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Essential oils: Everything you need to know (FAQ)

All about...

This post will give you a detailed and simple understanding of essential oils. Extraction, uses, benefits, and contraindications: You'll know them like the back of your hand!


The basics of essential oils
What is an essential oil?

Essential oils" or "plant essences" are highly active liquid molecules obtained by distillation of aromatic plants. They have been used for thousands of years for their powerful therapeutic properties.

How is an essential oil obtained?

An essential oil is obtained through a process called distillation. A part of the aromatic plant (flowers, leaves, bark) from which the essential oil is to be obtained is heated, until steam containing all the plant's active ingredients is obtained.

The condensed liquid is made up of two immiscible phases. The water of distillation, also known as hydrolat, and the essential oil, which lies above it due to its density. The essential oil is then easily recovered.

Another method is used to obtain essential oils from citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges. In this case, extraction is carried out without the use of heat, and the peels are cold-pressed to release the active extracts.

Why are essential oils sometimes so expensive?

There are several possible reasons for the high price of an essential oil.

The main explanation is the quantity of plant required to obtain the essential oil.

For example, to obtain 1kg of Damask Rose essential oil, you need around 4 tons of flowers. Whereas 1kg of lavender essential oil requires only 150kg of flowers.

The price differences are therefore easy to understand.

The fact that an essential oil is 100% organic is another reason to justify a higher price, since controls are carried out to obtain certification.

And don't forget the origin of certain aromatic plants. In this case, transport costs must be factored into the price.

The plant may also be rare or complicated to grow. These factors can be decisive in determining the price of an essential oil.

What criteria should you look for when choosing essential oils?

It's important to choose essential oils that are 100% pure. In other words, they must not have been diluted or modified. They must also be natural: avoid synthetic essential oils.

To help you in your choice, you can rely on two labels. HEBBD stands for "Huile Essentielle Botaniquement et Biochimiquement Définie", and HECT for "Huile Essentielle Chémotypée". These two labels guarantee 100% pure, natural essential oils, which are more effective and less toxic.

They also control how essential oils are obtained.

Only distillation and cold-pressing extractions are authorized, as these are the most respectful of the plant and its properties. The origin of the plants is also scrupulously controlled. With these two labels, you're guaranteed a quality essential oil.

Are there dosages to be respected?

It is essential to respect the doses. Otherwise, the use of essential oils can become dangerous or even toxic. The duration of treatment must also be scrupulously respected.

- 1ml = +/- 25 drops
- 5ml = +/- 100 drops = 1 teaspoon
- 20ml = 1 tablespoon

Daily dosage for adults: Each essential oil has its own dosage, so check with your doctor before starting any essential oil treatment.

Dosages in % depend on the use of the essential oil:
- Face cream: 0.1 to 1%
- Body lotion: 1 to 2%
- Shampoo and conditioner: 0.5-1.5%
- Massage cream: 2 %
- Insect repellent: 2-2.5%
- Ointment: 3-5%
- Massage oil: 2-10%
- Dry inhalation: 2-3 drops on a handkerchief
- Wet inhalation: 6
-10 drops in 250 ml of water (depending on age)
- Bath (adult): 10 drops maximum to be diluted in a neutral base

Memo - A concentration of 1% is obtained by putting :
- 1 drop in 1 teaspoon
- 4 drops in 1 tablespoon
- 20 drops in 10 cl

Using essential oils
Are essential oils dangerous?

Although essential oils are natural, they are not harmless and do not constitute alternative medicine. They are highly concentrated in active ingredients, and can cause various symptoms if overdosed.

The main ones are: irritation, allergies, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions and respiratory problems. Some people are more sensitive than others to the toxicity of essential oils, especially those with allergies, asthma, epilepsy or young children.

In the event of an accident, contact your doctor or a poison control center immediately.

What precautions should be taken before use?

As essential oils are active, it is strongly recommended to perform a test on a small area or in the crease of the elbow, 24 hours before use, to limit the risk of reactions.

How to use essential oils

Essential oils should never be used pure, but diluted or applied to a carrier.

By mouth: Dilute the essential oil on a carrier. Suitable neutral tablets are available, or they can be applied to solid supports such as half a sugar cube or half a teaspoon of honey or vegetable oil. Caution: If you have diabetes, use vegetable oil.

