Essential oils were never a product that I was drawn towards until recently. My mom and I were trying to find a way to reduce my frequent nausea and we came across these versatile oils. Aside from being extremely popular on Pinterest, natural beauty & well-being blogs, they present a very simple and organic chemical makeup.
(shout out to my Food Chemistry professor’s note guide where I obtained most of the information)
Despite their oily texture, essential oils are not, in the chemical sense, oils they are terpenes (which are hydrocarbons; compounds that only contain hydrogen and carbon). Essential oils fall underneath the lipid compound classification because they are often mixed with other lipids that contain a waxy coat or are found in the oil sacs of citrus fruit skins. Essential oils are often uniformly distributed because of their derivation from terpenes, which consist of isoprene units.Terpenes, being characteristically strong in aroma, give these oils their powerful scents. Essential oils are produced by steaming the targeted plant with distilled water, letting the water and oil components cool and separate into two layers naturally. The top oil layer (denser than water) is used for essential oils, while the bottom layer, water, is sold as an infused water (such as lavender water, rose water, etc.) This extremely simple process is explained quite well by this video.
A quick google search shows the extremely small amount of chemical/science based information (from any science based source) available on essential oils. Most all essential oil and aromatherapy websites do contain an information section, however, much of it is not scientifically focused. In my opinion, there is not enough science based information present about the effectiveness of essential oils for me to completely believe in their healing characteristics (colds, immune system help, etc). However following my personal belief in the use of clean chemicals, these oils, being derived from natural sources and sold in low concentrations, make a great addition to our beauty and well-being agenda.
After some further research I decided to make the jump and buy some essential oils for myself. Upon viewing their selection I purchased the peppermint and tea tree oils from my local Target. Excited to try them out, two weeks later I’ve discovered some great uses for these oils and plan on purchasing a lavender oil as soon as I can get my hands on one! Below I’ve provided information and uses for each of these essential oils.
Tea Tree Oil
- extracted from the melaleuca alternifolia leaves of tea trees found in Australia and New Zealand
- known for its cleansing and purifying tendencies (i.e. ideal for acne prone skin)
- commercially sold in extremely low concentrations (usually <%2) but can still be very irritating towards the skin if applied alone
how I use tea tree oil
Because I have acne prone skin I’ve started mixing one or two drops of tea tree oil in my night cream before I apply it to my face. The camphor-like smell can be hard to get use to but the feeling of clear skin won’t. Additionally if I have a breakout that’s particularly rough I will apply one drop of tea tree oil, via a Qtip, directly to the blemish. After a few weeks use I have only had one break out and my skin definitely feels clearer, using tea tree oil has been a great little addition to my skin care routine.
other way to use tea tree oil
*take caution these are nearly all DIY’s for all the Pinterest lovers out there*
- a hybrid of watermint and spearmint, known as mentha X piperita
- extracted from watermint and spearmint plants leaves using alcohol
- with a wide variety of uses peppermint oil is commonly used for its cooling and energizing properties
how I use peppermint oil
I’ve found that wafting the peppermint oil has helped calm nerves, soothe headaches (after taking some aspirin of course), curb hunger, and reduce my nausea, essentially acting as the sweetest smelling placebo. I’ve added drops of peppermint oil to my shampoo, face masks and lotion to add an extra cooling and energizing component to my daily routine.
other ways to use peppermint oil