Everything You Need To Know About Essential Oils
We’ve all heard about essential oils and their many different uses. Although many are not labeled for direct use on skin, those which are can be found commonly. Just looking at the warning labels will tell you how to safely use them.
“But what’s that got to do with the price of tea in China?”, you might ask. Well, don’t worry, we’re getting there. Patience!
There’s a lot of backlash against those who claim that essential oils are “cure-all” substances which can be used to treat a variety of ailments. We aren’t here today to claim that they can do anything but help you relax, which can be very beneficial to your health as a whole. Essential oils can be great for your feet the same way that a lovely soak in a fragrant bath can. That is, they both use aromatherapy to help you de-stress and slow down.
However, there may be some added benefits to these brews. We’re going to talk about exactly what essential oils are, how to tell whether they can be used directly on skin or not, and which ones are the best for your feet.
What Are Essential Oils
From here on out we’re going to refer to “Essential Oils” as EOs in order to combat the redundancy taking hold of this blog. It’s just a shorter, sweeter way to refer to them! Anyways, EOs are essentially just an oil which smells like the plant or source from which it was distilled (… Get it? “Essentially just an oil”? I kill myself). The most popular process used in obtaining these compounds is Steam Distillation. I’ll describe the process below:
- First, a stainless steel container is filled with whatever flora you’re trying to extra the compounds from.
Steam is then shot into the container, which releases the fragrance from the plant and allows it to turn into vapor.
- Then, once this vapor has been fully released, we move on to the extraction portion. Since steam rises, it escapes through a tube higher up in the container than the water level. It then travels through this tube into a different container, where it cools down and turns back into liquid.
- By the miracle of science, oil and water do not like to remain mixed. Oil will always float on top, and so the steam and the actual oil that is being extracted will separate out. After this process of separating out is completed you can skim the oil off of the top, which gives you the pure essence that you were looking to create.
The process is fairly simple and could be done at home if you had the right mindset and tools. Many people have created businesses around the art of crafting EOs. In fact, most of these people are candle-makers! They use them to add fragrance to their wax so that their candles, well, smell good. Those who make bath bombs, or perfumes, also tend to dabble in the creation of EOs so that they can have more control over the purity of their ingredients. It also allows them to create more personalized scent profiles.
Are There Different “Grades”?
In short: No. This is a very misleading label that many companies put on their EOs. No government agency, or similar organization, has approved any “medical”, “therapeutic”, or other types of “grade” when it comes to EOs. You have to be super careful when you decide which types to use because of this. As a side note, EOs are not meant to be ingested. Although there are some websites or companies encouraging this, it is highly recommended that you never ingest EOs. If you’re reading this, however, you probably won’t have an issue with that as your feet are pretty far away from your mouth.
Pure Vs. Diluted
There is a huge difference between a pure EO and a diluted one. In short, a pure version is the one that is only the essence of the plant from which it was extracted. The EO is in it’s most potent form in this state. Whenever you add it to another oil (say, grapeseed or olive), it becomes “diluted” by that other oil.
Whenever you’re using an EO for massage or on your skin it is highly recommended that you always dilute it. There are several different types of oil with which you can do this! In fact, I have a pretty great how-to guide on massage oil right here. Check it out and see what mixes you like best!
Best Ways To Use EOs
There are more ways than I can say, honestly! While they don’t have any proven medical benefits, that doesn’t mean they aren’t beneficial at all. There are definitely ways you can use them to relax, unwind, and de-stress. Some of them are also great for energizing you! Scent is central to the way we interact with the word and are the biggest triggers for memories. This makes them excellent to add to your repertoire when it comes to dealing with the world as a whole.
- Spa Days: Feeling spent? Need some time to unwind? Don’t we all! How long has it been since you’ve given yourself a little spa day? I mean, really pampered yourself with a nice, long soak in the tub, a new pedicure, and a fluffy robe for lazing around in? It’s probably been a helluva long time. Whether you’re a busy mom with kids, a college student struggling to get by, or a driven professional crushing numbers from her office, we all need some time to unwind.EOs are fantastic for this purpose! They’re most known for their application in aromatherapy. This is a naturalistic way of treating anxiety, and while it won’t replace medication or therapy, it can be very helpful in managing symptoms. “Spa” days are a great answer to the age-old question “What do you even do on a ‘mental health day’?”
