Your Personal Guide to Essential Oils

Photo by MR.SURAKIT HARNTONGKUL
Everything you need to know about essential oils— what they are, when you should use them, and the perfect E.O. cocktail for you!

In the beauty world, essential oils are the gateway to calm. Remember that last Swedish massage you had? Your masseuse probably used sweet almond oil for that. What about the last time you felt tension and stress? You may have calmed your nerves with a few drops of lavender oil.  This summer, the market has been saturated with a flurry of new body oils with hydrating and calming properties. Personally, I like to stick with the basics— pure, unaltered essential oils— that I can cocktail together for customized treatment of everything from stress and muscle ache to menstrual cramps— yea, I was pretty excited about that last one too. To make sure my oil arsenal is stocked and fully loaded I rely on Eden's Garden "Best of the Best" set of 14 E.O's or Aromatherapy Associates Bath and Shower Oil Collection, 10 travel-sized essential oils that target all of the ailments that come with working full-time in a busy city like New York.

So, what differentiates an essential oil from the rest of the pack? For starters, essential oils are derived from plants and they are 100% natural. Because of their purity, however, the oils are extremely potent and should be diluted before being applied to your skin. Translation: that whole farm (or forest)-to-skin ideology should be applied loosely here. Direct topical treatment of these all-natural bad boys can lead to breakouts and irritated skin. But, before you decide to stop reading at the mention of forbidden beauty words like "irritation" and "breakout," there's something you should know about E.O's and their use in aromatherapy. According to Parragon Books' Guide to Remedies: Homeopathy, Essential Oils, Crystals and Home Remediesaromatherapy is "the way in which the fragrance [of essential oils] is applied to relieve physical symptoms and promote mental well-being." You can tap into the benefits of these oils in four ways: Massage, Inhalation, Baths, and Vaporizations. With more than 100+ essential oils to choose from, you won't have to save up and splurge on a spa day for your next mental break, you can recreate the spa at home. Find out which cocktails and techniques best suit you, below.

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Technique

Inhalation: Fill a large bowl half-way with hot—nearly boiling— water. Add 1-2 drops of your E.O. of choice. Cover your head with a towel and hover over the steaming bowl for 15-20 minutes inhaling deeply.

Massage: Dilute E.O. of choice with a lighter (carrier) oil like grapeseed, sweet almond, or jojoba. Guide to Remedies recommends combining 10 drops of essential oil with 4 teaspoons of the carrier oil for a full body massage. If you're pregnant, have sensitive skin, elderly or very young, use one 5 drops of essential oil with 4 teaspoons of carrier oil.

Bath: Cocktail 1-2 drops of your favorite oils or 4 drops of a single E.O in your bath water and soak for 20 minutes.

Vaporization: Purchase an electric fragrance diffuser to warm oils and diffuse fragrance.

Do you use essential oils? Tell us what your use them for and list some of your favorite E.O. cocktails below!

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Filed under: Beauty, Skin