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To put it simply, essential oils are concentrated natural oils from plants.

They are extracted using various methods including distillation and cold pressing. They can be applied topically, diffused, inhaled and even taken internally (although I recommend you do the latter only under strict guidance from a qualified practitioner).

Used correctly, essential oils are a brilliant and natural tool for cleaning, body care and wellbeing.

Essential oils are generally regarded as safe, and typically don’t have many side effects, as long as they are used correctly. Improper use can cause serious harm including skin irritation, allergic reactions and even burns. Keep them out of reach of children at all times.

These precious oils are my perfume now. I love knowing that the fragrance I am applying to my skin is safe and beneficial to my body, serving more than just an aromatic purpose.

Tips when choosing and using essential oils

Tip 1 – source top quality, 100% pure essential oils

This is so important. Choose a brand whose oils are either certified organic, or from a company that is transparent in their processes, from seed to seal.

I am very reluctant to promote only one specific brand of oils as I believe there are a number of reputable companies out there. Over time, I have developed a great love for the oils at Plant Therapy, and despite the fact that they are based in the US, their prices are very competitive (mainly due to them not selling in a MLM structure), plus they have the knowledge of Robert Tisserand behind them, and Robert is the master of EO safety! Louise at The Organic Potioneer stocks Plant Therapy oils and she’s based in Western Australia. Use the code “TILP” for 10% off your order – bonus!

I also use and love Young Living and doTERRA oils. There are local brands such as Twenty8, Tinderbox, Eco. Modern Essentials and Edens Garden, that I have heard are good. 123 Nourish Me also sell some certified organic oils, as do Biome and Flora & Fauna.

Tip 2 – avoid fragrance oils at all costs

If leading a less toxic lifestyle is your end-aim, this is a must. Fragrance oils are basically perfume and, unless naturally derived, full of nasties.

 Tip 3 – research dilution rates

The dilution rates I suggest in my recipes feel right to me, however I encourage you to do your own research and testing, and remain aware that some essential oils are best avoided by infants, children, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, the elderly, some animals and those with compromised immunity or medical conditions.

Tip 4 – be extra cautious with children and essential oils

If you want to use any of my recipes on children and you’re not confident in your knowledge on appropriate essential oil dilution rates, play it safe and leave them out. Some should never be used on or near children.

Tip 5 – never apply undiluted essential oils to your skin

They can irritate and even burn.

Tip 6 – patch test

It is a good idea to patch test products containing essential oils before using them, particularly if you have sensitive skin.

Tip 7 – essential oils don’t mix with water

Be careful adding them directly to the bath as they will sit on top of the water and may cause some discomfort when you hop in! Even mixing essential oils with salts requires caution. I don’t advocate for extra ingredients to be added to mix oil and water, so if this concerns you, best you leave the essential oils out of any of the bath salts recipes.

Tip 8 – shake well

When using essential oils in predominately water-based recipes, you will need to shake well before each use to temporarily distribute the oils (unless your recipe contains castile soap, like my foaming washes, as this ingredient does the job well). Remember, we’re stripping it back and avoiding extra additives, and I’m yet to find an effective, truly natural and easily accessible solubiliser. While very high-percentage (90+) alcohol is effective, it’s not easy to source and I personally don’t like using alcohol in body care applications.

Tip 9 – avoid citrus oils and sunlight

Be aware that citrus oils are best avoided prior to sun exposure as they increase the skin’s photosensitivity.

Tip 10 – permission to experiment is granted!

When it comes to essential oils, I’m giving you my favourites in each recipe. But you may have other ideas (or a completely different collection), and that’s okay. You have permission to experiment, substitute or leave them out. Just make sure you make a note, so you remember how to recreate the combo if you love it.

You might like to use a particular recipe as a base (this super salve for example), and change up the essential oils to give the same base multiple purposes.

Tip 11 – be cautious around pets

Be especially careful when using and diffusing essential oils around pets. Speak to your vet and do your research.

Tip 12 – test flavour combo’s

Pop a teaspoon of coconut oil (the type that solidifies) into a dish and add a smaller ratio of oils. Apply it to your arms and legs and see if you like the smell. Tweak it until you have reached your version of perfect and go ahead with your larger batch. REMEMBER to make notes or you’ll kick yourself when you’ve forgotten what you added to your little dish and can’t replicate it (or avoid it)!

