Essential Oils Blog

DIY Facial Serum

By: Christina Smith, Certified Aromatherapist

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This week we will be looking at proper skin care. Today’s DIY is how to make a facial serum and we’ll follow up on Friday with a facial steam. In no time you will have flawless, glowing skin!

First we’ll take a look at our carrier oil choices, since they will make up the bulk of our serum. Since there are so many great choices, I have chosen just 4 to look at today. Included in the description is  the best skin-type for each oil, how it feels on the skin and any specific properties you may consider in a skin care product. You are not limited to using just one! The carriers are excellent all on their own, but when you add in a few essential oils you can really see amazing results. Get creative and combine carriers to supercharge your skin care routine!

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Carrier oil: by definition this refers to an oil that is used to effectively dilute the essential oils you wish to apply to your skin.

Evening Primrose

  • best used with dry or mature skin
  • contains high levels of GLA essential fatty acids, useful for reducing signs of aging and eczema
  • leaves an oily feeling on skin, use sparingly

Macadamia Nut (this is my personal favorite)

  • has a warm, nutty scent
  • heavy oil, leaves an oily feeling on skin
  • best for very dry skin
  • shelf life of 1 year if properly stored

Meadowfoam

  • 98% fatty acids (with long-chain carbon atoms)
  • very stable ingredients, results in longer shelf life
  • UV protection properties
  • absorbs easily, leaving silky smooth feeling on skin
  • best for all skin types

Rosehip

  • high quality oil, enhanced with vitamin E
  • useful for scars and stretch marks
  • promotes healthy skin through cell regeneration
  • not the best choice for acne prone skin, as it can make the issue worse
  • absorbed quickly & easily, leaves no greasy feeling

Now onto the essential oils! Once again there are so many great choices, and while I will go over a few here this is not an exhaustive list. The more you read and find out about essential oils, the better you will be able to choose exactly the right combination for your skin. I have listed a few below, complete with the how and why they can work for your skin.

Geranium

  • very strong aroma, a little goes a long way!
  • balancing, to even out dry yet oily skin
  • re-hydrating

Patchouli

  • rich, deep scent
  • good for acne, eczema or dermatitis
  • good for dry or mature skin

Neroli

  • light, floral scent
  • good for acne, especially if skin is dry
  • good for sensitive skin

Helichrysum

  • earthy, fresh scent
  • good for scarring
  • very healing

Frankincense

  • deep, rich scent
  • rejuvenating for mature skin
  • anti-inflammatory

Carrot seed

  • rejuvenating for all skin types

Or use a pre-blended synergy such as Soft Skin or Anti-Age which both come in undiluted form for use in your own personal lotion or cream and in pre-diluted form which is ready to use.

Rules on dilution rates for skin care products: Since you will be using this product daily, it’s best to keep the dilution low and  have alternatives so you can rotate products.  I recommend a 1% dilution for daily, extended use.

Ok, onto the good stuff: how to blend your personal facial serum! I will give you a few pointers, none of these “rules” are hard and fast you have to find what works for your skin! Of course you can add in other oils besides those listed here. Just be sure to stick to no more than 9 drops (total) of essential oils per ounce of carrier.

I have very dry, sensitive skin. My absolute go-to serum is super simple. Combine 2 ounces of macadamia nut oil with 6 drops of patchouli. That’s it!!!! A little bit of this goes a long way! I use only a few drops out of a dropper bottle each morning and evening. My 2 ounce bottle can last me 3-4 months.

Rejuvenating for sensitive skin: To 2 ounces of meadowfoam carrier oil add 4 drops lavender, 3-4 drops carrot seed, 2 drops neroli

For Oily, Acne prone skin: To 1 1/2 ounce grapeseed carrier and  1/2 ounce of rosehip carrier oil add 4 drops Tea Tree, 4 drops lime and 3 drops geranium {please note, do NOT use more than 4 drops of lime per ounce of carrier. Using above the recommended amount can cause a phototoxic reaction}

For Dry or Mature skin: Use up to 9 drops per ounce of Anti-age synergy in carrier of choice -OR- to 2 ounces of Evening Primrose carrier add 3 drops patchouli, 4 drops helichrysum, and 4 drops frankincense.

The key here is to do your research on what each carrier and essential oils has to offer. There are so many wonderful options. Plant Therapy strives to provide the most accurate information with each product listing on the website. If you have any questions, please email us at aromatherapist@planttherapy.com

The Art of a Steam (Part 1)

By: Christina Smith, Certified Aromatherapist

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Sinus trouble? Chest tightness? Runny nose? These are just a few of the irritating things about season discomforts. Want a quick, effective and easy way to reduce some of these symptoms? Look no further than hot water and essential oils.

