In 52 Healthy Changes, Essential Oils

Essential Oils: 101 – A Quick & Easy Guide to Getting Started

If you’re wanting to get started with essential oils for your health, but have no clue where to start, this is the guide for you! Consider this your Essential Oils 101 course!

Are you still hovering on the fence when it comes to using essential oils? Not sure if it’s just a bunch of hype, or if there’s actually some validity to these things? Carefully climb down from that fence post as we ease into the incredible journey and amazing resource that essential oils can be.

Maybe you’ve heard about essential oils before, or know someone who’s always talking about how incredible they are. Maybe you’re wanting to help keep your family healthy from the latest cold or flu going around. Or maybe you’re wanting to upgrade your medicine cabinet with more natural ingredients that help support good health instead of just masking symptoms.

So how do you walk into the world of essential oils, where there are literally hundreds of different companies (some reputable, some not) and NOT drop a fortune just to get started?

I get a lot of questions from friends, family and readers wondering just that…so let me share with you what I share with them, and hopefully you’ll get some clarity into the world of essential oils. At the very least, this can be a roadmap to keep you from getting lost!

What are essential oils?

In a nutshell, an essential oil (EO) is a concentrated, volatile, aromatic liquid that is obtained from the fruits, seeds, flowers, bark, stems, roots, leaves or other parts of a plant. Essential oils have been used for centuries for both their healing and aromatic benefits.

Chances are you have either tried essential oils yourself or you know someone who uses them. As each year passes, people are choosing to clear out their medicine cabinets, trashing the OTC medications filled with synthetic and harmful ingredients and replacing them with essential oils.

If you already use essential oils and are devoted to a specific brand, have researched their distillation, testing and quality control methods, and are comfortable with that company, then STICK WITH THEM! We have tried many essential oil companies over the past five years (doTERRA, Young Living, Native American Nutritionals, Purely, Eden’s Garden and Rocky Mountain Oils) and have had great success with each one. For our family, we’ve chosen to use Plant Therapy for their quality, sourcing standards, testing methods and pricing (as well as their phenomenal customer service). They are NOT a multi-level-marketing (MLM) company (which saves a huge markup in price right off the bat) plus they have an easy to use website, and free shipping and returns!

  • Please understand, this is not me trying to dissuade you from one essential oil company to change to Plant Therapy. If you have a company you’re happy with, then just use this guide as an informational tool! However, if you choose to order through Plant Therapy, we will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. My strongest suggestion is to do a bit of research to know and understand how the company you choose to use sources and processes their oils. I cannot state this enough, sourcing and processing is paramount to the quality of the end product!

What’s the easiest way to get started with essential oils?

Simple, start small. You can start using essential oils the moment you have one blend. But my suggestion would be to start with three: Lavender, Lemon and an Immunity Blend. By having these three oils in your “arsenal” you’ll have a great supply to start reaching for the oils instead of to the OTC meds.

  • Lavender helps with headaches, neck tension, sleep, stomach issues and motion sickness. It’s calming, can promote relaxation and perfect for skin health (read more below).
  • Lemon helps with fevers, circulation and supports the digestive system. Plus it’s my favorite to add a drop to my water throughout each day!
  • Immunity blend (or Germ Fighter) will help support your health, even when life happens and our daily choices aren’t the best. Sometimes in life we survive on coffee, have stressful times at work, or have little ones and we just don’t get enough sleep. Having an immunity blend will help keep us healthy when we don’t have time to be sick!

This is another reason why we love Plant Therapy, many of their essential oils average $7-$15 for a 10mL bottle, plus they offer FREE shipping for any amount (no minimum purchase!)…that’s certainly doable when getting started, yes? Because of the great savings, you might also want to toss a package of roller bottles in your cart so you can mix up some pre-diluted oils to take with you on the go.

Read through the list of my top 12 essential oils below and choose which one oil you’re going to purchase today! There is no specific order for which you should buy. Some may prefer to buy singles (individual essential oils) while others may prefer synergies (blends of multiple oils for more specific purposes). If one jumps out at you, then by all means, get that one!  

Buy just one oil today, then next month buy a second oil. By buying just one oil a month, in one year you’ll have compiled 12 essential oils that can be used for a myriad of ailments. (Be sure to check out some of our “natural medicine cabinet” recipes at the bottom of this post.)

Focus on specifics: A few oils and a few ailments at a time.

Ask yourself a question…what is something I’m consistently reaching for to help with “______________”. A headache, digestive upset, sore muscles, etc. If you could help with just one ailment, what would it be? You might just find an oil blend that’s perfect for your ailment. When you do, buy it! If you have something to help with an ailment, you’ll use it.

Check out the list of synergy blends offered through Plant Therapy. And our favorites are their Kid Safe Synergy Blends. No more guessing whether each individual oil in the blend is kid safe for your little ones.

Maybe you have a bottle of lavender essential oil and you’re wondering all the different ways to use it. Then start there! Do a little reading on lavender, find some recipes you can throw together to keep in your medicine cabinet, and go from there. Once you have a good handle on lavender, move to FrankincenseRoman Chamomile, or maybe Sweet Orange…that’s the best part, you get to choose!

