Before having kids, I never really stopped to wonder about ingredients….in anything. Apart from following a recipe when cooking, it just wasn’t something that phased me.
Then came Eden…our very first child.
The beautiful little girl that made us parents. Like so many new parents do, we fussed over every little detail…baby-proofing, sleeping her on her back (side note- that didn’t last long- iykyk), making sure the car seat was installed perfectly, buying the aerodynamic bottles to prevent colic, etc.. She was so tiny…so fragile…so helpless…so dependent on us for every single thing.
Then it hit me like a ton of bricks.
When I was giving her a bath, introducing her to solid foods, applying sunscreen, wiping her during a diaper change…suddenly, I became hyperaware of everything we were putting in her, on her, exposing her to within her environment. Surely nothing other than breastmilk and oxygen could be safe for someone that could barely hold her own head steady!
So, once I moved past my “freak out” moment and realized that babies are way more resilient than we think, I was able to adjust my focus and logically evaluate our lifestyle and any changes we may have wanted to make. And thus began our family’s journey towards a more natural, toxin-free way of living and becoming well-informed personal health advocates.
What are Essential Oils?
One of the very first natural remedies I brought into our home was essential oils. When I first starting learning about them, it all seemed a little “woo-woo”. However, the more I dug, researched and learned from other’s first-hand experiences, the more I realized there was something to be said about their natural healing properties.
So I bought my first starter kit almost 8 years ago and I have been using them daily ever since.
Within the roots, bark, seeds, leaves and flowers of plants are highly concentrated, naturally occurring, potent chemical compounds called essential
oils. These oils are extracted using distillation or pressing methods and can then be used topically, aromatically and also internally. They can be used for personal care, household solutions, to treat and/or prevent various health conditions and support overall wellness. They have actually been used for thousands of years in various cultures due to their antidepressant, antiviral, detoxifying, stimulating and calming properties.
What Brand of Essential Oils is Best?
Before I share how I incorporate oils into our daily living, I feel that it’s important to note that not all essential oils are created equal. Like many greenwashed products on the shelves today, there are a lot of terms that might sound great when you’re reading them on the bottle, but they mean next to nothing. Essential oils are not regulated by the FDA so there are no guidelines for companies to follow. Therefore terms like “therapeutic grade”, “all natural”, even “100% pure” can be slapped on an oil bottle with zero accountability. So it’s extremely important that you do your research! Investigate the company’s method for extracting the oils, whether they test for heavy metals and where they source their plants. Is it truly 100% pure essential oil or does the company add other harmful ingredients like additives, synthetic chemicals, other types of oil, or fragrance? You do not want to be ingesting, inhaling or absorbing (the skin is the body’s largest organ!) anything that could be doing more harm than good! Many oils contain terpenes and terpenoids that are even able to pass through the blood-brain barrier to support the central nervous system, so choosing a high quality oil is a must.
For our family, I have used Young Living, DoTerra, Eden’s Garden and Plant Therapy brands as these companies have extremely high quality standards and are transparent with how they source and extract their oils. Some of the oils/recipes I mention below are blends that are specific to these companies, however they can be easily mimicked should you use a different brand of oils.
Must Have Essential Oil Accessories
If you’re considering dipping your toes into the world of essential oils, there are a few companion products you’ll want to purchase in order to make the most of your oils and their versatility! You don’t necessarily need to get them all at once. Consider the things you want to use them for first and go from there.
- Carrier Oils
These are the oils you will use to dilute your essential oils as many of them should not be applied “straight” (directly on the skin). These oils help to “carry” the oils across the skin and allow for a more gentle absorption into the body. You probably have a couple carrier oils in your kitchen cabinet right now! Olive oil, avocado oil and coconut oil can all be used as carrier oils. I love jojoba oil and rosehip oil for the skin, especially for the face, because they are gentle and will not easily clog pores. Fractionated coconut oil is another carrier oil I often use for my rollers and hand soaps.
- Essential Oil Diffuser
One of the most common ways to use essential oils is to diffuse them. They have long been used as aromatherapy to promote feelings of relaxation and peace. When inhaled, molecules travel to the limbic system by way of the olfactory system. The limbic system is the area of the brain that detects and relays information from our senses (such as sense of smell) and is also involved with our body’s emotional and psychological responses including stress response. Essential oils can also enter into the bloodstream via the mucous linings in the respiratory system. There are all kinds of diffusers available now with various features (timers, light settings, music and sound effects…). There are diffusers for your car (like these cuties) that you can clip onto your vent. There are ultrasonic diffusers that diffuse oils into the air using water and a few drops of essential oils. There are atomizing diffusers that only require essential oil (no water needed) which are helpful for diffusing in larger space and will fill the air with oil particles in their purest form.
