Everyone makes mistakes; the important thing is that you learn from them, right? But perhaps more important, is avoiding them in the first place!
If you’re new to essential oils, there is a bit of a learning curve, which means learning from others common mistakes can help you master their use quite a bit faster, avoid waste and potential hazards, and help you stay on track to reach your goals.
1. Avoid being so overwhelmed that you don’t start using your essential oils
With so many different types of essential oils (around 100!), and so many varied benefits, it can be easy to get overwhelmed.
You know you’d like to start taking advantage of them, but instead, you find yourself unable to make a decision as to which to buy.
The best way to avoid this is to start out small.
Choose just a few oils, perhaps three to five (here are the best essential oils for beginners), and work from there. Once you have them, don’t let them sit in a box. The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll be able to reap all of those benefits.
If you aren’t sure how to use them, start reading. There is a wealth of information online, all you need to do is dig.
Just type in “uses for ABC essential oil” into your favorite search engine (or into our handy search form on the right) and you’re likely to find a wealth of advice. You might also talk to experienced oil users, and if you’re one of the few that don’t know any personally, you can easily connect with experts online too.
Another great option is to invest in a good reference book, like Essential Oils Natural Remedies: The Complete A-Z Reference of Essential Oils for Health and Healing and Essential Oils Pocket Reference.
Both are highly rated and available on sites like Amazon using the links above. Another favorite is The Complete Book Of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy.
Learn about one oil at a time, and before you know it you’ll have amassed a wealth of knowledge!
2. Skipping research before use of an essential oil
You’re suffering from a sore throat, and you remember that your friend told you oregano essential oil was great for soothing it.
You don’t remember how she said to use it, and as you’re not feeling very well, you don’t have the energy to find out, so you decided to dab some on your throat.
That’s a big mistake because oregano oil in its pure form is very strong and high in phenols, so much so that it must be diluted before use.
Now you not only have a sore throat, but the inside of your mouth is bright red and burning.
In general, you should never ingest essential oils.
3. Oil and water don’t mix
When an oil must be diluted, that doesn’t mean it can be mixed with water, because oil and water don’t mix.
One well-meaning mom put her young daughter in a bath with eucalyptus oil to help relieve cold symptoms, thinking that since it was going into all that water, there wouldn’t be an issue.
But as the eucalyptus oil sat on top of the water, rather than mixing in, it ended up irritating her child’s bottom. Children have thinner skin and are much more sensitive to the effects of essential oils which means they always need to be added to a carrier oil, such as almond oil, before putting into a bath.
In some cases, essential oil should be avoided for use on babies or children altogether – if you aren’t sure, ask an expert before using.
4. Don’t let essential oils get anywhere near your eye – and what to do if it happens anyway
There is quite a bit of bad advice running rampant on the Internet as to how to use a particular essential oil.
One particularly awful piece of advice is that lavender essential oil will make your eyelashes thicker and longer.
Not only is this not true, but putting it on your eyelashes means a close to 100 percent chance that the oil will get into your eyes – obviously, not a good thing.
If you try it, you’ll immediately know the reason why – it’s very painful and difficult to get out!
While most people wouldn’t think of purposely putting an essential oil into their eyes, accidents can and do happen, easier than you might think.
For example, you bring a little bottle of peppermint essential oil with you to the office, perfect when you need an afternoon pick-me-up. You open it up, take a big whiff, and put it down, feeling better already.
But what you didn’t realize, is that some of the oil was on the bottle, and now you have it on your fingers. You rub your eye, and, ow! That stings! A lot.
So what do you do for relief?
As mentioned before, oil and water don’t mix, so rinsing your eye out with water isn’t going to help. What you need is a substance that is safe for use in your eyes, and one that will quickly emulsify the essential oil, which then allows water to flush it away.
The answer is coconut oil, milk or cream. Use it on the affected eye as quickly as possible, and then you can flush it with fresh water.
5. Using essential oils too much or too often
Always keep in mind that essential oils are highly concentrated. In fact, it takes over 150 pounds of lavender flowers, more than 250 pounds of peppermint leaves and at least 4,000 pounds of Bulgarian rose to make just one pound of their perspective essential oils.
While essential oils are natural, they are still very potent and not without side effects.
Each person’s body chemistry is different, and will respond differently to a particular oil, and the amount used.
That means that the best approach is to treat essential oils like a medication – using them thoughtfully and sparingly.
6. You’re afraid to ask questions
Sometimes it’s hard to admit that you don’t know everything when it comes to a particular subject. After all, it seems like your friend knows everything there is to know about essential oils, and she started using them about the same time you did. It’s often a matter of pride.
But remember, none of us know everything, you’re not an essential oil guru and aren’t expected to be. Not posing a question is far worse than just guessing, and can lead to harmful consequences.
You can talk to a friend you trust to be knowledgeable on the subject or look for a qualified expert. There’s never any shame in asking questions.
7. Choosing an oil just because you like the scent
While essential oils can serve as a wonderful, natural perfume, that’s not their main purpose as most offer medicinal properties.
Don’t just pick out an oil because you like the scent – do your research first and choose oils that can help you to achieve your goals, whether it’s to be healthier, more beautiful or to serve as an ingredient in a homemade household cleaning solution.
Many people enjoy the scent of lavender, but it’s important to know that using lavender essential oil offers sedative effects.
That’s a good thing when it’s time to relax and get a good night’s rest, but not so much when you need to get to work or take care of other responsibilities.
Peppermint, on the other hand, can boost your energy level, so inhaling its wonderful aroma is not the best idea just before bed.
Once again, do your research before buying, and using.
8. You don’t pay attention to quality
When it comes to essential oils, cheapest isn’t always best. It’s imperative that you purchase only high-quality oils that are 100% pure – otherwise, you’re wasting your money, to begin with, as low-quality oils don’t offer the benefits that a high-quality essential oil does.
Poor quality essential oils, which means oils that have been distilled from poor crops, have additives, have been handled improperly or are old, are not considered therapeutic.
You might as well be rubbing water into your skin – or worse, sometimes essential oils that have been adulterated can come with harmful side effects.
Most vendors sell quality oils in sizes of 4 oz. or smaller, contained in a dark colored glass bottle with an eyedropper bulb.
You should be wary of anyone selling oils in a plastic or clear glass. If you see the word “fragrance” or “perfume,” or the term “nature identical oil,” be aware that what you’re looking at is not a single, pure essential oil, even if the seller insists it’s suitable for aromatherapy.
In fact, that’s a good clue that the vendor knows little about aromatherapy at all.