Essential oils: what are they, and how do I use them?

Essential oils: what are they, and how do I use them?

I don’t know about you, but I feel as though essential oils are everywhere lately. Not a day goes by without me stumbling upon a Facebook post or blog post harping on about the wonders of essential oils, but it seems that there’s a lot of confusion around the use of essential oils.

What are essential oils? How do you use them? Do you need a diffuser? Can you apply them topically? Are they safe for use on children?

I received a number of messages asking for more information on essential oils and how to use them when I posted few Insta Stories on the topic a couple of weeks ago, so when SOiL Organics reached out to me and asked whether I’d be interested in collaborating with them on a blog post, I knew it was a sign. I’m not claiming to be any sort of expert on the subject – not by a long shot – but I thought I’d put together a beginner’s guide to essential oils to help you get started on your own journey with these potent plant extracts (read till the end for a little giveaway to get your own collection started).

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts that can be up to 75 times more powerful than dried herbs. Because they’re naturel, many people think that they’re incredibly gentle and non-reactive, when in reality, they’re extremely potent and need to be handled with a care – a couple of drops go a long way. Most essential oils need to be diluted before application, otherwise they might burn or sting your skin.

What are essential oils used for?

There are a number of uses for essential oils, but some of my favourites include aromatherapy, treating skin conditions (I always have tea tree oil on my bathroom shelf to keep breakouts at bay), and to prevent and treat a cold. You can also diffuse essential oils (I’m currently saving up for a diffuser of my own), use them to treat muscle aches and pains, and to make your own natural household cleaners.

How do I use essential oils?

As mentioned above, essential oils are incredibly potent and need to be diluted properly – especially if you plan on using them topically. This not only helps to prevent a nasty skin reaction, but also helps the essential oils to work better as the molecules tend to evaporate very quickly when exposed to air.

Adding your essential oils to a carrier substance (like a vegetable oil, such as sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, avocado oil, or even sunflower oil) enhances the absorption of the essential oil by the body.

You can inhale essential oils by steaming or by applying a few drops to a compress, a tissue or cotton pad, or in a diffuser. You can also add a few drops to some epsom salts, baking soda, and sea salt to add to your bath water. (But whatever you do, don’t add essential oils directly to your bath water – they aren’t water soluble so will float on the surface of the water, and might burn or sting any skin the oils come into contact with).

My favourite essential oils and how I use them

I like to play around with essential oils and often stock up on new and interesting blends when I comes across them, but there are a handful of oils that I always have at home.

SOiL Organic Lavender Oil (R100) – click here to buy

This is by far my favourite essential oil. Known for its relaxing and soothing properties, lavender oil not only helps to alleviate stress and aid sleep, it also helps to soothe and treat burns and prevent scarring.

I usually apply a drop or 2 to my pillow (the actual pillow; not my pillow case as this may result in stains) to help me drift off to sleep, and I also make my own bath soak by adding 2 or 3 drops of lavender essential oils to a cup of epsom salts. If I’ve had a particularly long day, I’ll add 3 or 4 drops to a carrier oil (I like using sweet almond oil, but I’ve also been known to add a few drops to Bio Oil when in a pinch). I’ll then massage this into tired legs and feet as a soothing, nourishing skin treat.

SOiL Organic Eucalyptus Oil (R30) – click here to buy

This is an absolute must for your first aid kit – come rain or shine! When I feel the first signs of the sniffles coming on, I add a few drops of Eucalyptus oil to boiling water, pop a towel over my head, and inhale the steam for a good 10 to 15 minutes. It instantly clears breathing passages and is great for easing a stuffy nose. You can also add a few drops to your diffuser for the same result.

A friend recently shared that her mother-in-law always adds a teeny drop of Eucalyptus oil to a box of tissues, as it helps alleviate congestion and is very soothing. She did emphasise that it needs to be the tiniest amount, so keep that in mind if you decide to try this. (And thank you, Lauren, for the great tip!)

In summer, add a few drops of Eucalyptus essential oil to a carrier oil and massage into your limbs to help cool you down and to relieve any insect bites. It also helps to relieve muscular cramps, so is perfect for taking along on hikes and when camping.

SOil Organic Lemongrass Oil (R35) – click here to buy

I always keep a bottle of lemongrass essential oil in my handbag, as I find that a quick whiff helps to perk me up when the afternoon slump hits. It’s great for boosting your mood and alleviating fatigue, and can also be used as an air freshener. I always apply a drop to the inside of my loo roll for this very reason!

Travelling any time soon? Pop some lemongrass oil in your hand luggage to help ease jet lag – and even better if you’re travelling to the bush or a tropical area, as it’s a fantastic insect repellant too. You can thank me later!

SOiL Organic Essential Oil Blend Bug Away (R60) – click here to buy

This is a newbie to my collection, but one that I think it going to come in very handy this summer – especially here in Greyton, where we end up spending most of our time outdoors in nature!

Buy Away is a 100% pure oil blend of eucalyptus, citronella, lavender, and clove bud essential oils to help repel insects. It can be used in a diffuser or mixed with a carrier oil and applied to your skin, or you can add a few drops to a burner to help keep pesky bugs at bay. I’ve already tried it while out for walks in the nature reserve, and it seems to work like a charm – and it’s a much better option than other insect repellants (more natural and fewer chemicals!)

Win! Win! Win!

Are you keen to get started with essential oils, or looking to expand or add to your collection? I’ve partnered with SOiL Organic to give one lucky For The Beauty Of It reader the chance to win all of the oils mentioned above.


  • Leave a comment below telling me what your favourite essential oil is, or which essential oil you’d most like to try.
  • For an extra entry, share this post on Facebook (you can copy and paste the link into a Facebook post, or use the handy ‘share’ buttons below this post) and remember to tag @Forthebeautyofit.

That’s it! You’re entered into the draw!

This giveaway ends on Friday, 11 October 2019 and the winner will be announced in this post and on the For The Beauty Of It Facebook page.


*This post was kindly sponsored by SOiL Organic.