The world of aromatherapy and the oils associated with it can be confusing. So here are a few very basic pointers to help you decide which you should be using.
What is an Essential Oil?
Essential oils are pure and strong. There is nothing at all in the bottle but the goodness of the oil. Only the tiniest amount may be safely used and some should not be used for children and people with certain conditions at all. (See guidance in the section “using essential oils at home.”)
Be sure to purchase your essential oils from a reputable supplier and beware of any that look like they are exceptionally good value. Fresh, good quality, oils do not come cheap.
These are also very strong. They are produced using a chemical method of extraction and usually, there is a small amount of chemical or alcohol residue at the end of the process. Sometimes this can cause skin irritation regardless of the fact that some of the plants used are extremely gentle. The most treasured of the absolutes are Rose, Jasmine, and Neroli and they are too delicate to extract oil by other methods such as pressing or distillation.
It may be hard to understand why Rose oil should be as expensive as it is, given that rose blossoms are grown so easily in all climates until you realise the number of petals that are used to produce a single drop of oil. Rose, Jasmine, and Neroli (orange blossom) are always very expensive. The good thing about Absolutes is that they make certain oils available and affordable for us but on the flip side, they are not as pure as essential oils.
Blends and Aromatherapy Oils.
These are really easy to obtain in shops that do not specialise in pure oils. They are already diluted for you and safe to use directly on the skin, although you should still avoid certain ingredients in children, pregnancy, and other conditions.
So basically, there is very little essential oil in the blend, the contents of the bottle will be mainly carrier oil. You might see blends that are labelled, relaxing, revitalising, soothing, etc. They are a great introduction to using aromatherapy but it’s important that you choose products from a supplier with a fast turnover as once the oils are blended, they so lose their strength more quickly than when they are pure. This is also a far more expensive way of using aromatherapy in the long run.
As with essential and absolute oils, do store the blends in a cool dark place as sunlight weakens them. For example, if you like to keep your oils in the bathroom, pop them in the cupboard rather than leaving them on the windowsill. This is also the reason for using a dark brown, green, or blue glass bottle for storage.
You can find out more about the different types of oils here.