A steam is great for so many reasons. It’s relaxing, it’s easy, it’s fast and it’s drug-free. Depending on your symptoms there are a variety of oils that are great for using in a steam blend. Which oils should we choose? Typically you want something that can reduce any uncomfortable feeling and with properties to help improve airflow through the nasal passages. Another property we’re probably looking for is something to help break up mucus.  Learning how and why oils work for you is so empowering. Having great reference material and trusted sources is so important. Check here for books that we recommend: Books or check out Aromaheads free Intro course on essential oils.

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Let’s take a closer look at the oils that will be used in the stock blends.

  • Tea Tree and Lemon are two of my favorite for any kind of concern involving airways. These two oils work well together.
  • Lemon is also helpful to improve comfort.
  • German Chamomile,  is my favorite for common uncomfortable situations and mild soreness.
  • Palmarosa is another favorite of mine. is also a wonderful oil to consider pulling out of the oil box when seasonal illness strikes The other really nice thing about Palmarosa, it is has  moisturizing properties, which make it very nice for a dry, tight chest.
  • Cedarwood has excellent properties in supporting and maintaining a healthy respiratory system, especially during those (seemingly) never-ending winter months!
  • Pine is particularly known for its ability to help support a healthy respiratory tract.
  • Spearmint is very helpful to break up chest congestion and improve any queasiness that may accompany times of seasonal illness.

Choosing from any of the above oils for colds and coughs is a great start to feeling better faster! Below are some recipes to get you started. Before we look at those, let’s look at how to effectively do a steam.

1. Grab a medium glass bowl, bath towel and your chosen essential oils.
2. In a pot or kettle, bring water to just before the boiling point. If you reach the boiling point, remove from heat and allow to cool a few minutes before proceeding.
3. Place your bowl on a sturdy table or countertop. Pour your hot water into the bowl then drop 1-2 drops of essential oil onto the water.
4. Keeping your eyes closed, move your head over the bowl and cover with towel. Don’t open your eyes during the steam process, you don’t want the vapors in them!
5. Breathe deeply for a minute or two, it doesn’t take long.

Once you’re finished with your steam, simply pour out your water and put away your towel. Now take a deep breath – isn’t that better?

Now onto the good stuff: recipe ideas! I like to keep “stock” bottles of these blends so I have them on hand when I need. If you don’t have extra bottles, get them here: Empty 5mL Bottles

 Sinus blend
20 drops each Tea Tree and Lemon, 5 drops German Chamomile
Use 2 drops of blend per bowl of hot water. Repeat 2-3 times per day as needed.

Chest Tightness
30 drops palmarosa, 15 drops cedarwood.
Use 2 drops per bowl of hot water. Repeat 2-3 times per day as needed.

Congested breathing
35 drops Pine, 10 Spearmint
Use 2 drops per bowl of hot water. Repeat 2-3 times per day as needed.

Keep these blends on hand for when you are not feeling you’re best and let us know if they work for you! Look for Part 2 of this series next Wednesday when we look at how you can use a steam as a facial! In the meantime, please reach out to us via email i f you have any other questions or concerns. We can be reached at Aromatherapist@planttherapy.com

Lovely Linen Spray

By: Christina Smith, Certified Aromatherapist

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Creating a linen spray is very simple and fun. Linen sprays can be used to relax in the evening if applied to the bed linens or to refresh your living room by spray on the curtains or even just misting the air. You can customize scents to your specific needs or create a special blend for gifts. Here are the basics and a few “recipes” to get your started! As an added bonus, we’ve included a PDF for some printable labels at the bottom!

linen

What you’ll need:

What you’ll do:

  1. First, add your vodka  to your spray bottle.
  2. Next, add your essential oils. Since we are spritzing linen’s we don’t need to be overly concerned about dilution rates here. However, a rule of thumb is about 20 drops per ounce of spray you are making. So in a 4 ounce bottle, a size I generally use, you’ll want a total of 80 drops.
  3. Then, allow your oils to meld with the vodka for about an hour (at least). You can let it sit longer.
  4. Shake well and spray down your bed, sofa or curtains to create an inviting and relaxing atmosphere!

Here are a few “drop recipes” to get you started: listed for 1 ounce (or 30 mL), multiply up as needed for your container. So if you have a 4 ounce container, multiply each number by 4 to get the correct ratio.

