The Ultimate Guide Essential Oils for Beginners

TABLE OF CONTENTS

If I had to put my hand on one natural remedy that we absolutely could not do without,  it would be essential oils...hands down. Their effectiveness and versatility have earned them an irreplaceable spot in our home where we have been using oils for adults, toddlers and babies for years.

This article is going to be an essential oils guide for beginners where you can learn everything you need to know to get started with oils in a simple and easy way. So, let’s get started. 🙂

CHAPTER 1

WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL OILS?

Chapter 1 - What are Essential Oils
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Essential oils are the most powerful and underused, natural remedies for health conscious families in the 21st century.

So, what are essential oils, exactly?

Essential oils are compounds that come from plants through various methods of extraction, like CO2 extraction or steam distillation. These highly concentrated compounds are powerful in many ways and are one of the most ancient and enduring components of medicine around the world.

Because they’re so concentrated, essential oils magnify the benefits of many herbs, foods and other plants from around the world. It can takes dozen of pounds of one plant to create a single bottle of essential oil.

The oils in plants that serve to protect the plant from insects, weather problems and other external forces are distilled into just one bottle.

According to Dr. Josh Axe, a Doctor of Natural Medicine and certified nutritionist, what sets essential oils apart from other oil compounds from plants is this (1):

“Essential oils are composed of very small molecules that can penetrate your cells, and some compounds in essential oils can even cross the blood-brain barrier. They differ from fatty oils (like those in vegetables or nuts) that come from large molecules because they cannot penetrate your cells, so they are not therapeutic in the same manner.”

If a plant, on its own, has antioxidant activity, the essential oil of that plant multiplies the effects of that activity many times over. Antibacterial essential oils can be more effective than medications used to treat bacterial infections because of how powerful they are.

What I love about essential oils is that they can be used in a variety of ways. When it comes to using essential oils for beginners the most popular modalities are to use oils aromatically (aromatherapy) and topically.  But many oils can also be used internally and depending on the oil and what it’s being used for this can sometimes be the best route.

If you’re wondering, “Are essential oils safe to ingest?” we’ll address that question later on the article.

The thing to remember with oils is that the application depends on what the oils are being used for. There is no set rule for how essential oils can benefit the body because their uses are so far-reaching, and each oil acts in its own way.

CHAPTER 2

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF ESSENTIAL OILS?

Chapter 2 - What are the Benefits of Essential Oils

In this essential oils guide we’re going to dive into the specific uses for essential oils, but before we do let’s look at some of the reasons you should use them. Whether you’re more interested in essential oils for beginners or you’re essential oil veteran anybody can use the tips in this article. Here are some of the benefits of using essential oils:

ESSENTIAL OILS ARE OFTEN AS (OR MORE) BENEFICIAL THAN MEDICATIONS, AND THEY TYPICALLY DON’T CAUSE SERIOUS SIDE EFFECTS.

Medications for infections, diseases and injuries can come with a laundry list of side effects. Some turn out to be worse than what they’re supposed to treat!

As long as you’re using an essential oil safely — only ingesting oils known to be intended that way, for instance — you might find that you prefer them to medications.

I’m a huge proponent for using oils as a first line of defense for a variety of medical issues. As long as it’s not an emergency requiring immediate care, essential oils are a powerful place to start. Chronic headaches? There’s essential oils for that… and those oils won’t damage your liver like Tylenol.

Depressed? Try using essential oils. Unlike prescription antidepressants, essential oils don’t increase your suicide risk or come with dangerous antidepressant withdrawal symptoms.

Seasonal allergies? Instead of suppressing your immune system, give essential oils a chance to train your body to respond correctly to what’s around you.

We’ll get into exactly which oils to use for what later, but I first want you to understand that the greatest benefits of essential oils is supporting good health without endangering it at the same time.

HIGH-QUALITY ESSENTIAL OILS ARE FREE FROM TOXINS AND CHEMICAL FILLERS.

At Elevays we’re all about helping you protect yourself from the dangerous chemicals present in cleaning products, personal care products and, yes, even medications. From xenoestrogens to autoimmunity triggers to carcinogens, we’re all exposed to toxic chemical ingredients way more than we should be.

When you purchase pure, high-quality essential oils from a reputable company, you’re harnessing their benefits without exposing yourself to harmful chemicals.

Essential Oils Buying Guide

I’ll add this caveat, though — don’t cut corners. It costs a little more to purchase high-quality oils, but  it’s worth it. The essential oils industry is unregulated and many companies do use fillers, synthetic oils or cheaper distillation methods. For details on the most best essential oil brands check out the articles below:

ESSENTIAL OILS ARE ACTUALLY VERY COST-EFFECTIVE.

It might feel like a burden on your bank account when you buy a bottle of essential oil for $20, $60 or even $80. However, that bottle of oil is going to last you a long time.

A single drop of an essential oil is often all you need. In a standard 15 mL bottle you should get 250+ drops of essential oil.  

Because these oils are often support your health and wellbeing and are preventative and curative for common ailments, they can also help save your family money on unnecessary doctor visits or prescription medications.

So, while it may seem like you’re forking out extra cash at the beginning there really is a trade-off for better health and wellbeing. After using oils for more than 5 years, I can also say that it’s 100% worth it.  

THERE ARE NO AGE LIMITS FOR ESSENTIAL OILS

Got kiddos? If you’re like us, medications are reserved for emergencies only. For young kids many medications can have harmful side effects and most ailments that little ones face can be dealt with by using natural remedies.

This is why we love essential oils - when used responsibly they are safe or the whole family.

