Beginner’s Guide to Aromatherapy: Part 1
Quick Refresher - What IS Aromatherapy?We go into more detail about aromatherapy in our post Aromatherapy 101, but the short version is… Aromatherapy is the use of natural oils extracted from flowers, seeds, roots, fruit and twigs to positively affect your mood, promote good health and improve overall wellness. These natural oils, called “essential oils” (you can read more about them here), are basically a concentrated dose of a plant’s natural aromatic goodness - very potent liquids, like distilled liquor. In essence (pun intended!), Aromatherapy is a natural, holistic practice that uses aromas and scents to improve mental and physical wellness.
The Starter Essential OilsBefore you grab those fancy sounding essential oils (ylang ylang anyone?) try out some of these basic essential oils. This will give you a sense of what to expect and allow you to try different strengths and effects before you get into the more advanced level oils. (Infographic found on cleansthenewblack.com)
Essential Oils to AvoidNow, onto those oils you should avoid as a beginner. The following oils are harsh on the skin and can cause an allergic reaction. If you got one of these as a gift or picked it up unknowingly, put it aside for now until you’re ready to experiment.
Bitter Almond Calamus Horseradish Mugwort Mustard Rue Yellow Camphor Savin Southernwood Tansy
DiffusingIf you are truly a beginner, we suggest you first try diffusing essential oils, and not just because we sell aromatherapy diffusers! Actually, this is the best method for beginners because there is next to no risk involved - the diffused essential oil mist is diluted enough that it won’t cause any skin irritation, but the aromas are strong enough to still provide the necessary benefits.
To Diffuse Essential Oils:
Fill the water tank (follow the instructions that came with your diffuser)
Add your selected essential oil (we usually suggest 3 - 5 drops depending on the size of the water tank and the strength of aromatherapy you desire; again, consult your diffuser’s operation instructions)
Turn on the diffuser and enjoyIf you don’t feel the effects of the essential oils, it could be that you haven’t added enough to your water tank or, in rare cases, you are immune to that scent. The benefit though is that the diffuser will make your room smell nice!
ApplyingIf you’re already comfortable using a diffuser (or perhaps you have a severe lung condition and your doctor has advised against aerosol aromas), you can add essentials oils to unscented bubble bath, lotions and gels. This will provide you with a long-lasting aromatherapy that is absorbed through your skin. To use topically, you have to mix your essential oils with a base product, also called a carrier. Common carriers are:
Almond Oil Jojoba Oil Olive Oil Grapeseed Oil Avocado Oil Coconut OilSince essential oils applied this way will linger all day, we suggest that you first:
- Confirm that you like the smell and that it affects you the correct way
- Test that you are not allergic to the essential oil - mix a small amount of oils and apply it to the inside of your forearm. Wait an hour to see if you react. If not, move forward!
To Mix Essential Oils with Unscented Products:
Here’s a quick and easy guide to making your unscented lotions, gels and other an easy to use aromatherapy product! Massage Oil/Lotion - 5 drops essential oil per teaspoon of oil/lotion Bath Water - 8 - 10 drops into a full bath Cleanser - 5 drops per ounce of carrier Body Lotion - 5 - 15 drops in carrier When in doubt - 12 drops per 1 fluid ounce or 30ml of carrier For children - 6 drops per 1 fluid ounce or 30ml of carrierNOTE: If you’re used to strong scents (perfume, cologne, air freshener), this dilution may seem weak at first. But the “when in doubt” of 12 drops per 1 fluid ounce is all the essential oils you should ever add to a fluid ounce without exceeding the safety guidelines. And with that, the Beginner’s Guide to Aromatherapy is TO BE CONTINUED! What is your favorite part of your aromatherapy journey? Share your story with us on Facebook!