How to Use Aromatherapy


Making aromatherapy products to use for healing or as skin care products is as easy as it is fun. And you don't need much in the way of equipment to get started. In fact, you probably have most of what you need in your kitchen already. Add some bottles, some essential oils, and some carrier oils to your supplies and, using the explanations and recipes in this article, you'll be ready to begin experimenting.

We’ll get you started in the next section by showing you the supplies you will need to buy to begin practicing aromatherapy.

To learn more about Aromatherapy and other alternative medicines, see:
  • Aromatherapy: Here you will learn about aromatherapy, how it works, what part essential oils play, and how to use aromatherapy.
  • Essential Oils Profiles: We have collected profiles of dozens of plants that are used to produce essential oils. On these pages, you will learn the properties and preparations for the most popular essential oils.
  • How to Treat Common Conditions With Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy can be used to treat a number of conditions, from asthma to depression to skin problems. Here you will learn how to treat some common medical problems with aromatherapy.
  • Home Remedies: We have gathered over a hundred safe, time-tested home remedies for treating a wide variety of medical complaints yourself.
  • Herbal Remedies: Herbal remedies and aromatherapy can be very similar, and they stem from similar historic roots. On this page, you will find all of our herb profiles and instructions for treating medical problems with herbal remedies.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

Supplies for Aromatherapy

You will need only a few basic supplies to begin practicing aromatherapy. In fact, you probably already own most of them -- though you'll probably want doubles because of the potent oils you'll be using.

A measuring cup, measuring spoons, and perhaps some small funnels will start you on the road to aromatherapy production. Unless you are adding essential oils to a ready-made product, you will need appropriate bottles or containers for storage. Simple bottles and vials are sold at drugstores; for fancier ones, check out your local natural food store. Mail order sources offer a greater variety of containers. Buy some labels for the bottles, too. Make sure to have paper towels and rubbing alcohol on hand for clean up.

A good set of measuring spoons is one of the basic supplies you'll need to practice aromatherapy.
A good set of measuring spoons is one of the basic supplies
you'll need to practice aromatherapy.

You will need a way to measure small amounts of the essential oils and transfer them from bottle to bottle. Some essential oils are sold in bottles that have an insert called a reducer that allows only a drop of oil to come out at a time. It may take a few tries to get comfortable using it, but do not shake the bottle or several drops will come out at once. Glass droppers work well for obtaining just the right amount of essential oil and are sold in drugstores, some natural food stores, and by some essential oil suppliers.

Be careful not to contaminate your essential oils by putting a dropper from one oil into another, but you don't need a separate dropper for each oil. Simply rinse the dropper in rubbing alcohol and wait a few minutes for the alcohol to completely evaporate before putting it into another oil. Having two or three droppers allows you to rotate them for rinsing and drying.

If you prefer, use a long, narrow tube called a pipette to measure out small amounts of essential oils. Pipettes can be made of glass or plastic; however, the easiest to use -- but hardest to clean -- is plastic with a squeeze bulb at one end. Practice with these using water before attempting to get exact measurements with your essential oils. Pipettes are sold in chemical equipment catalogs, some drugstores, and aromatherapy supply catalogs.

To measure larger quantities, use a Pyrex measuring cup with a pour spout. A set of measuring spoons is also useful for measuring more than a few drops of essential oil. (See the box below.) In addition to the equipment, you'll also need some essential oils and various carriers such as vegetable oil, distilled water, rubbing alcohol, and vodka. You can buy or order fancier vegetable oils, such as almond, apricot, grape seed, and jojoba, at most natural food stores.

We'll learn more about carrier oils on the next page.

Aromatherapy Measurement Conversions
Use this chart of equivalencies to help you measure out your essential oils when making aromatherapy preparations.
12.5 drops 1/8 teaspoon
1/48 oz.
1/6 dram
5/8 ml.
25 drops  1/4 teaspoon
1/24 oz.
1/3 dram
11/4 ml.
75 drops  3/4 teaspoon  1/8 oz.
1 dram
3.7 ml.
100 drops
1 teaspoon
1/6 oz.
11/3 dram
5 ml.

To learn more about Aromatherapy and other alternative medicines, see:
  • Aromatherapy: Here you will learn about aromatherapy, how it works, what part essential oils play, and how to use aromatherapy.
  • Essential Oils Profiles: We have collected profiles of dozens of plants that are used to produce essential oils. On these pages, you will learn the properties and preparations for the most popular essential oils.
  • How to Treat Common Conditions With Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy can be used to treat a number of conditions, from asthma to depression to skin problems. Here you will learn how to treat some common medical problems with aromatherapy.
  • Home Remedies: We have gathered over a hundred safe, time-tested home remedies for treating a wide variety of medical complaints yourself.
  • Herbal Remedies: Herbal remedies and aromatherapy can be very similar, and they stem from similar historic roots. On this page, you will find all of our herb profiles and instructions for treating medical problems with herbal remedies.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider

Aromatherapy and Carrier Oils

Mixing your essential oil with a carrier oil is the most popular way of preparing aromatherapy products. It is also the easiest way to dilute essential oils in preparation for use. There are several choices of carriers; the most common are vegetable oil, alcohol, water, and more rarely, vinegar. The carrier you choose will depend on how you plan to apply your treatment.

