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8 rules for using essential oils

Essential oils are good for your health and each one has its own particular health benefits -you simply need to know how to use them, in order to avoid any unwanted effects. An overdose or a contra-indication can provoke skin irritations, for example. But don’t worry, we are here to give you the secrets to successful treatments and uses of essential oils. Between quality and safety, what are the rules that need to be respected when using them?

1) Follow the recommended dosage!

As they contain high concentrations of active ingredients, it is important to use essential oils with care. Some of them should never be applied to the skin, or diffused in the air. Inform yourself as to each essential oil you use and strictly adhere to the recommended dosages and instructions for use.

Essential oils are generally contra-indicated for pregnant women, breastfeeding women, children under 6 years of age and anyone suffering from asthma or epilepsy.  If you fall into any of the above categories, seek professional advice, and it is highly recommended that you get a personalised prescription.

Never use essential oils via intravenous or intramuscular injection. Never put them in your ears, nose or eyes, or any of the body’s mucous membranes.

2) Dilute essential oils

Essential oils do not dilute in water, and by doing so you run the risk of skin irritations, maybe even burning.

This is why you need to dilute them for example in vegetable oil, vinegar or liquid soap.

Essential oils to be applied directly to the skin or ingested are very rare; don’t do so without the advice of a specialist! 

3) Avoid sun exposure

Some essential oils are photosensitive, that is, they react to sunlight. Avoid sun exposure in the 12 hours after applying a pure essential oil to the face or body.

Here are the essential oils to avoid before sun exposure: St. John’s Wort, grapefruit, orange, lemon, mandarin and bergamot.

4) Know how to store your essential oils

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The main active ingredients in essential oils are volatile, this is why they need to be stored in their original tinted flasks, well sealed, kept in a dry area protected from light and at a steady temperature. You should not place them in areas where the light or temperature changes greatly, nor should you leave them open, as their active ingredients can “escape”.

5) Do a skin patch test before applying an essential oil

  • Mix one teaspoon of sweet almond essential oil or jojoba essential oil with 1 drop of the essential oil of your choice.
  • Apply a drop of this mix to your wrist, massage it gently in and leave it to work for 24 hours. Monitor it to see if your skin has any allergic reactions.
  • If there is no redness, itching or inflammation, you can use this essential oil, otherwise you are probably allergic.

6) Keep essential oils out of reach of children

Similar to with your cleaning products and medications, choose an appropriate storage place, ideally high up, to keep your essential oils. They should be out of reach of children and pets, to avoid ingestion or any accidental application.

7) Go for organic essential oils

Organic essential oils are the purest and most natural, and their active ingredients are the most beneficial. Above all, they are guaranteed to be free from pesticides or other synthetic products coming from petrochemicals. These pesticides and other chemical compounds can enter the body via the skin, which is why it is better to avoid non-organic essential oils.

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8) What to do in the case of accidents

In the case of accidental absorption of an essential oil, immediately call emergency services or contact your nearest anti-poison centre.

Most importantly, do not drink water, or else dilute it by mixing it with 3 dessertspoons of sunflower oil, olive oil or rapeseed oil.

If an essential oil gets in your eyes, do not wash the eye with water. Soak some cotton wool generously in a pure vegetable oil, and use this to clean your eye. If the irritation persists, seek an appointment with a doctor or optician.

In the case of burning, spray the “inflamed” (irritated) area immediately with vegetable oil, without using water.

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