Here’s my quick guide to essential oils and 3 you can start with plus a sleep oil recipe

Fri 10th, Jan, 2014

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Hellooooo beach cottage lovelies…a while ago I posted on Instagram and Facebook about using and loving essential oils and since then I’ve had lots of comments, questions and some emails about using essential oils and so I thought I would write about my experiences, let me point out I am no expert, though I am a true expert in dabbling in this area and at that I have been dabbling for years and years pretty much since I was not far off a teenager.  There are many people claiming many things with essential oils, for me it’s more of a personal thing about what I like and how they’ve helped me and my family…if there is something out there that I like, is therapeutic, makes me feel good and helps me get through the day, I’m in, which is why you’ll often find me partaking in Limoncello.  In the bath. 


I first came across oils when I worked in a PR company in London and the lady I worked for was into them…in those days it was all a little way out, still a bit, you know, alternative, and certainly NOT that you could buy them in the supermarket or health food shop.  I love anything like that, and I have now heard that many people are very skeptical, well I have to say I never was, I fell hook, line and sinker and I was a devotee right from the start, she ordered me a book and a bottle of lavender and my journey began.

Since then I don’t think there has been a single day I have not been without a bottle of lavender in my life, I use it every single night, more if I am stressed and I always take a bottle of lavender when travelling, plus I used it on all my babies to calm them and help them sleep and they still love it these days too…if anyone is cranky, had a big day, just plain not feeling too good or unable to settle out comes the lavender and off they go…


At various points over the years I have been in and out of the using of oils, sometimes I will have a large collection (like now) and be using them for pretty much all sorts, other times I am down to the bare basics of the few I know I love which basically means lavender and a couple of others.  At times I will use diffusers/burners, pop them in the bath, self-medicate and concoct a recipe that I think will help me, put drops of them on my pillow, rub them on my feet, use in massage oil (and try to find a random willing passing stranger to massage me), take them internally and generally have them right in every aspect of my life… at other times I hardly see them much at all and literally just rub on my wrists and temples just before the lights go off – I’ve since learnt through the power of social media that all of the the ups and downs of the journey are just that, a journey with the healing and therapeutic properties and you’ll use them when you need them.  Cool hey?

Over the years I’ve got to know what I love and what I don’t but the main question I have had since mentioning them is how to start and what to do with them, so here are my thoughts on essential oils

1. buy pure essential oils – seek out 100% pure oil and avoid any you see in discount stores, I am a woman who likes me some value but not in this department…having said that it’s quite confusing, especially if you start looking at some of the professional aromatherapy sites, they kinda make you feel a bit inadequate with all their claims – my experience is and remember that it’s only mine and I am so not an expert in this field, is the ones you get in your reputable health food shops are generally ok to good, they may not be the best, you will get better if you spend more, but they are good enough for someone like me.

There are a lot of companies out there on the more pro side too who claim all sorts of things, some of the big brand names you might have seen floating around Instagram, the blogs and Pinterest lately I haven’t tried personally – I don’t know but I feel they may be very good at marketing if you know what I mean – this is an area where I am happy to pay for quality but I don’t want to be ripped off either so for me the health food shop brands are fine (in Australia I like Oil Garden here, I love Perfect Potion but they are harder to find where I live and definitely more expensive but the oils are good, also Twenty8 is divine you’ll be confident the oils are therapeutic blend and with no crapola in there whatsoever but you’ll pay for it (as everything in life I reckon).

2. go easy and start small – if you are looking at starting to use essential oils, start very small – a little bottle of oil is going to cost you about $15 or so, more or less depending on the oil in question, multiply that by 5 or so bottles and you are making an investment (they last well so no worries there) – my recommendation would be to maybe buy 2 or 3 oils first and see how you go – definitely buy lavender, it’s an all around and if nothing else you can use it at nighttime to help you drop off.

