How to select, store and use essential oils

Essential oils are everywhere! You find them in skincare more and more and almost everybody has tried them for aromatherapy or massage. Many people have a little bottle of lavender oil to help them sleep or eucalyptus for a stuffy nose. I use enough tea tree oil to disinfect half the planet!

There are hundreds of brands for essential oils and some are definitely better than others. Here are a few tips on how to select and buy essential oils.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links

Buying Essential Oils

When looking for essential oils make sure that you are buying from a reputable manufacturer. There are a few cheap and cheerful brands out there but the quality isn’t always there. Here are a few things to look out for:

Make sure that you are buying essential oil and not fragrance oil, aromatherapy oil or perfume oil. Fragrance or perfume oils can be chemical versions of the real thing and aromatherapy oils can be diluted with cheaper vegetable oils. Check that oils are 100% pure.

ArtNaturals Therapeutic-Grade Aromatherapy Essential Oil Set – (8 x 10ml) – Top 8 Pure of the Highest Quality Oils – Peppermint, Tea Tree, Rosemary, Sweet Orange, Lemongrass, Lavender, Eucalyptus, Frankincense

To check if your oils are blended with vegetable oils, place one drop on a piece of paper and leave to dry for a few hours. If an oil stain remains, chances are that it contains vegetable oil.

Buy your oils individually. It is best to buy the individual essential oils and create your own blends that work for you. You can adjust the amounts until they work for you.

Blended oils are not a bad thing but make sure that they are a blend that will work for you. There are oils specifically blended together to help you sleep, to relax you or to treat a specific ailment. A very strong or “muddled” scent can give you a headache or just spoil your mood.

Check the label and make sure that the bottle actually contains the oil that you need. There are companies that use fragrances and chemicals to mimic the smell of the essential oil without actually including the expensive product. Read the ingredient list.

Check for the Latin name. There are a few oils that use the same common name. For example, there are two kinds of chamomile oil, German (Matricaria chamomilla L/ recutita L) and Roman (Chamaemelum nobile) with very different uses. They are from two different plants. Familiarise yourself with the various plant names for the oil you require before you go shopping.

Paying a little more is actually a good thing. Essential oils are expensive to extract. When you see companies selling low-cost oils or all their oils are at a flat rate, it is probably too good to be true. Some plants are simply more expensive than others and some extraction processes are much more intensive and cost more. Cheap is definitely not better when it comes to quality essential oils. A drop of good quality oil will go a lot further than five drops of a low-quality oil.

Pay attention to the extraction process. There are three general methods for extracting essential oils. Cold pressed is preferred but some plants like lavender, sandalwood and peppermint are best extracted with steam distillation.

Cold Pressed: The fruit or plant is manually pressed to extract the oils. No heat is used so the oil is never altered from its original/natural composition.
Steam Distilled: Raw materials are steamed and vapourised oils are collected through condensation. Heat is a factor here but is carefully controlled.
Solvent Extracted: Alcohol is usually combined with the raw materials to dissolve the essential oil. The alcohol then evaporates leaving the oil behind. Unfortunately, it can also leave chemical residue behind.

Reputable Essential Oil Brands Here are a few reputable brands that sell pure oils. Some are more expensive than others but the quality makes all the difference when it comes to essential oils. There are many more companies. Do a little research before you buy.
Young Living Essential Oils:
Plant Therapy Essential Oils:
Edens Garden:
Aura Cacia:
Lisse Essentials:
Ananda Apothecary:
Jade Bloom:
Rocky Mountain Oils:

Storing Essential Oils

If you are going to pay a little more for a good oil it is a good idea to store it properly and use it sparingly. Essential oils are quite volatile and spoil easily.

Light is not a good thing: Store all your essential oils in a dark box or cupboard preferably in dark glass bottles. Undiluted oils are easily corrupted by direct light.

Wooden Essential Oil Box, Multi-Tray Fragrance Essential Oil Organizer Storage Box Case Display Holds 45 Essential Oil Bottles and 14 Roller Bottles for Travel & Presentations Gift Box

No temperature extremes: Oils should be kept cool but not cold and definitely not in a hot environment. Heat can change the properties of the oil and spoil it.

