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Guide

How to Use Essential Oils

 

Essential oils are essentially used in two ways: application and/or inhalation. Application refers to the essential oil coming in contact with the skin. Inhalation refers to the essential oil being inhaled through primarily the nose or, in certain situations, the mouth.

Both application and inhalation can be done in a variety of ways. Be aware that inhalations can stand alone in their use; however, applications include inhalations because it is not possible to take a bath, apply a compress, or receive a massage with essential oils without also inhaling/experiencing the aromas.

 

Note: Before you begin using essential oils, please review Alambika’s safety guidelines. The following How To Use guidelines are intended for adults.

 

 

Application

 

Essential oils almost always are diluted in a carrier before use on the skin. This is a foundational, aromatherapy principle because essential oils are concentrated. Essential oil molecules exist in the plant with water and plant material around them. During the distillation process, the water and plant material are removed and the essential oil becomes concentrated. When you put essential oils in a carrier, it reestablishes spaces between the molecules.

The strength of the dilution varies depending on the essential oil used, the purpose of use, skin sensitivity, personal preference, and the size of the area it is used on.  A 2 percent dilution is considered standard in the United States. This equals 2 drops of essential oil in 1 teaspoon of carrier. A 5 percent dilution is 5 drops in 1 teaspoon, a 1 percent dilution is 1 drop in 1 teaspoon, and so on.

 

After-Shower Application

After a shower, while your skin is still wet (so it will dilute the essential oil), put 3 drops of an essential oil in the palm of one hand, pat your hands together, then briskly and evenly spread the essential oil on your wet skin. Concentrate on your arms, legs, torso (front and back), and shoulders. (Avoid senitive-skin areas, your face, and especially getting it in your eyes.) Let it sit for a moment (about 10 seconds) while breathing in the aroma. Then pat dry, as usual.

This method is used for a variety of reasons and can be used with many different essential oils, depending on the desired effect. It can be used to nurture your skin (such as with Lavender), help wake you up in the morning (such as with Rosemary), or boost your immune system (such as with Tea Tree).

 

Bath

An aromatherapy bath combines the therapeutic effects of both water (hydrotherapy) and essential oils (aromatherapy). Warm baths are helpful for muscle aches and tension, skin conditions, stress, and simply pampering.

Choose the essential oil that suits your purpose. Lavender, Frankincense, and Rose are good choices for skin conditioning and general relaxation. Mix 6 to 12 drops (8 is standard) of essential oil into one teaspoon of carrier, such as Alambika’s Nexus. Set aside.

Fill the bathtub with warm water and immerse yourself. Add the essential oil mixture. Agitate the water around you to mix well and then relax for 10 to 15 minutes. Breathe in the aroma and gently massage your skin.

(Note: Certain warming/stimulating essential oils, such as Pepper Black or Ginger, are not recommended to use in a warm bath because the warmth of the water can make them irritating to the skin.)

 

Body Oil

An aromatherapy body oil is a combination of a carrier oil (or blend of carrier oils, such as Alambika’s Nexus) and an essential oil (or blend of essential oils) that are especially indicated for skin care. A body oil is designed to nurture your skin by protecting, rejuvenating, and conditioning. Mix 3 to 12 drops of essential oil 1 ounce of carrier oil.

A body oil is best used after a shower or bath (after you have towel-dried your skin) because your skin has been hydrated. Apply and spread a few drops at a time on your skin, until the amount is to your preference.

 

Chest Rub

The old-fashioned chest rub is as helpful today and it was in the days of our grandmothers. It is primarily used to ease respiratory congestion.

To make an aromatherapy chest rub, choose the essential oil that suits your purpose. Eucalyptus Globulous, Eucalyptus Radiata, Ravintsara, and Bay Laurel are often used. They can help ease congestion and also help boost the immune system. Mix 15 drops of the essential oil in 1 tablespoon of a carrier. Apply to the upper chest and upper back.

 

Compress

An aromatherapy compress is a cloth that has been put in water with added essential oils, wrung, folded, and applied to the skin. Either warm or cool water can be used, depending on the situation. Warm water relaxes, increases circulation, and warms to relieve cramps and muscle tension. Cool water invigorates, reduces circulation, and cools to relieve inflammation. (Some situations call for alternating the two temperatures.)

Choose an essential oil to suit the purpose of the compress. In a bowl of warm or cool water (4 cups), put 3 to 20 drops of the essential oil. Agitate the water to mix well, lay in a clean washcloth, wring, and apply to the area in need. If warm water is used, put a dry towel over the compress to help hold in the warmth. If cool water is used, it is not necessary to cover it. Repeat dipping, wringing, and applying, as needed. Leave in place for 1 to 5 minutes each time.