3. research the internet  - there are tonnes of good aromatherapy sites out there – one tip though is not to get too over-whelmed, stick with a couple otherwise you wind up on one of those internet hunts where you end up going around and around and you don’t actually learn much and you forget who said what oil to use where…

4. buy a book – I wouldn’t bother with this unless you think you will really get into it (I have the Tisserand book here and love it, it’s so so dog eared and loved) but to be honest there are lots and lots of good sites on the internet now that can give you the basics of oils (though I do kinda like to flick through the book still, even though it’s so very old days)

5. smell the oils!  ok this might sound weird but in the early days years ago when I had the book I listed a long list of the oils I wanted to try based on the remedies in the book – in those days I was on an extremely extremely tight budget where the dollars on an oil were very considered (I know some of you reading here are the same) but I was slowly building the collection and every month when I got paid I added a few – the problem I hit was I didn’t actually smell and try some of the oils I had listed, which meant that although the oil was meant for XXX I didn’t actually like the smell of it when I got it home and opened it, which is hardly therapeutic! Duh!  Easy to do though when you’ve read that an oil will do all these wonderful things and you want to add it to your collection.   Most of the oils will have a tester for you to use and try – if there is not a tester open ask for one, I’ve never across anyone that hasn’t been happy to open an oil for me, if there isn’t one there it’s normally just an oversight.


These are the ones I would start with if you are looking to get a collection going and looking to get a feel for it…

Lavender - benefits are endless and one of the most versatile, calming, relaxing and balancing, promotes opening of the heart and crown chakra (gotta love that right)

Tea Tree – antiseptic and antifungal, refreshing and cleansing, purifies, eases mental stress, opens all chakras

Lemon – uplifting to the body and mind, improves concentration, clear thought, opens the heart and throat chakras

How to get them into your life?  Initially when I started with aromatherapy oils I used them in the bath and a word of warning I got an aromatherapy ‘burn’ – not wishing to freak anyone and I don’t know too much about this but I basically put too much oil in and didn’t disperse it properly in the water and the oil sat on the top, resulting in burning skin, not the effect I was hoping for really.  So if you are putting oils in your bath, first of all research it properly and secondly make sure you swish the water around to get the oil dispersed – I have never had a problem since…

Next I use oils on the body, again research that the oil you have bought can go on the skin (lavender, tea tree and lemon can hence why I chose those three if you want to start with three all-rounders) – I either pop it straight on in areas like temples, neck, wrists, soles of feet or cup it in hand and inhale.  I also use it for massage, you’ll need a carrier oil for this, all the oil companies do carrier oils, I like sweet almond but to be honest I pretty much use olive oil too, much cheaper…the one small problem with oils and massage is finding a willing member of this cottage to do the massaging, if you’d like to volunteer I am happy to have a massage in return for a stay in the Summer House with white linens, vintage things, peace and quiet, perhaps a little pooch (also white and putty) to keep you company, and a nice glass of Limoncello as the sun goes down, email me.

You can also take essential oils internally, there is MUCH debate over this and I am certainly not getting into it here, these are just my thoughts, I have taken oils internally for certain ailments with hugely positive results…

Over the last few weeks I have been diffusing a lot and over the years every now and then the oil diffuser will always be going with a house cleanse blend (more on that soon) – you can buy diffusers really cheaply in dollar shops if you want to try it out to see if you like it, the ones sold by the aromatherapy companies I’ve found are not really too much better compared to the extra $$$ you pay.  Having said that I’ve just invested in an electric diffuser because I’m wanting oils on a lot at the moment and I am not comfortable, especially with Barley doing his nutcase 5pm laps around the house, to leave them on willy nilly.

This is the electric diffuser I have recently bought, it wasn’t cheap at $50, I’m calling that an investment in my health, so far loving it….


Now moving on to calm, sleep, relaxing, all that jazz – I had a particulary stressful Christmas lead-up, not at all nice and have found myself quite anxious, I’ve never experienced this before, a bit of a worrier, yep, get stressy, yep but actually anxious, no not really, up until now and so calming, relaxing and soothing has been very much on the books (and in the bath) here in this old cottage.


