How To Use Essential Oils


There are many different ways in which to use essential oils, both for their cosmetic or therapeutic properties, or simply for their pleasant aroma.


Using essential oils in an oil burner or diffuser can help to:

  • scent and freshen the room
  • repel insects
  • ease sinus congestion and headaches
  • purify the air
  • aid relaxation
  • energise the mind
  • lift the mood
  • create a calming environment.

Add up to 5 drops of essential oil to an oil burner filled with water, or to an electric diffuser. Alternatively, add the essential oils to a small bowl of water and place on a warm radiator.

Always ensure oil burners are kept in a safe place away from children and pets. Never leave burning candles unattended and never allow the oil and water in the burner to dry out. Do not burn oils for more than 30 minutes at a time.


Massage blends may be used to:

  • nourish and moisturise the skin
  • relax or energise the body and mind
  • help relieve muscle and joint pain
  • help improve skin conditions
  • help ease digestive discomfort or period pain.

To use essential oils in a massage blend, select the desired essential oils and mix them with a carrier oil such as grapeseed or sweet almond oil. As a general guide, use 1-3 drops of essential oil per 5ml of carrier oil, unless a recipe states otherwise. Massage blends can also be added to a warm bath. If irritation occurs, remove the oils from the skin and discontinue use.


This method can be used for:

  • general relaxation
  • calming, energising or uplifting the mind
  • improving skin conditions
  • helping to relieve muscular aches and pains
  • preparing the mind and body for a peaceful night’s sleep.

Run a warm bath - not too hot or the essential oils will evaporate too quickly - and add a 15-20ml blend of carrier and essential oils to the bath. Essential oils can also be added to bath salts.

Some essential oils such as mint, citrus and spice oils may be too irritating to use in a bath, so be cautious if using them in this method. If oils are used in a bath, they should always first be diluted in a carrier oil. Check our in-depth bath time guide on how to do this. If irritation occurs, remove the oils from the skin and discontinue use. Oils may make the bath slippery, so take care when using this method.


Using essential oils in the shower is ideal for those who do not have a bath in their home, or when there isn’t time to have a long soak in the bath. This method is great for:

  • easing sinus congestion and headaches
  • calming, energising or uplifting the mind
  • preparing the mind and body for a peaceful night’s sleep
  • general relaxation.

Simply sprinkle a few drops of essential oils onto the shower or bath floor before turning on the water.

Essential oils can also be mixed with bicarbonate of soda and citric acid or cream of tartar to make shower fizzers – discs that melt and fizz when they come into contact with water, releasing aromas into the air. Oils may make the shower slippery, so take care when using this method.


Essential oils make a fantastic addition to homemade or unscented skin, hair and body care products. Using essential oils in beauty products can help to:

  • improve the condition of the skin and hair
  • address specific skincare concerns,
    • (such as acne, premature ageing, stretch marks or eczema)
  • control dandruff
  • encourage healthy hair growth
  • relax or energise the mind.

Simply add the desired essential oils to basic cleansers, toners, masks, moisturisers, shampoos, conditioners, hair rinses, shower gels, body scrubs, body butters, oils or creams and mix well.

Unless a recipe states otherwise, use 1-3 drops of essential oil per 5ml of carrier oil or base product when making hair and body blends. When using essential oils in facial skincare, use only 1 drop of essential oil per 5ml of carrier oil or base product.

If irritation occurs after using essential oils in this method, remove the product from the skin and discontinue use.


Hot compresses an ideal way to:

  • help relieve localised muscle or joint pain
  • reduce inflammation
  • ease a sore throat.

Cold compresses can be used to:

  • ease headaches
  • help relieve sprains and strains.

To make a hot compress, fill a bowl with very hot water then add 4-5 drops of essential oil or 5ml of a massage blend. Dip a flannel or cotton pad into the bowl, squeeze out the excess and place on the affected area until it has cooled, then repeat. Use ice cold water instead of hot to make a cold compress. If irritation occurs, remove the oils from the skin and discontinue use.

Steam Inhalation

This method is ideal for:

  • helping to relieve sinus and chest congestion
  • helping to unclog facial pores and clear the complexion.

Add up to 5 drops of essential oil to a bowl of hot water, cover the head and bowl with a towel and breathe deeply for a minute, then repeat. If irritation occurs, discontinue use.

Direct Inhalation

Direct inhalation may be used when steam inhalation or vaporisation is not possible. This method may be helpful for:

  • easing congestion and sinus complaints
  • reducing feelings of stress, anxiety or nervous tension
  • alleviating fatigue.

Dab 1-2 drops of essential oil onto a tissue, hold near the nose for a few moments and inhale the vapours. Alternatively, hold the bottle of essential oil near the nose and gently inhale.


Essential oils make excellent natural perfumes. Essential oils may be chosen simply for their pleasing aroma, or for their therapeutic properties. This method is perfect for:

  • calming, relaxing, energising or uplifting the mind
  • creating a unique signature scent
  • reaping the benefits of aromatherapy whilst on the go.

Rollerball bottles are the ideal way to make aromatherapy perfumes; simply fill with a blend of essential oils and carrier oils and dab onto pulse points.

Room Sprays and Candles

Essential oils may be used to make room sprays, candles and air fresheners. These products can help to:

  • scent the room
  • create a relaxing, energising or uplifting atmosphere.

Try to keep children and pets out of the room when using essential oils in this way, and never leave burning candles unattended.

Cleaning Products

Essential oils can also be used to:

  • make natural, effective cleaning products
  • freshen rooms and laundry.

Take care when using cleaning products around children and pets and always ensure the room is well ventilated.

« How Essential Oils Are ExtractedBasic Chemistry of Essential Oils »