For a massage or body oil, vegetable oil is the best choice. For a liniment, you may prefer alcohol as your base because it doesn't leave an oily residue. A room spray only needs a water base, while aloe vera juice is perfect for a complexion spray.

You can also dilute essential oils in ready-made products that use vegetable oils as their base, such as salves, creams, or lotions that you purchase at the store. This is a quick way to custom-make your own products. Select products that have little or no essential oils in them already to ensure that you do not end up with too much scent in the finished product. Many natural food stores sell unscented cream, lotion, and shampoo bases.

Though commonly used in cooking, vegetable oil and vinegar can also be used as carrier oils in aromatherapy preparations.
Though commonly used in cooking, vegetable oil and vinegar can
also be used as carrier oils in aromatherapy preparations.

Vegetable Oil

Essential oils blend well into vegetable oils. Vegetable oils have other advantages, too: They are soothing to the skin, hold moisture in, and are easy to apply. Any high-quality vegetable oil such as almond, apricot, hazelnut, olive, grape seed, or sesame can be a carrier oil. You don't necessarily need to use "cold-pressed" oil. In fact, you should avoid the heavily scented olive and peanut oils because they have their own odor, which will cover up the scent of the essential oils you are using.

Vegetable oil's molecules are too large to penetrate the skin as essential oil molecules do, but they slide smoothly over one another and over the skin, making them ideal for cosmetic products. Eventually, when you're more familiar with the properties of the various oils, you may vary the oil according to the application. But when starting out, use any of the carrier oils listed earlier. Store the carrier oils away from heat and light to ensure their freshness. Keep the more expensive oils in the refrigerator if you won't be using them immediately.

Vitamin E oil is an excellent antioxidant, and adding it to any aromatherapy blend will help extend the life of most vegetable oils. One or two capsules (200 to 400 IUs) per two-ounce bottle of carrier is enough. Just prick the end of the capsule with a pin and squeeze.

To ensure freshness, make only enough of a blend to last for a couple months or keep it refrigerated. If you plan to keep a blend for a long time and are worried about rancidity, consider using jojoba oil. While more expensive than most, jojoba oil will never go rancid. If you're pinching pennies, use it as just a portion of your blend.

Alcohol

The same proportions suggested for diluting essential oils into vegetable oil will also work for alcohol. Although it is not used as often, alcohol is antiseptic and cooling and quickly evaporates, leaving no oily residue. You may choose between using a drinking alcohol, such as vodka, or a rubbing alcohol, which is poisonous.

If you choose drinking alcohol, any type will work, but vodka is often used because it has no additional flavors or additives. An 80-proof vodka is 40 percent alcohol and 60 percent water. If you use rubbing alcohol (alcohol made from wood), be sure that it is not ingested. By itself, alcohol is far too drying to use on the skin or hair. Witch hazel, which is a blend of alcohol plus an extract of the bark and leaves of the hamamelis virginiana, makes a good base for a mild astringent.

Vinegar

A few aromatherapy preparations incorporate vinegar. It is actually a better base for both skin and hair than alcohol, but it is not as popular due to its strong smell. The smell dissipates rather quickly, however, and you'll be pleased with the result if you try it.

Vinegar is antiseptic, although not as antiseptic as alcohol. Its acidity helps restore the acid mantle or pH-balance to the skin and hair. For this purpose, apple cider vinegar is best, although many people prefer white vinegar because it has no color. Vinegar is water soluble, so you can dilute it with distilled water if you find its smell or sting too strong for the product you are making. Distilled water is used because it doesn’t contain chlorine or other city water additives and has none of the bacteria found in well water.

Water

For aromatherapy, you will primarily be adding a few drops of an essential oil blend to your bath, to a bowl of hot water for compresses, or to cold water in a bottle that you will spray. Nonchlorinated or distilled water is always preferred. Fill the containers with hot water before you add the essential oils so they won't evaporate too rapidly.

Not that we have the basics out of the way, it's time to learn how to make aromatherapy preparations. On the next page, you will find out how to make aromatherapy dilutions.

To learn more about Aromatherapy and other alternative medicines, see:
  • Aromatherapy: Here you will learn about aromatherapy, how it works, what part essential oils play, and how to use aromatherapy.
  • Essential Oils Profiles: We have collected profiles of dozens of plants that are used to produce essential oils. On these pages, you will learn the properties and preparations for the most popular essential oils.
  • How to Treat Common Conditions With Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy can be used to treat a number of conditions, from asthma to depression to skin problems. Here you will learn how to treat some common medical problems with aromatherapy.
  • Home Remedies: We have gathered over a hundred safe, time-tested home remedies for treating a wide variety of medical complaints yourself.
  • Herbal Remedies: Herbal remedies and aromatherapy can be very similar, and they stem from similar historic roots. On this page, you will find all of our herb profiles and instructions for treating medical problems with herbal remedies.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider

How to Make Aromatherapy Dilutions

Some people find it easier to measure drops, others prefer measuring essential oils by the teaspoon. It depends on how much you need to measure at one time and the width of the container into which it's going. The size of a drop varies, depending on the size of the dropper opening and the temperature and viscosity (thickness) of the essential oil. Teaspoons are usually more convenient if you are preparing large quantities.

