Oil is well: The beginner’s guide to essential oils

Steph Arnaldo
Oil is well: The beginner’s guide to essential oils
On the way to becoming a self-confessed oilbularyo? Here all the essentials you need!

Hi, I’m Steph, and I’m an oilaholic – an essential oilaholic.

Also a self-confessed oilbularyo, I have become that friend who literally can’t leave the house without an essential oil roller (or two… or three…) packed in my pocket – and that’s just during the day.

Did I mention that I also have one tucked under my pillow every night?

Truly, it is what it is – an essential.

Whether it’s to kickstart a good night’s sleep, to calm nerves on overdrive, or to tame a throbbing headache, the right essential oils can do just the trick, sometimes even in just a matter of minutes.

If you have yet to reach peak oilbularyo status, that’s okay. If you’re fairly new to the oil-sniffing game, don’t sweat it – we’ve got oil you need to know about the magical world of essential oils: what they are, how they’re used, and what they can do just for you.

Essential oils: Their unique smelling point

Firstly, what are essential oils anyway?

Essential oils are the pure, concentrated extracts of natural ingredients such as herbs, flowers, fruits, and other plants, each one potently packed with its own fragrance, benefits, and uses. 

These oils are also the backbone of aromatherapy, an alternative treatment that promotes mental stability, physical health, and holistic well-being through all-natural means.

Their USP (unique smelling point)? In just a single whiff or rub, these oils can help relieve migraines, dizziness, anxiety, memory fog, skin problems, restlesness, and even respiratory issues for some.

With a smell that sells, the right essential oil can relax, invigorate, calm, or uplift, making it a go-to for the on-the-go.

All you need to nose: How to use them

Essential oils and blends can be used in 3 ways: via smell, skin, or surroundings. 

To smell, all it takes is a deep nose inhalation straight from the bottle. You can also add a drop of oil onto your palm, rub quickly, make a cupping position with your hands (this is what they call an “aroma dome”) on your nose, and breathe in all that natural goodness.

For skin contact, essential oils are best used with a carrier oil, a plant-based, usually odorless oil that dilutes the strength of essential oils to make them safer for sensitive skin.

Carrier oils are mixed with drops of your chosen essential oil, which help your skin absorb the extracts faster and easier, making this perfect for aromatherapy massages and skincare routines. 

Popular choices include coconut oil, argan oil, jojoba oil, rosehip oil, sunflower oil, almond oil, olive oil, and grapeseed oil.

Once mixed, apply it on your skin’s thinnest, most absorbent parts – wrists, temples, nape, and the back of the ears, feeling it sink down into your body.

Lastly, you can also use a diffuser. Using water vapor, this nifty gadget can quickly infiltrate your space with the sweet-smelling glory of your chosen essential oil, benefits included. 

Oil you need: Basic oils for beginners

A plethora of essential oils and blends exists in this world, and the sheer amount may just overwhelm a beginnner, so let’s just stick to the basics in the meantime, shall we? 

Need to sleep? Keep calm and lavender on.

Hailed as one of arometherapy’s OG oils is lavender, the versatile go-to for those looking to catch some much-needed ZZZs.

Known for its calming properties, its subtly floral aroma can help alleviate anxiety, restlessness, and stress, while also promoting sleep and relaxation – perfect before bedtime.

Lavender is also a popular component of skincare, thanks to its anti-inflammatory abilities.

Need a perk-me-up? When life hands you lemons, sniff it. 

Lemon essential oil smells just like a glass of freshly-squeezed lemonade, making this scent a citrus lover’s dream come true and the best wake-up call to start your mornings with. 

Refreshing and energizing, lemon’s bright, fruity essence makes for an uplifting pick-me-up. It is said to help headaches, combat mental fatigue, boost clarity, and up one’s mood with its invigorating properties. Need some cheer? Lemon’s here.

Popular in skincare, lemon is also used to help brighten the skin, thanks to its high levels of Vitamin C. 

Feeling dizzy? Peppermint is mint for you.

With peppermint, it’s usually love at first sniff. That distinct minty smell used in tea, candies, and even mouthwash is familiar, and when inhaled, gives the same refreshing experience.

Its menthol aroma is clarifying and stimulating, making it a great focus aid to studying or working. Caught a tension headache from all that thinking? Peppermint knows how to give your dizzy head a cool-down, too. It can even relieve nausea in some!

Peppermint massage oil is also used as a muscle relaxant, perfect after post-strenuous activities and muscle pains.

Feeling out of it? Make sense with frankincense.

Tend to space out a lot? For the absent-minded and foggy-brained, frankincense is best.

One of the rarer (and more expensive) essential oils, its woody, spicy aroma can help you ground your senses to the present moment, making it ideal during yoga or meditation.

This earthy “spiritual focus” oil also helps open up your chest during deep breathing exercises, keeping you tranquil yet stimulated.

Under the weather? Enjoy eucalpytus.

Is it just me or do we all have a vague memory of our moms dropping eucalyptus oil into a basin of water with a steamer and then covering our head with a blanket? When I was riddled with a cough and cold, this was our household answer. 

And hey, it always worked! Minty eucalyptus is purifying and cleansing, hailed as a cough reliever by clearing your chest of mucus and helping you breath a bit easier. This works when sick, but it can also work during anxiety attacks when the chest tends to tighten up.

Senior moment? Jog your memory with rosemary.

Memory fog? Clear that mental block and keep alert with the help of rosemary (by sniffing it, not cooking it with salmon). 

The flowery, herby aroma of rosemary oil helps stimulate brain function, concentration and focus, even relieving some of studying stress. It can also help perk you up energy-wise! 

Rosemary oil is also popular in hair products, thanks to its hair growth capabilties.

Searching for sweet and soothing? Go for bergamot. 

The sweet-spicy bergamot belongs in the citrus-orange family, and fun fact: is actually used to flavor the famous Earl Grey tea with its distinct flowery taste.

The anti-inflammatory bergamot oil helps to reduce stress, anxiety, and fatigue, while also soothing a frazzled mood, as well as angry pimples! Mixed with a carrier oil, it can even be used as an acne spot treatment. – Rappler.com 

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Steph Arnaldo

If she’s not writing about food, she’s probably thinking about it. From advertising copywriter to freelance feature writer, Steph Arnaldo finally turned her part-time passion into a full-time career. She’s written about food, lifestyle, and wellness for Rappler since 2018.