How to Use Essential Oils

Would you like to know how to use essential oils at home? Did you just recently purchase one of Cliganic’s essential oil gift boxes, but once it arrived, and you unpacked it -  you are suddenly totally confused about what to do?

Perhaps you bought the essential oils because you’ve been reading about them on social media and in the news - and many of your friends are using them and really loving them. 

But now that you have your own set, you are feeling completely lost!

Not to worry!  We’ve got you covered.

Here is a quick easy-to-reference guide to give you all the information you need to get started using essential oils safely and effectively.  And before you know it, you’ll be using them like a pro, and sharing everything that you know with your friends and family.

But before we dive in, let’s make sure we all understand what essential oils are and how they are made.

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are the liquid aromatic substances that are extracted from many different plant parts, like seeds, roots, flowers, leaves, citrus peels, wood, needles, cones and resin. The different ways in which we use essential oils, like applying them to our skin and also just by smelling them, is called “Aromatherapy.”

These liquid extracts are very concentrated.  In fact it can take upward of 100 lbs of plant material to yield just 4 to 8 ounces of essential oil!  So this tells us that essential oils are highly concentrated and should be used mindfully.

How are essential oils made?

Essential oils are made by collecting fresh or dried plant parts and putting them through a process called steam distillation.  Steam distillation is a unique extracting method that uses steam and water to pull out the aromatic molecules from plants.  It kind of works in a similar way to steaming vegetables, where water is heated until it becomes steam and then the steam moves upward through the plant material.

But when we are using a steam distillation machine, the steam is captured in a very special cooling compartment that turns the steam back into water, which then produces the actual essential oil! This process can take several hours to do, and uses large quantities of plant material.

The only essential oils that are not produced using this method are the essential oils from citrus fruits.  Citrus essential oils come from squeezing the peel of the fruit.  So lime, lemon, grapefruit, Bergamot, Mandarin, Sweet Orange essential oils are made by squeezing the oils right out of the peel.  No heat or steam is needed.

How do we use essential oils?

Essential oils can be used in 2 different ways.  One way is by smelling them, which is called “Olfaction” and the other way is by applying them to our skin, topically through various skin and body care products. These are the safest and easiest ways to enjoy their amazing benefits.

  1. Olfaction, or smelling them.

Since essential oils are the liquid extracts of the aromas taken from plants, they have very strong scents.  And the molecules that make up these scents have been shown to trigger our emotions, and influence our behavior - and even our physiology.  So this means when we smell a specific essential oil, it can cause us to feel and behave in a certain way. Plus these aromatic vapors can actually affect our overall wellbeing, by triggering physiological responses that promote more balance in our bodies.


Here are a few easy and simple ways to fully experience the aromas of essential oils:


To diffuse essential oils you need to have a machine that will change the essential from its liquid state into a vapor.  You can find many different kinds of diffusers, but our favorite kind is the one that we sell, and it uses water which turns the water and the essential oil that is added to it, into a cool mist that can be smelled in the room, or area in which it is being diffused.

When an essential oil is diffused, we can smell it more easily, and that action of “smelling” triggers a response in our brains that makes us act and feel in a certain way.  For example, if we diffuse Lavender, the scent of Lavender makes most people feel sleepy, and when we feel sleepy our body reacts by slowing down and releasing stress and tension.

Direct smelling:

This means sniffing the essential oil directly from the uncapped bottle.  This is a really easy way to experience the aromatic benefits of essential oils.  Like diffusing, the aromatic molecules that we inhale, through our “sniff” - triggers a response in our brain that can change our mood and make us behave differently.  We recommend carrying one of your favorite scents with you throughout the day, and sniffing it whenever you feel you need the support.

Aromatic Mists:

Aromatic mists are simple products that are made with water and essential oils.  All you need to do is fill a small sprayer bottle, (about 1 -2 oz in size) with water and then add about 10 drops of your favorite essential oil, shake well, and then spray wherever and whenever you want - just making sure to avoid your face.  This is another great way to quickly experience the aroma of the oil, and have it influence your emotions and physiology.  A good example would be to add Sweet Orange, or Bergamot, or Grapefruit (or a combination of all 3) to your bottle, and use it when you are feeling lethargic and sluggish.  The bright refreshing aromas of these citruses will immediately uplift and rejuvenate your mood.

  1. Topically, applying to our skin.

Another way to use essential oils is by applying them to our skin.  When we do this, the molecules that they are made up of have the opportunity to be absorbed into our bodies and trigger physiological changes by entering our circulatory system.  Plus by applying them topically, they can also impact the appearance and health of our skin. 

There are dozens of different kinds of products that we apply to our skin everyday.  From cleansers, to shampoos, scrubs, body lotions, creams, butters, salves, gels and oils. Each of these different kinds of products have their own unique intentions, therefore when they are mixed with small amounts of essential oils, we can greatly enhance and support their benefits.

For example, by adding a few drops of essential oil to our shampoo we can support and enhance the wellbeing of our hair and scalp. Or if we were to add a few drops of essential oil to our body cleanser, we can enhance the cleansing action of the soap.

It’s important to be aware that essential oils are not recommended to be used directly on the skin.  Meaning we should always first mix them into a product, or an unscented base or carrier, before we apply them topically. By doing this we reduce any risks that the essential oil may make us itchy.


What are essential oils used for?

Essential oils are primarily used for relaxing us.  They have been shown to trigger our relaxation response which is very important to maintaining our health and wellbeing. Our bodies need time to rest and restore, but often we have a hard time doing it on our own.  So we reach for tools, and remedies that can support our body getting back into balance.  Essential oils are one of the safest and easiest tools to use, when looking for ways to soothe stress, tension and allow our bodies to relax and restore.

Here are our top 5 most relaxing oils to diffuse and use on your skin:

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is steam distilled from the flowering tops and has been shown to reduce inflammation, soothe stress and nervous feelings, promote deep sleep, and support skin health and appearance.


Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) is steam distilled from the leaves and has been shown to calm skin irritations, balance mood swings, prevent bug bites, and ease stress and tension.


Palmarosa (Cymbopogon martini) is steam distilled from the long leaves of the grassy bush. It has been shown to be cleansing, detoxifying, antibacterial and used to balance and soothe stressed out skin.


Frankincense (Boswellia serrata) is steam distilled from the resin of the Frankincense tree.  It is an anti-inflammatory, soothes awry physical aches and pains, clears our breathing and mind, and helps the skin look younger and more vibrant.

Atlas Cedarwood

Atlas Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica) is steam distilled from the wood of the Atlas cedarwood tree. It is calming to our nerves, and offers an experience of feeling grounded and safe. It’s also soothing to our skin, and eases away overthinking and worry. 

Let us know what your favorite way to use essential oils!

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"I recently researched the best treatment for dry skin and scalp...I then came across some helpful info on the benefits of Jojoba oil and decided to look for an organic brand. Your oil is truly wonderful. I now use it exclusively for skin and scalp, only adding frankincense essential oil for its calming effects. This combo is exceptional. I'm very glad I found Cliganic."

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