Essential oil inspiration

I often get asked which oils are suitable for eczema, dry skin, wrinkles, pimples; what blends make for a kid-friendly lip balm scent; what oils could be swapped out of various recipes due to dislikes etc. And the list goes on, and on, and ON! So, I put this list together and hope you find it to be a great reference tool for all of your DIY-ing sessions!

Remember that not all oils/blends will be suitable for everyone. Many suggestions are simply ideas and recommendations from the TILP community, based on what they love and what works for them; some come from my experience and research, and others have been sourced (see reference links).

My absolute favourites
Ylang ylang, patchouli and orange
Orange, ylang ylang and ginger
Bergamot, lavender and geranium

Deep, spicy and woody
Ylang ylang, patchouli and vetiver
Rosemary, cinnamon and orange
Clary sage, lime and cedarwood

Popular staples
Lavender, orange and frankincense
Peppermint, orange, lemon and lime

Fruity
Lemon, lime and grapefruit
Lemongrass and ginger

Energising, refreshing, wake-me-up
Orange, lemongrass and wintergreen
Peppermint and orange
Lemon, lime and spearmint
Peppermint, orange, lemon and lime

Clean and fresh
Cinnamon, peppermint and grapefruit
Lemon, lime, eucalyptus
Lavender, lemon and rosemary
Lime, grapefruit
Orange, ylang ylang and ginger
Lemongrass, orange and wintergreen

Relaxing, sleepy, mental tension, unwind
Lavender, cedarwood, ylang ylang and vetiver
Lavender, orange and frankincense
Ylang ylang, cedarwood and marjoram
Lavender and geranium

Festive
Orange, cinnamon and ginger
Clove, cinnamon and lemongrass

Children – the following oils are typically regarded as safe, when diluted properly (note that this is not a complete list of ‘kid-safe’ oils):
Bergamot
Geranium
Grapefruit
Lavender
Lemon
Lime
Mandarin
Orange
Rose
Spearmint
Tangerine
Tea tree

If you’re in doubt, have a look around Plant Therapy’s website. I believe their information to be accurate and reliable.

The Inspired Little Pot community suggestions

I asked the beautiful crew in my Facebook Group what blends they are in love with, and this is some of what I got. Love them!

Orange, cinnamon and cedarwood – as a nice cosy homely vibe
Ylang ylang and bergamot – as a perfume
Ginger and lime – in the kitchen diffuser
Vetiver, roman chamomile and cedarwood – to wind the kids down
Peppermint and lemongrass – in the office
Lemongrass and grapefruit – great for the dishwashing liquid
Geranium, lavender and patchouli or lavender, patchouli and ylang ylang – in body wash
Lemongrass and cedarwood – relaxing and cleansing
Vetiver and lime – loving it in the diffuser at the moment
Spearmint, ylang ylang and black pepper – smells like frangipanis
Ylang ylang, bergamot, lavender – swear by it for anxiety and stress
Clary sage, ylang ylang, lavender and sandalwood (or cedarwood) – a fresh start

When diffusing…

The size of your diffuser and the size of your room will determine how many drops you require. For a small room (bedroom or office), 4-6 drops total is plenty. For a large living area, 8-10 drops is acceptable. But have a play around and add/subtract depending on the strength of aroma you’re after. Also, it is best to diffuse for short periods of time, rather than non-stop. When diffusing in my children’s rooms, I run the diffuser before they go to bed, and then switch it off.

Krissy Ballinger

Krissy Ballinger

Author, Advocate & Founder

Krissy wants to see a world where people make conscious, educated decisions that honour both humans and habitat. With a background in education and health promotion, she devotes her time to passionately increase awareness on common and avoidable toxins, in everyday items like washing powder and deodorant, and to educate individuals on how they can easily reduce their daily exposure, through simple and realistic do-it-yourself ideas and recipes.

Krissy has sold over 40,000 copies of her natural DIY recipe books, including her award-winning book, Naturally Inspired - Simple DIY Recipes for Body Care and Cleaning, and her newly-released kids book, Make & Play - Natural DIY Recipes for Kids. She offers honest and gentle guidance, education and 100+ natural DIY recipes on her website The Inspired Little Pot.

 

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