Getting Started with Essential Oils

By now, I hope you’re excited about incorporating essential oils into your daily routine. Later in the blog, I’ll share details about how to buy and use oils to boost daily routines, address specific problems, and purify your home environment. For now, getting started is as easy as buying five basic, easy-to-find, affordable essential oils and one organic fatty oil you will use as a base for face, body, treatment, and massage oils.

Before I describe those five essential oils and the fatty oil, though, it’s important to know that not all essential oils on the market are created equal. Harvested organic essential oils and/or wild-crafted oils (collected in the wild) that are steam-distilled are optimal for therapeutic use. These oils have a unique and complex structure that simply can’t be replicated in a lab. However, the term “therapeutic” means something different for each company that supplies essential oils. It’s no guarantee that a bottle labeled “natural” or “therapeutic” or “pure” will be an authentic substance.

Here’s what you should look for on a bottle of essential oil:

•Its Latin botanical name (not just its common name)

•Its country of origin

•“Certified organic,” “100% organic,” or the USDA organic seal (the label or website will also include the name of the agency that certifies the oil, like OTCO or the European certifier “Ecocert”), or “wild-crafted” (picked in the wild)

Ideally, the essential oils you buy will have all this listed on their labels. When I create formulations at H. Gillerman Organics, I work only with 100% organic oils and try to source as many wild-crafted substances as I can. I’m able to do this by working with suppliers who have direct contact with their farmers, which creates a high level of accountability. These reputable farmers, manufacturers, and distributors work hard to create very high quality, efficacious oils that are available to us all.

Like I said, you can start exploring with just five essential oils and one organic fatty oil. Truly. There’s really no need to go out and spend an entire paycheck on dozens of essential oils. I think it’s easier, and thus more encouraging and empowering, to start with just a few essential oils that pack a big punch. The following five oils are what I recommend starting with.

In my opinion, they are the most thoroughly researched, rejuvenating, cost-effective oils out there, so you can begin to reap the benefits by using these potent substances on a daily basis. For four of the oils I have suggested a second option, in case you prefer a different scent:


This all-purpose oil can be used as an antianxiety sleep aid, a muscle relaxant, a pain reliever, an antibacterial for wounds and burns, and a topical treatment for dry skin, eczema, and insect bites. It’s also great for sachets and creating a “clean” scent throughout your home. (You can suimbstitute geranium oil if you prefer its sweeter, less herbaceous floral notes, and adjust my recipes if you find it too strong.)

Image result for Lavender


I call this the “new lavender” because it’s definitely a contender in the essential oil popularity contest. Peppermint is a natural anti-inflammatory, working almost like liquid aspirin; it’s one of the best for headaches. As an antiseptic, it can clear our breathing passages, treat the flu and colds, and help with digestive issues from simple stomachaches to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to morning sickness. If applied or inhaled an hour before bedtime, peppermint can aid sleep, but if you inhale it or use it during the day, it will help keep you awake. It’s also a great detoxifier and room deodorizer — and best of all, a little goes a long way, so buying peppermint is very cost-effective. (Sorry, there is no substitute for peppermint!)

Tea tree

Tested in hospitals as an effective treatment for antibiotic-resistant viruses (like MRSA), tea tree oil is a must for hygiene while traveling. With strong antifungal properties, this oil helps alleviate respiratory infections, athlete’s foot, burns, bites, infected wounds, and more. (If you’re not crazy about the smell, feel free to substitute with niaouli or eucalyptus polybractea.)


This antiseptic oil is your go-to for cleaning; you can even use it straight on a sponge as you wipe down your kitchen counters. Lemon is an ideal oil to combine
with others since it will increase the therapeutic effect and always add a bright note. A source for your daily antioxidant and vitamin C, this oil helps your body process toxins. (You can substitute grapefruit if you prefer its refreshing scent.)


Cedarwood is a relaxing oil that helps hold scent on your body longer. For this reason, its scent is known as a base note, a term borrowed from perfumery. It’s a great muscle relaxer. (You can substitute frankincense for cedarwood; it’s a spicier, muskier, and more grounding oil than cedarwood, but it’s more costly.) •The fatty oil: jojoba, golden or clear for unscented.

For safety and usability, essential oils need to be diluted in a base. Since essential oils don’t dissolve in water, this base is usually a fatty oil: aromatherapists call this the “carrier oil.” This fatty oil will serve as the ideal base for your face, body, treatment, and massage oils. A variety of rich emollient fatty oils, such as argan, rosehip seed, or even olive oil, can be combined with essential oils to create natural skin care products, but jojoba is best for both face and body.

It doesn’t clog pores and it closely matches the oil your own body produces (called sebum), so it absorbs well. It’s appropriate for any skin type, including acne-prone skin. Because this oil has a longer shelf life than other fatty oils (in fact, it’s a liquid wax that doesn’t go rancid like seed and nut oils), I recommend always keeping an ample supply of it on hand.

In the meantime, discover in the blogs that follow the rituals using just these five essential oils. Whether you use these oils singly or combined into a blend is up to you. With just lavender, peppermint, tea tree, lemon, and cedarwood essential oils on hand, and a few simple formulas, you’re ready to start exploring everyday self-care — and reaping its rewards. Enjoy!

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