Most aromatherapy applications are a two-percent dilution. This means 2 drops of essential oil is added for every 100 drops of carrier oil -- a safe and effective dilution for most aromatherapy applications. A one-percent dilution is suggested for children, pregnant women, and those who are weak from chronic illness. In some cases, you will want to use even less.

Dilutions of three percent or more are used only for strong preparations such as liniments or for "spot" therapy, when you are only treating a tiny area instead of the entire body. Always remember that in aromatherapy, more is not necessarily better. In fact, too great a concentration may produce unwanted reactions. The following are standard dilutions:
  • 1 percent dilution: 5-6 drops per ounce of carrier
  • 2 percent dilution: 10-12 drops (about 1/8 teaspoon) per ounce of carrier
  • 3 percent dilution: 15-18 drops (a little less than 1/4 teaspoon) per ounce of carrier
You can also mix several of your favorite essential oils together. We will cover how to make aromatherapy blends in the next section.

Herbs and Aromatherapy
Herbs can also be important and effective adjuncts to aromatherapy treatments. In fact, herbs and essential oils used together provide greater healing benefits than does either one alone. The herbs will lend their own less concentrated but more complete medicinal properties.

Oils made by macerating (soaking) herbs in vegetable oils are called infused oils. These can replace plain vegetable oils in aromatherapy preparations to make a more potent medicine. You can buy an infused oil or make your own.

Buying an herbal salve, lotion, or cream and stirring essential oils into it is a quick way to make an herb and essential oil combination. Try to find herbal products that contain little or no essential oil, because you don't want to end up with too much essential oil in the final product.

To learn more about Aromatherapy and other alternative medicines, see:
  • Aromatherapy: Here you will learn about aromatherapy, how it works, what part essential oils play, and how to use aromatherapy.
  • Essential Oils Profiles: We have collected profiles of dozens of plants that are used to produce essential oils. On these pages, you will learn the properties and preparations for the most popular essential oils.
  • How to Treat Common Conditions With Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy can be used to treat a number of conditions, from asthma to depression to skin problems. Here you will learn how to treat some common medical problems with aromatherapy.
  • Home Remedies: We have gathered over a hundred safe, time-tested home remedies for treating a wide variety of medical complaints yourself.
  • Herbal Remedies: Herbal remedies and aromatherapy can be very similar, and they stem from similar historic roots. On this page, you will find all of our herb profiles and instructions for treating medical problems with herbal remedies.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider

How to Make Aromatherapy Blends

For your very first aromatherapy blends, keep it simple. Use your favorite essential oils, but preferably no more than three to five at a time. Later, the many choices of oils will add to the excitement of creating your own blends.

Keep an aromatherapy notebook from the very beginning -- you'll need exact records of how you made all your preparations. Jot down the ingredients, proportions, and processing procedures you used for each blend, as well as observations about how well it worked. Label your finished products with the ingredients, date, and special instructions, if any. You will be thankful for this information later when you come up with a formula everyone loves, and you want to duplicate it.


When considering blends, try to think about the characteristics of each oil, including what professional perfumers call personality, aroma notes, and odor intensity. Perfumers think of each oil as having its own unique personality, and they think of scent in terms of a musical scale: Fragrances have head or top notes, middle or heart notes, and base notes. The top notes are the odors that are smelled first but evaporate quickly, the heart is the scent that emerges after the first fifteen minutes, while the base note is the scent that lingers hours later.

Essential oils vary in odor intensity, which may or may not correspond to the evaporation rate of the aroma notes. Add much smaller amounts of strong essential oils, as it is extremely easy for an especially potent oil such as rosemary to completely overpower the soft scent of an oil such as sandalwood or cedar. When mixing small experimental quantities, one drop of a high intensity oil such as cinnamon can be way too much. Try adding just a smidgen of oil with the end of a toothpick.

You can tell which oils have a high odor intensity, such as patchouli and cinnamon, just by smelling them. Use only about one drop of any of these oils to five drops of a more subtle essential oil, such as lavender. On the other hand, orange has such a low odor intensity, you will need about eight drops of it to blend evenly with four drops of lavender.

Here you have the makings of a formula: 8 drops orange, 4 drops lavender, and 1 drop clary sage. This formula presents a lesson in intensity and is arranged by notes. The scent leans toward the top and middle note regions. The orange brightens the top, evaporating relatively quickly, while the clary sage provides a sweetly sauntering base for comforting lavender.

There are many ways to alter the formula. For instance, add a drop of cinnamon instead of the clary sage for a scent that's a little more spicy and stimulating. If you want the woodsy smell of cedar, add several drops to balance the blend. The options are almost endless.

Another way to expand a blend is to choose oils that have similar characteristics. It will make your blend seem more complicated and mysterious because no one can pinpoint exactly what the aroma is. Try combining peppermint and spearmint, lemon and bergamot, or cinnamon and ginger. Using oils that come from different parts of a plant tends to deepen and enrich the scent. For instance, add just the tiniest amount of turpentinelike juniper needles to a rich juniper berry to create a more detailed fullness.

