The Beginner's Guide to Essential Oils - Easy Ways to Get Started

by Route 40 Home & Wellness

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve probably noticed everyone (even your high school best friends grandmother!) talking about essential oils. The shiny little bottles are plastered all over Instagram and Pinterest, and heck they’ve even made it to the check-out aisles at Walmart and Target. We’ve been telling you that they can help with everything from getting a good night's sleep to de-stressing after a long day at work. But, um, what exactly are they? Keep reading for our beginner's guide to essential oils.

Beginner's Guide to Essential Oils

What are essential oils?

Essential Oils are essences extracted from various plants and herbs during a distillation process that captures the plants scent. Depending on the plant the oil is distilled from dried seeds, peel or resin; for others it comes from the leaves, roots, bark or flowers. Essential oils have been used for hundreds of years by various cultures for everything from make-up, perfume and in the case of the ancient Egyptians - mummification. Today, essential oils are primarily used for aromatherapy, helping with pain-relief, acting as anti-inflammatories and in some cases decongestants. 

Do they work? 

We’re gonna be honest: essential oils are not going to cure your rash. Or that egg sized wart on your toe. Seriously, get that checked out by a doctor! Scientific studies have found little evidence that Essential oils actively cure somatic conditions. Instead, research has found that essential oils act more as a support and supplement to traditional medication. Instead of actively curing a condition, they help to relax, concentrate and re-energize you. 

If you’re looking to reduce some stress and improve your overall well-being, here are some great beginner essential oils to try out: 

Lavender is used to feel calm when you're stressed or to help you drift peacefully off to sleep.

Chamomile is said to help to lift the spirits, balance emotions, and increase feelings of well-being.

Rosemary is thought to be a refresher for the mind, especially memory.

Tea tree oil has antibacterial and antifungal properties that may help infections like athlete's foot.

Thyme is said to relieve pain and work similarly to anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.

Sage is often used to bolster the body's immune system.

Expect to pay between $30 to 60 dollars for genuine essential oils. Why so much for such a small bottle? Well, as outlandish as it sounds, it takes nearly 2200 pounds of hand-picked orange blossom flowers to distill just 2 pounds of orange essential oil. Most other essential oils require a similar amount of labor.  

guide to essential oils

So you’re kinda into this essential oils thing and have decided to purchase your first bottle. How exactly do you use it? 

There are a lot of answers to that question, all of them surrounding one fact: depends on what you’re using the essential oil for. Keep reading our guide to essential oils to learn more about the best ways to use (and not use!) these oils.

If you’re looking for some relief from an ailment, use essential oils: 

  • During a massage - gently apply a small dab and rub into the tension area 
  • If you’re feeling congested - group three to four drops of your chosen essential oil into a bowl of boiling water and lean over the bowl, towel over your head to trap the steam, and slowly inhale. Give yourself a little break, and keep repeating the process for ten minutes. 
  • To create a homemade compress - add a few drops of diluted essential oils to a cold (or hot!) bowl of water, soak a clean rag or towel in it and then wring out and apply to the part of your body that’s giving you pain 

If you’re looking to relax: 

  • Mix into your bath - four to six drops of your favorite essential oil mixed into a base oil will create a fragrant bathing experience 
  • On your pillow - essential oil sprays, or a tissue with a few drops of your favorite dilution on it will have you drifting off into dreamland on a cloud of goodness 
  • In your skin care routine -  essential oils can easily be added to ointments, balms, and creams, do that and apply to the relevant area.
  • Using a diffuser - diffusers are becoming a popular way to use essential oils. This little machine allows you to mix an essential oil of your choosing with water and then turns them into steam and mist that is great for creating a pleasant smelling room or some aromatherapy 

Now that you’re equipped with your essential oils, and now how to use them. Here are a few quick notes we'd like to mention in our guide to essential oils:  

  1. Make sure to store them in the glass or stainless-steel container they come in. Keep this canister in a cool, dry place away from the sun.  
  1. NEVER inhale an essential oil that does not markedly say on that packaging that it is safe to inhale. This can cause major injury to you, and we don’t want that.  
  1. If you accidentally get an essential oil in your eye, flush your eye with water and/or milk.
  1. Some essential oils are toxic to pets so be very careful to make sure they don’t get into your stash. Known pet adverse essential oils are:  
    1. Wintergreen, sweet birch, citrus, pine, ylang ylang, peppermint, cinnamon, pennyroyal, clove, eucalyptus, and tea tree

Now that you've read our Beginner's Guide to Essential Oils, are you ready to get started on your own journey? Head over to the Route 40 store to shop now!

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