For cutaneous application or massage: For this use, dilute the essential oil in a suitable vegetable oil. In general, 1 to 2 drops of essential oil per tablespoon of vegetable oil is sufficient. However, be sure to ask beforehand, as dosages can vary from one essential oil to another.

As a cosmetic active ingredient: It's perfectly possible to incorporate essential oils into your cosmetic preparations, or into your day or night cream. However, this must always be done cold, at the end of your preparations. And above all, respect the dosage. They should not represent more than 2% of the preparation for a facial treatment and around 5% for a body treatment.

Atmospheric diffusion: Some essential oils can be used with diffusers to purify the air and perfume a room. Please note: some essential oils are not suitable for diffusion. Precautions must also be taken for pregnant women and children. It is recommended not to diffuse essential oils in a bedroom while sleeping, or just before bedtime. Do not diffuse in unventilated spaces. Avoid prolonged diffusion. Keep essential oils out of the reach of children and pets.

Inhalation: in a bowl of hot water or as a dry inhalation on a handkerchief.

In aromatic baths: Always mix with a neutral base before adding to your bath, to avoid them remaining on the surface of the water, as they are not miscible. If they remain on the surface, there is a risk of burns on contact with the skin.

Cooking: Some essential oils can be used to perfume dishes. But only 1 to 2 drops per dish, no more.

Can I go out in the sun after using essential oils?

Some essential oils are photo-sensitizing. This means that a reaction is possible when the skin is exposed to sunlight after applying or ingesting the product. The reaction is due to activation of the substance by UV rays, causing irritation, spots or redness.

The essential oils concerned are mainly those derived from citrus fruits (grapefruit, lemon, orange), as they contain furocoumarins that promote melanin production. As a precaution, all essential oils should not be exposed to the sun within 12 hours of application or absorption. For this reason, they are best used in the evening.

What to do in the event of eye contact?

In the event of accidental eye contact, first rinse eyes thoroughly with cool water.

This won't be enough, however, as essential oils are not miscible with water. You'll then need to wipe the eye with a cotton pad soaked in a neutral vegetable oil such as sweet almond, apricot kernel or hazelnut oil. If pain or discomfort persists, don't hesitate to consult your doctor.

How to store essential oils?

Essential oils must be kept away from light.

To make it easier for you to store them, we've decided to supply them in a cardboard box. So you can leave it wherever you like, as long as it's in its case. Essential oils must be kept airtight, in their sealed amber bottle.

They should also be protected from extreme heat, cold and humidity. Officially, for precautionary reasons, essential oils should be kept for 3 years, but when properly stored, they remain active and retain their properties for up to 10 years. However, essential oils obtained from citrus fruit do not keep as long as those from plants. Their expiration date is 3 years.

Who can use essential oils?
Can essential oils be used on children?

For children under three, the use of essential oils is forbidden, whether orally or purely as a massage, as they are irritating to children's fragile skin. For children over three, always seek medical advice before using essential oils. They are not recommended for children under 7. With this medical advice, it may be possible to use essential oils in specific cases, in defined doses.

Can essential oils be used during pregnancy?

We strongly advise against using essential oils during the first trimester.

In reality, it depends a great deal on the doses and areas of application, but it's best not to take any risks, and to err on the side of caution. It is possible to use certain essential oils from the second trimester onwards, as long as certain precautions are taken.

Medical advice is essential before any use. In all cases, however, it is advisable to avoid using essential oils by absorption or direct application to the stomach.

The main essential oils prohibited during pregnancy are :
- Palmarosa
- Common thyme with geraniol and thymol
- Clove tree
- Cinnamon
- Fennel
- Niaouli
- Oregano compact
- Sage officinale
- Rosemary camphor
- Hyssop officinale
- Peppermint

Warning: The above list is not exhaustive, and it is important to remain cautious when using all essential oils. Avoid all those containing ketones and those known to be estrogenic.

Can essential oils be used when breast-feeding?

During pregnancy, it's important to take precautions and be careful, but not all essential oils are forbidden. Some may be useful after childbirth, for relaxation or to promote lactation.

It's important to always seek medical advice regarding dosage and duration of treatment.

Precautions to be taken include avoiding overly-strong essential oils, always diluting essential oils in the correct doses, and not applying strong essential oils where the baby could inhale them.

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