Skin Care

How to correctly use essential oils

Only a few essential oils can be directly applied to our skin. Most need to be blended with an oil - argan, olive, jojoba - to avoid irritating or burning our skin. Insect bites/stings and headaches can be treated with essential oils that come in roller form, so you can apply them to specific zones. However, make sure they don't come into contact with your eyes, mucous membranes, your nose or ear canal.

Ease indigestion, boost your immune system, deal with travel sickness... Taking essential oils by mouth can work a treat. But once again be warned that some are toxic and should never be ingested - check with your GP if you're unsure. For ones that can be taken by mouth, simply mix them with a teaspoon of honey or pop a couple of drops on a slice of bread or sugar cube.

Some essential oils are relaxing and soothing - orange, chamomile, lavander, marjoram... They help us uwind at the end of a long day, after a gym session or whenever we've reached the end of our tether! The downside? Essential oils don't dissolve in water, so any drops will stay on the surface and could irritate your skin. They need to be blended with a neutral base (available at chemists or essential oil suppliers) that can be then poured under your running bath water.

Inhaling essential oils can treat bronchitis, conjunctivitis and colds, whilst using an oil burner will purify and perfume the air in a room. But don't use any old oil, as some irritate our airways. Don't inhale cinnamon, tarragon, clove, menthol eucalyptus, sage, peppermint, artemisia or cedar oils. Precautions: Pregnant or nursing women and children under 7 should not use essentail oils, nor should they be applied if you're planning to go out in the sun. If you're prone to allergies, ask your chemist or GP for advice.