- Amber Glass Roller Bottles
If you are going to use your oils topically, a great, easy way to apply them is by using roller bottles. They come in a variety of sizes and colors, but I always opt for the amber color because they are best for protecting the oils against UV damage. There are small ones like these 2ml and 3ml roller bottles that are great for sticking inside a small purse. The 10ml size is what I would consider the average size bottle and most commonly used. They even have larger 30ml sizes that are great for making deodorant. You add your desired essential oils into the bottles, then top off with a carrier oil. Pop the roller top on and you’ve got yourself an easy way to store your favorite oil blends and a mess-free way to apply topically.
- Glass Spray Bottles
If you’d like to use your essential oils as a household cleaning solution, you’ll want to grab a couple of these glass amber spray bottles. Again, the amber will protect against UV damage. I always try to use glass bottles for anything I use to store essential oils because some oils can start to eat away at plastic materials. Although this shouldn’t be a problem unless you are storing pure, undiluted oils in plastic, I prefer to err on the side of caution. Smaller glass spray bottles like these are great for things like DIY hand sanitizer or toner.
- Essential Oil Case
Having a place to store and organize your oils makes them easier and more convenient to use regularly. I find that if something is hidden, it’s out of sight, out of mind- I’m much less likely to utilize it. In a busy household with 3 young kids, quick and easy is the name of the game! This wooden essential oil case was the first organizer I bought to organize and store my oils and rollers. It’s pretty enough to leave out but sleek enough to also stack on a pantry shelf. Since then, I have really come to love this essential oil diffuser stand with oil storage beneath. It’s a pretty display for your diffuser and you can house some of your most commonly diffused oils underneath, saving an extra few steps to your oil shelf. I have also realized that having my oils out on display, easily visible to myself, husband and even my kids, makes us much more likely to remember to use them on a regular basis. Using this pretty wall display to store our essential oils has become a game changer. We roll and diffuse them almost daily as immune and emotional support and they are one of our first lines of defense when a headache, illness or cut/scrape strikes! So having them in a spot that is easily visible to all helps us to remember to use them and makes them convenient to access.
Essential oils, how do I love and use thee? Let me count the ways. Twenty-one to be exact ;). There really are endless ways to use essential oils in day to day living. Below I’ve shared the most frequently used methods in our home and grouped them based on categories that most adults use solutions for weekly, if not daily!
Ditch your Comet, 409, Windex, Pledge, etc.. Many common household cleaning products on the majority of store shelves contain ingredients that are endocrine disruptors, carcinogens and neurotoxins. Many have been linked to respiratory disorders, skin irritation, organ toxicity, stomach irritation, liver & kidney damage, and cancer.
When I first considered using essential oils for cleaning, I had very low expectations. I just didn’t think it was possible for a few oil drops to have the same cleaning and disinfecting power as some of the other more pungent cleaning products I had been using. I think I associated cleaning power with powerful fumes. The more potent the smell, the better it was at getting the job done. However, as a mom of 3 little ones who is constantly cleaning up messes, scrubbing out stains and disinfecting germs, I can tell you that I was under a false impression! There are many studies that show the effectiveness of essential oils at killing bacteria. Here is just one example. Below are a few ways I use essential oils in household cleaning.
