Essential oils have been making waves in the wellness world for years. From benefiting sleep and stress to boosting mood and immunity, these all-natural oils can do wonders for our health! But, not all essential oils are created equal. First of all, quality matters. And furthermore, we all have different wellness needs! But, with so many essential oils (and essential oil brands) on the market, how do you know where to start? I mean… really! There are endless options. How on earth are you supposed to know which oils are meant for what reason? Not to worry — that’s where we come in!
Whether you’re totally new to essential oils or can’t go a day without them, we’re breaking down all you need to know. Even if you’re a self-proclaimed essential oils expert, we’re willing to bet there’s a thing or two you can learn! From the latest research on their therapeutic benefits to how to seamlessly weave them into your day-to-day life, get ready to learn the essential oils 101.
What Exactly Are Essential Oils?
These small but mighty oils are potent compounds that have been extracted from specific plants for their medicinal and therapeutic benefits. These oils, obtained through distillation or cold-pressing, contain the plant’s incredible scent and properties. You might also know this as a plant or flower’s ‘essence.’ But not all essential oils are alike! Each unique, essential oil contains various health and wellness benefits based on its plant source. For example, the essential oil of lavender contains calming, stress-reducing properties, while the essential oil of orange contains invigorating and energizing properties.
Once the active compounds from the plants have been extracted, they’re oftentimes mixed with a ‘carrier’ oil and sold to us as ready-to-use essential oil blends. You’ll likely see these in the form of roll-on oils, sprays, and drops. But essential oils are sold in their purest form, too (i.e., without a carrier oil). Be aware — these pure oils need to be diluted in order to be used topically. Without a carrier oil, they are too strong for direct skin contact and often lead to skin irritation, among other side effects. Pure essential oils are best used for aromatherapy!
And going back to quality — if you ever see essential oils that have been obtained through a chemical process — put your money away, they’re not real. You’re missing out on all the powerful medicinal and therapeutic properties!
Each essential oil provides amazing benefits to our mental, physical, and emotional health. They can also be mixed with one another to provide combined benefits! Thanks to their diverse and powerful properties, you’ll see them marketed for all sorts of benefits — find them in natural beauty and skincare, non-toxic household cleaning products, sleep and stress support products… The possibilities are endless.
How Do You Use Them?
We’re going to talk about two of the most common ways to use essential oils. Topically as well as through aromatherapy.
The easiest and one of the most common ways to use essential oils! Many people love to use oil diffusers to disperse the scent of essential oil in the home.
Most commonly, essential oils are used topically for skin care, beauty, and acupressure. Be careful though — as we previously mentioned, you never want to apply undiluted oils onto your skin. You always want to dilute them either with a carrier oil or base, such as coconut oil or lotion.
Now That You Know The Basics Here’s Where to Start
With so many options for essential oil types, how do you know which ones to use? We’ve done a bit of research for you and found 12 oils that would be perfect for your ‘starter kit.’ You’ll use them all the time.
12 Essential Oils For All Your Health and Wellness Needs
#1 Tea Tree Essential Oil
With strong antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, Tea Tree is incredible when it comes to cleansing and disinfecting! Thanks to its active ingredients, including terpene hydrocarbons, monoterpenes, and sesquiterpenes, it’s one of the most potent antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal essential oils. From all-purpose kitchen cleaners to acne-fighting face cleansers, there’s no impurity too strong for Tea Tree to handle!
Here’s how to incorporate it:
- Use it as an astringent or a cleaner if you’re prone to breakouts or clogged pores
- Add it to body washes to reduce inflammation and support even skin tone
- Mix it into DIY non-toxic cleaning sprays as a natural disinfectant
- Diffuse it for a crisp, clearing, and spicy aroma
#2 Lavender Essential Oil
A known stress-buster, Lavender essential oil is a must-have aromatherapy oil. Aside from its calming, slightly floral, therapeutic scent, there are so many reasons to love the aroma of this gorgeous flower. According to research, it can reduce feelings of anxiety and stress, improve mood, soothe inflammation, and even support sleep. I mean, really, what can’t it do!?