There’s lots of fear mongering on the internet around using essential oils, but the truth is that you can use oils with kids and even babies. They just need less than you and me because obviously they are smaller and their sensitive skin may be more susceptible to irritation.

There’s certain situations where I don’t use specific oils - like, I wouldn’t use Oregano or Peppermint on a newborn. But for the most part you  just need to heavily dilute and you’re good to go. There’s absolutely no reason to have fear or be an alarmist around using essential oils for children and babies so long as it’s done responsibly.

I’ll give more details on what’s safe for children and babies later in the essential oils guide.

ESSENTIAL OILS ARE SUPER VERSATILE

You can use essential oils in so many ways — and it’s not just about improving illnesses or disease! Our family is as healthy as they come and we still use oils alllll the time. Even though we’re not using them to deal with chronic conditions, we still use them daily. Here’s just some of the ways oils make it into our everyday routine:

  • Oils boost our energy
  • They promote clarity of thought and focus when we need to get work done
  • We use oils in our personal care regimen - for hair care, skin care, in lotions, shampoo and even oral hygiene the bathroom is a primary place where oils get used in our house
  • We use oils to purify the air and add intoxicating aromas (bye-bye scented candles and hormone disrupting air fresheners!)
  • We use them to ward off pathogens by boosting the immune system
  • Essential oils are often used in our home to relax and unwind; whether we’re diffusing, adding to a bubble bath or just inhaling in the palms, oils serve a variety of stress relieving purposes in our house
  • Oils are also powerful for relieving muscle tension; wrangling kids around throughout the day can lead to a sore back, neck and shoulders; oils  help to calm inflammation and ease muscle tension

What’s so great about this is that the same oils that promote relaxation and stress relief can also be used to ease skin ailments, like soothing a burn on your hand or healing a cold sore.

The other way many people love to use oils is in DIY recipes. Later on in the essential oils guide we’ll review some of my favorite DIY recipes. Home cleaning products like dish soap and surface cleaners are perfect for essential oils because they’re so powerfully antibacterial.

Now that you understand just some of the benefits of essential oils, let’s review how they are actually used.

Chapter 3

HOW DO I USE ESSENTIAL OILS?

Chapter 3 - How do I use Essential Oils
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There are three basic ways to use essential oils for the body, and not all of them are appropriate for every essential oil. But the three main ways to use essential oils are aromatic, topical and ingested. Let’s dive deeper into each one:

AROMATHERAPY

The practice of inhaling essential oils is known as aromatherapy and you can inhale the aroma of any essential oil safely.

To inhale an essential oil, the easiest way is to just add a drop or two to the palm of one hand and rub your hands together to warm up the oil. Hold your hands up to your nose and inhale deeply several times. You can also just hold the open bottle under your nose and breathe deeply.

If you want to use essential oils via aromatherapy I highly recommend investing into a diffuser. Diffusers disperse essential oils throughout the air in a fine mist of essential oil and water. They are great because they allow you to passively gain the benefits of essential oils through inhalation without having to actively apply them.

Depending on the size of your diffuser, you may need anywhere from 3-12 drops of an essential oil in one fill. They also allow you to fill a room with the aroma over time so you can stop using synthetic air fresheners and “plug-ins” that disrupt hormones.

Most diffusers automatically shut off after a certain amount of time and they can be programmed for the time interval of your choice (like 2, 4 or 6 hours). There are also diffusers that go up to 10 hours and these are perfect or overnight use.

What I also love about diffusers is that they travel well. Car diffusers are awesome because they are mini versions of full size diffusers. They can be used while on long road trips or while you’re dealing with traffic during your morning commute. Use them to relieve stress as you’re on your way home at the end of the day or to help rowdy kids relax on a road trip.

Full size diffusers are also great to travel with because many come in compact sizes that fit neatly into a suitcase or overnight bag. You can easily create intoxication aromas no matter where you go.

For aromatherapy wherever you are, check out our article on the best diffuser jewelry and accessories for some stylish finds. Increase productivity and focus at work while alleviating stress and overwhelm.  

If you're still confused on the difference between an essential oil diffuser and a humidifier than check out this article to find what you need. 

TOPICAL APPLICATION

Because their molecules are so small, essential oils are easily absorbed into the skin. You can use essential oils topically to improve your complexion, as a natural perfume and even to get oils into the body on a systemic level. This is super helpful if you’re using oils for a chronic condition or you want the oils to have a systemic therapeutic benefit - like boosting your immune system or regulating hormones.

Some essential oils can be used topically on their own, while others require a carrier oil.

What is a carrier oil? Put simply, carrier oils are used to dilute essential oils and prevent their evaporation so they can slowly absorb into the skin. Made from fatty oils of plants rather than their aromatic compounds, their molecules are larger and don’t absorb as fast (5).

Common carrier oils include fractionated coconut oil, regular coconut oil, almond oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil and olive oil. You may be wondering, “What’s the difference between fractionated coconut oil and virgin coconut oil?”

Fractionated coconut oil goes through a chemical process that removes long chain fatty acids to leave the coconut oil in liquid form. Virgin coconut oil does not go through this process and because of that it’s solid at room temperature.

While both virgin and fractionated coconut oils can be used effectively as carrier oils, the fractionated version is most loved by the essential oil community. This is because it’s molecular structure is so small that it is superior when it comes to “carrying” the essential essential oils into the body. It’s also odorless which allows the aroma of the essential oil to stand out.