Use code: 13725909 for a discount off your Young Living purchase
Use code: 6912921 for a discount off your DoTerra purchase
**Young Living (YL), DoTerra (DT), Eden’s Garden (EG), Plant Therapy (PT)
- Stainless Steel Polish
1 C of baking soda
2 Tbsp castile soap
1 Tbsp distilled white vinegar
5 drops lemon essential oil
5 drops tea tree essential oil
Add water until you reach your desired texture
- Household cleaning spray
16 oz glass amber spray bottle
1-2 capfuls of Thieves (YL) household cleaner (can also use a combination of 10-20 drops of clove, lemon, eucalyptus, rosemary and cinnamon bark)
Top with water
- Household disinfectant spray
16 oz glass amber spray bottle to protect oils from UV damage
1-2 capfuls of Thieves household cleaner (YL)
1.5 C of 70% isopropyl alcohol
1 tsp hydrogen peroxide
Dump a capful of Thieves (YL) household cleaner in the bottom of dishwasher
- Hand soap
3-4 Tbsp of castile soap
5 drops each of your favorite germ killing oils (I love Thieves (YL), lavender, melaleuca, eucalyptus, tea tree, oregano, cinnamon
1 Tbsp carrier oil (jojoba, coconut, vitamin E)
Top with distilled water
- Mop floors
Thieves blend (YL) or combination of pine, lemon and/or cedarwood mixed with a gallon or water and ½ C vinegar
- Carpet or upholstery freshener
Baking soda mixed with Purification (YL) blend sprinkled over carpet then vacuumed
Health and Wellness
While modern medicine certainly has its benefits and can be helpful and necessary at times, it can also cause negative side effects in addition to its ability to relieve symptoms. Think of all the potential side effects you read on the back of an OTC cold or allergy medication or that you hear in a pharmaceutical drug commercial. The healing often times does not come without potential harm. Studies have shown that essential oils contain powerful antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, hormone regulating properties to help heal and protect your body in a more natural, holistic manner. They have also been proven to support mental and emotional health by helping to alleviate stress, anxiety and depression. Check one of the many studies here. Here are some of the ways I use essential oils to help prevent and treat illness and support overall wellness in our family.
- Immune Defense
Thieves (YL), OnGuard (DT) or combination of any of these- lavender, frankincense, oregano, eucalyptus, lemon, tea tree, clove, rosemary- rolled with a carrier oil or diffused
Frankincense or bergamot rolled straight onto forehead or lemon and peppermint up and down spine and bottoms of feet diluted with carrier oil
Breathe (DT), Sniffleeaze (YL), Thieves (YL), Raven (YL) diffused or rolled onto bottoms of feet, spine and wrists. Lavender rolled in sinus area. Lavender, lemon, peppermint, eucalyptus rolled on or diffused.
- First aid cuts/scratches
Lavender is a wonderful first aid remedy and is often referred to as the Swiss Army knife of essential oils because it’s good for so many things. It’s very gentle and can often times be applied directly to the skin without a carrier oil. It’s a natural antibiotic, antiseptic, has powerful antioxidants and can shorten healing time for wounds.
I have a headache roller in a kitchen drawer for easy, on the go access as it’s one of my most used oil solutions. I use frankincense, peppermint, lavender and copaiba mixed with a carrier oil in an amber roller. Roll on hairline, temples and back of neck.
- Hand sanitizer
I always have a bottle of Thieves hand sanitizer (YL) in my purse/backpack and car console. You can also make your own using a high proof alcohol (91% proof or higher), aloe vera, and your choice of essential oils.
- Sleep support (kids and adults)
We often run frankincense and lavender in our diffusers at night to promote peaceful, uninterrupted sleep.
- Mood support
The possibilities are endless, but white angelica, frankincense and wild orange are my favorites!
- Add flavor and use as ingredient substitute
Peppermint, lemon and oregano are 3 oils that I often use in cooking! I have used peppermint in cookie recipes or to make a mint flavored Saint Patrick’s Day smoothie. I will add a drop of lemon oil to my morning water for lymphatic support and oregano is a great addition to a homemade marinara sauce.
- Fruit/vegetable wash
Water, vinegar, lemon essential oil make a great fruit and veggie soak/wash
Frankincense, lavender, tea tree, cedarwood and geranium are all great additions to your skincare regimen for smoother, brighter skin and cleaner pores!
Add magnesium oil, witch hazel or vegetable glycerin and your choice of oils to a large roller bottle.
- In lieu of scented candles
Burning scented paraffin wax candles can release potentially harmful chemicals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air.
Rolling your choice of essential oil blend with carrier oil on wrists and neck is a great way to benefit from the physical, mental and emotional support essential oils lend in addition to their lovely scents.
The world of essential oils is fascinating, but can seem overwhelming if you’re exploring it for the first time! I tend to be an “all or nothing” kinda gal with a “go big or go home” outlook, but that’s definitely not a reasonable perspective to have when you’re just getting started. You don’t have to get rid of all of your household, healthcare, personal care products all at once! It’s just not feasible or necessary! When I first got started, I thought of the top 2 or 3 things I used most often in our day to day living and replaced those first! And then I gradually replaced more products over time (we’re talking years!). If you’re looking to learn more about the basics and also the science of essential oils, I highly recommend this book. If you’re looking for more of a guide, “how to” and recipe book for different blends and specific uses and benefits of each oil, this book is an amazing one to have on hand.
Happy oiling, friends!