start by placing the bowl on a table or other flat surface and then add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to the water (up to 6 drops of essential oil to every 28 grams of boiling water for adult use).

Once you complete the first step, you’ll need to place the towel over your head and the bowl, close your eyes and inhale the steam for several minutes. If irritation occurs, stop doing this immediately. If you feel fine, repeat this process a few times during the day for better results.

Aromatherapy steam inhalation is particularly useful for colds, flu, sinus infections, and congestion in the nose and chest. It may also help with respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis. In these cases, blue gum eucalyptus, tea tree, lemon, and thyme are the best choices.

#3: Dry Evaporation

Dry evaporation is a simple method for which you’ll need a dry material (a cotton ball or fabric can do the trick just fine). You’ll need to add a few drops of essential oil to it and then hold it to your nose, inhaling or allowing the scent to disperse naturally. Some people add such scented materials to their shirt collars, pillowcases, and even to the vents in their cars.

#4: Apply Them Topically

When it comes to using essential oils on your skin, diluting them is crucial. How to do that exactly? With the help of carrier oils, of course. Carrier oils are made from plants and are often used to dilute essential oils and “carry” them to the skin. This is done because essential oils can cause irritation if applied directly on the skin due to their potency.

Sunflower oil, sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil, coconut oil, olive oil, argan oil, rosehip oil, black seed oil, grape seed oil, avocado oil, and jojoba oil are commonly used to “weaken” essential oils for aromatherapy, massage, and skincare. Before purchasing a bottle for your aromatherapy needs, please take into consideration your skin type as well as the oil’s odor, absorption, and shelf life.

In order to protect yourself, always do a patch test before applying anything to larger areas of your skin. You can do this by adding a small amount of carrier oil to the inside of your wrist, cover the oil with a bandage, and check the area 24 hours later. Kiss the oil goodbye if your skin’s irritated and wash the affected area thoroughly. Do the same with essential oils.

Check the Quality

Once you decide on a method of application, you’ll probably want to buy your very first essential oils. When shopping for these products, look for trusted producers. Also, choose pure essential oils. Additives may cause allergic reactions.

Don’t Use Photosensitising Oils Before UV Exposure

Healthcare professionals recommend staying out of the sun or sun tanning booths for at least 24 hours after using photosensitising oils.

Don’t Use Essential Oils on Damaged Skin

Undiluted essential oils can be really dangerous, especially when applied to injured or inflamed skin. This is so because damaged skin absorbs more oil and may cause unwanted skin reactions.

Wash Your Hands After Using Essential Oils

Every time you finish an aromatherapy session, go straight to a bathroom and wash your hands thoroughly. Don’t touch your eyes or scratch the inside of your ears with remnants of essential oils on your hands because you could experience a serious adverse reaction.

Store Them Safely

In order to ensure the safety of your kids and furry family members, keep all essential oils locked away out of their sight and reach. Be extremely careful not to use or store them near candles, gas stoves, lit cigarettes, or open fireplaces because they are highly flammable.

Tell Your Doctor

If you have a certain health condition and take certain medications, consult with your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you to use these natural products.