The drawback is that its liquid form can make it a little messier especially when applying - especially with children (where oils should always be diluted with a carrier). If you’re wondering what carrier oils are best for each situation,  here’s a quick essential oils guide to carrier oils based on my experience:

  • Best for Therapeutic Benefit: Fractionated Coconut Oil (because of its small molecular structure)
  • Best All Around Carrier Oil: Coconut Oil because it’s solid at room temp and easy to work with and most people have it on hand for cooking
  • Best for General Skin Care: Almond Oil because it’s rich in vitamin E
  • Best for Facial Care: Jojoba oil because it doesn’t clog pores
  • Best for Dry, Cracked Skin: Extra Virgin Olive Oil because it supports deep hydration
  • Best for Internal Use: Avocado Oil or Extra Virgin Olive Oil - these liquid food grade oils are healthy for you and can be used with veggie caps (more on that later) to ingest essential oils

The benefits of using carrier oils also extend to stretching the use of your oil. You can cover a much larger surface area of the skin when you’ve diluted an essential oil in a carrier vs. trying to apply one drop to a large area of the skin.

Here’s a Quick Guide On Carrier Oils and How to Dilute for Topical Application

For newborn babies: Use oils with caution. I personally don’t do much outside intervention on babies that are super small. If the need arose (like my newborn had a cold) I would probably use oils without hesitation, just heavily dilute. Outside of an immediate need (or using oils on the umbilical cord stump) I personally stay away from anything unnecessary - even if it’s natural - for the first 3 months.  

For infants and children up to age 2: 1 drop of pure essential oil per 2 teaspoons of carrier oil

For children age 3 - 12: 2 to 4 drops of pure essential oil per 2 teaspoons of carrier oil

For adults: 1 to 4 drops of pure essential oil per teaspoon of carrier oil

For oils like Oregano, Clove and Wintergreen that can be sensitizing to the skin I typically avoid using these in young children. There's almost always a better alternative that's safer for young skin. 

INGESTION

Ingesting essential oils is a highly controversial topic, but an essential oils guide wouldn’t be complete without addressing this question. Many people want to know: “Are essential oils safe to ingest?”

You’ll see lots of fear mongering on the internet around ingesting oils, but it’s unfounded. Essential oils are ancient remedies and have been ingested safely for centuries.  

While there’s definitely some things to be cautious about when ingesting oils, and you shouldn’t ingest oils haphazardly, this is a legitimate practice of essential oil use and when this method is used responsibly it can be very beneficial for overall health and wellbeing.

Here are some of the concerns many people have about ingesting essential oils:

1- Essential oils can damage gut flora

Robert Tisserand is a well-respected authority on essential oil safety and here’s what he has to say about the impact of essential oils on gut flora (95):

“We do know that enterically-coated capsules of peppermint oil are beneficial in cases of irritable bowel disease and that these capsules result in a (substantial) peak serum concentration of 1,492 ng/mL for menthol. We also know from this report that peppermint essential oil had a beneficial effect on the balance of gut bacteria in a case of SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth).

It would be useful to know more about particular oils, doses, routes of administration and their effect on the body’s microbiome. But in the meantime, it is rash to assume that essential oils negatively affect the balance of bowel flora, because there is no clinical evidence that this happens. On the other hand, decades of clinical experience by doctors in France suggests that essential oils frequently heal both acute and chronic infections without the damaging, and often long-lasting effect on bowel flora that comes from the use of antibiotics.”

Since there’s no clinical evidence that essential oils in and of themselves deplete gut flora I think we can put this concern to rest.

2- Essential oils can damage and burn the mucosa in the mouth

This is true if you’re pouring undiluted drops of essential oil into your mouth (especially potent ones), if you’re trying to drink essential oils in a glass of water (oil and water don’t mix well) or if you’re using a very potent oil like Oregano or Peppermint straight into the mouth. Yes, it will burn.

But if you’re using some common sense - like 1 drop at a time - avoiding highly irritating essential oils and delivering them to the body in a vehicle that’s not irritating (such as a veggie cap or foods like soups or a smoothie) there’s no reason why essential oils shouldn’t be ingested for specific uses.

3- Essential oils can interfere with medications

This is actually true. Essential oils are powerful substances and if you’re already taking medication for a chronic condition you should check with your health care provider before ingesting to make sure that there’s no risk of interference.    

These are the most common objections around ingesting essential oils. Even though essential oils are regularly ingested safely some people may still be uncomfortable with doing so. That’s totally fine! Stick with using oils aromatically or topically. There’s still plenty of powerful benefits there. But for those that are interested in internal use here are some other things to keep in mind:

  • Know the company you’re buying from. The best essential oil companies produce 100% pure essential oils that are heavily tested before they get to market. This is just one reason why it’s imperative that you know the company you’re buying from. Don’t even think about ingesting oils from a subpar company that employs shady practices or has major red flags.
  • Do your research. Don’t just go ingesting oils wily nily without having a plan for what you’re doing. Ingesting should be for a short period of time and to address an acute situation. I’ll recommend some books/resources later in the article that can be used to better understand which oils can be ingested, which ones can’t and how much to use.
  • Ingest oils sparingly. Don’t go ingesting oils daily for health benefits. If you do this, you run the risk of becoming sensitized to the essential oil and then when you need it to work (say for an infection) your body doesn’t respond the way you may have intended.
  • Use common sense. Overzealous essential oil users may recommend using copious amounts of oil internally during one application, such as: “Take several drops of Frankincense under your tongue daily for health and wellbeing.”

    Or I’ve heard stories (not sure if they’re true) of people using a full 15 mL bottle of Frankincense (that’s 250 drops) in a matter of days. This is insane. Essential oils are super powerful and in most cases 1 to 2 drops at a time is plenty. It’s really not rocket science so if someone’s giving you advice that sounds “out there” then it probably is.

Many essential oils are safe for internal use. To take the guesswork out of which oils are safe to ingest and which ones aren’t I go by what the manufacturer has on the label. The caveat to this is that it needs to be a reputable essential oil company and this is why I only buy oils from the best essential oil brands.