  1. For peaceful rest combine 7 drops mandarin, 10 drops lavender and  3 drops cedarwood
  2. To create a romantic mood combine 10 drops bergamot, 5 drops sandalwood and 3 drops ylang ylang
  3. An uplifting blend of 12 drops orange, 4 drops ylang ylang and 2 drops lime.
  4. For an easy DIY, add 20 drops/ounce of Relax

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Aromatherapy Bath Crayons

By: Christina Smith, Certified Aromatherapist

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This is such a fun project! I didn’t involve my kids this time – but next time I will! The best part is once you’re all done clean up is a breeze because everything has soap ALL over it! Notice the photo of my *very* orange hand? It washed right off! No stains!

*word of note: I allowed my kiddos to do this in the tub and didn’t wash it off while it was still “fresh” – it needed a bit of elbow grease to get it off since it was dried, but still an easy clean up*

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Here’s what you need:

  • 1 bar white soap (any kind will do)
  • food coloring
  • essential oils of your choice (I chose lavender, cedarwood and mandarin)
  • 2 tbsp hot water
  • a medium glass bowl, 4 small glass bowls, a silicon mold or ice cube tray and several metal spoons.

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Here’s what you do:

Grate the soap into medium glass dish (or use your food processor to speed this up).

Slowly dribble in water, mixing as you go. This creates a very thick paste.

Divide the paste into the 4 smaller bowls, add your choice of color and a 5-8 drops of essential oil. Stir well to combine colors and scents.

Press well into mold. Allow to dry for about 4 – 5 days. Once hard, pop out of mold.

Allow to sit an additional day or two. Then store in container next to tub!

Now go get get creative!!!!!

 What you’ll need for next week:

Lovely linen spray; An empty spray bottle, witch hazel or vodka, essential oils of your choice {we like relaxing or calming scents for this project like Lavender, cedarwood, bergamot, ylang ylang or Neroli or choose one our our synergies like Relax}

Father’s Day DIY ideas

By: Christina Smith, Certified Aromatherapist

Pamper Dad with an awesome Shoe Deodorizer, DIY aftershave or homemade cologne. These quick, easy projects let Dad know you care!  You can also try your hand at DIY Beard Balm, or this article with DIY Beard Oil, DIY Hair Pomade, and a couple manly inhaler recipes!


Shoe Deodorizers

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What you’ll need:

  • An old sock or pair of socks (tall athletic socks work best for this project)
  • Baking soda
  • Medium glass bowl
  • Metal Spoon
  • Rubber-band (optional for shorter socks)
  • essential oils of your choice {KidSafe Odor Zapper or Deodorizing Synergy are great choices}

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What you’ll do:

Place 1/2 cup of baking soda into bowl, drop 20-25 drops of your essential oils onto the baking soda. Stir well to combine, it’s OK if there’s a few clumps! Scoop the baking soda into your socks and tie the sock closed (or use the rubber-band to secure). Place these odor busting socks inside your stinky pair of shoes!

Aftershave

Mix all ingredients in a flip top bottle and use a splash after shaving.

  • 5 tbsp Apple cider vinegar (don’t worry once this dries there’s no smell)
  • 5 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp witch hazel
  • 5 drops Mandarin
  • 5 drops Sandalwood
  • 3 drops Patchouli
  • 0.5 teaspoon Optiphen Plus
  • 0.5 teaspoon Polysorbate 20

Cologne

I’ll warn you – this isn’t very nice the first few weeks. It must have time to sit and mellow before being used. I promise it WILL smell good! 

Shake every few days. Wait 4-6 weeks before using.


What you’ll need for next week:

Aromatherapy Bath Crayons; A bar of white soap, food coloring, essential oils of your choice {we like relaxing scents for this project like Lavender, Cedarwood, or Roman Chamomile}

Proper Essential Oil Storage

By: Christina Smith, Certified Aromatherapist

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Last week, Retha let you know what can happen over time to an essential oil. If you missed that post, read it here “Do Essential Oils Expire?” This week, let’s talk about how we can extend the shelf life of your oils by storing them properly.

Proper storage is very important!

Remember that oxygen is one of the biggest problems when it comes to keeping your essential oils fresh. In order to combat that issue you can do several things:

Try to keep the oils capped tightly unless you are using them. Always keep the reducer (that plastic plug) in the bottle, it helps with a proper seal. And, If you are using larger bottles (2 oz  or more) once the bottles are half empty pour them into smaller bottles. This reduces the amount of airspace at the top of the bottle. If you are using a personal inhaler, they can last for 3-4 months before being “re-charged” with additional oil. You can reuse the wicks several times with the same blend before replacing!

