By Nicole Pignatelli

Published on January 6, 2018

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Photography by PHUONG NGUYEN

Over the last few years, there’s been a serious uptick in interest essential oils (just take a look at Google trends), and it’s not surprising to see why they’ve gone mainstream. They’re a natural superpower that can help you sleep, improve your skin, fight infections, and so much more. Plus, they can be customized and blended to your personal needs—basically, they’re the DIY workhorse of the beauty world (skeptical? Just search for “essential oils” on Pinterest). 

I began self-experimenting creating my own blends a couple years ago after a yoga instructor handed out eye pillows and spritzed them with the most beautiful, refreshing, relaxing fragrance. At first, I turned it down, thinking it was some kind of perfume. I have sensitive skin, so I was not interested in applying an unknown substance while breathing deeply.

But she explained that she made the oil herself by blending jojoba oil, bergamot essential oil, and lavender essential oil, all of which are natural ingredients that are safe to apply to your skin and face, and which are perfectly safe to inhale. It was like a lightbulb went off; I wanted to make my own fragrances, hoping to perpetually smell like my yoga class (minus the sweat).

I learned a couple of very important things when I first dipped my toe into the essential oil world. First and foremost, essential oils, like certain herbal teas, contain medicinal qualities that should be respected. Pregnant women should use them with caution and should you feel some kind of allergic reaction, you should stop use of the product immediately.

As I researched and experimented, I found that it is is incredibly easy to make your own skin and fragrance products that will have healing properties far exceeding any synthetic product I could purchase in a store. Case in point: The body wash I created that essentially cured my husband’s eczema.

He was going through tubes and tubes of hydrocortisone cream, a man-made topical steroid for use in reducing inflammation, with little relief. I felt terrible that he was rubbing this chemical into his skin day after day (long term topical steroid use has a bevy of complications and potential dangers), plus he smelled like medicine to boot. 

I mixed a few different recipes for essential oil topical creams for eczema, and eventually hit the jackpot with a lavender, tea tree, and vitamin E oil body wash. After years of using medicated creams, it was this natural combination that finally made his eczema go away.

There are few key things to keep in mind when blending and using essential oils:

1. Many essential oils should not be directly applied to your skin. They need a carrier oil, which is a non-essential oil that is used to dilute some of the stronger/more abrasive essential oils. My favorite carrier oil for washes and roll-on fragrances is coconut oil, as it has many antibacterial and moisturizing properties.

2. Oil blends do have a shelf life, but if stored correctly, they can last for a long time. The best containers are dark glass or mason jars.

3. Experiment! There’s no wrong combination when it comes to essential oil blends. If you need help choosing the right oils to use, check out Domino’s guide.

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Photography by PHUONG NGUYEN

Here, a few of my favorite blends:

Tried and True Eczema Wash

Lavender oil is known to be calming, relaxing, and balancing, and tea tree oil supports the immune system and fights infection. Vitamin E oil, while not an essential oil, contains antioxidants. Use in shower after a fragrance-free soap on affected areas. Rub into skin and rinse with warm water.

Mix together in a lidded container:

  • 1 cup of coconut oil
  • 15 (or more) drops of lavender essential oil
  • 15 (or more) drops of tea tree oil
  • 10 drops of vitamin E (100% Natural)
  • Splash of olive oil 

 

Lavender Sweet Orange Sugar Scrub

This scrub combines calming lavender oil with sweet orange oil, an uplifting, antidepressant. Use this in shower after soap for incredibly soft and sweet smelling skin. Shake well before use. Scoop it out with your hand and lightly scrub on face and body. The sugar makes the scrub very abrasive; if you would prefer something less abrasive, you can use brown sugar. Alternatively, if you just want a non-abrasive in-shower moisturizer, you can leave out the sugar all together.

Because I go through my scrubs fairly regularly, I store them in wide-mouth mason jars but for practical use in the shower, I keep the scrubs in travel size squeeze bottles so that they’re easier to use. This also helps to avoid getting water in the scrub, which could shorten the shelf-life of your product.

Mix together in a lidded container:

  • 1 cup of coconut oil 
  • Splash of olive oil
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 30 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 30 drops of sweet orange essential oil

Relaxing Pillow/Body Spray

A pillow spray does not have to be anything other than distilled or filtered water and your favorite essential oils. I like to use a combination of lavender, cedarwood, and rosewood oils. Both lavender and cedarwood oil are calming, and the latter also has purifying properties and is known to stimulate the gland in the brain that releases melatonin (the hormone in our brain that regulates sleep and wakefulness). The addition of rosewood empowers and stabilizes emotions. 

This can be used on one’s body and clothes as a fragrance, as well as on pillows and as a room spray.  I occasionally spray this blend in my classroom in an attempt to calm the 8th graders upon entering.  It works…sometimes.

Mix together in a 2 ounce dark glass spray bottle:

  • 15 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 15 drops of rosewood essential oil
  • 15 drops of cedarwood essential oil
  • 1 1/2 ounces of filtered/distilled/purified water

Citrus Roll-On Relaxing Fragrance

I like to gift these fragrances to my friends—the size is also perfect for traveling. The combination of lavender and grapefruit is relaxing, refreshing, and uplifting. Just roll on wrists and other pressure points, and breathe deeply. 

Mix together in a 10 ml dark glass roll on container:

  • 10 drops lavender essential oil
  • 10 drops grapefruit essential oil
  • Fill the rest of the bottle with jojoba oil or your favorite carrier oil