If you’re looking to use essential oils internally and sidestep any irritation the best way to do this is to use the oils through cooking or using veggie caps. Adding 1 to 2 drops of essential oil to soups, sauces or even a smoothie is a better idea than just taking undiluted oil under the tongue.

Veggie caps can be used by adding 1 to 2 drops of essential oil to the veggie cap and then filling the rest with a food grade carrier oil like extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil. These are some of the safest ways to use oils internal. For severe conditions contact your health care provider or an aromatherapist that specializes in internal use for more guidance on your specific situation.

Essential Oils Buying Guide

Chapter 4

WHAT ARE THE USES OF ESSENTIAL OILS?

This essential oils guide is packed full of ways that you can use essential oils. That’s one of the things I love about them most - their versatility is incredible! Oils can be used for so many things that it would be impossible to include them all. While I won’t be able to create an exhaustive list, I have put together a list of their most common uses in this essential oils guide.

You’ll notice that there are links associated with most of these uses. Click the links to visit the page that has an in-depth article on how to use essential oils for that specific topic.

OVER THE COUNTER REMEDIES

This is probably the biggest area where most people stand to improve their health if they’re chronic users of over the counter meds. Essential oils can replace a lot of those medications without the more serious long term side effects that can occur.

Next time, instead of rushing out to the drug store, try essential oils for some of these common ailments:

These are highly popular ways to use essential oils. Here’s  a few more instances where you might want to try an essential oil before jumping to an over the counter medication:

Essential Oil for Toothache

Skip the benzocaine products (like Orajel) and try using an essential oil for toothaches around your house. (Seriously, benzocaine can cause problems with oxygen being transported throughout the bloodstream (22). Not worth it!)

Fortunately, clove essential oil is just as effective for relieving pain in the mouth (23)! Dilute clove with a food grade carrier oil like coconut or olive oil and apply to the affected area to get some relief from your toothache!

Essential Oils for Athlete’s Foot

This fungal infection can be frustrating and even painful. There are two essential oils for athlete’s foot that are great to combine: oregano essential oil and tea tree essential oil.

Both of these oils are powerfully antifungal (24,25). Mix two drops of tea tree and three of oregano with a carrier, like coconut oil, and apply to your toes a few times a day to kill the fungus that causes athlete’s foot. The other thing to keep in mind is to eliminate excess sugar in your diet. The fungus that causes athlete’s foot feeds on sugar and to effectively kill it you’ll need to make sure that you’re eliminating sugar from your diet as a food source.

FIRST AID

Essential oils are wonderful remedies for many first aid situations. Anytime we travel we bring essential oils to assist with a variety of first aid issues that can come up.

Essential Oils for Sunburn and Burns

There are several different essential oils that can be used to soothe a burn. Lavender is obviously high on the list for its calming effects on the skin.  Frankincense also promotes cell regeneration and helps to heal and repair damaged skin.

Burns, especially severe burns, can cause some of the worst pain known to mankind. There are few effective remedies for burns and many patients contract infection while in the hospital, but essential oils can offer some help.

In a small 2017 case study, two children were admitted to the hospital with similar burns. Over the course of their treatment, one child’s grandmother treated her with essential oils for burns to help kill bacteria and speed healing.

The patient who received standard treatment had two infections in the bloodstream and four hospital-acquired infections. But the young girl treated with essential oils was in the hospital a total of four less days, had no bloodstream infections and only contracted one hospital-acquired infection (29).

Chamomile essential oil is effective for mild burns, including mild sunburns. Using eucalyptus oil may help heal not only burns, but cuts, making it a great essential oil (along with lavender) for spider bites and bug bites (30). Tip: try this natural essential oil bug repellent to avoid this before it happens! 

To help fight the potential for infection from burns, try juniper essential oil, which may also speed healing (31).

Other essential oils for burns and sunburns include (32):

  • Oregano
  • Pine
  • Sage
  • St. John’s wort
  • Tea tree
  • Thyme

When using essential oils for sunburn, always heavily dilute with a carrier oil before applying it to the skin. For an in-depth article on using essential oils for sunburn click here.

Essential Oil for Poison Ivy

When you come in contact with poison ivy it causes an irritating skin condition known as contact dermatitis. There are a few useful essential oils for a rash like poison ivy you might want to try.

First, calendula oil (marigold), an effective anti-inflammatory oil, can be mixed with rosemary for an effective protection against irritation in contact dermatitis (33).

Chamomile essential oil and juniper oil can also help relieve itching and irritation of the skin caused by poison ivy (34,35). Plus, juniper is antibacterial and may help to kill any lingering bacteria (36).

For an in-depth article on using essential oils for poison ivy click here.

Essential Oil for Bruises

When blood vessels have ruptured under your skin to cause bruising, there are several essential oils that can help clear up the bruise faster than just allowing it to heal on its own. Try creating a blend of some of these to speed the healing of those blood vessels:

  • Lavender (37)
  • Helichrysum (38)
  • Frankincense
  • Turmeric (39)
  • Arnica (40)
  • Yarrow
  • St. John’s wort (41)

For an in-depth article on using essential oils for bruises click here.

KIDS & BABIES

Since they’re safe for the family, essential oils can help remedy minor issues your little ones have without exposing them to the chemicals and sugar found in many children’s medications. When using essential oils for kids, most oils are fair game they just need to be heavily diluted.

Essential Oils for Immunity

Not all essential oils for immunity are also safe for kids, but some of them can really help you avoid those runny noses. For example, tea tree oil is a great antibacterial oil that is commonly used for children of any age.

