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Essential Oils 101

Essential Oils 101

We all have scents that comfort us. Maybe it’s the smell of the forest near your childhood home or the acidity of a favorite single-origin coffee. Opening a bottle of any essential oil is, first and foremost, about the scent. But that’s not all that essential oils have to offer. With benefits for the skin, hair, and around the home, essential oils may just be the comforting balm you’ve been craving.

If you’ve always wanted to learn about the world of essential oils, keep reading and our basic guide will tell you everything you need to know.

What Is an Essential Oil?

True essential oils are aromatic compounds that are extracted naturally from plants, typically via steam distillation or cold pressing, and they’re musts for any self-care tool kit. Although most essential oils are too concentrated to apply to the skin undiluted, mixing a few drops into a carrier oil such as coconut, jojoba, or argan oil is a safe and gentle way to reap all their benefits topically. 

True essential oils are aromatic compounds that are extracted naturally from plants, typically via steam distillation or cold pressing—and these natural oils are essential tools for any self-care tool kit. |If you’ve always wanted to learn about the wonderful world of essential oils, our basic guide should give you everything you need to know—along with some fun DIY ideas to sweeten your days.

Essential Oils for Aromatherapy

Every essential oil has a distinct fragrance that can subtly influence the emotions—and knowing which oil to use when can help you soothe, brighten, or uplift your mood. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Lavender: This relaxing scent can help you de-stress, relax into sleep, or cheer up.1,2 Reach for it when you’re feeling anxious, worried, wound up, restless, or a little down.
  • Tea tree: The clean scent of tea tree oil invigorates, uplifts and rejuvenates—but also evokes calm, relaxed feelings. It’s just right when you’re worn out, burned out, or stressed.
  • Jasmine: With its heady, floral scent, jasmine lifts moods and is often referred to as the “perfume of love.” Reach for it when you want a chill or romantic vibe.
  • Frankincense: The woodsy, earthy scent of frankincense encourages calm, focus, and clarity.3 Try it when you’re stressed, feeling frazzled, or overwhelmed. 
  • Lemongrass: With its light, citrusy scent, lemongrass oil inspires a bright, happy, and calm mood, so it’s a solid choice if you’re tired, need a boost, or just want to stay sunny.4,5

To take advantage of the aromatherapeutic effects, place a few drops of the essential oil of your choice in a diffuser, or combine with a carrier oil to dab on wrists or temples. You can also mix and match oils and create your own custom blends.

Essential Oils for Beauty

Because they are concentrated extracts that can cause reactions if applied directly to the skin, essential oils need dilution to be used safely. A carrier oil serves as just that—a carrier, or way to spread the nourishing components of the essential oil. Add a few drops of your essential oil of choice to your preferred carrier oil (or to other self-care products) and enjoy the effects, which we’ve outlined below.

Lemongrass oil

Lemongrass oil hydrates and tones the skin when added to moisturizer or carrier oils.6,7 This  citrus-y oil also encourages long, strong hair, so be sure to add a drop or two to your regular shampoo or conditioner.

Tea tree oil

As long as it’s properly diluted, tea tree oil is appropriate for all skin and hair types. Add it to toners, moisturizing oils, and masks for clear skin, or drop some into your shampoo or conditioner to maintain lush, healthy locks and a comfortable scalp. Adding a few drops to cleansing oil is a kinder, gentler clearing cleanser.8,9,10,11

Frankincense oil

Frankincense addresses the issues of both youthful and mature skin. This ancient oil’s antioxidants and boswellic acids discourage free radicals, ease the effects of the sun, and encourage the skin’s production of elastin and collagen for agelessly smooth, plump skin—while also having a calming effect that helps keep away redness, irritation, and breakouts.12,13,14,15,16,17,18 Just add a drop or two to your daily skincare products.

Lavender oil

Lavender oil supports collagen production and healthy blood flow (think: attractive blush!) while discouraging redness and breakouts, and you can also use it to maintain full, healthy hair and soft, kissable lips.19,20,21,22,23,24 Add it to skincare oils, moisturizer, hair care products, and lip balms. 

Essential Oils for DIY

Looking for more ways to enjoy essential oils? It’s time to get creative! These ideas can help get you started:

When shopping for essential oils, be sure to choose only naturally extracted plant oils with no synthetic additives. Rest assured that all our pure, single-ingredient Valentia essential oils are lovingly, sustainably, and ethically crafted—and are completely free of parabens, GMOs, phthalates, preservatives, synthetic fragrances, or artificial ingredients of any kind.


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  6. Tzortzakis, N. G., & Economakis, C. D. (2007). Antifungal activity of lemongrass (Cympopogon citratus L.) essential oil against key postharvest pathogens. Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies, 8(2), 253-258. doi:10.1016/j.ifset.2007.01.002
  7. Boukhatem, M. N., Ferhat, M. A., Kameli, A., Saidi, F., & Kebir, H. T. (2014). Lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) essential oil as a potent anti-inflammatory and antifungal drugs. Libyan Journal of Medicine, 9(1), 25431. doi:10.3402/ljm.v9.25431
  8. Camila S, O., Ana Beatriz PP, S., Leopoldina L, F., Nadia RB, R., Anderson O, F., Marcos Antônio F, B., & Hudson C, P. (2016). Development and Preliminary Cosmetic Potential Evaluation of Melaleuca alternifolia cheel (Myrtaceae) Oil and Resveratrol for Oily Skin. Journal of Dermatology Research and Therapy, 2(4). doi:10.23937/2469-5750/1510032
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  13. Thring, T. S., Hili, P., & Naughton, D. P. (2009). Anti-collagenase, anti-elastase and anti-oxidant activities of extracts from 21 plants. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 9(1). doi:10.1186/1472-6882-9-27
  14. Choi, Oi-Sook, Mi-Hwa Kwon, Min-Kyu Kong, Soon-Hee Lee, Sung-Rye Gang, Pil-Sun Kim, and Young-Chul Kim. (1986). Inhibition Effects of Frankincense Oil on Skin Aging (II): Focussed on Histological Observation. Journal of Environmental Toxicology, 23, no. 2: 129-138.
  15. Calzavara-Pinton, P., Zane, C., Facchinetti, E., Capezzera, R., & Pedretti, A. (2010). Topical Boswellic acids for treatment of photoaged skin. Dermatologic Therapy, 23, S28-S32. doi:10.1111/j.1529-8019.2009.01284.x
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21, Hossain, S., Heo, H., De Silva, B., Wimalasena, S., Pathirana, H., & Heo, G. (2017). Antibacterial activity of essential oil from lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) against pet turtle-borne pathogenic bacteria. Laboratory Animal Research, 33(3), 195. doi:10.5625/lar.2017.33.3.195

  1. Puškárová, A., Bučková, M., Kraková, L., Pangallo, D., & Kozics, K. (2017). The antibacterial and antifungal activity of six essential oils and their cyto/genotoxicity to human HEL 12469 cells. Scientific Reports, 7(1). doi:10.1038/s41598-017-08673-9
  2. Zu Y, Yu H, Liang L et al. (2010). Activities of ten essential oils towards Propionibacterium acnes and PC-3, A-549 and MCF-7 cancer cells. Molecules, 15:3200-3210
  3. Shiina, Y., Funabashi, N., Lee, K., Toyoda, T., Sekine, T., Honjo, S., … Komuro, I. (2008). Relaxation effects of lavender aromatherapy improve coronary flow velocity reserve in healthy men evaluated by transthoracic Doppler echocardiography. International Journal of Cardiology, 129(2), 193-197. doi:10.1016/j.ijcard.2007.06.064
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