BestFire 42-Bottle Essential Oils Carrying Case Shockproof Essential Oils Display Organizer Travel Bag Nail Polish Storage Box – Holds 5ml, 10ml, 15ml Bottles (Purple)

Keep the caps on: Air can spoil your expensive oils so replace caps as soon as possible. Citrus oils especially have a shorter shelf life once opened.

Glass Bottles for Essential Oils – 12 Pack 10 ml Refillable Empty Amber Bottle with Orifice Reducer Dropper and Cap – DIY Supplies Tool & Accessories Perfume Aromatherapy – Carrier Oil Kit

Buy smaller quantities: Essential oils are expensive and they do have a limited shelf life. Due to exposure to air or light, they will begin to deteriorate as soon as you open the bottle. Stored properly your oils will be at their best for up to a year after opening.

Don’t mix and dilute large amounts of oil: As soon as oils are diluted they start to lose their efficacy. It is best to mix a little at a time. Diluted oils need to be used within two to four months.

Using Essential Oils

Essential oils are becoming much more mainstream but many people do not know how much to use or how to apply the oil. Here are a few tips for using your oils.

Dilute! Very few essential oils can be used undiluted. Most are entirely too strong to be applied directly to the skin. Most oils need water, carrier oil or steam to be used.

Make sure that it is safe: Essential oils can have very powerful effects on the human body. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have a medical condition you should always check before using them. They can even interfere with certain medications.

Patch Test Please! You should do this with most things but it is important that you do a patch test with a little of your chosen oil (diluted if necessary) on the inside of your arm. Leave the oil on for 24 hours and watch out for scaling, itching, redness or burning. Don’t mix up a large batch of oil and go to town all over your body,  you could cause a rash all over if you are allergic or sensitive.

Do not use essential oils from plants that you are allergic to: If you are allergic to citrus fruits or certain flowers then you REALLY shouldn’t try to use the essential oils. This one is common sense. Essential oils are the concentrated essence of the plants they are derived from. Don’t be silly.

Find out about the application: When buying essential oils, find out how best to apply it. Some are better applied directly to the skin (usually diluted), some need to be inhaled through steam. Some are great in the bath where others are wonderful for massage.

Take your time: Essential oils are most effective when you take the time to properly massage them into the skin, loosening up stiff muscles and improving circulation or to sit down over a bowl of steaming water and slowly inhale the vapours to open a blocked nose or congested chest. Don’t rush.

Research your blends: Not all oils work well together. Some counteract each other or are simply too strong when combined. For best results, mix no more than three oils into your carrier oil at a time.

It’s all about the experience: Most massage therapists will ask you which essential oils or fragrances you like. If you do not enjoy the scent of the oil then there is little point in using it. If you are not sure which ones you like, ask to smell them. Aromatherapy only works if you actually enjoy the AROMA!

Get practical with your oils: Using your oils in the bath is a very simple way to incorporate them into your daily life. You can also add them to un-fragranced lotions or hair products like conditioners. They can also keep pests like moths away while fragrancing your drawers and closets.

Most Popular Oils and Their Uses

Here are a few uses for some the best known essential oils that you will find in stores.

