I got into essential oils as a byproduct of making my own skincare products a few years ago. I ended up collecting a pretty large number of those tiny glass bottles without much regard for their properties aside from their scent.
But then, my doctor (who is also a naturopath, and is the best) recommended that I start using them more seriously to help manage my stress. Okay, I thought, that seems easy. I already had a bunch on hand. But what the heck would I do with all these oils?
After a lot of research and trial and error, I’ve come up with a lot of ways to work essential oils into my daily routines. Every single thing listed below is something I’ve actually done myself!
If you’re just starting out, then the three oils that I would recommend starting with are lavender, tea tree, and sweet orange. Luckily, they’re easily available in most stores. I’m including some affiliate links in this post to make it easy for you to see an example of what I’m talking about – but you can probably find a natural store near you and shop local!
Notes on Buying Essential Oils
If you’re going to use an essential oil on your body (for skincare, massage, etc.) make sure that what you’re using is OK for this purpose. Scent oils or products meant for air fresheners might contain additional ingredients that irritate the skin, so read labels thoroughly.
While essential oils don’t always come with an ‘expiry date’ per se, certain oils (like tea tree) can change after about 6 months and using them after this point can make your skin?photosensitive – meaning the sensitive to the sun. It doesn’t mean they aren’t still good for other purposes, but just something to keep in mind.
Be aware that some brands of oil are diluted, or pre-mixed with carrier oils. This makes them safe to apply directly on the skin (as all oils should be diluted before skin use with a neutral oil like coconut or apricot), but means that they aren’t totally pure. Depending on the use, you might want 100% pure essential oil, so again, read labels.
Finally, certain scents are too cost prohibitive to actually sell – for example, jasmine oil. The tiny jasmine flowers are so difficult to distill oil out of that it’s ridiculously expensive to produce. If you buy anything labelled as “jasmine essential oil”, it’s probably a lovely smelling product made up of various other oils that should only be used for scent purposes, not for the skin.
With all that being said, let’s get into some project ideas!
- Make your own lotion or balm. It’s really easy to make your own skincare products. A great place to start is with some cosmetic grade beeswax and cocoa butter or shea butter. Melt these gently together (a disposable metal pie tin is a great tool to keep your pots clean) and add your desired oils before pouring it into a container to harden. More beeswax will make a firmer product; good for lip balms and cuticle products. More shea or cocoa butter will make it softer, which is great for a hand or foot lotion.
- Create candles with your favourite scent. You can easily buy soy wax and candle wicks online, and follow any number of easy guides online to make your own candles.
- Make a healing salve. This isn’t too different from the method for making balm, but with the addition of a few key medicinal herbal ingredients. You can add dried herbs like rosemary, dried flowers like calendula or yarrow, or vitamin E oil from either a bottle or a punctured capsule. Allow the beeswax and other ingredients to steep for a while while still hot, to let the healing ingredients do their thing.
- Create a fragrant sachet for clothes and linen closets. You can either pick up little sachets from a craft store or online, or make your own with a bit of cotton, linen, or a sheer fabric. It’s super simple – just put two small squares of fabric together, sew up three sides, and turn inside out. Fill with rice or another absorbent material, add a few drops of an essential oil, and tie it closed with some ribbon. Tuck these sachets in between sheets in a linen closet, in among your clothes in the dresser or hanging in the closet, or in with stored winter clothes to keep them from getting musty.
For Household Chores
- Deter spiders naturally.?This one saved me when I was living in a basement apartment with a serious spider problem. They would appear stealthily in the night and occupy every corner of the ceiling – so gross. So I heard that peppermint oil would deter them, and applied it regularly with a q-tip in the corners where they liked to gather. And it totally worked! I did it maybe once a week afterwards. It also smelled lovely.
- Make a room spray for fabrics and soft surfaces. In a spray bottle from the dollar store, add a few drops of an essential oil to some regular tap water. Eight to ten drops is probably good to start! Then shake up the bottle really well before spritzing the carpet, bedspreads, curtains, wherever. Lavender is a standard favourite for this!
- Boost your cleaning supplies. Cleaning floors and other surfaces with vinegar and water (a 50/50 mix) is a perennial favourite for organic and earth-friendly cleaning. And you can jazz it up with some essential oils! Tea tree is antibacterial, but you can also just use a fragrance to improve the vinegar scent – it’ll last long after the vinegar has faded away.
For Self Care
- Enhance a steam facial. To clear up your sinuses and open up your pores (multitasking!), pour a few inches of boiling water into a wide bowl. Add a few drops of your favourite essential oil, and lean over the bowl, covering your head and catching the steam with a towel. Make sure to start with a clean face and use a good toner and moisturizer afterwards!
- Boost your shampoo or conditioner. This is especially great for rosemary oil, which tingles and stimulates the scalp, helping hair growth. I’ve added a few drops to my regular shampoo with great success, and it adds a nice smell, too!
- Use for massage therapy. Particularly great if you’re dealing with a lot of stress, or undergoing physical therapy for an injury (as I was doing with a sprained ankle). Dilute your oil in a carrier like coconut oil, jojoba oil, or apricot oil, and use it right on the skin. I’ve heard that sweet orange oil on the feet helps with sleep!
- Add to a bath or create a shower steamer. A few drops of lavender oil in a bath before bed works wonders to reduce stress. But if you’re more of a shower person, you can either put a few drops of oil onto a washcloth and let it steam up in the shower, or spray the walls of the shower with diluted essential oil and water (like in the room spray, above) before you turn on the shower head.
- Improve your sleep with lavender in your pillow. You can tuck a sachet (like in the DIY section above) into your pillow, of course, but if that’s too lumpy or distracting, a few drops of oil into a handkerchief, napkin, or spare scrap of fabric will be much less noticeable tucked inside your pillow. You can also try this with other anti-anxiety oils, like the ones listed in this post!
To Pick Up an Environment
- Set up an essential oil diffuser. These are so trendy now that it’s easy to find them in drug stores, home stores, or even grocery store health sections. You can find beautiful ones that light up, sync with bluetooth speakers, or are simply awesome decor pieces. Also works as a humidifier, which is great in the winter! Just follow the instructions with your specific diffuser about how much oil to put into it.
- Use with a car air freshener. Do you have one of those sad little trees hanging in your car, the artificial scent long lost? It’ll easily and quickly absorb a few drops of essential oil. Hang it near an air vent for a quick and efficient freshener.
- Wear in diffuser jewelry. If you’re spending time at home or in another environment where nobody else has a scent allergy, then diffuser jewelry is a very cool solution. Inside of a pendent is a small pad or porous stone that will absorb the oil, allowing you to carry it around with you. Here is an example on Amazon, but definitely check out Etsy or local retailers for more handmade options.
If you have other ways that you incorporate essential oils into your life, I’d love to hear about them in the comments. It’s a relatively low cost and low risk thing to try, so don’t be afraid to give it a go if you’ve been thinking about it!
*An additional note: keep essential oils away from pets, without advice from a veterinarian. This includes using diffusers around them, which could impact them negatively. Keep your fur babies safe!!!