Like crystals and affirmations, essential oils are sometimes shunned for being new-age nonsense. But not only are the teeny bottles the ultimate multitaskers, their benefits — both physical and mental — are backed by science.
Made from different parts of plants, including leaves, flowers, seeds, roots and bark, they contain the ‘essence’ that’s been extracted — via processed of distilling and separating.
Generally there are three ways they can be used; topically, internally or aromatically — meaning; to the skin, digested or inhaled. Though they’re natural, be careful with how you use them; some are too strong to be applied directly to the skin, without dilution, and it’s important to keep them cool and securely sealed.
Another word of caution: ensure you buy high quality, organic, 100% formulas as some have been diluted with toxic ingredients, like pesticides and harmful chemicals.
Though it doesn’t seem it, aromatherapy is a relatively new use for the oils, which have been used, particularly in Eastern medicine, for centuries. In fact, there are even references in the Bible.
With modern day benefits for mind, body and home, the teeny bottles more than deserve their place in your handbag/holiday packing/kitchen cupboard.
We run through the 9 best essential oils, their upsides and how to use them safely:
Itchy bites and stings
Rub the oil directly (and it’s safe to use undiluted) to sooth the itching and calm the swelling.
A few drops on your pillow, in a warm bath before bed or behind your ears will help send you off into a dreamy slumber.
Apply whenever and wherever needed, but the pressure points — like the wrists and side of the neck are a good starting place.
Better than water or ice (as that just warms up), peppermint is perfect to help you cool off. Don’t apply directly to the skin, but to a damp muslin cloth and then sweep it over the forehead.
Forget caffeine, the scent of peppermint oil energises and clears the brain fog.
Pushed it a little too hard? Apply this cooling oil to the painful area for quick relief – or just to cool down during a hot flush.
Peppermint for the stomach, groundbreaking. An oldie but a goodie! Add a drop (which is the equivalent to 28 glasses of peppermint tea) of oil to your bottle of water to relieve digestive gripes, like nausea and indigestion.
A natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, add a few drop of the oil to your moisturiser or serum.
Pesky period pain
Alleviate those mareish monthly cramps with a few sweeps cross the abdomen or back.
Mix with your moisturiser and rub over the liver (around the right side of the ribcage)
TEA TREE OIL
Blemishes or cuts
The planet’s natural spot treatment, tea tree’s anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial qualities help reduce redness and prevent infection. It can be used on other dermatological issues too, like Athlete’s Foot.
Fresh out of deodorant
Either mix with your usual one or apply a few drops under the arms to reduce BO bacteria.
As a repellent or reliever, apply to reduce pain and itching.
Greasy hair days
It seems a little counter-intuitive, but applying to the scalp can help balance the oil glands as it’s got astringent and purifying properties — just make sure you do it before bed so you can wash it off the next morning.
From pampering to plate, add a few drops to any dish for a lemony kick.
Thanks to its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, you can add to your dish washer or washing up liquid for cleaner, sparklier plates and glasses, use it to de-smear windows (when mixed with vinegar) and drop onto a damp cloth to cleanse kitchen surfaces.
A common cold or blocked up nose
Add a few drops to a bowl of hot water and breathe it in — the anti-inflammatory and anti-phlegm properties will help to unblock noses.
Another one — and this one’s strong.
Add a few drops to the bath or apply to a damp cloth and apply to the skin to lower a temperature. (Yes, really.)
Burn while meditating or just take a few sniffs beforehand to help calm the mind and centre concentration, especially on the spiritual.
A few drops in your skincare to brighten and illuminate your complexion.
A bad day
Add to the bath or a burner and allow the oil to diffuse its feel-good vibes.
Ran out of perfume
The smell of rosemary, and its safety on the skin, means it works as an effective perfume — straight from the bottle. (Try lavender or rose, which are also gentle enough to use undiluted, if you don’t like the scent.)
Rosemary is a known brain-booster, so apply a few drops to your palms and inhale to help stimulate the nervous system and improve focus.
Rub into the scalp on a regular basis to help skin conditions. Bonus, it also promotes strong, healthy hair growth.