- The Office: There is no drudgery quite like that of office drudgery. No matter where you are on the corporate ladder, you’re going to deal with daily headaches and weekly reports that must get done… and forget sleeping if you’re on salary! There are countless ways to combat the exhaustion, boredom, and general stress that comes in an office environment.
So, how do essential oils and feet come into this? I think the real question is how they wouldn’t come into this. No matter who you are, man or woman, dress shoes can be pretty uncomfortable. Unyielding leather, tight lacing, and thin heels all contribute to the aches and pains that you experience on a daily basis. Besides toe separators, or massage balls, or other tools for at-desk usage, you can also use EOs.EOs are famous for their ability to relax you, as mentioned above. Different scents are used for different things (I’ll talk about that below), and different blends can do different things for you. One of the best ways to get a burst of energy is to use a zesty, citrus scent. If you can get away with it, take your shoes off under your desk. This is generally a good idea, anyway, since it’ll keep your feet relaxed most of the day and gives your skin some fresh air.You can keep an EO spray bottle and spritz your socks, or, preferably, your bare feet. You’ll get a shot of aromatherapy, and it’ll also work to moisturize your skin.
- Treating Bad Smells: Foul odors in your sneakers? Socks a little stinky? Scared of taking your shoes off in any public setting? Here’s your answer: EOs. Their strong aromas can chase away even the worst of odors. Runners, take note! There is nothing worse than the stench of dirty, old gym sneakers. Keeping an EO mist bottle in your gym bag, along with the other necessities, will make sure you’re good to go no matter what. This works for any situation, however. If you’re at somebody’s house and they have a no-shoe policy, go directly to the bathroom after taking your shoes off and spritz your feet a little bit. Keeping an extra pair of socks in your purse is also a great way to go. If you can, discreetly spritz down your shoes, too, since they’re going to be the center point of odor even if your feet are fine.
- Lounging: Even if you aren’t doing a “self-care/spa” day, you can still get a little luxury while you lounge around the house. Just sitting and watching TV can turn into a more relaxing experience if you give yourself a little EO oil massage before kicking back. Keeping your feet moisturized is important no matter what time of year it is, and this is a great way to do so. Oil is highly nurturing for skin, and it soaks in to renew and soften skin. I personally hate lotion and avoid it at all costs. This is why making your own massage oil with EOs, or buying massage oil from a store, is so important to me. I like being able to use oils that are highly nourishing for my skin, and which have a texture I can stand. It’s also really nice being able to control the intensity of the aroma!
How To Use EOs
There are several different ways you can use EOs. The possibilities, honestly, are kind of endless. It all depends on personal preference and which ways are most convenient for you. I’ll go over some of my favorite ways below.
- Spritzing Bottles: Keeping a water/EO mixture is a great way to have a lightweight, alcohol-free way to add scent on a daily basis. Sometimes perfume can be too strong, and some people may have allergies to certain scent profiles or ingredients. You can be sure that all the ingredients are safe for you when you have complete control over them. Spritz bottles can be used all over your body, but they’re especially great for ensuring your feet aren’t stinky. Use them on sneakers, on socks, on bare feet, and more!
- Massage Oil: Have you ever made your own massage oil? It’s actually really easy! You just dilute EOs into the oil, or oil blend, of your choosing. Lotion can be problematic because the textures are awful (in my humble opinion). If you like the feeling of oil more, it’s just fine as a stand-in! In fact, I think it does more for your skin.
- Sneaker Balls: I actually wrote a great DIY blog for making sneaker balls! I love, love, love making my own blends so that I get the exact aromatic potency I’m looking for, in blends that I absolutely adore. They’re also great for making sure you’re going as chemical-free as possible and using only natural, good for you ingredients. If you’re a crunchy mama, for example, you’ll absolutely love this little project. Check it out here! Sneaker balls are a great way to get some EOs in your life while knocking out odor!
So, there we have it, folks. EOs are a great method for de-stressing yourself, nourishing your skin, and more! They’re a recent craze that has absolutely taken over the internet. Some people love them, and some people hate them, but the truth is that they’re going to be around for a while. From candlemakers to bath bomb creators, there are endless practical applications for them. DIY projects have never been so fun, or smelled so good!
Stay tuned for more articles just like this! I write blogs on everything from DIY projects, to style guides, to explanations on the foot problems people face. There are some exciting things on the horizon for the NicerShoes blog, and you’re going to want to be here to see it. Don’t miss the next big thing, guys. Until next time!