This is a little ‘recipe’ I have been using in the evening, in the bath and by diffusing it in the bedroom, it’s really really helped…

Aromatherapy Oils for Sleep

mix a few drops of each



ylang ylang

roman chammomile


(If you can’t afford to buy 5 just go the lavender and add one of the others to it – smell first to see what you like, I love ylang ylang)

You can pop this mix in your bath, add it to a carrier oil and massage it or diffuse it…over the Christmas break I have been loving drawing a long hot bath adding the oils and sinking in there and staying in there for a while and letting the stresses soak away…this and the aromatherapy oils has definitely definitely helped me through a rough patch in life…funny how they called my name when it first happened too…

That’s it from me, I’ll be the one in the corner smelling nice…dabbling with little bottles….and looking for random strangers willing (and able) to massage my forty-is-the-new-thirty ****.

Goodnight to all and one.


(Please note none of the above links are sponsored or affiliated in any way to me)

p.s. house cleansing, do very good things, banish evil spirits and shush away bugs and germs recipe is on the way, I ran out of time today…

also coming up a little lunchie dish I have been having for years that’s easy, super healthy and gives one energy, yup, true ;)


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25 Responses to “Here’s my quick guide to essential oils and 3 you can start with plus a sleep oil recipe”

  1. Oooohh thanks lovely, I can feel some oil dabbling coming on. I did use essentials years ago but then dropped off the wagon. I do still use tea tree in my kids hair to deter headlice (and swear by it!!) but must go grab some lavender too. Looking fwd to the house cleanse concoction…lord knows this farm house could use a good cleanse at the mo!!?!! xx

  2. Synchronicity with your blog again, Sarah! Before Christmas it was the lemon, honey and ginger drink, which I love, and I’ve just started getting back into essential oils after not bothering for a while, like Janelle.
    Last weekend I bought some lime and basil oils from Neal’s Yard here in the UK, and have been trying different blends. The Neal’s Yard website is good for finding ideas – just click on the Aromatherapy tab and the oils are listed alphabetically, along with other oils they’re good with.
    Off for a bath now – lavender and geranium is a favourite for that :-)
    I’ve toyed with the idea of a diffuser, but they are so expensive – about £50 to £60 so for now I’m sticking with the burner.

  3. I’m a big aromatherapy fan – the Twenty8 range is the best I’ve ever worked with – our family too is very much used to them being a part of our lives. Instant Calm, Energy and Vitality, Immune Boost and Romance and Intimacy being the ones we go through the most.

  4. Wendy says:

    As a lover also of aromatherapy and definitely not an expert I do know that people should be told that these are not just lovely smelling oils but are a medicine and should be used with caution some oils for instance should not be used if you are pregnant or on young children so would strongly recommend you reading about the use of oils before using any combinations. Some can not be used direct on skin for instance……if misused they can make you unwell so being informed and aware is the key….I love using the oils for healing and lifting ones spirits…

  5. Hey Sarah! I’m with you on the oil wagon! :0) I got hooked years ago after doing a workshop learning about oils, their uses & experimenting with ways to use them, Again, like you, I go through phases of use, though if I’m designing or writing pattern instructions, I have lavender & orange in my oil burner … I LOVE to add sandalwood, but that’s a VERY rare treat as it’s so pricey. Lavender on the pillow is something I do on & off & when we had a decent bath, I used oils in it a lot. A tip I learnt from my original workshop for oils in the bath … mix your oils with a tablespoon of milk. I know … sounds weird … but it helps mix the oils into the water better … & is good for your skin! :0) If makes so much sense to me to use herbs & oils to boost our physical & mental health … but then … my brother says I’m a hippy from way back! Tee! Hee! Hee! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Bear Hugs! KRIS

  6. merilyn says:

    girls after my own heart! I am alternative and experimental! … ab fab sarah! have the NATURAL HEALING FOR WOMEN book by SUSAN CURTIS & ROMY FRASER … founders of NEAL’S YARD remedies … also includes tissue salt a bible! … don’t know if it’s still on the market.
    cannot live without lavender and lots of others including;
    clary sage … fantastic for emotional upheavals
    geranium … for anxious states … hormone balancing!!! always needed at any age
    rosemary oil … memory!!! always needed for me … all tried and tested and they work wonders! love them … lol m:)X

  7. DeAna says:

    I’m gonna have to give this a try. I’m an essential oil extra virgin.