Frankincense oil, ginger oil and lemon oil are all safe for use with children and can be diffused or applied topically with a carrier oil to fight infection (43,44,45).

For an in-depth article on using essential oils for immunity for kids and adults click here.

Essential Oils for Ear Infection

If your child has an ear infection, you may safely use a couple of essential oils for ear infection to clear it sooner than waiting it out. Before doing this, you should dilute the oils you’ll use and perform a patch test on your child’s inner arm.

Try soaking a cotton ball in diluted essential oil (you’ll want to use something like fractionated coconut oil as the carrier oil) and then put the cotton ball in your child’s ear. Do not force the cotton ball in. You can simply wait a few minutes as the oil seeps into the ear canal.

Alternatively, you can apply diluted tea tree oil to the outer ear. *This is not safe for anyone with an eardrum that has ruptured.

Both tea tree oil and basil essential oil have been found to effectively heal ear infections (47,48).

For an in-depth article on using an essential oil for ear infection click here.

Essential Oils for ADHD

When you’re using essential oils as a beginner, one attractive quality is their ability to affect the ability to focus.

Because of the prevalence of childhood ADHD, it’s important to know the oils that have already been studied to help reduce the anxiety, stress and attention problems in children with ADHD. So far, these oils are proven to benefit ADHD (49):

  • Vetiver
  • Lemon
  • Basil
  • Clary sage
  • Sandalwood
  • Lavender
  • Melissa (lemon balm)
  • Orange
  • Sweet marjoram

Try alternating which of these oils you diffuse in your home and your child’s room to determine which oil or combination works best. 

WOMEN’S HEALTH

Many a midwife shouts the praises of essential oils for use around pregnancy, birthing and postpartum care! I used essential oils during each of these phases of motherhood with each one of my three boys. Be sure to dive into our essential oils safety guide for pregnant women first! An essential oils guide would be remiss to leave out the many essential oils benefits for women’s health.

Essential Oil for Hormones and Menstrual Cramps

Some essential oils can help to regulate hormones associated with periods and PMS symptoms. I have used essential oils regularly during postpartum care after each pregnancy to promote hormone regulation and balance after birth. I’ve used Clary Sage, Rose Essential Oil and Geranium after each baby to promote balanced hormones.

Clary sage oil is also one of my go-tos during for monthly hormone support. Using it topically on the abdomen and diffusing it can relieve cramps and even some depression associated with menstruation (50,51).

If you struggle to sleep, lavender oil can come in handy here, too. When you combine Clary Sage and rose essential oil, it can be very helpful for cramps (52). I love to run a bath with Clary Sage and Rose Essential Oils. I add 5 drops of each to bubble bath and then pour under running water.

Thyme essential oil can also help balance your progesterone levels, which is important for healthy menstrual cycles (53).

Essential Oils for Pregnancy

Some oils aren’t recommended during pregnancy at all because they can negatively impact hormones and some may even initiate preterm labor. For example, Clary Sage is great for your period symptoms but not recommended until the very end of a pregnancy, since it acts on your hormones and can kick start labor.

There’s no hard and fast rules on this, but in general I stay away from ingesting oils while pregnant. I also tend to use more mild oils topically and aromatically and save the stronger ones (like Oregano) for after I’ve had the baby.

Essential Oils Buying Guide

The good news is that essential oils for morning sickness and nausea can still help you manage some of the more frustrating parts of pregnancy.

Ginger oil relieves morning sickness and nausea issues (54). I used that one many times for unexplained stomach upset during pregnancy. Lemon essential oil can help with acid reflux (I kept a bottle by the bed to use as needed). To use essential oils for hemorrhoids, try combining tea tree oil, cypress oil, geranium oil and lavender oil with a carrier oil (55).

Essential Oils for Birth and Postpartum

Any woman that’s had a baby will tell you that relaxation is key during the birthing process. To promote relaxation during your birth, try diffusing lavender oil and Roman chamomile. You may even be able to further enhance relaxation and ease discomfort by diffusing bitter orange oil (56).

Once baby has come, you can create a spray or gel to soothe your perineum with essential oils and other natural ingredients like witch hazel and aloe vera. Frankincense oil, geranium oil,  clary sage essential oil and lavender oil can all be useful as essential oils for postpartum care (57).

I’m kind of a purist when it comes to newborn babies. I rarely use anything more than coconut oil and a small amount of Myrrh essential oil to dry up the umbilical cord. Unless absolutely necessary, I stay away from using oils for newborn babies (birth to 3 months).

This is just my personal preference and there’s no evidence that I’ve seen that it’s dangerous when used appropriately. I just think that newborn skin (and their senses) are sensitive and I’m more comfortable with reserving oils until they are a bit older.  But you better believe if my child was sick and needed some kind of treatment, I would not hesitate to use essential oils as a first line of defense when it was necessary.

For older babies here’s some oils I like to keep around (58):

  • Roman Chamomile — for colic, insomnia and fussiness
  • Frankincense — for immune system support
  • Lavender oil — for calming, soothing skin and reducing colic symptoms
  • Tea tree oil — for diaper rash, fungal and ear infections
  • Marjoram oil - to promote sleep and relaxation
Essential Oil for Yeast Infection

Because some essential oils are powerfully antifungal, you may also try using them in DIY creams and ointments to treat yeast infection. Both clove oil and tea tree oil are effective against the Candida fungus that cause vaginal yeast infection (59,60). Each will need to be diluted heavily before use.

CHRONIC ISSUES

For chronic health problems, essential oils can be especially useful. Uses range from chronic health conditions like inflammation and allergies to mental health concerns, such as depression and anxiety.

