Recently you may or may not have seen me talking about my new found love of aromatherapy and essential oils. They pop up on my Twitter, and in my Insta photos, and I’ll generally talk the ear off anyone who asks me about them. I want to start talking more about how I practice self-care here on Brianneetc, because I truly believe it goes so far beyond a Lush bath and a lie in (like I previously thought!). Aromatherapy has become a huge part of this for me. It’s one of my absolute go-to’s for basically any mood I might find myself in, and I’m finding new ways to add it into my life every day. Step one seems to be sharing my current collection! Here we go.
What even is an essential oil?
On a super basic level, essential oils are concentrated plant essences, made up of molecules that give plants their scent. They’re typically extracted using distillation, which gives you the oil, as well as a water (which is the plant hydrosol that I talked about here). There’s a really great post about the actual makeup of essential oils on NAHA, where you can check out how they’re made and what they actually are.
Essential oils are then used in all kinds of aromatherapy, but they’ll also pop up in your skincare, makeup and cleaning products. They’re extremely versatile!
How do I use them?
Most commonly I diffuse my oils around the house. We diffuse them to help us sleep, and I’ll use them in the room while I’m doing yoga or getting ready in the morning. If Liam would let me, I’d probably have my diffuser going for most of the day because it’s honestly my favourite purchase ever (FYI I use this one from Amazon). I also use a tonne of them in my skincare – see making my own cleansing oil – and am always finding new ways to add them into my moisturisers and toners. More recently I’ve been using them as household cleaners all around the house!
A tiny disclaimer: In this post, I’m listing why I use certain essential oils, and what I use them for. I do also mention some other benefits of using them. I do not, in any way, claim that these will cure any long term health issues (mental, or physical), and I’m actively avoiding talking about how the use of certain oils can, for example, cure cancer, depression or other serious medical issues. I do not recommend replacing existing medication with the use of essential oils and I am not advocating the use of them internally. Please do your own research and consult a physician if you intend to do so.
My essential oil collection so far!
I’ve been collecting and using essential oils so far for about three months now so it’s been a fun time to learn what I do/don’t like and what I find helps best. Here’s my essential oil collection so far!
Tea Tree – Whether or not you use essential oils you’ll have likely heard of tea tree. It’s in tonnes of skincare, cleaning products and body care because it’s quite possibly the most universally useful essential oils. I use tea tree in my kitchen and bathroom in my cleaning products, in my spot treatment gel, in my cleansing oil when my skin is feeling a bit iffy and in basically any other scenario I can make it work. Tea tree is a powerful ingredient for
I use tea tree essential oil in my kitchen and bathroom in my cleaning products, in my spot treatment gel, in my cleansing oil when my skin is feeling a bit iffy and in basically any other scenario I can make it work. Tea tree is a powerful ingredient for skin care as it helps to reduce inflammation and its anti-bacterial properties can help to prevent breakouts in future. I recently used a tonne of it to help heal up a particularly nasty cyst and I’ve been hounding Liam to use more of it too. I also use it for cuts and scrapes and steam my face with it regularly as I have some particularly troublesome sinuses that it helps take care of as well as leaving your skin glowing.
Lavender – Lavender is another essential oil you’ll have heard of a thousand times before. I used to be a little iffy on the scent – to me it reminded me of old lady’s skincare – but my nose has since matured a bit. Lavender is one I swear by for night time diffusion to help us both sleep and it’s one I love to use for body oiling after a rough day thanks to its calming effects. Lavender is a fab little oil for when my anxiety is playing up – I keep some in my bag at work most of the time for stressful days and use the inhalation method on the go for when I’m stressed/panicky. It’s a nice one to drop into skincare as it can help a lot with dry skin as well as being super soothing, and is another I use on cuts/scrapes/burns, and it was particularly lovely that time I bleached my hair 3 times in a day and damn near balded myself.
Bergamot – Bergamot is my absolute favourite essential oil of all time. I knew I loved it before I started using essential oils because it was in just about all of my favourite Lush products, but as soon as I got my hands on a bottle I knew I’d adore it. A member of the citrus family, Bergamot is so, so uplifting, and I find it really boosts my mood and keeps me afloat when I’m feeling stressed. It came to London with me when I had to brave the Underground on my own for my first time and I wear it on my sleeves every day to work which is a huge comfort to me. If I’m feeling grumpy I’ll diffuse it around the house, and I use it in my cleaning products for the living room/bedroom as it’s such a happy scent to me.
Aside from my raving love of the scent, Bergamot does have some anti-bacterial properties (hence why I use it in my cleaning solution around the living room). It is useful in just about any stressful situation and makes for a lovely massage oil. It’s another I use for body oiling, as it’s particularly good for relieving muscle tension as well as having some calming and uplifting effects.
Orange – When I first started using essential oils, I wasn’t too fussed about Orange essential oil until I listened to an episode of One Part Podcast which talked about it as literally an essential for beginners. It’s useful for improving your mood, making it a good addition to massage oils and diffuser blends. It’s another addition to my cleaning solution in the living room as it smells so fresh and sweet, as well as being a natural anti-bacterial. Orange Oil is thought to be beneficial for controlling blood pressure – although I don’t use oils for actual medical purposes I do find it to be a lovely little home remedy for tension headaches and particularly vicious period pains. I’ll usually just use it with a tiny bit of coconut oil and massage in – nice and simple.
