ESSENTIAL OIL BASICS
Essential oils are naturally produced by plants to preserve their health and survival. Naturally antiseptic, essential oils protect plants from infection, infestation, and attract pollinators. They are the 'essence' of a plant. They are aromatic. When you peel an orange, chop up garlic, brew a cup of peppermint tea, it is their essential oils that you are smelling. Different plant parts produce essential oils, eg. Lavender (flowers), Sweet Orange (fruit rind), Citronella (grass), Sweet Fennel (seed), Vetiver (root).
How do essential oils work?
Aromas affect our brain, hence our moods and emotions. You are sure to have your own aromatic triggers. A familiar perfume that brings a loved one to mind, a whiff of roasted coffee grounds that arouses your appetite, or how about the seductive fragrance of warm, melting butter that lures you to the popcorn queue at the movies?
How do I use essential oils?
There are many methods for applying EOs. The most common are:
- topical application (adding EOs to skin & body care products)
Are essential oils safe to apply on my skin?
Do not apply essential oils neat (undiluted) to the skin. Use a carrier oil – sweet almond oil or jojoba oil are good as they do not have a strong aroma. Unfragranced, plant-based bases such as body gels, creams, and shampoos let you personalise your body products with your favourite oils.
What is the difference between fragrant oils and essential oils?
Being the essence, or life-force of a plant, 100% pure essential oils possess an inherent energy that synthetic fragrance and perfume oils lack. Plants naturally produce essential oils for their survival, to keep them strong and resistant to infection. This is why essential oils have natural healing properties, and are effective antiseptics and antimicrobials. Synthetic fragrances, created in a lab, do not have these healing benefits. Instead, they are a cocktail of chemicals combined to mimic the aroma of natural plants and fruits. It is not uncommon for fragrant oils to trigger allergies, breathing problems, and headaches.
Good quality, pure essential oils are sold in dark glass bottles, as light and heat cause them to degrade faster. If you find 'essential oils' packaged in clear plastic, you can be certain it is a synthetic fragrance.
Essential oils are extremely concentrated. It takes almost 91kg of lavender flowers to yield half a kilo of essential oil. Although they are natural, they are powerful and need to be used with respect. Less is definately more.
- Keep out of eyes and away from mucous membranes.
- Keep out of children’s reach.
- Patch test new essential oils before using in skin care products if you have sensitive skin.