Essential Oils for Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is related to most serious diseases as well as pain. By using essential oils as anti-inflammatory agents, you can protect your body in the short-term and for years to come.

If you’re looking for an essential oil for pain, like arthritis pain, back pain or muscle pain, essential oils can help tremendously. Ginger oil and orange essential oil are great for arthritis, and lavender oil is a great essential oil for back pain (61,62). Wintergreen and Peppermint are also very popular for inflammation and can also provide a cooling effect for sore muscles and joints.

Other essential oils to relieve inflammation include (63):

  • Roman chamomile
  • Eucalyptus
  • Rosemary
  • Aloe vera
  • Bergamot
  • Cinnamon
  • Juniper
  • Thyme
  • Ylang-ylang
  • Helichrysum

For an in-depth article on using essential oils for inflammation click here.

Essential Oils for Allergies

Changing seasons can wreak some serious havoc on your respiratory system. Fortunately, there are several essential oils for allergies to try.

A combination of sandalwood oil, frankincense oil and Ravensara essential oil (also called clove nutmeg) has been found to greatly improve symptoms and general well-being for people with allergies (64). The active components of ginger essential oil and peppermint oil also help to suppress the immune response that causes allergies (65,66).

For an in-depth article on using essential oils for allergies click here.

Essential Oil for Depression and Anxiety

Whether you’re looking for an essential oil for anxiety that brings you calm or one to help you battle depression, there are several choices in this essential oils 101 guide. For depression, it’s possible that combining multiple oils may be most powerful (67).

Some calming essential oils for anxiety are:

  • Rose oil (68)
  • Bergamot essential oil (69)
  • Bitter orange oil (70)
  • Lavandin essential oil (71)
  • Lavender oil (72,74)
  • Angelica essential oil (73)
  • Orange oil (74)
  • Lemongrass oil (75)

For an in-depth article on using essential oils for anxiety click here.

To uplift your mood, you may want to try one or more of these essential oils for depression:

  • Perilla essential oil (in the peppermint family) (76)
  • Bitter orange oil (77)
  • Ylang ylang oil (78)
  • Wild ginger oil (79)
  • Lavender oil (80)

If you struggle with social anxiety or have just been lacking confidence lately, check out our post on the top essential oils to boost confidence

WELL-BEING

Maybe you’re not dealing with a specific condition at all- maybe you just want to lose weight! Essential oils can still be incredibly beneficial to support general well-being. This is the way that we typically use essential oils in our home - for support of our health and wellbeing. That’s why even this is an important section to include in this essential oils guide.

Essential Oils for Energy and Focus

I like to keep a small diffuser at the desk where I work to help me with clarity. Essential oils for focus and memory such as peppermint oil help to keep you centered on what’s going on in front of you without getting distracted. (81)

For an in-depth article on using essential oils for energy click here.

For an in-depth article on using essential oils for thyroid suport click here. 

For an in depth article on using essential oils in your morning routine click here

Essential Oils for Stress Relief

To reduce your stress levels, try adding oils to your shower in the morning. You can also use essential oils as natural perfume to benefit from their soothing scent all day long!

Rose, bergamot, lemongrass and lavender oils are all excellent for reducing stress levels and helping you keep calm. If you have any self-care routines to help yourself relax or work through emotional pain, blend a few of these together and diffuse them at the same time.

For an in-depth article on using essential oils for stress relief click here.

Essential Oils for Immunity

The old wives’ saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” is especially true with essential oils. When you know a season change is coming or you’re going to be around a lot of extra germs (visiting a hospital, for instance), try adding some immune-boosting essential oils to your day.

Citrus oils like wild orange can boost antioxidants to help your body fight off disease. Oregano oil, ginger oil and cinnamon oil are some of the most potent antibacterial oils, so consider diffusing them or putting them in a veggie capsule with olive oil to let them increase your immunity (82,83,84).

BEAUTY AND SKIN CARE

The super long list of chemicals in makeup and personal care products is downright scary, so I replace toxic items in my beauty care routine with essential oils wherever I can!

Essential Oils for Glowing Skin

Want an essential oil for glowing skin? My three favorites are geranium oil, patchouli essential oil and sandalwood oil. (Trust me, it took years of tweaking and research to find how to get my dull, blemished skin to look glowing and clear!) These oils can, together, balance your skin’s pH, regulate your skin’s oil production, tighten and smooth aging skin and restore dull skin.

For an in-depth article on using essential oils for glowing skin click here.

Essential Oils for Acne

If you struggle with acne, try ditching your acne cream for a DIY essential oil to benefit your skin. Thyme, cinnamon, rose and lavender essential oils all effectively kill the bacteria that causes acne, so combining them with a carrier like aloe vera and adding nourishing sandalwood oil can give you a great go-to acne remedy (85).

For the skin irritation and redness that comes from skin conditions, try lavender oil and tea tree oil (72,86). Both of these are great essential oils for eczema.

If you have (or are concerned about developing) stretch marks, try using bitter almond oil, rosehip oil and argan essential oil. All of these can help improve elasticity of skin and are great essential oils for stretch marks (87,88,89)!

For an in-depth article on using essential oils for acne click here.

Essential Oils for Hair

Your shampoo might not be as nutritious as you would like it to be — so try adding some essential oils!

Worried about thinning hair? There are some excellent oils for hair loss that can help you out, like peppermint oil (another essential oil for beginners) and rosemary essential oil, which both restore hair loss. (90,91)

Dandruff got you down? Lemongrass oil is a great essential oil for dandruff, especially if you use it over time (92).

For an in-depth article on using essential oils for hair loss click here.

