10 essential oils for beginners
There are many wonderful essential oils to choose from – but when you’re just getting into aromatherapy, how do you know which ones to start with? Ideally, you want oils that give multiple benefits, are well tolerated on the skin, and can be used to treat the everyday needs you’re likely to encounter. Here we’ve listed our top ten essential oils with their most popular properties and uses, so you can get immersed in aromatherapy with confidence.
Lavender is a key member of your natural first aid kit, because of its strong antiseptic action – you can use it on cuts, bites and burns to help kill bacteria and promote healing. It’s an incredibly balancing oil, both for the skin and the emotions. Suitable for all skin types, it can be added to cleansers and toners, helping to balance sebum and soothe areas of sensitivity. Its anti-inflammatory and sedative properties make it a wonderful choice for an evening massage, especially for achy muscles.
The cool, fresh scent of peppermint hints at its powerful cleansing and reviving qualities. It helps to stimulate digestion and ease the symptoms of overeating and excess – we recommend a massage over the stomach, rather than ingesting. Peppermint should also be your first port of call for migraines, headaches and the associated nausea, applied to the temples or diffused for a cooling, pain-relieving effect. It also relieves heat and tension in muscles, so is a great addition to a post-exercise muscle rub.
Geranium is known as a tonic, meaning it stimulates the body as a whole and promotes the release of toxins. Celebrated for its regulating effect on the hormones, geranium is often chosen to ease pre-menstrual tension and menopausal symptoms. It’s suitable for all skin types thanks to its balancing and astringent actions, making it an essential addition to facial cleansers and night oils. Geranium also helps to promote and heal scar tissue, so is often added in body oils to treat stretch marks.
Tea tree is a highly antibacterial and antiviral essential oil, understood for its ability to stimulate the immune system and help fight infection. Its strong, medicinal scent is instantly recognisable, because it’s used in a lot of skincare products for oiler or spot prone skin. Tea tree is very antiseptic, so can be used to help heal acne, wounds and warts, and purify the air during cold and flu season. It can be used neat, but this must be done topically on very small afflicted areas. Tea tree can also be useful against little things that bite, helping to repel insects and deter nits.
This is a gentle yet effective oil, suitable for pregnant women and children. Mandarin has an uplifting yet relaxing effect, used to comfort in times of anxiety, tension and depression. Mandarin, like most of the citrus oils, stimulates the metabolism and aids in the breakdown of fats, making it a great oil to diffuse during a dinner party or to add to a detoxifying body oil. It also promotes cell renewal, so is prized for its rejuvenating effect on the skin, helping to lessen scarring and stretch marks, improving elasticity and encouraging brightness.
Strong antiviral properties make thyme an essential around cold and flu season. Add to your diffuser to help soothe irritating coughs or use in a room spray to purify the air. Thyme is an expectorant and decongestant, meaning it helps to dislodge mucous in the nose and bronchial tubes. This makes it a powerful addition to blends that you can rub onto the chest or add to an aromatic bath. Thyme is a stimulating oil so should be used with care and never applied neat to the skin.
Chamomile is a gentle floral oil with a sweet appley scent. It’s prized for its anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it very helpful when treating red, itchy or sensitive skin, including eczema and psoriasis. Try adding it to a simple facial oil or cream or use in a facial steam or face spritz to ease symptoms of hay fever. Chamomile’s calming, soothing properties work on the emotions too, making it a great choice for nervous conditions, tetchiness in children and problems with sleeping.
This oil is a great choice for beginners because it has a bright, uplifting and easy to love citrus scent. Not only does it make a refreshing addition to a home fragrance blend, it has a cooling effect on frustration and anxiety. It’s also been shown to help lift feelings of depression, so is a good choice for pulse-point oils that you can keep in your bag and use at challenging moments. Bergamot has a healing effect on skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and acne, especially those triggered by stress.
Frankincense has an unusual spicy and woody fragrance with a hint of lemon. It’s often chosen for its calming and clarifying effect on the mind, and powerfully rejuvenating action on the skin. Common in anti-ageing products, adding frankincense to your skincare routine will work to tone the skin and promote cell renewal to leave a glowing, youthful complexion. Add to your diffuser when you’re doing yoga to help focus the mind or blend into a healing night cream to help banish worries and find release at bedtime.
Eucalyptus is an incredibly versatile oil, and has been distilled in Australia since the 1700’s. It’s anti-septic, anti-inflammatory and has a powerful cooling effect, helping to reduce the fever associated with colds and flu and clear a blocked nose. At these times, use in the bath or as a facial steam. In the home, eucalyptus is a good choice in room sprays to help purify the air and clear the mind, or add to a surface spray because of its strong antiviral and antibacterial properties. It blends well with most floral, fruit and herb oils.
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