Essential oils aren’t just nice-smelling aromas; they are plant compounds with active properties. Studies have shown that pure essential oils contain dynamic components that have beneficial properties. An essential oil can be anything from mood lifting to relaxing. And don’t worry, it’s super easy to add essential oils to your life.
- Straight from the bottle: The simplest way to incorporate essential oils into your life is to open a bottle and take a whiff. Research shows mood may be positively affected by inhaling airborne essential oils. That’s because when you sniff an essential oil, some of the molecules of the oil enter into your nostrils and dissolve in your nasal cavity. The signals are then transmitted to the other parts of the brain that govern emotion. It is important to note that we all react to various scents differently. The best way to smell an oil for the first time is to open the bottle and wave some of the scent toward you, then close it and take a break. If you feel eager for more, then go for it. If you feel anything like grumpiness or nausea (it happens sometimes!), then walk away, and try again later with another oil.
- Diffusing: When you diffuse an essential oil, you are forcing it to evaporate into the air. The molecules then surround you, making your room smell amazing and, your mood. There are tons of diffusers out there, but the best way to access the benefits of airborne essential oils is to use a diffuser. Electric diffusers use electricity to either warm up or blow cool air through an essential oil until it evaporates into the air. You can also use a mist/ultrasonic diffuser, which requires the addition of water and uses ultrasonic vibrations to evaporate the combination of water and essential oil, sort of like a humidifier. Nebulizers “zap” essential oils straight into gaseous matter, just like an asthma inhaler. They’re one of the more powerful ways to diffuse fragrance (and also the most expensive). You can find any of these diffusers online and in most health food stores!
- In your personal care: As Founder of S.W. Basics, it probably makes sense that my favorite way to use essential oils is to mix them into my skincare and then apply them to my skin! You can easily add a few drops to your cleansers, creams, body scrubs, toners, and more. You can also mix them into a carrier oil—a base oil used to “carry” the essential oil. If you take a very light ingredient like olive oil, grapeseed oil, untoasted sesame oil, or sweet almond oil and pour it into a bottle, then add a few drops of essential oil and shake it well, the essential oils will blend and disperse into the oil. As always, check with you doctor before trying a new skin care routine and when trying for the first time, use essential oils on a small bit of skin to make sure they are compatible with your skin type.
Here are a few more essential oils we’re especially digging right now:
- Spearmint essential oil: There are a variety of mint essential oils that have amazing benefits. Peppermint oil can be helpful when it comes to deterring bugs and other insects (add EPA citation). Try a DIY insect repellent. Spearmint essential oil is antispasmodic, so it may offer a relaxing and cooling effect on the nerves and muscles, and it’s also cephalic, which may help with concentration and anxiety [i]
- Sweet orange essential oil: Sweet orange essential oil has a tangy scent that is basically like bottled sunshine. It calms the mood and lifts the spirit. In studies, orange oil reduced anxiety when it was inhaled and when applied topically, it slowed down participants’ pulse rates and breathing rates, while they also reported feeling more cheerful and vigorous. So it’s not a sedative or a stimulant, but helps to balance out your mood. [ii]
- Lavender essential oil: Lavender is a one-and-done oil. Its calming scent helps release anxious energy and helps with relaxation. It has also been linked to anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Furthermore, it help as a sleep aid, keep bugs at bay, and may reduce headache symptoms…boom! [iii]
- Cucumber essential oil: Cucumber essential oil is best known for its cooling and relieving properties. Topically, cucumber essential oil helps reduce inflammation and relieves excess heat. It's rich in antioxidants and vitamins, and it’s great to sniff when you need a chill pill. [iv]
[ii] Shutes, Aromatic Components and Essential Oils, Research and Reference Manual, 23.
[iii] Shutes, Aromatic Components and Essential Oils, Research and Reference Manual; Joyson, Essential Oils.