Oil Properties Blends Well With Contraindications
Bergamot Organic Essential Oil. 10 ml – £12.49
Calms & Prevents Inflammation.
Good for infected skin.
Helps with depression and anxiety.
Geranium, lavender, neroli, sandalwood, ylang-ylang
Roman Chamomile
Chamomile Essential Oil, 10m – £11.70
Calms and prevents inflammation as well as bacterial infection.
Good for dry, sensitive skin.
Relieves stress.
Lavender, rosewood, sandalwood Avoid in early pregnancy
Clary Sage
Clary Sage Essential Oil. 10 ml. – £11.49
A potent antidote to depression and anxiety.
Somewhat of an aphrodisiac. anti-inflammatory, astringent, antispasmodic, antiseptic, anti-infectious, antifungal, sedative, warming and soothing
Jasmine, citrus oils, geranium, ylang-ylang
Cypress Essential Oil. 10 ml. 1- £8.49
Aids blood and lymphatic flow.
Antiseptic and decongestant properties.
Relieves stress.
Citrus oils, geranium, ylang-ylang Avoid during pregnancy or if you have high blood pressure or cancer.
Eucalyptus Globulus Essential Oil. 30 mL. – £10.49
Relieves congestion, soothes sore throats, kills germs, improves spots and blemishes, relieves muscle aches.Rosemary, pine, lemongrass
Plant Therapy USDA Certified Organic Frankincense Serrata Essential Oil. 10 ml (1/3 oz) – £12.49.
Tones and firms.
Boosts immunity.
Antiseptic, calming and soothing.
Citrus oils, geranium, lavender, sandalwood
Plant Therapy Geranium Egyptian Essential Oil 10 mL (1/3 oz) – £14.95
Tones, firms, stimulates blood circulation.
Diuretic & astringent.
Lifts Mood.
Lavender, Bergamot, rose, neroli, sandalwood Increases sensitivity to UV rays.
Organic Lavender Essential Oil. USDA Organic. 10 ml (1/3 oz). – £11.49
Helps to regenerate damaged skin and calms inflammation.
Soothes headaches.
Bergamot, geranium, palmarose, rosewood, sandalwood.
Plant Therapy Essential Oils Lemon Essential Oil (Cold Pressed) 30 Ml (1 Oz). – £11.49
Increases circulation.
Strong antibacterial and antiseptic agent.
Promotes clarity of thought.
Bergamot and other citrus oils, rose otto, ylang-ylang. Increases reaction to sunlight.
Irritates sensitive skin.
Neroli Essential Oil – 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade for Hair, Skin, Face, Acne, Diffuser, Relaxation – 10ml – £14.99
Made from orange flowers.
Firms skin and aids cell regeneration.
Helps with thread veins, stretch marks and scars.
Boosts immunity.
Stress reliever and strong antidepressant.
Bergamot, geranium, lavender, sandalwood, ylang-ylang. Not for a very sensitive skin.
USDA Certified Organic Peppermint Essential Oil. 10 ml. £8.49
Strong brain stimulant.
Invigorating and soothing.
Good for stomach upsets.
Contains menthol which provides a cooling sensation.
Refreshes skin and is beneficial for oily skin.
It also stimulates the scalp for healthy hair growth.
Eucalyptus, geranium, lemon, rosemary, tea tree Avoid during pregnancy and when breastfeeding
Rose Essential Oil, Certified Organic, 100% Pure, Best Therapeutic Grade for Aromatherapy, Massage, Diffusers & Bath – 10ml, Free E-Book Included (Rosa Damascena) – £14.99
Helps many skin conditions.
Has a sedative effect.
Aids digestion eases nausea and stomach upsets.
Good for menstrual and menopausal complaints.
Frankincense, geranium, lavender, neroli, sandalwood Do not use during the first four months of pregnancy.
Plant Therapy Rosemary Essential Oil. – £8.49
Strong mental and circulatory stimulant.
Aids digestion
Helps to reduce dandruff and stimulates the scalp for healthy hair growth.
Helps to tone the skin.
Citrus and resinous essences Avoid if pregnant or if you suffer epilepsy or high blood pressure
Sandalwood (India) Essential Oil – 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade for Hair, Skin, Relaxation, Diffuser – 10ml – £11.79
Destroys bacteria, soothes dry, sensitive or irritated skin.
Aids digestion.
Bergamot, geranium, lavender, neroli, palmarosa, rose Not for sensitive or irritated skin
Tea Tree
Plant Therapy Usda Certified Organic Tea Tree (Melaleuca) Essential Oil. – £8.49
Strongly Antiseptic, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, immunity boosting.
Can be applied neat in small doses to spots, cuts and stings.
Eucalyptus, lavender, lemon, rosemary, ylang-ylang.
Plant Therapy Ylang Ylang Complete Organic Essential Oil 10 mL (1/3 oz) – £14.95
Powerful aphrodisiac, sedative effect, balances extreme emotions Citrus and light floral oils, cypress, geranium, lavender, palmarosa.

I hope that gives you a few ideas on what to look for when buying essential oils and what you can use them for!

Let me know what your favourite oils are and how you use them.


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