Essential Oils 101

Chances are you’ve been hearing a lot about essential oils lately. Whether it’s coming from your bff or the feed of your fave instagram account, essential oils are the latest darling of the health and wellness movement (alongside Moon Juice, crystals and Palo Santo). The good news is they’re no longer mutually exclusive with the health food store. Yes, essential oils have hit the mainstream, so we decided to get the scoop on them from an expert. Here, Julie Clark, Holistic Aesthetician + Aromatherapist from Province Apothecary shares everything you need to know about essential oils.

There’s an essential oil for that.

Skincare, perfume, wellness roll ons, candles, room sprays. The list of essential oils-based products are growing exponentially. But perhaps the most intriguing area of growth is in the therapeutic sector. Having trouble falling asleep? There’s an oil for that (try lavender or lemongrass). Feeling stressed? Reach for the peppermint and basil oils. Need a wakeup call? Orange oil can give you a boost of energy. “Inhalation is a great way to absorb the benefits of the essential oil quickly for fast acting relief. You can use pure essential oils in a diffuser, or dilute essential oils into a carrier base to apply to the skin,” recommends Julie.

Essential oils are not created equally.

Just like with grocery shopping, the integrity of your supplier and the ingredients matter. “Think about where the essential oil comes from, what the botanical material is like and how much plant matter it takes to make one ounce of oil,” says Julie. Look for terms like unadultered, which means the oil doesn’t contain fillers. As of now, there’s no regulatory body that assesses the efficacy or quality of essential oils. “At Province Apothecary we use organic or wildcrafted, authentic, genuine, unadulterated essential oils of the highest quality to provide therapeutic effects on the mind, body and spirit,” she says.

The dos and don’ts of using essential oils.

Do consult a professional aromatherapist to determine what will work for you. Do also exercise caution when it comes to pregnancy, breastfeeding, and using oils around children, pets and the elderly. Do not ingest essential oils. “It is unnecessary and continued consumption could be fatal,” says Julie. You can reap the benefits through topical applications or inhalation. “The chemical constituents of the essential oils will be absorbed into your body and in some cases can be detected in every cell of your body within 20 minutes, she says. Also, don’t use too much. Essential oils are very concentrated and potent, so less is more.

Okay, so how exactly do I use them?

It depends on what your needs are. Essential oil treatment for emotional, neurological and respiratory concerns are best used through inhalation for quick absorption of the chemical constituents that affect change in the bloodstream and emotional brain, explains Julie. When treating localized pain, inflammation and issues that are skin deep it is best to apply the essential oil blend topically. It is important to always dilute your essential oils into a carrier base when you are applying them directly to the skin. “If you are unsure whether an oil blend will irritate your skin, it’s best to do a small patch test first to assess if sensitivities will arise, before proceeding with your full topical treatment.”

As for methods of diffusing, it comes down to personal preference. An aromatherapy diffuser is also called a nebulizer and it spritzes a mist of essential oils into the air. An oil burner heats up the essential oils so they evaporate and fill the room.

For more info. on Province Apothecary, visit the website here. Julie recommends The Tisserand Institute for general essential oil info. Learn more about it here.  

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