- Add a few drops to your bath to promote a sense of calm
- Drop it into your diffuser when you’re feeling stressed or anxious
- Rub it on your temples or third eye with some gentle acupressure to ease feelings of stress
- Spray it on your pillow to help promote a deep, restorative sleep
- Add a few drops to your lotion to soothe redness
#3 Peppermint Essential Oil
Extracted from the leaves of the cooling peppermint plant, this crisp, invigorating herbal oil is known and loved by many! From supporting digestion and inflammation to alleviating nausea and headaches, there are many reasons to reach for peppermint! With strong antimicrobial, antiviral, antispasmodic, and antioxidant properties, it can support your health in various ways:
- Rub it into your temples to ease headaches
- Massage it on sore muscles to reduce pain and tightness
- Apply it to your temples or sinuses to reduce inflammation and congestion for allergies or colds
- Rub it on your abdomen to reduce GI upset or belly bloat
- Add it to your conditioner for a cleansing and calming scalp rub
#4 Lemon Essential Oil
If you’re feeling down, leave it to lemon essential oil to put you in a better mood! This uplifting oil has been shown to boost mood. Not only does the smell perk you up, but lemon essential oil also provides benefits to your hair and skin! It contains antimicrobial and antibacterial properties that may help soothe inflammation, fight infections, and reduce the risk of breakouts. Plus, thanks to its powerful antioxidants, it can even and brighten skin tone! Mix with water and add to your nightly face-cleansing routine or add some to your conditioner.
- Add it to your favorite moisturizer for an added skin glow
- Mix it into a DIY house cleaner to fight bacteria
- Diffuse it when you’re in need of a little uplifting
#5 Frankincense Essential Oil
Frankincense has a wonderful earthy scent that has been utilized therapeutically and medicinally for centuries. It’s often used in meditation practices because of its ‘grounding’ effects.
Topically, it’s been known to help smooth wrinkles (thanks to its rich antioxidant properties) when added to night cream. In fact, with antibacterial, antiseptic, and antioxidant properties, it’s a skin superstar. It can cleanse the skin and prevent breakouts, even skin tone and reduce the appearance of scars, and even moisturize the skin.
- With powerful anti-inflammatory properties, use it topically to reduce muscle soreness
- Add it to your beauty routine for its anti-aging properties
#6 Orange Essential Oil
Similar to lemon, this uplifting citrus oil just sparks happiness when you smell it. It’s sweet, bright, and a perfect essential oil to inhale at the beginning of your day. It’s also wonderful if combined with grapefruit or cinnamon oils. It’s often used to boost mood and reduce stress, purify the air and clear toxins, and remove any and all impurities (from your skin, counters, or home!) According to research, it could even support your immune system. One of orange essential oil’s active ingredients, limonene, has been shown to defend against oxidative stress and enhance immune function.
Diffuse it in your room for a mood and immunity boost or use it as a natural cleaner or perfume!
#7 Cinnamon Essential Oil
Warm, spicy, and oh-so-comforting. Cinnamon oil is such a lovely treat — it smells like a dream! Diffuse this oil for a calming effect (while still maintaining alertness). Diffusing cinnamon essential oil in place of using synthetic candles is also great during the fall and holiday seasons!
#8 Rosemary Essential Oil
Perk up your mental state and improve your concentration with the gorgeous scent of rosemary oil. According to research, rosemary may benefit memory and mood! If you’re a student… this could be your secret weapon to success!
It’s also been shown to ease feelings of stress and anxiety, alleviate constipation and bloating support respiratory health and pain, and even stimulate hair growth!
Uplift and energize a dull space by diffusing this oil in the room. And if you’re in school, keep a bottle near at all times!
#9 Eucalyptus Essential Oil
With a slight medicinal smell mixed with the calming scent of the forest, eucalyptus helps clear nasal passages, open the chest, and soothe pesky coughs. Clear your stuffy nose by breathing in hot steam. Just add one drop to a large bowl of steaming water and enjoy the scent.
#10 Thieves Essential Oil
Thieves is actually a combination of oils that create one magnificent and powerful oil. It pairs clove, cinnamon bark, lemon, eucalyptus, rosemary, and lemon oils which are perfect for making a room smell warm and inviting. With so many powerful oils, it’s full of antimicrobial and analgesic properties. Plus, it’s also a popular oil for boosting the immune system and mood! Add it to your diffuser or enjoy it topically as a roll-on or spray.
#11 Sandalwood Essential Oil
This relaxing and calming scent can promote a sense of peace and tranquility while also providing a grounding effect. Known to boost the mood, it’s commonly used in meditative and mindfulness practices.
This soothing oil can also offer physical benefits by supporting skin health! Because it’s rich in antioxidants, sandalwood helps prevent free radical damage and has been shown to benefit skin issues such as acne. Whether you use it for mind or beauty benefits, you’ll want to keep this therapeutic oil on hand!
#12 Rose Essential Oil
Another known skin-supporting oil is rose. This gentle, calming oil is especially beneficial when it comes to supporting the skin’s natural healing process! It may help fade scars and stretch marks, reduces irritation and acne, and purifies the skin. Aside from its physical benefits, rose may also help ease feelings of stress. Add a few drops to your diffuser or skincare products — either way, you can’t go wrong!
Essential Oils 101
Essential oils can make a wonderful addition to your current wellness regimen. Just remember to do your research and steer clear of synthetic products. Look for high-quality, pure essential oils, dilute them appropriately and enjoy the beautiful scent and benefits these essential oils have to offer!