I use that $#!+ for everything. Ok, maybe not everything, but I love me some oils and the more I learn and use, the more I love them. Throughout my health and wellness journey and learning more about artificial fragrances, toxins in our everyday household products, and overall just how much we are exposed to all.of.the.time, I started to research other options for personal and household items. Products with ingredients that are less harmful. And as I started to make swaps and decrease use of things with an over-abundance of manufactured fragrances, I started to realize how potent-smelling they were and how much it in fact impacted my health and how I felt. Much like food labels, I am now more aware of the ingredient list on my household and personal care products, aiming for a shorter number of ingredients and ones that are more natural. I’m not expert yet about essential oils, but it has been fun to learn, experiment and integrate them into my life and household! Check out a few of my favorite ways below that I use them and maybe find some ideas for your own.
The smell of a home or place elicits so many emotions for me. I think we can all agree that walking into a spa and breathing in the blend of essential oils brings instant calmness, relaxation, and feeling of all-is-well. Aromatherapy, also referred to as essential oil therapy, is a type of healing treatment that uses natural plant extracts (such as those in essential oils), to promote well-being and health. Essential oils can be integrated in a variety of ways, from diffusing to being applied topically.
I personally love to diffuse essential oils. As this practice continues to grow in popularity, there are an increasing amount of types of diffusers, especially ones that not only add a pleasant aroma to your home, but also decor and aesthetic as well. A diffuser is a device that helps breakdown the essential oil into smaller molecules, disperses them into the air, creating a unique scent based on the essential oil used. The type of essential oil has a different result or impact, depending on its properties. One of my favorite things has been to research what essential oil(s) are good for specific moods or feelings I want to manifest, such as positive energy, soothing, boosting mood, etc. And sometimes when I am able to physically smell a bottle of essential oil either at a store or one a friend has, and then learn how/why it’s used, it is fun to do that too! Pick it either first because I am trying to achieve a desired outcome, OR because I like the smell (with the healing property not being as meaningful).
You’re probably wondering what my favorite essential oils are to diffuse! My main go-to, Purification (by Young Living) is one that I use most often to help create a pleasant smell for our home that is clean and refreshing. Its blend of Citronella, Lavandin, Lemongrass, Myrtle, Rosemary, and Tea Tree such a great combo of scents and also acts as a neutralizer to potentially unwanted/unpleasant smells in the home. Other essential oils I often use in my diffuser include eucalyptus and peppermint, or Thieves (especially during winter months when cold and crud is more rampant).
- ALL-DAY WEAR
I was never a big perfume-wearing gal, but it was fun to spritz some on before a date or fun outing. From time to time I do miss wearing perfume, however the fun I have had in finding all kinds of different essential oils to use in place of perfumes has been well worth it! This swap was mainly for the health-aspect of decreasing my exposure to artificial fragrances and ingredients, especially since it wasn’t needed. Our skin is the largest organ in our body, and nearly everything we put on it could be absorbed and therefore impacts our overall health. So my thought was, why not put something safe and beneficial on my skin, AND have it smell good?! Win, win, win!
With essenital oils, you always want to be mindful and careful about applying them directly to your skin though- don’t say I didn’t warn you. Since essential oils are very concentrated, it is super important to apply them with what is called a “carrier oil,” or an oil that helps protect the skin, absorb the essential oil, as well as help elongate the life of the essential oil on your skin. Essentially they dilute the essential oil and help “carry” it into the skin. However, if you get an essential oil roller (a bottle of essential oil that comes with a rollerball on top), they are typically a combination of carrier oil and essential oil together in the bottle and are therefore ready as-is to apply directly to the skin.
There are a variety of carrier oils that work well, and even some that you may already have in your cupboards! Olive oil can be a great option for a carrier oil, as can coconut oil — both of which I always have in my kitchen and make it very easy to use as a carrier oil at any time as well! Other oils that are easy to find at stores or purchase online, are relatively inexpensive, and make for a nice carrier oil include sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, cocoa butter and/or shea butter.