In the next section, we will get a little more specific and show you how to make some medicinal aromatherapy preparations.

To learn more about Aromatherapy and other alternative medicines, see:
  • Aromatherapy: Here you will learn about aromatherapy, how it works, what part essential oils play, and how to use aromatherapy.
  • Essential Oils Profiles: We have collected profiles of dozens of plants that are used to produce essential oils. On these pages, you will learn the properties and preparations for the most popular essential oils.
  • How to Treat Common Conditions With Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy can be used to treat a number of conditions, from asthma to depression to skin problems. Here you will learn how to treat some common medical problems with aromatherapy.
  • Home Remedies: We have gathered over a hundred safe, time-tested home remedies for treating a wide variety of medical complaints yourself.
  • Herbal Remedies: Herbal remedies and aromatherapy can be very similar, and they stem from similar historic roots. On this page, you will find all of our herb profiles and instructions for treating medical problems with herbal remedies.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider

How to Make Medicinal Aromatherapy Preparations

On this page, you will find a general overview and explanation of essential oil application techniques. This will help you determine what type of product you need to buy or make to best suit your needs. Keep a few essential oils on hand so you'll be prepared to treat everyday problems. Just be sure to store them out of the reach of children.

Aromatherapy Compress

An aromatherapy compress concentrates essential oils in a specific area of the body and keeps the area moist. It is one of the quickest and easiest therapeutic techniques to make. Add about 5 drops of an essential oil or a blend of oils to a cup of water. Use hot or cold water, whichever is best for the particular treatment: Cold water helps relieve itching, swelling, and inflammation, while hot water increases circulation and opens pores, helping to flush out blemishes.

Fold a soft cloth and soak it in the water; then wring it out and apply it where needed. If you feel overheated, try a cold compress on your forehead. Cold is also usually the preferred temperature for relieving strained eyes. A cool compress can also help to get rid of a headache, although a few people find that heat works better for them. A hot compress against the back of the neck will relieve neck strain and tight muscles.

Aromatherapy Foot or Hand Bath

Soaking your hands or feet in an aromatherapy mini-bath is an excellent treatment for stiffness, aches, and skin irritations. In fact, your entire body will benefit since the essential oils penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream. To make a foot or hand bath, simply add 5 to 10 drops of essential oil to a quart of hot or cold water in a large basin. Stir well to distribute the essential oils, then soak your feet or hands for at least five minutes. Cold water reduces swelling while warm water relaxes stiff muscles. To improve leg circulation in conditions such as varicose veins, alternate between a hot and cold bath.

This aromatherapy foot bath will relieve aches and pains as well as improving your overall mood.
This aromatherapy foot bath will relieve aches and
pains as well as improving your overall mood.

Aromatherapy Gargle, Mouthwash, or Throat Spray

A spray or gargle brings essential oils into direct contact with the bacteria or virus responsible for causing sore throat or laryngitis. To make either one, dissolve 1/2 teaspoon salt in about 1/4 cup water and add 1/2 drops of an antiseptic essential oil such as tea tree. Shake or stir well. Be sure to spit out the gargle or mouthwash -- essential oils should not be swallowed.

Aromatherapy Inhalant

Steam inhalations are a great way to treat any upper respiratory or sinus problem. The steam carries essential oils directly to sinuses and lungs, where they fight infection. Additionally, the warm, moist air opens nasal and bronchial passages, making it easier to breathe. To create a steam inhalant, bring about 3 cups of water to a boil in a pan. Turn off the heat, and add 3-5 drops of essential oil to the water. Drape a towel over both your head and the pan to capture the steam, keeping your eyes closed and your head about 12 inches from the water. Take deep, relaxing breaths of the fragrant steam. You can also humidify and disinfect an entire room -- just keep the mixture on a very low simmer. Essential oils can also be used in many humidifiers.

When you’re away from home and steam inhalation treatments are impractical, inhale a tissue scented with the oils or use a natural nasal inhaler, which can be found at natural food stores.

Aromatherapy Liniment

Liniments increase circulation. Rub them externally on the skin to warm muscles and to reduce muscle and joint pain. Liniments also disinfect wounds and dry up skin eruptions. Fitness experts suggest applying liniment before exercising, not afterwards, so that it can work like a mini-warm-up, heating muscles so they will stretch better. (Don’t use this as an excuse to skimp on your stretches, however!) Make a quick and easy liniment by adding 15-20 drops of the appropriate heating essential oils, such as cinnamon, peppermint, and clove, for every ounce of alcohol, oil, or vinegar. Alcohol is cooling and quickly evaporates, leaving no oily residue. Oil heats up faster and stays on the skin longer, making it more like a concentrated massage.

Aromatherapy Massage/Body Oil

Massage oil consists of essential oils blended in a carrier oil. A small amount of healing essential oil can thus be evenly distributed over a large area of the body. Rubbing warms the body, relaxes muscles, relieves stress, encourages deep breathing, and helps the oils to penetrate deeply. All of these do their part in treating the whole person, rather than just focusing on a single symptom. To make either a massage or body oil, combine 1/2 teaspoon (50 drops) of essential oil with 4 ounces of any vegetable oil. A body oil made from essential oils is also a good alternative when the patient won’t swallow a pill or drink tea. For example, if a child with a stomachache refuses to take any medicine, rub a therapeutic body oil on his or her stomach.