  8. Claire says:

    Thanks for sharing this post Sarah. For years I’ve sworn by massaging lavender mixed with a carrier oil into my feet before sleeping whenever I’m feeling stressy or in need of decompressing a big. The effects the next day are incredible, can’t recommend this enough ~ total bliss!

  9. hrh Sarah says:

    Wow, I can’t believe how timely this post was! I just bought three bottles of essential oil yesterday, for the first time! I plan on using them as fragrance in homemade lotion bars and laundry detergent. Also, if you find someone willing to give out massages, I’ll be happy to have some massage oil ready to go ;)

  10. Hi Sarah , Is there anything that can be used on dogs with irritating itches, remants of summer/grass and dare I say fleas, the poor little dogs are going crazy.



    • susan says:

      Few drops of pennyroyal on a collar or bandana. Listerine spritzed on the itchy area.
      Spark Naturals is a great source for therapeutic grade oils without the multilevel marketing jazz. Not sure if they ship internationally but good for US gals.

  11. Bec says:

    I am on way to bed to burn lavender…looking forward to your house cleaning oil tips, I need them.

  12. Cathi says:

    I know what I’m slathering on my feet tonight before I go to bed! Cotton jammies, cotton socks, and my eye mask – wooo yeah, it’s a great look. :)

  13. Lisa Mckenzie says:

    I love essential oils especially lavender and have always put it on before bed and a sprinkle on my pillow xx

  14. Smaggle says:

    Oh I need a sleep oil recipe! I’ve been sucking HARD at sleeping recently.

  15. kaeru shisho says:

    I wish we had Smell-o-net so I could enjoy the recipe right now! Heh, heh. How is Barley these days? Miss his snoozing in pictures/

  16. alison says:

    I’ve tried really hard to get results from essential oils by using a candle burner and recently an electric burner. Despite using “recipes” from an aromatherapy book and really hoping for good results, I just feel plain nauseous and miserable, even with good old lavendar oil. Any suggestions anyone??

    I do feel good when I walk into my house after using eucalyptus oil on the carpet to remove stains though. And I will try applying lavendar oil to my feet and see what happens.


  17. merilyn says:

    concerned about your wellbeing dear sarah!
    hope you have recovered from that migraine … I had them up until menopause
    hormone triggered nearly every month so debilitating! … just awful!
    here’s a tip!
    lie down head raised slightly in a dark room no noise, no interruptions!
    yoga breathing
    cold compress on the forehead and neck [this is for the vasa congestion]
    keep hands and feet warm … ok in winter!
    clary sage or lavender aromatherapy
    wintergreen or peppermint on temples … be careful with your eyes
    it made me angry that I did everything possible and still got them … but this helped, plus some kind of pain killer although I hate them I had to have something albeit used minimally. hope you feel better by now lolove m:)X

  18. Marti says:

    This subject is so timely for me as well, as I have just entered the wonderful world of essential oils! Like you, I have always been drawn to a more natural approach to health, and tend to shy away from “popping a pill” to cure whatever ailed me. My family is a bit skeptical, but using something pure and natural to stay healthy makes perfect sense to me. I look forward to seeing more tips from you and your readers! I use a cold water diffuser as the oils I buy are cold pressed, perhaps that kind will help Alison get better results?

  19. Trish says:

    I love me some essential oils too, peppermint is my favorite. I hope you are ok Sarah, I’m missing your beautiful pictures and posts. Take care xoxoxo

  20. merilyn says:

    I don’t want to be alarmist but I feel that obviously something is seriously amiss with our lovely sarah! as she hasn’t posted anything for a week, been on facebook or instagram … unless you are actually having a well earned rest
    which I hope that is all that is wrong!
    I do hope you are ok … love m:)X

  21. Shelby says:

    Gorgeous photos! Thank you for posting this. I’ve recently started using essential oils more often and this was very helpful.