The Best And Worst Things You Can Do With Essential Oils

by Stephanie Montes

You may think you’ve got them all figured out, but there’s so much you may not know about essentials oils. From where to buy to how to apply, these magical potions require serious thought. To school you in the art of aromatherapy, we’ve enlisted the help of Brad Black and Susan Griffin-Black, founders of EO. Thanks to their experience developing and producing their own oils in their California-based facility, these experts have all the tips you need to keep your medicine cabinet streamlined and safe.

What You Need To Know About Essential Oils

Consider The Source

If you thought buying essential oils on eBay was as harmless as it is affordable, think again. Susan explains, "Natural food stores keep organic essential oils safe—they make sure suppliers are vetted for efficacy and purity. Suppliers who aren't certified may include irritants, allergens and pesticides or other chemicals in their formulas." If you prefer to buy online, Brad suggests you "do your due diligence and find an authentic supplier."

Dilute Before Applying

"A common misconception is that you can put essential oils on skin without diluting them," explains Susan. "Some companies will instruct you to put a few drops in your palm or on your skin, but the high concentration can easily cause irritation, burns or allergic responses. One drop of lemon essential oil has the equivalent of about 20 lemons in it, so always dilute with water or lotion before putting it directly onto your skin." Brad adds: "Think of essential oils as poison oak. Even though it's natural, you have to be careful with it."

Courtesy of EO

Combine To Make A Signature Scent

"We love the idea of people building their own personal scents," says Susan. To make your own, she suggests starting with notes you really like: "You have to hold your own smell-a-thon and find your favorites. The best way to tell if scents go together is to add a drop of each in a glass bowl, then mix them and test. It takes some experimenting—similar to cooking. Once you find your blend, combine it with organic jojoba oil and apply it directly to the skin. The best part about essential oils as perfume is that you get the fragrance sans alcohol."

Don’t Ingest

"People are putting drops of essential oils in water or under the tongue. I've heard of them using eucalyptus as an antimicrobial to boost immunity and citrus for vitamin C. Unless you're under the care of an aromatherapist with a very specific goal in mind, drinking is not the proper use," advises Susan. "They're very concentrated and our livers weren't built to metabolize them.”

Diffuse For Medicinal Aromatherapy

"Keep a diffuser on your desk or in your bedroom—this is a lovely way to reap the benefits," Susan says. "Eucalyptus is great for achy muscles, colds and congestion. Turn on a hot shower and let it get steamy before adding a few drops to the shower floor. It will turn your bathroom into a sauna—a great way to start or end the day."