What are essential oils?

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are beautifully concentrated liquids that are taken from plants and can be used in aromatherapy, alternative medicine, and general well-being! Essential oils are also known as volatile oils, ethereal oils, or as the oil from the plant they are from, for example “lavender oil” - which is known for its soothing properties. Essential oils have been around as early as 4500bc, with ancient Egyptians using them for perfume or medicine. In fact, Egyptians were the first civilization to incorporate perfume into their culture (thank you Cleopatra!).

Since then, they are incredibly popular in spas and massage parlours, and of course in the comfort of your own home...

So, how is an essential oil made?

How does that tiny little bottle of magic get produced, you ask? There are a number of processes that can be used to extract essential oil, such as distilling and cold pressing. Distilling can be achieved through using steam and/or water, and cold pressing involves using a steel press to carefully extract the oil. This is an effective way to ensure the oil retains all of its aroma as no heat is used, but distilling is also a popular method in the essential oil industry. Essential oils will come in smaller quantities due to their concentration, and it is very common to buy oils from 3ml-10ml in size. These little bottles pack a punch and can last months, and even years!

How do essential oils work?

There are a number of ways you can use these beautiful oils. Unlike olive oil and sunflower oil, these fragrant-rich liquids are widely used externally rather than internally. Essential oils are mostly used for aromatherapy purposes, as well as alternative medicines and enhancing your general well being. Aromatherapy involves inhaling the essential oil through either warming it with a candle, or adding a few drops into an aroma diffuser which can be used in your own home (and gives you the feeling of being in a spa!). It’s an affordable way to bring a touch of luxury into your beauty or bedtime regime!

Some essential oils work particularly well as an alternative medicine, as you can apply these to your skin for them to be absorbed and to work their magic. For example, Lavender oil is notoriously known for medicinal purposes, as it can reduce stress, anxiety, insomnia and muscle tension - perfect after a long day at work or wanting some ‘me time’ away from reality. Essential oils, for a lot of people, can be a great alternative to over the counter medicine as they are 100% natural and organic. Other essential oils are believed to enhance your general wellbeing and can be used in conjunction with your morning routine to help you feel rejuvenated, or your evening routine to calm you to go to sleep.

What else can I use essential oils for?

Not everybody wants to use essential oils purely for aromatherapy, and they have a wide variety of uses which makes them extremely appealing. They can be used for the following:

Perfume: Due to their intense aroma, essential oils can be mixed with creams and lotions to create a beautiful scent, or they can be applied directly to the wrists and decolletage if desired.

Laundry: Want to spritz up your laundry? Essential oils can be used in washing machines and you can even make your own fabric softener with them. This is great for those who may be sensitive to detergent and want something homemade!

Scenting the home: If you aren’t a fan of scented candles, and have an oil burner, you’d be surprised at how far a few drops of essential oil can make a difference to the smell of a whole room! Another great option is to purchase a diffuser that is safe around children as it uses electricity rather than a naked flame.

How many essential oils are there?

There are over 100 types of essential oils, some varying in price and availability depending on where the oil is coming from. Some of the most common (and our favourites) are Lavender, Bergamot, Peppermint, Sandalwood, Rose, Tea Tree, Jasmine, and Lemon. You can also make your own blends of essential oils at home through mixing them, or extending their life with a carrier oil - which is particularly good if you have an expensive essential oil you’d rather save money on rebuying!