Aromatherapy Salve

Salves are made of herbal oils that are thickened with beeswax, so they form a healing and protective coating that adheres better to the skin. They are used on almost all skin problems, such as minor cuts, bruises, scrapes, diaper or heat rash, insect bites, eczema, psoriasis, and swelling. You can make any salve aromatherapeutic by stirring 24 drops of essential oil into 2 ounces of salve. This is fairly easy to do with a toothpick. The resulting salve will be a little runnier than usual, but it will stick to the skin perfectly well.

Aromatherapy Sitz Bath

A “sitz” bath is simply a mini-bath that employs hot and cold water to increase blood circulation, primarily in the pelvic region. This makes it ideal for uterine or bladder problems. Add 5-10 drops of essential oil to a bathtub containing about 10 inches of water (up to your waist). The water temperature should be as hot as you can easily stand but not so hot as to hurt. Prepare a small tub of cold water and leave it nearby. Sit in the hot water 5 to 10 minutes. Quickly remove yourself to the tub of cold water and sit in it for at least 1 minute. The large plastic tubs sold at hardware stores are well-suited for this purpose. Continue alternating between the hot and cold tubs for a total of two to five times each. Repeat the treatment every day for 3 to 5 days. Unless otherwise stated in the Common Ailments chapter, rosemary is a good general oil for this purpose.

Aromatherapy can also help keep your skin looking younger and, of course, smelling great. In the next section, we will look at some cosmetic aromatherapy applications.

To learn more about Aromatherapy and other alternative medicines, see:

  • Aromatherapy: Here you will learn about aromatherapy, how it works, what part essential oils play, and how to use aromatherapy.
  • How Essential Oils Work: In this article, you will learn how essential oils are produced, the difference between essential oils, and how to buy and store essential oils.
  • How to Treat Common Conditions With Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy can be used to treat a number of conditions, from asthma to depression to skin problems. Here you will learn how to treat some common medical problems with aromatherapy.
  • Home Remedies: We have gathered over a hundred safe, time-tested home remedies for treating a wide variety of medical complaints yourself.
  • Herbal Remedies: Herbal remedies and aromatherapy can be very similar, and they stem from similar historic roots. On this page, you will find all of our herb profiles and instructions for treating medical problems with herbal remedies.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

How to Make Cosmetic Aromatherapy Preparations

Pamper yourself with the luxurious feeling of aromatherapy skin care facials. Once you've discovered how beautiful they make you feel, you might want to make it a weekly treat. And you even may want to invite your friends over for an afternoon of preparing and applying a whole skin care regime.

Your afternoon could begin with a mask of cosmetic clay. While waiting for the clay to dry, you can massage each other's feet using scented massage oil. When the clay is dry, rinse it off with warm water and follow with an oatmeal scrub. Then enjoy a relaxing facial steam. Spray your face with a fine aromatic water, and while your skin is still moist, apply a soothing cream or lotion. Finish with a drop of essential oil perfume. Preparation formulas for these skin care processes and others follow.

Aromatic Waters

Scented waters treat many different skin problems, such as acne and burns, and are also used cosmetically as a skin-freshener. The essential oils they contain are so diluted that aromatic waters can be applied directly onto sensitive areas of the face. They are perfect for making herbal compresses for injured skin or for complexion problems. Although different from hydrosols, which are the more expensive by-products of distilling essential oils, these aromatic waters work wonderfully in their own right. Add 5-10 drops of fragrant essential oils to 4 ounces of water or aloe vera juice.

Aromatic Bath

Bathing offers the most relaxing and luxurious way to take your medicine! Since stress makes you more susceptible to disease, an herbal bath may be the most important herbal treatment we have. Not only is the bath relaxing, it allows the medicinal essential oils to be absorbed gently over a large area of the body. Baths are also useful in treating certain skin problems and muscle pains. The essential oil-laden steam that rises off an aromatherapy bath can double as an inhalant for lung and sinus congestion.

The easiest way to create an aromatherapy bath is to add 3 to 5 drops of essential oils directly to your bath water. Add them after you run the water so they won’t evaporate too quickly, and be sure to swirl the oils around before you get in. Avoid using more than one drop of hot oils such as peppermint, and go easy on the citrus oils, especially orange, for the same reason. Want to make your bathing experience even more deluxe?

  • 1/2 teaspoon essential oil (your choice)
  • 1 ounce vegetable oil

Combine ingredients. Use 1 teaspoon per bath. For babies, use only 1 drop in a basin. This is especially good for dry skin. When you emerge, your body is covered with a light film of fragrant oil that lasts for hours. It also keeps your skin from becoming dry or itchy after bathing.