DIY ESSENTIAL OIL RECIPES

If you’re someone that loves to create your handcrafted products, or you like gifting them to others essential oils are great for DIY projects. They are often more economical and you can control the ingredients so you know what you’re applying to your skin is pure. If you’re someone that loves DIY this section is for you!

Essential Oil Perfume

Synthetic fragrances are bad for you, period. Essential oils as a fragrance alternative, however, can make you smell irresistible and support a healthy life!

An essential oil DIY recipe for perfume will often blend a sweet floral scent with something more citrusy, finished with an earthy third oil. I like combos like jasmine, sweet orange and vanilla. Another great favorite of mine is rose, bergamot and sandalwood.

For a perfume spray that’s easy on the go, use 4 drops each of three separate essential oils (or any combination you prefer to get to 12 drops), then add them to two ounces of hydrosol (flower water). My preferred hydrosols are rose, neroli and lavender but you can choose any scent that works best in the blend you are making.

Just be cautious of the oils you’re putting in a spray if you’ll be out in the sun wearing it — avoid photosensitive oils (these are the citrus ones) such as bergamot, lemon or lime. 

And instead of burning a toxic filled candle, opt to make your own essential oil candles or shop our store for the best soy candles! 

Essential Oil Hand Sanitizer

Traditional hand sanitizers often contain synthetic fragrances and/or triclosan, both of which can disrupt your hormones or cause any number of other issues with your health. Instead, try using Dr. Bronner’s organic hand sanitizer, scented with essential oils.

If you’re feeling like a good DIY essential oil hand sanitizer is in order, though, try combining organic ethyl alcohol and antibacterial essential oils. Some of the best for hand sanitizer are tea tree, lemon, clove, lime, rosemary, cinnamon and wild orange (93,94).

Essential Oil Face Wash

I include a great recipe for a DIY essential oil face wash in our 10 Basic Essential Oil DIY Recipes, but here are some tips:

  1. Use castile soap — it won’t get as sudsy as more dangerous options like sodium lauryl sulfate, but it’s great for skin.
  2. Use organic aloe vera gel. It’s soothing for sensitive skin, and going organic will help you know you’re getting a pure product without fillers.
  3. Try skin friendly essential oils such as tea tree, frankincense and lavender. Geranium, patchouli and sandalwood are also good for the skin.

Got problem skin? You can make a face (and body!) wash using essential oils for acne. Be careful with the carrier oils you use, since some of them can make your oil problems worse. Jojoba oil is the best one for acne-prone skin since it’s non-comedogenic and won’t clog pores.

If you’re creating an essential oil face wash for acne, opt for either jojoba, almond, hemp seed or vitamin E oil.

Fortunately, the essential oils for acne that I like best are the ones I listed in #3 above! You may also want to try helichrysum or rose oil. Don’t be afraid to combine various oils and figure out what works best for you.

Other Essential Oil DIY Recipes

Here are a few of my other favorite essential oils 101 DIY recipes:

Essential Oil Lip Balm

Combine a tablespoon of coconut oil and beeswax, two tablespoons of shea butter and add five drops of two essential oils for lips (like lavender and lemon). Heat everything but the oils in a double boiler, then add your chosen oils once everything else has melted down. Just make sure you use a glass container to store your essential oil lip balm!

Essential Oils Deodorant

There are a few companies that sell essential oils deodorant that helps you detox from nasty aluminum, but why not try your own? To create a stick of essential oils deodorant, you’ll need coconut oil, baking soda, arrowroot, beex pellets and tea tree oil plus a flowery scented oil. For full instructions, check out my articles on Essential Oils for Deodorant and Basic Essential Oil DIY Recipes

Essential Oil Chest Rub for Cough

We’ve already talked about how essential oils for cough and cold can be a non-toxic alternative to over-the-counter medications (like vapor rub). When creating your own essential oil chest rub for cough, DILUTE, DILUTE, DILUTE! Pick four essential oils for cough and combine with a carrier oil and beeswax pastilles.

Essential Oil Whipped Body Butter

I loved creating a recipe for my favorite essential oil moisturizer. It utilizes coconut oil, shea butter, a carrier oil and two essential oils for a perfect body butter! For anti-aging, try frankincense and rose oils. To help yourself relax, add lavender and vanilla oil to this essential oil DIY recipe. For healing irritated skin, you can try chamomile and sandalwood.

Essential insect repellent 

Mosquitos and other pests fall into the category of "unwelcomed guests". Whether you're camping, on a hike, or just relaxing on your outside porch- insect repellent is a must- but only if its the all-natural kind. Conventional bug repellent's are full of chemicals and toxins...the very last things you want on your's or your family's skin! Try one of these essential oil DIY bug repellent recipes for an all-natural solution. 

Essential Oil Cleaning Recipes

In our 10 Basic DIYs for essential oils, I included the essential oils 101 recipes for cleaning your home. I include an all-purpose cleaner to disinfect, a soft scrub to break down mold or grease and an essential oil spray recipe to refresh your rooms. If you’re not sure if you should start cleaning with essential oils, you should know that many conventional household cleaners are incredibly toxic and often cause hormone problems and even autoimmune disease! (Basically, just say no to the grocery store brands and start making your own.)

Chapter 5

CAN I MAKE ESSENTIAL OILS AT HOME?

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Because they can feel like a big investment, essential oils can (technically) be made at home. Here’s an entire description of how to make your own essential oils at home… but is it worth it?

To grow and create essential oils, you’ll need a lot of space — essential oils require a huge amount of one plant to create just one bottle.

The plants have to be harvested at just the right time. To create a truly high quality oil, you’ll need a still to distill the oils from your plants. A commercial still takes up a bit of space and will be an investment. Only commercial stills will be able to handle the hundreds of pounds of plant material to make a full bottle of oil. With a “home” still, you can create very small batches of several drops at a time.