Next, what you can do to combat problem number 2: heat. Keep your oils in a cool place. Personally, I keep mine in the basement stairwell on a shelf. The cooler you keep your oils, the longer they will last. Many people store them in the refrigerator! Some even have their very own mini-fridge just for storing their essential oils! Thicker oils may need time to warm briefly so they drop out of the bottle. The change in temperature and viscosity of the oil should not be a problem. If you being to notice cloudiness or a change in smell then your oil may have begun to oxidize.

Finally, to keep your oils out of the sunlight, you have several options: You can store them in a lidded box, or carrier made for essential oil storage. Also, make sure you are keeping your oils in colored bottles (amber or green). If you do use clear bottles, use a label to help keep out some light.

What does all this mean for your oil? It means that if properly used and stored, you can extend the shelf life of your oil. This means more value for your money, but it also means that you will be using your oil safely. Taking the time to figure out the best storage for you is really worth it!  In summary; the best place for your oils are in a colored bottle, in a box, in the refrigerator (or other cool place). Isn’t that simple?

Here’s a link for the cases that Plant Therapy offers to keep your oil collection safe and sound: Essential Oil Storage How do you store your oils? Leave us a comment and tell us about your collection!

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Summer Sugar Scrub

By: Christina Smith, Certified Aromatherapist

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If you’ve been neglecting your legs through the long, cold winter, now’s the time to get your legs ready for summer! This fantastic sugar scrub exfoliates and moisturizes. The essential oils are a great addition to this scrub. Ginger has a warming and stimulating effect on the skin. This can promote healthy, glowing skin! Grapefruit has astringent properties which can help tighten and tone your skin! That’s the perfect recipe for summer-ready legs!

***Before we go on let’s talk about photo toxicity for a moment. Some citrus oils can cause your skin to be more sensitive in the sun. Grapefruit is photo toxic unless used properly. Please use less than 24 drops per ounce of carrier when working with Grapefruit***

sugarscrub

What you’ll need:

What you’ll do:

Combine the ingredients in a small glass bowl. Stir well to combine and scoop into storage container with airtight lid. Use a small handful to scrub your legs in the shower, rinse well. The carrier oil leaves behind a light layer of oil keeping moisture in! Your legs will be silky smooth and glow!

 

What you’ll need for next weeks Father’s Day Triple Gift DIY:

gift one: Shoe Deodorizers – a pair of old socks, baking soda, essential oil of you choice. Ideas: Tea Tree, Deodorizing Synergy, Odor Zapper

gift two: Cologne – vodka, a 2 oz spray bottle and the following essential oils: Bergamot, Patchouli, Laurel Leaf, Pepper Black, Vetiver

gift three: aftershave – storage container, apple cider vinegar, water, witch hazel and the following essential oils: Mandarin, Sandalwood, Patchouli

This post contains affiliate links which support Africa Heartwood Project. This means they will receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links. To learn more about Africa Heartwood Project click here.

Do Essential Oils Expire?

By: Retha Nesmith, Certified Aromatherapist

 


 

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I recently read a post about whether or not essential oils expire. In the post I read, the author stated that pure essential oils do not expire. They said that essential oils don’t grow mold, mildew or yeast because they do not contain water and have antiviral and antibacterial properties. All of this information is true. What the author left out is how outside properties can affect essential oils though.  Proper storage is imperative.

 

There have been many studies done on this subject. It turns out that there are three main things that can change an essential oil. But before we talk about those things I just want to make sure everyone knows exactly what an essential oil is.  An essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants. These volatile aroma compounds are chemical constituents that make up the essential oil. These chemical constituents are the therapeutic properties of the oil. For example Peppermint is very high in the chemical menthol. Menthol is known for its ‘cooling affect’. It is also known for having analgesic  properties or pain killing properties. If Peppermint didn’t have menthol in it then it no longer would be one of the top oils for reducing fevers and relieving pain. 

 

So what are these three outside forces that can change essential oils? They are oxygen, heat and light.

