Alternative Medicine/Essential Oils?


QUESTION: What are essential oils, and how do they differ from anything else that is an oil? Do they require special storage? I purchased a number of oils that are good for skin. Some came in plastic containers, and some came in darkened glass containers. I'd like to mix them together, and am not sure if I need to choose a particular bottle type to keep them fresh. I'd prefer a plastic squeeze bottle however.

ANSWER: My goodness you are asking a complicated question...I could write a book! Let's see if we can cover the basics...

All oils are chemically similar, and can come from plants or animals. Essential oils come from only plants, and are "single notes" ...the oil is from one plant only. "Essential oil blends" are a mixture of oils, usually with a particular effect in mind. Therapeutic "essential" oils are the ones that are prized for their fragrance, and their effects on mood and health that have been studied over the years. Other oils are less fragrant, and are not associated with mental or physical health effects...other than nutrition and cooking that is.

True essential oils are very strong, and need to be diluted. That is done by either just diffusing their scent into the air with a warmer or nebulizer, or put in "carrier oils" if they are for use in cosmetics or supporting physical health.  Carrier oils can be healing in the effect they have on the skin, though. Some are better for dry skin, others for oily, some are good for all skin the carrier is chosen for the purpose, and the type of skin .

Because they are totally natural with no preservatives, ALL oils need a little special care. Light, heat, excess humidity can break down the oils and ruin their scent and effectiveness, so it is important that they be kept in dark containers, in a dark, cool, dry place. Many cooking and carrier oils need to be refrigerated after opening so they don't go rancid. Some oils go rancid quickly, others are more stable and can last as much as a year if stored properly.

Plastic containers are ok for end-product cosmetic uses like lotions and such...things you have made from essential oils and use frequently and renew...but never for storing the essential oils themselves. Plastic is a petroleum product, and oil itself in a way. Over time, the oil and the plastic interact and you can damage the precious oil or leech chemicals from the plastic container into the oil. Dark brown or blue glass is always best if you can manage it. You can find them with the pump-type cap, which makes them almost as convenient as squeeze bottles. If you are using an oil for a health goal or for fragrance, rather then just cosmetic / cleaning uses...then avoid plastic.

I've never seen real, good quality oils packaged in plastic. Not everything called "aromatherapy" or "essential oils" in the market are actually that. It is very much "buyer beware". There are some cost effective, good quality suppliers online. I like, In stores aura cacia and NOW are reliable brands. Aura Cacia is more for healing oils. NOW brand are very good oils, and even less expensive. I use those oils for cosmetic and household uses.

If you would like more information, I recommend "Aromatherapy Workbook" by Robert LeVebre, although there are many good books about aromatherapy on the market. I plan to ad mine to the lot in the next couple of years. Noelle Katai's TV show "Everybody Knows" is also informative and suggests some very nice blends.

I hope this helps, in a nutshell anyway. Feel free to send a follow up if you have questions about what we've covered here.

Good luck and enjoy using REAL good quality essential oils!


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I have no interest in scent or cosmetics. Just skin health. The following are the oils I have:

almond oil - clear plastic bottle
evening primrose oil - clear plastic bottle
vitamin E oil (7,500 IU) - Dark glass bottle
borage liquid gold - Dark glass bottle
tamanu oil - Dark glass bottle

I want to mix them all together in some fashion. I purchased some small plastic bottles with open/close slit top as like shampoo bottles that I bought at Sally's beauty supply. Is another type of bottle necessary, or will they do? What of these oils requires dilution, and what can I dilute them with exactly?

The oils you list are carrier oils in and of themselves, so no need to dilute these.

You mention skin health, but not why type skin you have, or if you have any skin problems or not, so I can't give you any specific recommendations.  If you have a skin condition like acne, eczema, psoriasis, rosacia or anything  else you should consult with a doctor or holistic practitioner in person (so they can see your skin) before using any home blend.

For non-therapeutic carrier oils like this, plastic should be fine especially if you are going to use the oil regularly and use a batch up within a few months.

For general purposes, the almond and borage are going to be the main focus. Just off the cuff ...again not knowing your specific might want to start with 1 part almond oil, 1 part borage oil, 1/2 part evening primrose with 1/8 part vitamin E oil. Temanu oil is a bit heavy, not to mention cost-prohibitive for general use. I suggest omitting that and save it for targeted therapeutic use or make it a very very small proportion like the vitamin E oil or less.

These oils are generally whatever blend you like isn't going to create a serious problem so long as your skin is healthy now. If your skin tends to be particularly oily or dry, you'll have to make some trial and error adjustments.

The information presented here is for general information and personal enrichment only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent any disease. It is not intended to replace professional medical care. Use at your own risk.

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Ronda Snow, Ph.D.


Ph.D. in Natural Health, Bachelor of Science in Medical Science, Reiki Master, U.L.C. ordained Preceptor. My specialty is stress reduction with Reiki and Meditation. I support an integrated approach, using the best of both mainstream and Holistic Health. All information is for personal enrichment only. Nothing said can diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness, nor does this opinion take the place of professional health care. Use at your own risk.


Ph.D in Natural Health. Clinical experience in psychiatry and cardiology as a nationally certified Physician Assistant (1987 - 2000). Reiki Master-practitioner since 2000.

Point of Light Magazine, spring 2000. "Bead Mindful, Begin Meditating" e-book available at "PeaceTarot" guide to daily meditation Tarot for Kindle on

non-accredited Ph.D with High Honors Clayton College of Natural Health (2011). Bachelor of Science in Medical Science, Alderson-Broaddus College (1987). Reiki Master-practitioner in traditional Usui method (2000), Ordained minister, preceptor, Universal Life Church, Modesto, CA, USA(2005)

Awards and Honors
Outstanding Young Women of America 1988, 1997, Writer's Castle poet of the year 2004

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