No luxury home is complete without the indelible scent of at least one essential oil wafting through the rooms and halls, spreading je ne sais quoi.
But what makes an oil essential? Essential oils aren’t oils in the traditional sense, though they resemble them in the way they don’t mix with water.
They are volatile compounds extracted from the aromatic portions of a plant such as the leaves, bark and roots, ensuring they will have the characteristic scent, or “essence,” of the species they were taken from.
They and their exquisite fragrances and properties have been treasured for thousands of years for promoting healing, relaxation and spiritual communion, mostly through aromatherapy.
Essential oils are powerful and must be handled carefully, heavily diluted with “carrier” oils made from nuts, seeds and kernels before letting them touch our skin. These carrier oils have aromatic and therapeutic qualities of their own and picking these out can be half the fun of finding the right essential oil formula for you.
Carrier oils aren’t needed if you are diffusing an essential oil, as they are when applying essential oils directly to the skin. Sweet almond and olive oils work well as carrier oils.
There are about 130 essential oils you can choose from, starting with agar and running straight through ylang ylang, each with its own characteristics and properties. Given their resurgence in popularity, the market has become saturated with poor-quality products claiming to be essential oils.
To ensure what you’re buying is a pure, completely natural product, be ready to pay top dollar and look for these signs of a true essential oil.
- They should be sold in small, dark glass bottles, usually amber or dark blue, to protect the contents from UV rays. Anything sold in a plastic bottle isn’t a pure essential oil because the bottle would start to dissolve before long.
- The label should include the scientific name of the plant it was produced from and such information as country of origin and extraction method.
- Remember they’re not oils! Any pure essential oil should not feel greasy or oily to the touch — but touch carefully.
- It should not leave any residue behind on paper after it dries — any mark left behind indicates the solution includes carrier oil.
- Don’t confuse with fragrance oils, which are synthetic and have no health benefits.