Oxygen!oxygen can change the chemical composition of an essential oil by reacting with some of the constituents.”-Essential Oil Safety. If oxygen is changing the chemical composition of an essential oil, then we no longer know what chemicals are in that oil unless the  oil is retested. Just like the example I gave with Peppermint, some oils might no longer be good for what they were originally good for. This oil maybe hasn’t “expired” but we might want to be aware of this so we don’t continue to use it for a purpose that won’t do any good. One study showed that the “monoterpene content of Lemon essential oil decreased from 97.1% to 30.7% in 12 months when the oil was stored at 77 degrees F with the cap removed for three minutes every day. However, storage at 41 degrees F, with the cap removed for three minutes once a month results in minimal degradation.“- Essential Oil Safety.  So Lemon had not expired because it was still a great oil, just a completely different oil then what it was probably originally purchased for.

 

Heat! Heat causing degradation has not been researched as much as oxygen but there have been a few studies that show that extreme heat can change the chemical make up of an essential oil.

 

Light!Light will promote the formation of oxygen free radicals, which are highly reactive.” One study done on sweet orange showed that when it was exposed to UV light at 68 degrees F for 50 minutes it’s composition changed dramatically. Multiple chemicals increased, many chemicals decreased and there were even 12 NEW chemical constituents found within the oil.

 

Maybe essential oils don’t “expire” but they should have a shelf life which is recommended to make sure you are getting the most out of your essential oils. Maybe they don’t mold or grow mildew but they do change. If you are not aware of these extreme changes and store the essential oils incorrectly, then you might be using an oil that is not what you really think it is.

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*For more information on how to store your oils and how long Plant Therapy guarantees our oils, please check out our FAQ section.

Seasonal Pollen Relief

By: Christina Smith, Certified Aromatherapist

It’s pollen season! Be sure to check out parts I, II, and III of our informative pollen series.  Dealing with the stuffy nose, watery eyes and scratchy throat related to the seasonal bother is just about the last thing that anyone wants. Using over-the-counter medication is an option but usually comes with a hefty list of side effects. Some of those include drowsiness, dizziness, constipation, upset stomach, blurred vision or dryness of mouth and throat.

Graphic courtesy of Compound Interest (graphic created by Andy Bruning for Chemical and Engineering News)
Graphic courtesy of Compound Interest (graphic created by Andy Bruning for Chemical and Engineering News)

Why do seasonal allergies affect you? According to Wikipedia; an allergen (usually pollen) triggers an inflammatory response in the mucus membranes of the eyes and nose. This usually results in sneezing, itchy and water eyes, swelling, and inflammation of nasal passages and increased mucus production. Between 10 and 25% of the population are affected by seasonal allergies. There are many essential oils that provide soothing properties. These oils include German Chamomile, Fir Needle, Geranium Bourbon, Helichrysum, Lavender, Palmarosa, Blue Tansy and Tea Tree. The oils listed are all safe for use with children, which is great if you have kids and want to diffuse them in your home. The soothing properties in these oils suggest they would be useful for the misery that can be caused by inhaling too much pollen. Oils can provide support to the respiratory system by reducing swelling and open nasal passages. A few can even reduce congestion due to expectorant properties. Here are a few ways you can deal with your pollen misery in a more natural way, with fewer side effects.

For use throughout your home:

Try using Clear Again or KidSafe Sneezy Stop in your diffuser. 6-8 drops diffused for about 60 minutes will provide your entire household with not only a pleasant scent, but also the helpful  benefits that are present in this synergy blend. IMG_2969 On-the-go relief:

Personal inhalers are great little tools that you can keep in your pocket or purse. They go almost anywhere and last for 3-4 months once you’ve made them. After that, they only need to be refreshed with a few additional drops. Perfect for pollen season! To make a personal inhaler, you need the following supplies:

Empty Personal inhalers, with cotton wicks

A selection of essential oils: Helichrysum, German Chamomile, Fir Needle, Palmarosa, Blue Tansy and Lavender.

For your first inhaler:

1. Place the wick in a small glass dish

2. Drop 3 drops Helichrysum, 3 Drops German Chamomile and 8 drops of Fir Needle onto it.

3. Gently roll wick through the oil, absorbing it all.

4. Place the wick into the inhaler and snap the end cap into place.

For the second inhaler, repeat steps 1-4 above with this recipe:

4 drops Blue Tansy, 6 drops Palmarosa, and 5 drops Lavender.

To use; twist the cap off and inhale deeply. Use as often as needed to reduce symptoms.   With these suggestions, you’ll hopefully find relief from your pollen induced symptoms and be able to get out and enjoy the change of seasons!

What you’ll need for next week:

Summer Sugar scrub: Ginger, Grapefruit, sugar, carrier oil of your choice.