If you’ve got enough space to grow, harvest and make your oils, you should also be cautious not to use any pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers so that your oils are uncontaminated. Harvest times and frequency will vary by plant.

Some sources recommend using crock pots or stovetop pots to distill essential oils from your freshly grown plants. While these methods technically work, they won’t produce a high-quality oil. If you’re using your oils therapeutically, avoid these methods.

While this process is definitely possible, it is incredibly time and space consuming, not to mention the work involved isn’t very cost-effective unless you plan to make tons of oil and then sell the oils you make.

Plus, oils made from plants that are indigenously sourced (meaning, the plants are harvested where they naturally grow) are considered to be of a higher quality. If you have to import plants to grow yourself, will lose out on many of the benefits.

Instead of going through all this trouble to end up with an average batch of essential oil, I recommend purchasing from one of the companies on the short list of best essential oil brands. To find out which oil company is right for you, download our Essential Oils Guide below.

Essential Oils Buying Guide

Chapter 6

WHAT ARE THE BEST ESSENTIAL OIL BRANDS?

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You’ll notice that many big box stores and even some gas stations offer essential oils! Essential oils are available online and companies often make bold claims about how pure their essential oils are.

Except… not all essential oils are created equally. In fact, the essential oil market is completely unregulated.

This means that it’s up to the manufacturers to create products that are 100% pure, highly potent and effective for yielding a therapeutic result. Unfortunately, adulterated essential oils are the norm and not the exception. Adulterated oils are those that are altered in some way (with synthetics or other cheaper essential oils) and are not 100% pure essential oil.

Depending on where you live, you might be able to buy from a local grower. In some ways, that’s a great thing — you support local business, you can smell the aroma on the spot and you can even ask your questions about production face to face. Unfortunately, locally bought essential oils are hard to find in therapeutic grade.

Then you have local and big box stores selling essential oils. From Bed, Bath & Beyond to Walmart, they’re on shelves everywhere! But the oils that you find in these stores are not the best essential oil brands. These brands are typically not therapeutic grade- meaning, if you use them for therapeutic support in any way you’ll likely be disappointed with the results. These oils are also not suitable for ingestion for any reason.

If you want the specifics on the best essential oil brands, I go into detail on what those brands are (and which ones aren’t) in my Where to Buy Essential Oils series. But I’ll include the basics here if you’re interested in essential oils for beginners:

  • If you want to go for the cheap, feel free to buy what I call “smell good” essential oils, like the ones you can find at retailers like CVS or Walmart. Just don’t expect them to have a therapeutic result.
  • To safely ingest essential oils, you have to be sure that the essential oil company is reputable, the oils are of impeccable quality and that they are intended to be ingested.
  • Watch for the signs of fake/low-quality essential oils, like an oil that doesn’t dissolve entirely on a piece of white paper. Oils that are super cheap, labeled without a Latin name, stored in plastic or come in scents like “watermelon” (there is no such thing as watermelon essential oil) are major red flags that they are junk products.  Seriously, stay away.
  • Beware of incredibly new companies, those with very small selections or any company that makes claims that their oils can cure diseases like cancer.

For an in-depth look at the details on the best (and worst) essential oil companies, check out our rating scale and  my series on Where to Buy Essential Oils.

Also check out How to Choose the Best Essential Oil Company, Which Essential Oil Companies to AvoidWhat are the Best Essential Oil Brands, or if you have a specific company in mind check out the list below: 

Ananda Essential Oil Brand Review 

Aura Cacia Essential Oil Brand Review 

doTERRA Essential Oil Brand Review 

Eden's Garden Essential Oil Brand Review 

Hopewell Essential Oil Brand Review

Miracle Essential Oil Brand Review 

Mountain Rose Herbs Essential Oil Brand Review 

Nature's Truth Essential Oil Brand Review 

NOW Essential Oils Brand Review 

Plant Therapy Essential Oil Brand Review 

REVIVE Essential Oil Brand Review

Rocky Mountain Essential Oil Brand Review 

Walmart Esential Oil Brand Review 

 

Chapter 7

HOW DO I GET STARTED WITH ESSENTIAL OILS?

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When you’re talking about essential oils for beginners it can feel a little overwhelming at first. That’s why a lot of people like to start with a kit.

Essential Oils 101 starter kits are the way to go because they are convenient (and less expensive than buying oils separately), and they also come with some of the most versatile and most popular essential oils on the planet. Plus, many kits will provide you with an essential oils for beginners guide and a diffuser. It’s everything you need in one package!

A good kit should contain some of those oils that were mentioned repeatedly in this article, such as peppermint, oregano, lavender and frankincense. I also like ready made blends that combine useful oils for specific needs into one bottle.

My favorite essential oils starter kit also contains some empty roller bottles for your own blends and coconut oil to use as a carrier for your skin applications.

When getting started with essential oils, you may also want to buy an additional diffuser for the rooms where you want to use them. After all, no one wants to walk around the house with a diffuser all the time. I even started using a car diffuser to help calm the kiddos and boost my energy on long trips!

Other things you may need when using essential oils for beginners:

  • A storage box for your oils
  • Cap stickers to label your blends
  • Empty glass roller bottles, glass spray bottles and/or glass jars for customizing blends
  • A high quality reference book to make sure you’re always using your oils appropriately (plus some quality DIY recipes!)

If you want to find the essential oil brand that’s right for you, I highly recommend you download our Ultimate Essential Oils Guide to discover the best essential oil brand that’s perfect for you.

Essential Oils Buying Guide