Eucalyptus – Eucalyptus essential oil is another favourite of mine. It’s the key component of vapour rubs like Vicks, so if you have troublesome sinuses like me, eucalyptus is an absolute essential. It helps sooth allergies, clear sinuses, soothe muscle aches and headaches and is great for when you’re feeling sniffly or have a cold. You can apply it like a vapour rub to your chest/wrists/feet/anywhere you like, or simply diffuse it. It makes a really lovely addition to steam treatments too, but it’s worth noting that it can be a bit overpowering. If you’re after a versatile do-it-all, Eucalyptus is your guy.
Peppermint – I love peppermint essential oil for mixing with Eucalyptus for a particularly cooling blend. It takes the edge off Eucalyptus’s medicinal scent for diffusing and makes for a cooling head rub for headaches. I use it as a massage oil for my feet/legs/shoulders after a long day at work as it really helps to soothe muscle ache too. If the oil you have is food grade (this is important!!), peppermint makes a great addition to teas to sooth your stomach and improve digestion (which is why I love peppermint tea). It also makes for a fab addition to dental care as a breath freshener, if you’re into trying your own out. I also find peppermint very soothing when travelling – it’s a very refreshing oil that wakes you up and can calm nerves without being super offensive to people around you. Tisserand does a really lovely travel roll-on which has got me through many a stressful bus and train journey.
Chamomile – You’ll all have heard of chamomile before as being the ultimate soothing addition to tea. Much like lavender, Chamomile is very calming and good for taking care of yourself during anxious periods. There are times where I really just don’t feel like using lavender as it can be a bit overpowering – chamomile is a much more subtle alternative. It’s great for treating irritated skin and I’ve found it especially useful when I’ve had little patches of psoriasis pop back up. The addition of chamomile to tea can also be very soothing on a sore or uncomfortable stomach (it’s known to help with gas too if that’s something you’re struggling with).
Rose – I mainly use rose for all things skincare – I’ll pop it in my cleansing oil or a few drops to my moisturisers quite often. It’s good for soothing acne and blemishes and can help reduce the appearance of scarring from those times you can’t help but pick at them. It’s packed with anti-oxidants, so many people also swear by it for reducing the appearance of stretch marks and other blemishes. I personally use it to help clear up the aftermath of ingrown hairs since I started epilating (more on that in a future post!). I’ll also often diffuse it with Lavender + clary sage before bed to help us sleep.
A pilot study has recently been performed using rose oil as a treatment for depression and showed some interesting findings (it’s important to be critical though, I’m not here to claim Rose is going to cure your mental health). You can read more about it on PubMed.
Rosemary – Liam and I pretty much eat out bodyweight in rosemary anyway since I cook with it all the time, but Rosemary essential oil has a tonne of uses too. Mostly I’ll add it to my shampoo or do rosemary rinses on my hair as it is incredible for conditioning tired hair. It is supposed to help stimulate hair follicles to help hair growth but is also excellent for treating an irritated, dry scalp (see also my bleaching incident). You’ll commonly find it in your shampoo and conditioner. I’ll also use it for steam facials if my skin is playing up thanks to its antiseptic properties – handy for treating spots that you’ve picked at or that are leaving sores. Rosemary oil is also a key ingredient in massage oils and muscle rubs – Liam bought me a rosemary massage oil when we first got together as I was struggling to be on my feet all day at work, and I found it helps immensely. I still use the same blend for achy muscles, soreness after working out and body aches when I have a cold.
Clary Sage – I’ll be honest, when I first picked up my clary sage essential oilI had no idea what it actually was. It turns out it’s now one of my favourite oils and one I’ll use in some capacity every single day. It’s one of my favourites to diffuse – it’s said to have some sedative effects and it’#s given me my best night’s sleep in the last few months. There are studies happening to look into its benefits in treating anxiety or depressive episodes – this is one of the few I rely heavily on when I’m having a low mood day or am feeling heavily stressed- and it’s also great for your skin and physical self as well as your mood. It’s another I swear by for when my cramps are getting to me, and it’s a lovely addition to muscle rubs for helping general aches and pains.
Geranium – Geranium, honestly, is not my favourite. It’s a little too overpowering for me, but I will admit I’ve had some success in using it. Geranium essential oil is great for your skin and can reduce inflammation from spots and other blemishes, as well as being said to help heal them quicker and prevent them from getting infected. It works as a mood enhancer – I prefer diffusing it with a heavy dilution as otherwise, it is just too much for me.
Ylang Ylang – I didn’t anticipate how much I would use ylang ylang essential oil until I started experimenting with it. I find it treats dry skin/hair very well and have been adding a few drops to my facial oils/hair oils to help soothe the skin and reap its moisturising benefits. I also diffuse it regularly to balance my mood -particularly during yoga as I find it very centring, and I add a few drops of it my cleaning solutions as I just genuinely enjoy its scent.
Vanilla – I’ll be honest, I bought vanilla essential oil because it smells damn good and I want to be covered in it at all times. I diffuse this one around the house simply because I adore its scent, but it is commonly used as a mood enhancer too. For your skin, it’s packed with antioxidants which can help take care of your skin long term (which is just an added bonus because I’d cover myself in it anyway).
Frankincense – According to the internet (and anyone who regularly uses essential oils), there’s a million and one benefits to using Frankincense essential oil regularly. I don’t love the scent, so I tend to stick to using it for diffusing and more woo-woo things like cleansing a room rather than topical use. If you’re interested though, it’s good for taking care of ageing skin, has a wealth of antibacterial benefits and can be used for dental care. It is so, so important that you are areful if you ever plan to ingest it – there are supposed benefits to doing so but it can be toxic in large amounts and again, please make sure you are suing one that is suitable for internal use.
And that’s it for now! Do you use any of these oils or practice aromatherapy? Let me know your favourites in the comments!