Lavender oil (17)

Perhaps the most well known and versatile of all the essential oils, and for good reason – Lavender has been used for thousands of years for its healing, antiseptic and sedative properties.
Lavender oil likely sparked modern interest in therapeutic essential oils after the ‘father of aromatherapy’, René-Maurice Gattefossé, attributed the healing of his hand from gas gangrene to Lavender. He went on to successfully use it in on wounded soldiers in the First World War.

Lavender has a scent that’s a wonderful blend of fresh, floral, clean, and calm. This dynamic aroma that has made the flower a classic for perfumes, soaps, fresheners, and beauty products.
Distilled from the plant Lavandula angustifolia, the oil promotes relaxation and believed to treat anxiety, fungal infections, allergies, depression, insomnia, eczema, nausea, and menstrual cramps.

Anxiety
While there’s currently a lack of large-scale clinical trials testing lavender’s effects on people with anxiety, a number of studies show that the oil may offer some anti-anxiety benefits.

Insomnia
Several studies have shown lavender essential oil may help promote sleep and fight insomnia.

Possible Side Effects
Lavender essential oil may cause skin irritation or an allergic reaction in some individuals. If you experience nausea, vomiting, or a headache after using lavender, discontinue use immediately.

Because consuming lavender essential oil can have toxic effects, this remedy should not be ingested unless under the supervision of a medical professional.

Dosage and Preparation
There is no recommended daily allowance for lavender essential oil. According to the principles of aromatherapy, breathing in the scent of lavender essential oil or applying lavender essential oil to the skin transmits messages to the limbic system, a brain region known to influence the nervous system and help regulate emotion.

One popular approach involves combining lavender oil with a carrier oil (such as jojoba or sweet almond). Once blended with a carrier oil, lavender essential oil can be massaged into your skin or added to your bath.

You can also sprinkle a few drops of lavender essential oil onto a cloth or tissue and inhale its aroma, or add the oil to an aromatherapy diffuser or vaporizer.

When buying pure lavender essential oil, check the label for its Latin name, Lavandula angustifolia. No other oils or ingredients should be listed. If you see another oil, such as fractionated coconut oil, jojoba oil, or sweet almond oil, the lavender is diluted and should not be used in a diffuser.

Essential oils should be packaged in a dark amber or cobalt bottle and stored out of sunlight.

Applications:
• Add a few drops to lotions, shampoos, and skin care products for a classic aroma and more youthful complexion.
• Add 10 drops of Lavender and 1 cup of Epsom salt to a bath to create a relaxing environment.
• Unwind in the evening with a calming, Lavender-infused neck or back massage.
• Use Lavender as part of a bedtime routine by rubbing it on the bottoms of your feet or diffusing it next to your bed.
• Create a DIY room freshener with Lavender or diffuse it to help banish stale odours.
• Use Lavender essential oil to remove sticky residue and permanent marker stains from solid surfaces.
• Add 5-10 drops of Lavender essential oil to a small, slightly damp washcloth. Place it in the dryer while drying towels for a clean, fresh aroma.
• Diffuse Lavender in your bathroom to make your bathroom smell fresh.
• Put 3-5 drops of Lavender oil in each of your shoes to keep them smelling fresh. If your shoes have plastic or leather soles, put the oil onto a cotton ball and leave it overnight.
• Keep your carpet or rug smelling fresh with Lavender essential oil added to baking soda. Sprinkle the mixture into the carpet, let it sit for at least 15 minutes, and then vacuum it up.
• Add to food and drink recipes for a beautiful floral taste.

Best carrier oils (16)

Different carrier oils have different properties and use. The carrier oil chosen for aromatherapy treatment will depend on the desired outcome.

Coconut oil

People in the tropics have been using coconut oil as a moisturizer for centuries. Recently, the oil has also been shown to have antimicrobial properties. This is largely due to its high lauric acid content, which is the main fatty acid in coconut oil.
People with extremely dry and flaky skin must welcome coconut oil to their lives. This oil supplies sebum to the skin. As a result, the skin remains hydrated, moisturized, and free of acne-causing bacteria and germs.
Coconut oil can also be combined with another carrier in winter since it is prone to solidifying real quickly.
Coconut oil is high in antioxidants and Vitamin E. But, the thick, unrefined coconut oil you find at the grocery store is not as useful for aromatherapy purposes because it doesn’t readily absorb into the skin.

Black cumin seed oil

Black cumin seed oil is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal, and is thought to be helpful in promoting the healing of wounds and burns.
This oil is golden brown and has a mild, earthy, woody smell that can be slightly spicy or peppery. Black cumin seed oil also absorbs into the skin quickly.

Jojoba oil

Jojoba oil, which is really a wax, is commonly used in massage. Due to its natural anti-inflammatory properties, it might help in the treatment of mild acne.
In aromatherapy, it absorbs well and could be a good choice for those with oily or acne-prone skin.
Jojoba oil is very gentle on skin and rarely causes any allergic reactions.
Jojoba oil is yellow and has a distinct but pleasant smell.

