Essential Oils are oils that hold the essence or the life force of a particular plant. These oils are highly concentrated and therefore should be used with caution such as any other herbal remedy. Essential oils range from their usage in a variety of ways, from deodorant or insect repellent, to antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, or anti-fungal properties. The oil is derived through a “distillation” process in which often an entire plant is needed in order to produce one drop of essential oil. In the United States, Essential Oils need only contain 5% of the plants essence in order to be labeled "pure".
Many companies dilute the essence (the essential oil) and sell them for cheap. Those oils can give you a headache or cause some severe unwanted reactions because they are adulterated.
While a cheap oil may cut down on the overall price of the cream making or of a massage oil, you are still running the risk of an allergic reaction. If you are using all natural ingredients you may want to use a really good and pure essential oil that will enhance the cream or lotion you are making.
You will find that the really good and pure oils are more expensive than those that are cut and mixed. Just as an example and indicator: if 15ml Lavender Oil sells for anything less than USD 10.00 – 15.00 (and that is cheap), you may want to find out more about the production of the oils, what grade the oil is, if it is organic, if it can only be used in aromatherapy or if it is safe to use topically etc. Personally, I do not recommend going with the cheapest oils. You will not know what the oil is "cut" with or diluted with. There are many companies that sell essential oils so you would have to research and browse around. I started out by bying many different brands but after years of experimenting with Essential Oils, I ended up with Young Living Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils (YLEO). With YLEOs I know that I'm getting 100% the plants essence, unadulterated, organic, therapeutic grade oils.
Depending on what company you will get your essential oils (EOs) from, you may stumble across different vocabulary to describe them:
Grade A Essential Oils are also called 100% pure or High Grade as they have therapeutic qualities. It means that these are 100% plant essence without any additional chemicals, solvents, or base oils to stretch the oil. The plants are usually organically grown and the various parts are mostly steam distilled. It takes 5,000 pounds of rose petals to produce about one pint of rose oil.
Grade A or 100% Essential Oils are non-greasy and will not leave a stain as they evaporate completely.
If you are using essential oils in your creams, Grade A is what you want to be looking for. While Grade A is more expensive, it is undiluted, and you will need less oil to achieve a desired result. All Young Living, DoTerra, or Primavera Essential Oils are Grade A or 100% pure.
Grade B Essential Oils are food grade. They may have synthetics, chemical/synthetical extenders, base oils, pesticides, or fertilizers included.
Grade C Essential Oils are perfume grade. They have basically the same synthetics as food grade with the addition of solvents that are used to get more out of the distillation process.
If you are interested in learning more about the chemistry of Essential Oils, please check the Resource section for links.
Essential Oils have been used throughout the ages from ancient Egypt through biblical times into the here and now. Oils were used as incense, perfumes, in rituals and ceremonies, as ointments, or for therapeutic benefits. References were made in the bible or in the multi-volume "Herbarius" and oils were used by Hippocrates, the father of medicine. Merchants kept their trading routes a secret as they brought cinnamon from India or rose from Syria. The Romans started using essential oils as perfumes, to fragrance their bodies and clothes; Cleopatra used them in her baths and after bathing. Much later, rose water was a highly regarded scent that was brought from the East to the West along with other exotic essences, known as "perfumes of Arabia."
My absolute favorite, Lavender essential oil (English lavender is Lavendula angustifolia; Spanish lavender is Lavendula Stoechas) was used not only as a scent or in perfumes but also in balms, salves, as it was known for its skin restorative properties. The Romans used it in their baths, during the middle ages it was thrown on the floor to fumigate the homes, the plant was carried around to ward off the plague, it was used by hospitals during WWII to disinfect floors and walls, and it was used as a first aid for burns. I am using Lavender oil for just about anything. I love to diffuse it in the evening before I go to bed for its calming effect, I put it on chapped skin, on cuts or bruises for its healing properties, I use it for mosquito bites to stop the itching, I rub it over pillows and bedsheets, I use it when I'm stressed, for studying and test taking, and I use it for tension headaches. I even love lavender oil in melted chocolate