Essential oils in rollerball bottles are my absolute favorite way to use essential oils. I love catching a whiff throughout the day of the oil, and being able to even carry the bottle with me in my diaper bag backpack or purse to re-apply throughout the day has been really handy.
There’s something about a sparkly-clean kitchen with notes of lemon that is so satisfying. Full-disclosure about me: I love to clean. I love a clean room. From an early age my mom taught me how to properly clean (I.e. dust all surfaces, put things away in their proper places, etc.) and it is something that has stuck with me. It is gratifying to have not just a tidy home, but one that is clean. There is a difference and IFYKYK. Over the years I have transitioned from standard surface cleaners and floor cleaners riddled with a laundry-list of ingredients and artificial fragrances, to products that are healthier and just as effective!
My go-to floor cleaner is warm water, white vinegar & a few drops of essential oil like lemon or peppermint. Vinegar is heavily regarded as one of the best disinfectants and acts as a great cleaner for your home. Diluting it with water, a mixture of about 1 gal of warm water to 1/2 cup white vinegar, is a common combo recommended for floors, surfaces, etc. It can even be used to spot clean spills on carpets! There is however some debate about using it on hardwood floors, so perhaps proceed with caution as well as do your own reading before using.
Another helpful combo of ingredients to help your home smelling clean and fresh is baking soda and essential oil. I do my darnedest to keep a tidy fridge and pantry, but let’s be honest, inevitably there is something that gets lost in the back and is discovered because of its lingering smell. When this happens, I bust out a small bowl and pour in about 3/4 to 1 cup of baking soda and 3-5 drops of essential oil such as Purification. Baking soda is known to draw smells out of areas and things, and the essential oil drops diffuse into the air to help make it smell better and neutralize odors.
- REMEDIES FOR THE FAMILY
Growing up I had super sensitive skin. Blonde hair, blue eyes, pale skin that was a magnet for sunburns and reactions to products. After playing in a pool, my skin would be so dry and itchy, yet a shower to wash off the chlorine wouldn’t cut it. One horrific trial-and-error with my mom of various skin lotions (where none of them relieved the pain and all of them worsened the dryness, redness and burning) was the start of relying on products with no fragrances. From there, we always opted for “sensitive-skin” options and were also much more cautious about what we put on my skin. This also meant finding sunscreens to prevent this pale gal from burning, and creams to soothe the inevitable sunburn.
These life-lessons from an early age about skincare and how products react differently, made me more aware and interested in finding options that were effective yet ideally derived from more natural ingredients. Since our skin absorbs products placed on it, and clearly mine did not agree with many, it became imperative to me to do my due-diligence and research.
With this experience, I’m also more cautious as a mama with my kiddos and what we apply to their skin. Especially as babies where their sweet skin is even more absorbent, I was very particular about what I used. As previously mentioned, essential oils are very concentrated and shouldn’t be used directly on the skin without the use of a carrier oil. With me and my family, I often use coconut oil as it is inexpensive and I always have a big jar of it in my pantry. I will put a smaller portion into a little jar or Tupperware and keep it in the bathroom or the baby’s changing table drawer.
I love to use a dab of coconut oil with a drop of lavender oil and rub it into the bottom of my kids feet before bed. The scent is naturally calming and soothing to help decrease their heightened energy levels, and the sensation of a gentle massage on their feet elicits a loving and relaxing state. The bottom of our feet are actually one of the best places to put essential oils as it has the largest skin pores on our body, making it highly absorbent. The skin on the bottom of our feet is also less sensitive, so it is less likely to negatively react to the essential oil.
Another go-to for our family is Thieves (or similar blend), for immune-support. Especially during winter months where sickness is more rampant and frigid Minnesota temps don’t allow for window and doors to be open to air out the home, I love to use this blend. Diffusing it is a favorite, but I also use it with a carrier oil on the bottoms of my kids feet.
Overall, it seems essential oils are a trial-and-error for us all. What some people like others don’t, but it has been a fun experiment over the years for me and have become staples in my daily life. It has been awesome to find healthier alternatives to many products and feeling good about the products I use for myself and my family.