Ok, so what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think “essential oil”? Concentrated. Smells good (for the most part). Comes in a tiny bottle? We did some digging to see what’s up with this natural trend…
What is an Essential Oil? | Essential oils are basically highly concentrated oils extracted from aromatic plants. They carry such a potent form of the essence of the plant that a single drop can equal multiple cups of the herb’s dry form.
Essential Oils in History | Use of essential oils has been documented as far as 4,000 years ago in Egyptian hieroglyphics. The Egyptians used them for everything from medicine and cosmetics, to embalming and religious purposes. It wasn’t until recent decades that essential oils resurfaced with the popularity of aromatherapy and alternative medicine. Today, most essential oils are steam distilled – a process that separates the aromatic oils from the solid plant matter.
Why Are They So Cool? | Aside from many essential oils being used in aromatherapy, they also have healing properties and are useful in our everyday lives.
Read on for some cool tips per essential oils and how you can integrate them into your conscious routine…
Peppermint essential oil is a cross between watermint and spearmint. It contains menthol which has anesthetic properties and when applied, creates a cooling sensation while alleviating discomfort. It is suggested that those with sensitive skin dilute peppermint oil with almond or jojoba oil before application as it is far more concentrated than other essential oils.
- Hygiene: Instead of popping a mint or a piece of gum in your mouth, dab some peppermint oil under your tongue to freshen breath.
- Bug & Pest Repellent: Great for warding off spiders and mice. Ticks, fleas and lice are also known to hate peppermint. Put a droplet of some diluted oil between your pet’s shoulder blades for protection.
- Aromatherapy: Improves mental focus and boosts energy
- Healing Properties: Anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory. Reduces stomach aches and aids in digestion. Massage on tight muscles for pain relief. It also helps to clear your respiratory tract and relieves headaches.
Lavender essential oil is extracted from the flowers of the lavender plant through steam distillation. It has been widely used for thousands of years — and rightly so! Popular in aromatherapy, as potpourri and a great perfume base, lavender also has incredible healing properties and can enhance the nervous system.
- Bug Repellent: Mosquitos and moths stay far away from lavender. Apply some as an insect repellent on summer nights and before bedtime to prevent bites. Lavender also has anti-inflammatory properties which also reduce the pain and irritation from bug bites.
- Aromatherapy: Reduces mental stress, anxiety and depression. Also helps with insomnia, encouraging restful sleep.
- Skincare: Treatment of acne by preventing the build-up of sebum. Also reduces blotches, burns, scars, and eczema.
- Haircare: Effective on lice, and can enhance hair growth.
- Healing Properties: Pain reliever, improves blood circulation and helps the body with respiratory problems by naturally loosening phlegm.
Marula essential oil aka “the miracle oil”, and “Africa’s beauty secret”, comes from the fruit of the marula tree and is prized for its anti-aging powers. Marula Oil is pH balanced, non-comedogenic and has anti-microbial properties. It has a pleasant nutty aroma and contains essential fatty acids which help to maintain the skin’s moisture barrier.
- Skincare: Helps to reduce wrinkles, eliminate blemishes, heal scars and revitalize skin. Also works well as a moisturizer and/or primer for makeup.
Tea tree essential oil is extracted from the twigs and leaves of the tea tree through steam distillation. Its botanical name is “Melaleuca Alternifolia”. Tea tree is a cure all for almost all topical infections and diseases.
- Hygiene: Swish tee tree oil + water as mouthwash to cure bad breath and fight gingivitis.
- Pest Repellent: Put a few drops in your dog’s bed to keep fleas at bay.
- Healing Properties: Works as an antiseptic for small cuts, stings, scrapes, burns and boils.
- Skincare: Great for acne. Use as a topical agent on pimples. Relieves dry, itchy scalp.
Patchouli essential oil is extracted from the leaves of the patchouli plant and steam distilled. It is one of the most celebrated, and versatile, essential oils on the market today.
- Hygiene: Eliminates body odor and strengthens the hold of gums on teeth.
- Skincare: Can be used as an astringent. Prevents skin from sagging and is used for anti-aging.
- Insect Repellant: Can be used as natural bug repellent. Tip: Spray some diluted oil on clothes and fabrics to protect them from moths and other insects.
- Aromatherapy: Fights depression, boosts energy and enhances libido.
- Healing Properties: Soothes inflammation, protects wounds from infection, as well as aids in weight loss and removes toxins from the body as a diuretic.
Ylang Ylang essential oil is extracted through steam distillation from the fresh flowers of the ylang-ylang tree found in the rain forests of certain Asian and South Pacific Islands. Unlike other essential oils that are distilled through a single process, making ylang ylang essential oil takes 22 hours to complete through fractional distillation.
- Skincare: Effective in maintaining moisture and oil balance of the skin and keeps the skin looking hydrated, smooth, and young.
- Aromatherapy: Provides relief from stress, anxiety and anger and can enhance libido.
- Healing Properties: Provides hormonal balance, boosts the nervous system and can be used to cure infections in internal organs such as the stomach, intestines, colon, and urinary tract.
OTHER ESSENTIAL OIL HACKS:
- Lemon essential oil masks odors and can be used to remove sticky gum from hair or carpets. It’s also great combined with white vinegar as a cleaning agent.
- Eucalyptus essential oil can be useful in treating many common health ailments such as relieving flu and cold-like symptoms, congestion problems. It also supports respiratory health, comforts sore muscles.
- Feeling off balance? The Theives essential oil blend which contains cinnamon, clove, lemon, eucalyptus, and rosemary is anti-viral and kills airborne bacteria.
- Clean and refresh carpet with your favorite scented essential oil, like lemon, lavender, geranium, peppermint or ylang ylang, + baking soda.
- Geranium essential oil is not only good for your skin, it supports good liver health.
*Please consult your doctor before using essential oils. We recommend using organic essential oils without pesticides. Not recommended to be used on children or pregnant women.
Andrea Plell is EcoHabitude’s Director of Communications and the Editor-in-Chief of the EcoHabitude blog. Since 2007, Andrea has been on a mission to support a paradigm shift in the fashion industry. She currently runs her own PR and ethical fashion production company in San Francisco, CA – working with several ethical brands on the West Coast.
Follow Andrea on instagram.