Essential oils – miraculous plant extracts that some of the most beautiful women on earth swear they work. Jenna Dewan uses them for busting stress, Cara Delevigne’s secret to aclear, glowing skin supposedly lies in using organic rosehip oil and Catherine Zeta-Jones keeps her hair luscious and healthy with the help of argan oil. And since many of us are inspired by the beauty and wellness rituals of celebrities, it may sound like a good idea to give essential oils a try. But before you do so, get informed about how to use them the right way so that you get to reap the most benefits.
But First Things First – What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are highly concentrated and potent plant extracts produced through different extraction methods, like steam distillation. And believe it or not, there are actually thousands of known essential oils with about 300 available commercially. A few popular commercial elixirs include rose oil, lavender oil and tea tree oil – all of which boast great health and beauty benefits.
Why Is It Important to Use Essential Oils Properly?
Although they have many beneficial properties, essential oils can cause harm unless you know how to use them the right way. Each essential oil has a highly-potent chemical makeup and like medications, it needs to be treated with caution. These concentrated oils can be poisonous before dilution and a maximum concentration of 5% is recommended for safe use. Some oils produce toxins that can damage the kidneys, liver and nervous system and should not be taken internally. Swallowing essential oils can even be fatal in some cases. People with high blood pressure, allergies and asthma should be extremely cations when using them.
How to Use Essential Oils with a Diffuser
In order to keep the air clean and fresh inside our homes, we often resort to air fresheners which contain harsh chemicals which can dry out the air. But diffusing an essential oil into the air can be a natural, eco-friendly way to keep your home smelling nice. All you need to do is add a few drops of your essential oil of choice to a diffuser, and this little gadget will disperse a light scented mist into the air. The result: a fresh and pleasant ambient atmosphere.
Using essential oil diffusers is by far the safest method of reaping the therapeutic benefits of essential oils. The diffuser dilutes the oil into water and creates a fine vapour that the body can absorb through the respiratory system with ease. The aroma in the air can prompt the nervous system to send signals to the limbic system (the set of structures in the brain that controls emotions, memories, and bodily functions, among other things). This in turn, causes a release of hormones like serotonin and dopamine which can provide pain relief and a positive boost in mood.
On the market, you can choose from a variety of essential oil diffusers. Some models allow you to program the mist modes according to your preference and others come with LED light options to give an additional touch to the overall ambience. If you try to keep your home as much eco-friendly as possible, you can also pick an essential oil diffuser that’s 100% recyclable and contains no synthetics.
How to Inhale Essential Oils
When done the right way, essential oil inhalation presents a low level of risks for most people. The easiest method of inhalation is to simply open a bottle of pure essential oil and take a few sniffs. Be careful not to let the undiluted oil touch your skin. For the treatment of colds and nose congestion, you may find the steam method more effective. Place a bowl of hot water on the table and add a few drops of the oils you want to use. Then put a towel over the head and the bowl, close your eyes and inhale the steam deeply for a minute. If you feel any burning sensation on your skin or nostrils, stop immediately.
How to Apply Essential Oils Topically
Essential oils are popular for skincare and massage. Because essential oils have the potential to aggravate the skin, it’s important to be extra careful. When using them topically, always make sure that they are diluted with a carrier oil such as sunflower, coconut or almond which are milder on the skin. Also, do not apply essential oils on damaged, broken, inflamed or irritated skin. It’s recommended to look out for a potential skin allergy by placing a small drop of the diluted oil on your inner wrist. Wait for 24 hours to see whether any irritation occurs. Additionally, some citrus oils can make your skin more sensitive if exposed to sunlight after use. So, make sure that you apply them at least 12 hours before going out in the sun.