 

Facial Compress

An aromatherapy facial compress is a cloth that has been put in warm water with added essential oils, wrung, and applied to the face to stimulate circulation and condition the skin.

Choose an essential oil to suit the purpose of the facial compress. Lavender, Geranium, or Frankincense are good choices for general skin care. Fill a basin with warm water. Put 3 drops of the essential oil in the water and agitate the water to mix well. (You may prefer to mix the essential oil with 1/4 teaspoon of a carrier before adding it to the water. This will add an emollient quality.) Lay in a clean washcloth, wring, and apply to your face, holding in place for 5 to 10 seconds. Keep your eyes closed. Repeat dipping, wringing, and applying, about 5 times. When done, pat dry.

 

Facial Oil

An aromatherapy facial oil is a combination of carrier oil(s) and essential oil(s) that are especially good for skin care. A facial oil is designed to nurture the skin of the face, neck, and décolleté by protecting, rejuvenating, and conditioning.

Mix 1 ounce of carrier oil, such as Alambika’s Nexus with 4 to 6 drops of Lavender, Rose, Frankincense, or Neroli. A facial oil is best used after cleansing, showering, or bathing because your skin has been hydrated. Apply a few drops at a time until the amount used is to your preference.

 

Foot and/or Hand Bath

An aromatherapy foot and/or hand bath is used for certain situations, such as for warming, cleansing, conditioning, or as an alternative when a full bath is not possible.

Choose an essential oil that is appropriate for the purpose of the foot and/or hand bath. Mix 1 to 3 drops of essential oil in 1/2 teaspoon of a carrier and add to a tub of water large and deep enough to completely immerse your feet and ankles or hands and wrists. Choose warm water to comfort and relax. Choose cooler water to refresh and invigorate. Agitate the water to mix well and then immerse your feet and/or hands for 5 to 10 minutes. Breathe in the aroma and massage your feet and/or hands while immersed.

(Note: Certain warming/stimulating essential oils, such as Pepper Black or Ginger, are not recommended to use in a warm bath because the warmth of the water can make them irritating to the skin.)

 

Massage

An aromatherapy massage is considered by many to be one of the best and most effective ways of using essential oils for therapeutic purposes, combining the beneficial effects of both touch and essential oils. Massage helps relax muscles and improve muscle tone. It stimulates both blood and lymphatic circulation. It releases physical tension, which in turn, relieves stress. It also is believed to strengthen the immune system.

To make an aromatherapy massage oil, choose the essential oil you want to use. Lavender and Geranium are good for general purposes. A standard dilution is 2 percent—12 drops of essential oil in 1 ounce of carrier such as Alambika’s Nexus. A 1 percent dilution (6 drops in 1 ounce of carrier) might be appropriate for sensitive skin.

Massage can be used for the entire body or specific areas only, such as hands or feet. When massaging a specific, smaller area, such as a calf muscle, a stronger dilution, such as 5 percent may be appropriate. (This equals 5 drops of essential oil in 1 teaspoon of carrier.)

 

Scalp Oil

An aromatherapy scalp oil is designed to soothe and condition the scalp or help a specific condition, such as dandruff. Choose an essential oil to suit the purpose. Mix 24 drops in 2 ounces of Jojoba or Alambika’s Nexus. Use about 1 teaspoon (more or less, as desired) to massage into your scalp at night. Shampoo in the morning.

 

Skin Mist

An aromatherapy skin mist is designed to hydrate, tone, refresh, or soothe your skin depending on the essential oil used. It is an especially valuable method of application when the skin is sensitive to touch, such as when sunburned.

Choose an essential oil that is especially good for skin care, such as Lavender, Rose, Neroli, or Geranium. Mix 10 to 40 drops in 4 to 6 ounces of water in a mister bottle. Shake well before each use and avoid getting it in your eyes.

 

Inhalation

 

Diffusion

Diffusers are made in a variety of designs by different manufacturers. The best diffusers disperse essential oils into the air by cool air, cool air and vibration, or gentle warmth. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Use for about 10 minutes per hour, as desired. Thicker oils such as Sandalwood or Vetiver cannot be used in some diffuser designs. Do not dilute the essential oils in a carrier oil before putting it in the diffuser as it may clog the unit.

Diffusion is most often used for creating a desired ambience or for cleansing/refreshing the air in a room. Choose an essential oil suited for the purpose you would like to achieve. Lavender and Bergamot are good for relaxing. Rosemary is good for energizing. Jasmine and Sandalwood are good for romance. Orange, Lemon, and Eucalyptuses are good for cleansing and refreshing.

