Essential oils have been used in folk and alternative medicine for centuries and, in recent years, have begun to skyrocket in mainstream popularity. In fact, between the years 2014 and 2018 alone, the essential oil industry grew 40% due to increased demand.
This is because more and more people are learning that essential oils provide a wealth of health benefits.
If you’re just getting into essential oils, however, it can be a little overwhelming. There are over 90 different essential oils, each with its own unique scent and set of benefits.
Not to worry, this guide will help you learn everything you need to know about the types of essential oils and what they can do for you and your health. All you have to do is keep reading!
What Are Essential Oils?
Before we get into the details, let’s briefly go over what essential oils are. After all, before you introduce any new substance to your body, whether you ingest it or apply it topically, you should know exactly what it is.
Essential oils are concentrated extracts from plants. They’re called “essential” oils because they’re the natural essence of their source. They retain the flavor, scent, and beneficial properties of the plants from which they’re extracted.
How to Work with Essential Oils
Essential oils can be used in a few different ways. You can massage them into your skin, you can add a couple of drops to your bath or favorite DIY cleaner, but the most popular use is in aromatherapy. This is when essential oils are put into a diffuser or a pot of boiling water and inhaled.
There is a wide variety of diffusers on the market, and some are better than others. Take the time to learn more about diffusers before you commit to purchasing one.
Now, there are some safety precautions you have to take when using essential oils, regardless of the method.
If you plan to apply them topically, you’ll need a carrier oil. Essential oils are far too potent to be massaged into your skin undiluted. Popular choices for carrier oils are coconut and jojoba oil.
These will not only dilute the essential oil but provide benefits of their own! Jojoba oil, for example, is an excellent moisturizer as well as an antioxidant. It also helps control sebum production, which can be helpful if you struggle with oily skin.
Even after you dilute your oils, you should always test it on a small patch of your skin before applying it normally. You might be allergic to certain substances and not know it.
Be careful not to ingest your oils, as many of them are poisonous, even in small amounts. The only time you should add essential oil to food or drink is under the direct instruction of a doctor.
Last but not least, when you purchase essential oils, be sure that you’re buying “pure” varieties. Because these oils have become so popular, there are many fakes on the market that are basically perfume; they don’t offer the same benefits.
Types of Essential Oils
Now that we’ve gone over the basics, it’s time to get into the different kinds of essential oils, their uses, and any specific safety warnings. All 90+ essential oils aren’t listed, but the most popular and beneficial are covered.
As stated above, essential oils should almost never be ingested, which can make them dangerous for small children. Take care to store your oils and diffuser well out of reach of little hands. In addition, some essential oils are poisonous to pets, even through inhalation. If you have pets, take note of any oils that shouldn’t be diffused around your furry friends.
Lavender is a particularly popular oil, as it provides a lovely floral scent and some useful health benefits. Lavender can help to improve sleep, reduce feelings of anxiety, and relieve headaches. If applied topically, it’s also an effective bug bite remedy.
For people with an intolerance to this oil, lavender causes nausea, vomiting, chills, and headaches. It can also irritate your skin if you use it in a salve or lotion.
Like lavender, when rose oil is diffused, it releases a floral scent. However, the scent of rose is sweeter than that of lavender. Rose can be used to fight anxiety, reduce acne, and improve the overall look and feel of skin.
Because of its many benefits to the skin, rose is one of the most commonly used oils in baths. Keep in mind, however, that rose oil can irritate the skin. Remember to always use your carrier oil if you’re applying it topically and to only use a few drops if you’re adding it to bathwater.
If you enjoy herbal tea, you probably already know that chamomile tea is a great choice for bedtime. This is because the primary benefit of chamomile is that it calms your mind and relieves anxiety.
Applied to the skin, chamomile can also reduce inflammation and skin conditions such as eczema.
Some people are sensitive to the Asteraceae/Compositae family of plants. This includes daisies, ragweed, chrysanthemums, and marigolds. If you have an allergy to this family of plants, avoid use of chamomile oil.
Of all the different essential oils, peppermint is a common favorite. Peppermint has a soothing, minty scent that can alleviate stomach discomfort and symptoms of IBS. It’s also useful for headaches and indigestion.
One of the best things about peppermint oil is that it has a unique effect on the skin. When you apply peppermint oil, you’ll instantly notice a cooling sensation. This makes peppermint helpful with muscle pain, sunburns, insect bites, and the effects of poison ivy.
Though it might be tempting to add a few drops of peppermint oil to tea or boiling water to drink, it should never be consumed. If ingested, peppermint oil can cause serious damage to your digestive tract.
The crisp, clean, citrusy scent of lemon makes it perfect for use in DIY cleaners, but the uses don’t stop there. Lemon is high in antioxidants, making it effective against inflammation and anemia. It can also help to boost your energy levels and ease nausea.
Lemon oil can be applied topically, but should only be used at night.
Have you ever heard of using lemon to bleach your hair with sunlight? This works because lemon is so photosensitive. Applying it to your skin before leaving for the day can cause major skin irritation. Instead, massage it into your skin before bed and wash it off the next morning.
Never heard of melaleuca oil? You might know it by its common name, tea tree oil. Melaleuca, or tea tree oil, has a medicinal scent and can be used to fight inflammation and hypersensitivity. It’s also an effective antibacterial and antiviral.
Thanks to its calming properties, melaleuca oil can treat skin conditions such as eczema and allergic reactions.
Like many essential oils, tea tree oil is excellent if inhaled or used in a salve but should never be ingested. If ingested, it can cause digestive problems, dizziness, and hives.
If you’re looking for a scent to remind you of the warmth and joy of the holiday season, frankincense is for you. It can also be used as an astringent, disinfectant, antiseptic, and can aid in digestion.
These benefits make frankincense a good choice for cleaners, but you should also consider applying it to your skin. It can reduce bad breath and prevent toothaches, mouth sores, and cavities, as well as improving the look and feel of your skin.
Frankincense is one of the most gentle essential oils. There isn’t much to worry about in terms of safety precautions, but you should still do a patch test before using it on your skin in case of sensitivities.
Ylang ylang produces a sweet, flowery aroma that can induce feelings of relaxation and even build self-esteem. It can also be used as a natural insect repellant.
This essential oil is often found in cosmetics because it provides a wealth of beauty benefits such as improving skin texture and hair health.
Ylang ylang is poisonous to pets, so be careful not to use it anywhere your dog or cat might lick or inhale it.
Know the Different Essential Oils Before Making Your Purchase
As you can see, there is a wide variety of different essential oils, each of them with their own set of benefits. Knowing a little about each before you purchase any will help you to choose the right one for you.
Remember, as beneficial as essential oils can be, some of them can be dangerous to pets and small children. But by using this guide, you should be able to steer clear of any potential hazards to your family.
For more tips and tricks for improving your health naturally, take a look at our blog!