Cosmetic Clay

Bentonite or cosmetic clay, which are available at natural food stores in boxes and in bulk, can be used as a facial mask for tightening the skin. To prepare, add 1 to 2 teaspoons of distilled water to 1 tablespoon of clay to make it into a paste. (Usually one part water to two parts clay will do.) Add 3 drops of essential oil and stir in well. Pat over your face, let dry, and then wash off with warm water. Clay can also be used medicinally for drawing out bee stings or for drying rashes and pimples.

Aromatherapy Cream

You can turn any basic cream or lotion into an aromatherapeutic product. Start with an unscented cream, and stir in 3-6 drops essential oil for every ounce of cream or lotion -- or make your own cream from scratch:

 

  • 1 cup oil
  • 3/4 ounce beeswax (22 grams), shaved
  • 1 cup distilled water, warm
  • 30 to 50 drops essential oils

Making cream is very similar to making mayonnaise -- the proportions need to be fairly exact for it to come out right. Carefully melt the shaved beeswax in the oil on the stove. Cool it so that you can put your finger in a oil without discomfort. Put the lid on your blender with the center cap removed. Pour the warm water into the blender through a funnel (using a wide mouth funnel reduces splattering). Turn the blender on high speed, and add the oil/beeswax mixture slowly and evenly. It should begin to thicken after about three fourths of the oil has been added. This is a good time to add the essential oils. When all of the oil has been added, you will have a thick, beautiful cream. Pour the cream into wide-mouth jars. The cream will last at least a month if kept in a cool place. Storing it in the refrigerator will prolong its shelf life for several months.

Aromatherapy Lotion

Making lotion is a little trickier than cream, but it can certainly be done in your kitchen. Use the following ingredients, and follow these instructions given for making cream:

 

  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 ounce beeswax, shaved (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup distilled water, warm
  • 30 drops essential oils

Do not cut these recipes or there will not be enough liquid to cover the blender's blades.
To vary the recipe, the water portion of your cream can be any one, or a combination, of water-soluble ingredients such as aloe vera juice, rose water, or a strong herbal tea.

Aromatherapy Underarm Deodorant

The most important action of any deodorant is to kill bacteria, which essential oils do very well. By making your own deodorant, you can soothe rash and irritation (try Roman chamomile) and avoid the use of harsh, pore-blocking ingredients found in commercial products.

 

  • 15 drops lavender
  • 5 drops sage oil
  • 5 drops coriander
  • 2 ounces aloe vera juice or witch hazel

Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle. Shake well before each use.
This will keep at least a year.

Aromatherapy Perfume

Commercial perfumes only imitate the glory of nature. Why not wear a bit of nature itself as your personal fragrance? Apply one undiluted drop of nonirritating essential oil to a spot where your pulse beats, such as your inner wrist or behind the ear, and the warmth generated will help spread the scent. You might want to start with floral oils, such as lavender or geranium, or one of the aromatic woods, such as sandalwood. Some people prefer the wild scent of patchouli. Others splurge on the more pricey rose, jasmine, or neroli (orange blossom), all of which are found in expensive perfumes.

Aromatherapy Lip Balm

Protect your lips from drying wind and cold conditions by using soothing lip balm. Heal chapped lips and keep them kissable while enjoying natural flavors such as tangerine, lemon, peppermint, rose, or even anise, by using the following recipe:

 

  • 1/4 cup of your favorite oil
  • 1/4 ounce beeswax, shaved
  • 10 drops essential oil

Warm the oil in a pan and add the beeswax. Stir until the wax melts. Add essential oils after the salve cools just a bit so the oils do not evaporate. Store the balm in a snap top "lip balm" container, which are sold in drugstores and camping supply shops. They may also be available at your natural food store.

Lip balm will last at least a year unless you keep it in a warm place such as your car.

Aromatherapy Facial Steam

A facial steam will open the pores of your face, making your skin feel dewy soft as it takes on a radiant, youthful pink glow. Bring one quart of water to a simmer, remove from heat, and add 15 drops of essential oils. (Try five drops each of lavender, rosemary, and geranium.) Keeping your head about 12 inches above the pan, place a towel over the back of your head and secure the ends around the pan to capture the steam in a miniature sauna. Be sure to keep your eyes closed so they won’t become irritated. Steam for a few minutes, then lift your head and take a breath of fresh air as needed. Go back under the towel and repeat a few times. Do this for no longer than five or ten minutes -- less if you have sensitive skin.

Aromatherapy Skin Scrub

Grind 3 tablespoons of oatmeal with 1 tablespoon cornmeal in an electric coffee grinder. Store powder in a closed container. To use the scrub, moisten 1 teaspoon with enough aromatic water, tea, or hydrosol to make a paste. Apply to dampened face. Gently scrub and rinse with warm water.

Next, we will look at some aromatherapy preparations for the home.

To learn more about Aromatherapy and other alternative medicines, see:

  • Aromatherapy: Here you will learn about aromatherapy, how it works, what part essential oils play, and how to use aromatherapy.
  • How Essential Oils Work: In this article, you will learn how essential oils are produced, the difference between essential oils, and how to buy and store essential oils.
  • How to Treat Common Conditions With Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy can be used to treat a number of conditions, from asthma to depression to skin problems. Here you will learn how to treat some common medical problems with aromatherapy.
  • Home Remedies: We have gathered over a hundred safe, time-tested home remedies for treating a wide variety of medical complaints yourself.
  • Herbal Remedies: Herbal remedies and aromatherapy can be very similar, and they stem from similar historic roots. On this page, you will find all of our herb profiles and instructions for treating medical problems with herbal remedies.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

How to Make Aromatherapy Preparations for the Home

Here are some aromatherapy preparations that will keep your home smelling sweet.