 

Direct Inhalation

Put 1 to 3 drops of an essential oil on a tissue and inhale the aroma through your nose. Pause and inhale again. Avoid touching the tissue to your nose or mouth. This method is especially useful for respiratory and sinus conditions, headaches, and for transforming moods. Inhale through your mouth for throat issues or coughs.

 

Hot Water Inhalation

Choose an essential oil suited for the purpose. Eucalyptus Globulous, Eucalyptus Radiata, and Ravintsara are often used for cold and flu congestion. Chamomile German and Cypress are good for coughs. Add 2 drops of the essential oil in a small bowl of very hot water. Keeping your eyes tightly closed, lean over the bowl and breathe in deeply yet gently, then exhale. Continue for 30 seconds. Inhale and exhale through your nose for respiratory or sinus conditions, and through your mouth for throat issues or coughs.

 

Room Mist

An aromatherapy room mist is designed to cleanse and deodorize the air or to create a specific ambience. Choose the essential oil you want to use. Mix 30 to 40 drops of the essential oil in 4 ounces of water in a mister bottle. The number of drops you use depends on the essential oils and the intended purpose. Shake well before each use and, as you mist, avoid getting it into your eyes. Mist as high up in the room as you can so the mist falls through as much air as possible. A tablespoon of Vodka (not rubbing or isopropyl alcohol) can be used to help disperse the essential oils in the water.

Tea Tree and Lemon are ideal to cleanse and refresh the air. Lavender and Clary Sage create a relaxing atmosphere. Rosemary is uplifting and energizing.

 

Perfume

An aromatherapy perfume is used simply because you like the aroma of an essential oil (or a blend of essential oils) and want to wear it on your body or clothes to be embraced by its enticing aroma. There are essential oils that are classic as perfumes such as Jasmine or Rose but most any essential oil can be your signature scent as a perfume, if you like it.

Mix 10 drops of the essential oil or blend of essential oils in 1 teaspoon of Jojoba. Store in a small, glass bottle with a cap. Apply to one or more of your pulse points—behind ears, underside of wrists, inner elbows, behind knees, and on the back of the ankles.

 

 

 

Essential Oil Safety

 

 

 

Because essential oils are concentrated, active, plant extracts, care and responsibility must be taken with their use. The following are standard, recommended safety guidelines for using essential oils.

 

 

 

1. Essential oils are for external use. Do not take essential oils internally.

 

 

 

2. Essential oils, because they are concentrated, should be diluted in a carrier before they are applied to the skin. The most common carriers are vegetable oils such as Alambika’s Nexus carrier oil. Fragrance-free lotions can also be used.

 

 

 

3. If your skin becomes irritated from an essential oil, wipe the area with a carrier oil and then wash with soap and water, pat dry, and discontinue use.

 

 

 

4. Keep essential oils away from and out of your eyes. If this should occur, first put a drop of carrier oil such as Jojoba or Olive Oil in your eye to collect the essential oil, then flush very well with water. If no carrier oil is available, whole milk can be used, and then flush well with water.

 

 

 

5. Keep essential oils tightly closed and away from children.

 

 

 

6. Essential oils are flammable. Avoid using them near an open flame.

 

 

 

7. Certain essential oils (many citrus) can cause photosensitivity—discoloration and/or irritation of the skin when exposed to direct sunlight. These essential oils should not be used and left on the skin (such as in a lotion or perfume) if you are going to be in direct sunlight.

 

 

 

8. If you are allergy prone, test the essential oil you intend to use by putting a drop on your skin (inner elbow) and covering it with a strip bandage. Leave it in place for twelve hours. Take the bandage off and assess your skin. If there is no reaction, there should not be an allergy to it. If there is swelling or irritation, you may be allergic, so do not use that essential oil.

 

 

 

9. If you are pregnant or nursing, there are special considerations for using essential oils. Refer to an aromatherapy book that discusses this topic and consult your physician.

 

 

 

10. If you have a heart condition, there are special considerations for using essential oils. Refer to an aromatherapy book that discusses this topic and consult with your physician.

 

 

 

11. If you have any serious health issues, consult with your physician before using essential oils.

 

 

 

12. It is recommended that phytoestrogenic essential oils, such as Anise, Clary Sage, Fennel, Angelica, and Tarragon be avoided by anyone that has or has had estrogen-dependent tumors. (For more information refer to Clinical Aromatherary by Jane Buckle.) 

 

 

 

13. If you are taking a homeopathic remedy, essential oils may negate their effect. Those which may need to be avoided include Eucalyptus, Peppermint, and Rosemary.

 

 

 

14. If you have epilepsy, do not use essential oils without consulting your physician.

 

 

 

15. If you have asthma, do not use essential oils without consulting your physician.

 

 

 

16. If you want to use essential oils for children, refer to Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child by Valerie Ann Worwood. The guidelines for children are different than for adults.