The Beginner’s Guide To Essentials Oils

From Adina Grigore, Founder of SW Basics and Author of Just The Essentials.

Essential oils still freak a lot of us out. Right? Tell the truth. You’ve read about them online, you think they’re lurking in some of your beauty products, you even bought a blend once but didn’t know what to do so it’s sitting, dusty, who even knows where. I get it, that’s how it starts for everyone. That’s how I used to be about essential oils. I knew there was something to get, but I didn’t get it. And they just seemed so… intense. Why these dark little bottles? Why no helpful instructions for how to use them? Why so expensive? And most importantly–why at all?

The essential oil industry is a bit outdated to say the least. The largest essential oil companies sell all of their EOs (that’s industry talk for essential oils) through direct sales models. That means that you can buy them from your neighbor or cousin, but not on any shelf. They also control a lot of information about essential oils, which leads to at best a lot of fluff, and at worst dangerous exaggerations. If you’re a skeptic (like me) and want information from a different source, chances are you’ll end up with a book from the 1970s. (Let’s be honest, that’s when they had everything figured out anyways, right?)

But essential oils deserve your attention, they deserve to be in your life, and therefore I felt like they deserved a makeover. So I did an alarming amount of research (skipping over the marketing and click-bait-y stuff) and got to the bottom of what’s real, what isn’t, and why you should care. You can get real nerdy with me in Just the Essentials, but here is my quick beginner’s guide.

1. Figuring out where to start is so easy: open and sniff. Seriously. Go to your favorite natural grocery store and find that intense display of essential oils. Open one that sounds interesting, and wave the scent toward you.

2. Do not take a deep inhale really close to the bottle. Essential oils are extremely volatile, which means when you smell them, actual plant matter is entering your air waves. Which can be really awesome if you really love an oil. But if you don’t, and you don’t know that yet, you are going to have a really bad day.

3. Smell a few and walk away. Do your shopping. How do you feel? Happy? Calm? Energized? Does one stick out in your mind? If you remember loving one or a couple, go back to those and try again. If you’re all “damn that smells crazy good” then that’s the oil for you.

4. I mean it. The way essential oils work is super complicated and has to do with a combination of your brain chemistry, your memories, and your emotions. Chances are that an oil that resonates with you is tapping into a positive memory (which will make it work better) and working well with your mind. Trust that.

5. No, that doesn’t mean you can take that dark little bottle home and dump the oil all over your skin. (If you’ve been doing that, don’t freak out. Just maybe stop now?) Essential oils are incredibly potent. One drop of peppermint oil is the equivalent of 28 cups of peppermint tea. So smelling peppermint will soothe you super fast, but putting it on your skin will burn. And not just in an emotional way, but a literal one. You will see redness and the area will stay sensitive for a long time.

6. Just DIY-lite. It’s so, so easy. Dilute into a bit of kitchen cabinet oil (coconut oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil. Really, anything works). Start with 2-4 drops at a time per essential oil in a tablespoon of “carrier” oil. (Get it? It’s carrying the essential oil to you. Isn’t that so nice? You should thank it.) Apply to the inner arm, sniff and wait.

7. Ease your way up and into blends. Go up to 8 drops and see how that goes. Then try two essential oils, with 4 drops of each. Always shake well and test and wait. Be patient. Once you do this and figure it out, you never have to do it again.

8. Leave your face for last. Some oils, like tea tree and clary sage, play nice with almost everyone’s face. They’ll fight acne and soothe inflammation and redness. Others, like lavender for example, are over utilized and actually give a lot of people reactions. Make sure you really, really like an oil before you apply it as a face moisturizer (in a carrier oil, of course).

9. Get a tea light diffuser. It’s like a candle but so much more satisfying. Plus it makes for great conversations, because most people faintly remember these from a grandmother or hippie aunt. They’re incredibly easy to use, they fill a room with your favorite scents, and you can play with blends to see what you like before you put them in skincare DIYs.

10. Be proud that you are preventing an important industry from dying out. Essential oils have been around for centuries; our ancestors really knew what was up. They are 100% natural, side-effect free medicine. Right at your fingertips. They will rock your world if you let them, and you will be helping them stick around for future generations.

PS. Still not sure where to start? We just launched a line of functional fragrances. One essential oil diluted down to skin-safe levels. That way you can get to know one at a time and see who you really want to settle down with.

Check out these amazing DIY face mask recipes from Joanna Vargas or read how olive oil can be implemented in your beauty routine.

The New Potato and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease or ailment.
All content on The New Potato (even when supplied by a medical professional) is intended for educational and conversational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or healthcare provider before beginning any new diet, exercise regime, or wellness routine.