Diffuser

The most refined, but expensive, way to scent a room is with an aromatic diffuser. Diffusers are small electrical units that pump unheated fragrance into the room. Unheated scent is more pure than heated scent. There is quite a variety of diffusers available; they cost from approximately $60 to $120, depending upon capacity and style. Directions will come with the diffuser when you buy it.

Generally, you place a few drops of essential oil in a hand-blown glass container and turn on a small compressor that’s connected with a piece of tubing. The glass unit disperses a fine mist of microparticles mixed with the stream of air produced by the pump. By increasing the surface area of the scent molecules, it becomes extremely effective at disinfecting and energizing the atmosphere. Another advantage to the diffuser is that the vapor of essential oil can be directed into the nose or throat. It can also be used in a sick room for 10 to 15 minutes every hour to clear airborne bacteria that may spread infection.

Do not use thick oils such as vetiver, sandalwood, vanilla, myrrh, or benzoin in the diffuser, as they don’t evaporate easily. However, these oils can be diluted with thinner oils such as the citruses, eucalyptus, and rosemary or mixed with alcohol. Don’t let a diffuser sit with essential oil in it without occasionally turning it on because the oils will eventually oxidize and thicken.

Sometimes expressed citrus oils contain a bit of sediment that may clog your diffuser. To clean or unclog it, soak the glass unit in alcohol, and depending on the model, unplug the opening with a pin or toothpick. Then rinse the unit, and let it air dry.

Light Bulb Ring

Ceramic or metal rings designed to be placed directly on light bulbs are available at many stores. Place 2-3 drops on the ring while it’s cold, and be sure not to touch it again until it cools down after turning off the light. You can also place a couple drops of essential oil directly on the bulb, although the oil doesn’t last as long.

Potpourri

Few things grace a room more than an attractive container of dried flowers, herbs, woods, and spices, freshening a room with its gentle and perhaps seasonal background aroma. Modern potpourris owe most of their fragrance to essential oils added to dried herbs. The basic recipe is 1/2 teaspoon essential oil to 2 cups dried herbs.

Since some essential oils have the unique property of becoming better with age, these can be used as fixatives. They will preserve the fragrance, making it last long after it would otherwise dissipate. The potpourri also smells better with the addition of such oils as patchouli, sandalwood, benzoin, clary sage, balsam of Peru, balsam of tolu, vetiver, and orris root, used either as the chopped herb or in the form of an essential oil.

The most popular potpourri fixative is orris root. It has a light, violetlike fragrance that blends with any scent, and it is not over-powering. Although a few people are allergic to orris, it is still the all-time favorite. Its essential oil is so rare that orris is added in its chopped form.

  • 1 cup mixed herbs, dried
  • 1 tablespoon orris root, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon essential oil

(twice the amount for simmering potpourri)

Use any combination of attractive flowers, leaves, bark, wood shavings, or cones for the dried plant material. Add the orris root and essential oils and stir. Keep the mixture in a closed container for several days so the scent can be absorbed by the plant material. This potpourri will stay fragrant for many months. When it gets faint, revive it with a few more drops of essential oil.

Potpourri Cooker

Simmering potpourri cookers have basins containing water and a potpourri mix which are suspended over and heated by a candle or electricity. When the water heats up, it releases the essential oil molecules into the air. Since only a small amount of potpourri is used, at least two or even three times the amount of essential oil is required.

Although you’ll find potpourri mixes for all rooms and all seasons, you don’t even need the potpourri. You can simply put a few drops of essential oil in water in the basin. When the water heats up, the molecules of essential oils float into the air.

Room Spray

Instantly change the energy in a room, cleanse the air, or get rid of unpleasant odors by using an aromatherapeutic room spray. The formula below is a multipurpose room disinfectant. It can be sprayed in a sick room or used on the kitchen counter. You can also change the oils to create a spray that will make the room fragrant or that will impact the emotions. One mom, for instance, sprays her children’s bedrooms every evening with a soothing chamomile and ylang ylang mix that helps relax them for sleep.

  • 4 drops eucalyptus (or tea tree)
  • 3 drops lavender
  • 2 drops bergamot
  • 2 drops thyme
  • 1 drop peppermint
  • 2 ounces water

Add the essential oils to the water. Keep in a spritzer bottle (sold in most drug stores and some cosmetic stores). Be sure to shake the bottle very well right before using to help distribute the essential oils in the water. Otherwise, they tend to float on the surface.

Sachet

Sachets freshen clothing and keep moths and other insects away.

  • 20 drops cedarwood
  • 8 drops lavender
  • 8 drops patchouli or sage
  • 1 dozen cotton balls

Combine essential oils and place about 3 drops on each cotton ball. Store in a closed container for a couple days. Place with clothes, using them instead of commercial moth balls (about six for an average sized box or suitcase). To make more attractive balls, tie a small fabric square around the cotton ball.