  • Frankincense – Did you know there are over 42 known species of frankincense? Species vary based on climate, soil and region, so how do you know which one to buy? Plant Therapy offers three different species (carteri, serrata and frereana) each with unique benefits. Read through the descriptions of each to see which one might benefit you the most. For instance, carteri has properties known to rejuvenate skin, support the immune system and aid in times of grief or sorrow. Serrata has been used to aid breathing and clear the mind, while my preference, frereana, is recommended for healing wounds or cuts, reducing the appearance of wrinkles, scars or damaged skin as well as supporting the immune system.
  • Lavender – Possibly the most well-known of the EOs, lavender oil is known for its many beneficial properties such as easing tension, headaches and muscle as well as promoting relaxation. It can be added to a carrier oil to help reduce the appearance of scars and wrinkles and may also help soothe sunburns and cooking burns. It can help with sleep for restless nights, or for simply helping to calm your mind, nerves or anxiety.
  • Lemon – This is among my favorites because of its variety of uses. Not only is it great for supporting a healthy immune system, I also use it in my homemade floor cleaner, as well as adding a few drops with every dishwasher or load of laundry. I’ll even add a few drops to my water for a cleansing effect (be sure you’re drinking from a glass and not plastic when doing this) or use it in my “Better Than Water Morning Detox Tonic“.
  • Peppermint – The many uses of peppermint range from enhancing alertness and improving energy, to relieving heartburn and headaches. When mixed with water and added to a spray bottle it can be misted on the skin to help cool you off on hot summer days. (Peppermint EO saved my sleep during pregnancy as I would add 3 drops mixed with one ounce of warm water and chug it down. It would alleviate heart burn within minutes.) We also love peppermint essential oil for our homemade remineralizing toothpaste.
  • Eucalyptus – Eucalyptus globulus can have a strong aroma where Eucalyptus radiata has very similar properties but has a milder scent. And my newest Eucalyptus favorite is Eucalyptus Dives, it has a mildly minty scent mixed in with the woody eucalyptus smell. It’s perfect for stopping sniffles and clearing up congestion. All three species are known to help with respiratory problems, support aching muscles and joints from occasional overuse or changes associated with the aging process. It is also known to stimulate healthy circulation. We love eucalyptus for our homemade vapor chest rub. It’s the perfect remedy to have on hand when the sniffles, cold or flu come to visit. There are many opinions as to whether eucalyptus is safe for the use of children. My family chooses not to use the globulus or radiata species on our youngest child (who is under 6 years old), we instead opt for the Kid Safe dives.
  • Sweet Orange – With uplifting qualities of any citrus oil, sweet orange is one of my favorites for scenting my foaming hand soap. I also diffuse a blend of sweet orange and peppermint while my kids are home-schooling. We call this our “focus blend” and my kids can often be found hopping down from the table to take a deep breath from the diffuser.
  • Tea Tree – Appropriately called “first aid in a bottle”. Tea Tree works on a variety of skin issues from cuts, scrapes and even blemishes. It’s very useful added to cleaning sprays to be used in the bathroom or diffused in bedrooms after sickness. When head lice went through our home, I added it to coconut oil and covered our heads with it! The uses for tea tree are virtually endless.
  • Roman Chamomile – Albeit more pricey, Roman Chamomile is worth every penny. It’s among my favorites to add to my daily skincare routine. It’s a relaxing oil that is known to help with insomnia, stress, migraines and depression. It also can be used to ease aches and pains in muscles and joints from overuse or arthritis and is wonderful when added to a bath in combination with peppermint.
  • Lemongrass – MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE SCENT! I use this oil in my homemade deodorant, and sometimes just add a drop with a little carrier oil on my skin before heading out the door as “perfume”. Lemongrass works wonders on my headaches when blended with peppermint and lavender. Lemongrass is known as a “hot” oil as it can feel hot and painful if used directly on your skin, which is why it’s never recommended to use topically unless properly diluted (I suggest saving this chart on proper dilution ratios here). 
  • Germ Fighter – Or this “kid safe” Germ Destroyer blend. One of these two products is the first “synergy blend” I would recommend getting. We use this preventatively during the winter months to avoid colds and flu. If we do happen to get sick we diffuse this throughout the day and night and rub on our feet multiple times a day. I also add a few drops of this to a homemade hand sanitizer (recipe coming soon!) for a boost to the immune system every time we use it. This blend is made up of Lemon, Clove, Eucalyptus, Cinnamon cassia, and Rosemary while the “kid safe” Germ Destroyer is made up of Spruce, Marjoram, Lavender, Rosalina and Lemon.
  • Relax – My second favorite synergy (which closely rivals the first) is Relax. I use this oil each night about an hour before I want to fall asleep. I simply dilute with a carrier oil and rub onto my chest, neck and shoulder area and benefit from the relaxing scent all night long. This blend is made up of Lavender, Marjoram, Patchouli, Mandarin, Geranium and Roman Chamomile.
  • Tension Relief – My third favorite synergy. This is the oil the hubs and I will use after a particularly trying or stressful day (hello four kids!). We’ll dilute this in a carrier oil and it’s perfect for evening massages. This is such a great oil to use before bedtime as it also helps alleviate the effects of stress, helping you relax and fall asleep with ease. This blend is made up of Peppermint, Eucalyptus Globulus, Rosemary, Spearmint, Lavender, Basil linalool, Ravensara, Cinnamon Leaf, Ginger Root and Roman Chamomile

Best essential oil sets to buy

If you’re an over-achiever, and have the means to do so, I would recommend looking at some of Plant Therapy’s kits. These kits will save you money (overall) and get you and your family well on your way to a healthier new year.

Do remember, we’re taking “doable” steps, so if $6 is what you can afford this month, then it will be $6 well spent toward your health (another reason why Plant Therapy’s free shipping is so awesome)!

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    What was the first essential oil that you purchased? Mine was lavender, and is still one of my all time favorites. I use it for my 5 year old when he has breathing issues, rubbing by hubby’s feet, or on my neck when I have a hitch in my giddy up. 🙂

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen

      My first purchase was probably lemon (I can barely remember!), but before that a friend gave me samples of eucalyptus, lavender and lemongrass. Those were the first oils I tried. Great question!

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