Rose hip oil

Rose hip oil is rich in essential fatty acids, including alpha-linolenic acid. It has been shown to have antioxidative and anti-inflammatory effects and is used to treat various skin conditions.

Rose hip oil is a natural source of vitamin C and vitamin E.

Grapeseed oil

Grapeseed oil is considered to be an all-purpose oil that is commonly used in aromatherapy, from massage to skin care. It has a light aroma that is slightly sweet and nutty, and it is virtually clear in color. It leaves a glossy film on the skin.

This oil is made from the pressings of the seeds from particular grape varieties. It is high in linoleic acid and is very moisturizing, especially for delicate skin. You’ll often see it listed on the ingredients list of many cosmetics. Its aroma is light and sweet, and it is clear in color. It can be a good carrier oil to use for occasional blemishes.

Argan Oil

Argan oil has high healing properties. It takes care of scars, stretch marks and heals the damage caused by UV rays and inflammation. This oil is also very soothing and gentle and can be used to fight acne, defy wrinkles and to repair damaged hair and boost its growth.

Olive Oil

Though it can be heavy, oily, and have a stronger odor when compared to the others, the benefit of olive oil is that it is high in both vitamins and minerals. Depending on the quantity and how diluted you need the essential oil to be, olive oil can overpower the scent.

Avocado Oil

Avocado has countless health benefits and its oil carries the same trait when it comes to skin. Avocado oil is one of the most luxurious oils with a thick texture. This carrier oil contains palmitoleic acid as well as oleic and linoleic fatty acids, and actively fights aging signs on the skin.

This oil is also great for people who suffer from inflammation, redness, and allergies on their skin. To balance out its thicker consistency, it can be combined with almond oil for best results.

Sweet Almond Oil

Almond oil is rich in protein and is heavier in texture, so people with extremely dry and sensitive skin will get their moisture from the application of almond oil. When mixed with rose petals, almond oil becomes one of the best body oils and moisturizes every pore.
Almond oil also has a very pleasant smell.

Evening primrose oil

The light and sweet-smelling evening primrose oil has been used in aromatherapy and skin care for many years. It is thought to be useful in many skin conditions, including eczema.

It is usually expensive, and aromatherapists tend to blend it with other carrier oils. It has a high essential fatty acid content, meaning that it deteriorates and goes rancid quite quickly.

What is a carrier oil? (15)

If applied to the skin directly, essential oils can cause reactions, such as severe irritation, redness or burning.

Carrier oils are vegetable oils with little-to-no scent that are used to dilute essential oils. They are not volatile like essential oils, and are shelf-stable. In carrying essential oils into your skin, carrier oils do dilute the potency of the oil. However, this does not mean that the oil is any less effective. Rather, it means that essential oils better absorb into your skin because it does not evaporate as quickly.
Dilution is also necessary for certain “hot” essential oils, and always a good idea when using any oils with children or for those with sensitive skin. When in doubt, always dilute.

To be used in aromatherapy, it is recommended that the carrier oil is obtained through cold pressing. In this process, the oil is extracted by crushing the plants. Users claim that the fragile nutrients in the oil can be damaged if they are extracted with heat.

While some are odorless, most carrier oils have a faint smell that is sweet and nutty. Unlike essential oils, they do not evaporate.

How are essential oils adulterated? (14)

Essential oils are not cheap to make. Pure essential oils are expensive, labor intensive, and subject to all kinds of hard work. They are pricey, as any pure product, carefully grown and extracted should be. In order to make essential oils less costly, some companies will “extend” essential oils. That means, they will stretch them by diluting them in some way.

Oils can be adulterated in several ways during the production process, from diluting with cooking oils to adding synthetic chemicals. The important thing to know is that adulteration is always intentional—you cannot accidentally adulterate an oil.

Natural Isolates
This means that a naturally-occurring chemical constituent is added to the essential oil. One example is the chemical constituent alpha-pinene, a primary constituent in Frankincense. Alpha-pinene can be taken from trees used in the paper industry and added to Frankincense essential oil.

Adding Other Oils
Common essential oils can be added to rarer or more expensive oils. Cassia, for instance, is similar to Cinnamon oil, but much less expensive. It can be added to Cinnamon essential oil and not be easily detected because the aromas and chemistry are similar. The same can be done with Lemongrass and Melissa.

Dilution
In order to make a small amount of essential oil larger, it can be diluted using carrier or cooking oils such as olive, coconut, or canola. This dilution lessens the potency and effectiveness of the oil.

Synthetic
Many of the chemical compounds found in essential oils can be synthesized in a lab. Typically, these synthetic constituents are created out of petro-chemicals. Lavender can be produced without using a Lavender plant at all, but by synthesizing linalool and linalyl acetate from petroleum-based products.

Extended with Alcohol
Another common way to extend an essential oil, and therein making it cheaper, is by adding alcohol to the EO. Ethyl Alcohol is a common substance added to EO to extend them. It’s very hard to detect this by smell, but it is possible.

In many cases, the added substance is inferior or even harmful. Adulterations not only have the potential to alter the chemical and physical properties of an oil, but they can decrease the efficacy of the oil, to produce an allergic reaction, irritation or toxic side effects.