Scented Candle

Impregnated with essential oils, candles release the scent as they burn, creating whatever mood you want. You can make an aromatherapy candle from a purchased unscented candle by adding several drops of essential oil to the candle’s wick. Wait 24 hours, until the wick absorbs the oil, before using the candle. You can make scented candles from scratch by adding oil to the melted wax or by saturating the wick just before pouring the candle. The wick method uses less oil, but many people like the scent of the candle.

  • 1 votive candle
  • 20 drops citronella

Using a glass dropper, drop the oil on the candle’s wick. Wait 24 hours before using. This particular candle is especially good for repelling bugs.

Vacuum Cleaner

Drop 2 to 4 drops of essential oil directly into the bag. Not only does the oil disinfect the dirt, but it will brighten your day. Try lemon eucalyptus -- it is highly antiseptic, and the lemon gives people a feeling of cleanliness. In addition, its stimulating properties will help you get that housework done.

Washing Machine/Dryer

Put 1 or 2 drops on a cloth tossed into the dryer. Or add a few drops of citrus or lavender directly in the wash water to both scent and disinfect clothes. Of course, most laundry detergents are already heavily scented, so you don’t want to overdo it.

In our final section, we will look at some precautions you should take when using aromatherapy.

To learn more about Aromatherapy and other alternative medicines, see:

  • Aromatherapy: Here you will learn about aromatherapy, how it works, what part essential oils play, and how to use aromatherapy.
  • How Essential Oils Work: In this article, you will learn how essential oils are produced, the difference between essential oils, and how to buy and store essential oils.
  • How to Treat Common Conditions With Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy can be used to treat a number of conditions, from asthma to depression to skin problems. Here you will learn how to treat some common medical problems with aromatherapy.
  • Home Remedies: We have gathered over a hundred safe, time-tested home remedies for treating a wide variety of medical complaints yourself.
  • Herbal Remedies: Herbal remedies and aromatherapy can be very similar, and they stem from similar historic roots. On this page, you will find all of our herb profiles and instructions for treating medical problems with herbal remedies.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

Aromatherapy Safety

Essential oils are potent substances that can be harmful if mishandled. Unlike an herb tea or tincture that is made with the whole herb, essential oils are extremely concentrated.

Work with essential oils in a well-ventilated space, and take frequent breaks while handling them. Overexposure to an oil either through the skin or by smelling can result in nausea, headache, skin irritation, emotional unease, or a “spaced out” feeling. If you find yourself feeling like this, get some fresh air right away. If you experience skin irritation, quickly dilute the oil by applying straight vegetable oil to the affected area. Water won’t be as effective since essential oils are not soluble in water.

Don’t apply essential oils directly on the skin, referred to in aromatherapy as “neat,” because of the danger of overdose. The gentler oils, such as lavender, may occasionally be used undiluted on a very small area, say an insect bite or skin eruption. But rubbing just a few drops of most essential oils directly onto the skin could easily amount to ingesting the equivalent of 10 cups of herb tea all at once!

In addition to irritating or even burning your skin, you could damage your liver and kidneys, which must detoxify large amounts of essential oils once they enter the blood stream. Damage to the liver or kidneys is not always readily apparent, so you could be injuring your health without even knowing it.

Be especially careful when using essential oils known to be skin irritants (allspice, bay, cinnamon, clove, oregano, sage, savory, thyme [except linalol], thuja, and wintergreen). Never use these with children, the elderly, people who are very ill with a chronic disease, or anyone with liver or kidney damage, asthma, or a heart problem. Instead, turn to less harmful alternatives.

A good example is thyme oil. Even diluted applications can burn the skin, so substitute lemon thyme, which is much milder. Oregano essential oil is so potent that many aromatherapists will not use it. Instead, they use the closely related marjoram or lavender, which are equal if not better muscle relaxants and antiseptics.

To learn more about Aromatherapy and other alternative medicines, see:

  • Aromatherapy: Here you will learn about aromatherapy, how it works, what part essential oils play, and how to use aromatherapy.
  • How Essential Oils Work: In this article, you will learn how essential oils are produced, the difference between essential oils, and how to buy and store essential oils.
  • How to Treat Common Conditions With Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy can be used to treat a number of conditions, from asthma to depression to skin problems. Here you will learn how to treat some common medical problems with aromatherapy.
  • Home Remedies: We have gathered over a hundred safe, time-tested home remedies for treating a wide variety of medical complaints yourself.
  • Herbal Remedies: Herbal remedies and aromatherapy can be very similar, and they stem from similar historic roots. On this page, you will find all of our herb profiles and instructions for treating medical problems with herbal remedies.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kathi Keville is director of the American Herb Association and editor of the American Herb Association Quarterly newsletter. A writer, photographer, consultant, and teacher specializing in aromatherapy and herbs for over 25 years, she has written several books, including Aromatherapy: The Complete Guide to the Healing Art and Pocket Guide to Aromatherapy, and has written over 150 articles for such magazines as New Age Journal, The Herb Companion, and New Herbal Remedies.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.