The Low-Down on Essential Oils


I must admit: when I first heard about essential oils, I thought it was just another one of these "(un)necessary beauty trends." How wrong was I! 

After recently becoming introduced to the world of essential oils, I truly am hooked. As someone who doesn't sleep very well, who thinks a lot, and who often finds herself a bit stressed, I turn to essential oils for their therapeutic and relaxant agents that help me chill the f*&k out! Yet, as I've started researching more, I've realized how extensive their qualities and respective remedies are. Rather than finding yourself on the 9th page of Google, I've compiled a list of simple essential oils, their properties, and where you can get them. 

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are extracted through cold pressing, resin tapping, and steam distillation. They can be used in a variety of ways, either by aromatic diffusion or topical application. Since they are highly concentrated plant extracts, do not underestimate their power. In an interview with Byrdie, Charlynn Avery, aromatherapist and educator at Aura Cacia, noted that " On average, [essential oils] are up to 75 times more powerful than dried herbs, [thus] essential oils must be handled with care."

How to Use

If you're in need of an aromatic diffuser, I highly recommend the aromaOm® Ultrasonic Diffuser by Saje Wellness. I use this one and it's super easy to clean. If that's a bit out of your price range, here are a few other options:

  1. Aromasource Mysto Diffuser ($38)
  2. InnoGear Diffuser ($19)
  3. SpaRoom Aromatherapy Diffuser ($20)
  4. Urpower Oil Diffuser ($21)
  5. PureSpa Deluxe Aromatherapy Oil Diffuser ($40)

Benefits of Common Oils

Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus is wonderful when your respiratory system needs some extra lovin'. Whether you have a cold o congestion, this oil stimulates the immune system by providing antioxidant protection. It activates the nose's cold receptors. Boil 1 quart of water, let it cool, the pour into a bowl. Add 4-5 drops of eucalyptus oil and, with a towel over your head, inhale for 10-15 minutes. It's great for hair nourishment, itchy scalp, lice, cold sores, joint and muscle pain, for fungus...the list goes on!

As a hair treatment: Mix eucalyptus oil and 4 tablespoons of carrier oil (coconut or olive) in a bowl. Then blend into the scalp. Comb your hair to stimulate blood flow. This should be applied about an hour before taking a shower. Wash out with shampoo and conditioner.

Lavender Oil

Aside from being one of my favorites, I highly recommend lavender oil for those who are just starting out. It can treat allergies, sooth rashes, help bug bites, but my personal favorite of it's qualities is the soothing it brings. If you're feeling stressed, the scent of lavender is believed to act as a chill pill. You can add 4 to 6 drops in a warm bath or mix with water in a spray bottle as use as a room freshener. To help sore muscles, add 5 drops with 5 drops peppermint oil and 4 teaspoons carrier oil (olive or coconut) and massage to the affected area.

Tea-Tree Oil

I use tea-tree oil as one of my go-to's for breakouts and other skin irritations. Once I got a piercing on my tragus as a young teen and a keloid began forming. There was no way I was going to let this happen, so I went on a research spree and saw I should try tea-tree oil. After applying religiously, I actually managed to reduce the size and eventually, it fell off. (I've always been a fan of the gross, #DrPimplePopper!) Tea-tree oil has antimicrobial properties and helps minimize the bacteria responsible for pimples. I'd advise to dilute this oil a bit, as it is rather strong. You can mix 5 drops in 4 tablespoons of aloe vera gel and apply as a toner after cleansing too if you're acne-prone. Also, if you have a little dandruff situation, try adding 1 drop to your bit of shampoo; one study showed that people who used shampoo with 5% tea-tree oil had a 41% reduction in their frosted flakes!

Peppermint Oil

For those headaches! Since peppermint contains menthol, it works as a natural anesthetic that relaxes pain receptors. It's pretty strong, so dilute it before applying straight to your skin. Add 2 drops to 1 teaspoon of a carrier oil and massage into skin. 

Jojoba Oil

Jojoba oil is derived from the seeds of the jojoba shrub, a small desert plant native to Arizona, California, and northwestern Mexico. Indigenous Peoples used and continue to use jojoba oil to help heal wounds (because, contrary to popular (mis)education, Indigenous People are not extinct). It contains unique fatty acids and alcohol esters. It offers tons of benefits particularly to the skin, from acting as massage oil, facial cleanser, makeup remover, lotion booster, and hair and lip conditioner. Jojoba oil accelerates the closure of wounds at a cellular level and helps reduce acne.

A general cheat sheet:

  • Anxiety or stress: bergamot, chamomile, clary sage, lavender, rose, ylang-ylang
  • Trouble sleeping: bergamot, cedarwood, clary sage, lavender, sandalwood, valerian, weet marjoram
  • Energy boost: black pepper, eucalyptus, ginger, lemon, peppermint, spearmint
  • Trouble focusing: basil, grapefruit, patchouli, peppermint, vetiver