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What Are Essential Oils?

Updated: May 20, 2018

Aromatherapy in Paducah, Kentucky
Essential oils to the rescue.

Essential oils are the highly concentrated, volatile, aromatic essences of plants

and some contain hundreds of organic constituents.

Essential oils have been used for thousands of years to instantly soothe or enliven and for cosmetic purposes. They are also known for their physical, spiritually and emotionally uplifting properties.

Oils can bridge the gap between cutting edge technology and traditional wisdom and help you energize your life and reclaim your natural balance of both body and mind. They can be applied to skin, inhaled, diffused, or added to perfumes, cleaning or personal care products. Essential Oil Safety Since essential oils are very concentrated, they must be treated with care and respect.

The user should be knowledgeable about their properties and actions before any use. They are highly concentrated and must be properly diluted with a carrier oil such as Jojoba, Apricot Oil, Coconut Oil, or other fatty oil before being applied to your skin. Effective use requires only a few drops of oil. When applied to your skin, essential oils are absorbed into the bloodstream. This can support health, beauty and hygiene conditions.

Some articles and practitioners advocate applying undiluted essential oils directly to your skin. DON’T DO IT! You risk a rash, burning sensation, and worse of all, you could be creating a permanent sensitivity to that oil. And you will use way more oil than you need to get the job done.

So save your money and spare your skin. Proper dilution for use on the skin of healthy adults is 1 to 10% concentration. For children dilute that formula to 1 to 2%. Always check the label for safe use on children, pets, elderly and pregnant individuals. Once properly diluted, oils can be applied to your skin.

Essential oils can be applied externally almost anywhere on the body, with the fastest absorption on soles of the feet, underarm, the wrists, neck and behind the ears. To improve absorption, apply after a warm bath or shower. Obviously, avoid sensitive areas and remember oils are volatile, which means they have fumes, so don’t apply your oils too close to your eyes and mucous membranes.

Do Essential Oils Work?

I get many customers ask me if essential oils work. My response is they have been considered precious and in use for many uses for many, many thousands of years. In my experience, only things of value continue in use over the millennia. Will certain oils “cure” you? No. They support your body’s natural ability to heal. Some have useful properties, such as being anti-fungal and antiviral which can assist you in achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Long before modern pharmaceuticals, essential oils played a vital role in traditional wisdom designed to achieve a healthy balance of body and mind and soul.

Which Essential Oils Do I Need?

Due to the precious nature of essential oils, they can be pricey. Happily, you only need a few drops to get the job done! Still, out of the many hundreds of oils, how do you choose which ones to invest in having in your toolkit?

Here are the four that I consider must haves:

  • Peppermint

  • Tea Tree

  • Eucalyptus

  • Lavender


Another great way to go is with blends. This is a combination of two or more oils that creates the desired effect and spares you having to purchase each of the oil ingredients separately.

Some are undiluted, meaning you will still have to mix with your carrier oil before applying to your skin. Some are already diluted to the proper concentration and ready to go. Roll-ons are a perfect combination of convenience and effectiveness.

How should essential oils be stored?

Store in closed, dark glass bottles away from heat and light. Generally, they should remain fresh for about two years.

Other Benefits

In addition to therapeutic benefit at the emotional and physical level, essential oils can be used in household and laundry cleaners. Some oils act as a natural insect repellent and pesticide. You may recall using citronella candles during the summer to keep mosquitoes away. Hate spiders? Peppermint oil can create an effective barrier to keep those pesky arachnids out of your personal space without the use of dangerous chemicals.

Spider Repellent Recipe

2 oz spray bottle 2 oz water 1 – 2 drops dish detergent (helps oil ‘stick’ to surface) 10 drops of Peppermint Essential Oil Clean areas around door and window sills. Shake spray bottle to mix ingredients and spritz areas spiders would enter.

No matter what your need, essential oils can play a vital role in achieving a natural, organic result. Pay attention to the quality, purity and reputation of the oil brand and the distributor.

If it’s cheap, be very cautious. Pure, effective essential oils are precious and pricey. Make sure it is an “essential” oil, not a perfume or fragrance oil. While those smell wonderful, they have no therapeutic value.

So welcome to the world of essential oils! Once you get started, you will find it impossible to quit. They are amazing, wonderful, effective and oh, so amazing!


  • Always read and follow all label warnings and cautions.

  • Keep oils tightly closed and out of the reach of children.

  • Never ingest essential oils.

  • Don't use undiluted oils on your skin (Dilute with vegetable oils such as sweet almond oil or grapeseed oil).

  • Skin test oils before using.

  • Dilute a small amount and apply to the skin on your inner arm. Do not use if redness or irritation occurs.

  • Keep oils away from eyes and mucous membranes.

  • If redness, burning, itching or irritation occur, stop using oils immediately.

  • Angelica and all citrus oils make the skin more sensitive to ultraviolet light. Do not go out into the sun with these oils on your skin.

  • Sweet fennel, hyssop, sage and rosemary should not be used by anyone with epilepsy.

  • People with high blood pressure should avoid hyssop, rosemary, sage and thyme

This is not a complete list of cautions. Please read and follow all label instructions.

Disclaimer - “We have partnered with these companies so we may receive a commission if you make a purchase or sign up for services. Often we are able to negotiate special discounts and/or bonuses, which we will pass on to you via our links.”

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