What you need to know before using essential oils

Mar 10, 2023

There is a tremendous amount of misinformation circulating about essential oils—so much that it can make you question whether essential oils are even safe to use! In this post, we’ll share the most important considerations to help you determine the safe or unsafe use of essential oils.

There is no “one size fits all” approach to essential oils. 

Essential oils are obtained from specific parts of plants including leaves, bark, fruits, flowers, seeds, and roots. Importantly, just because essential oils are natural doesn’t mean that they are safe. This doesn’t mean all essential oils are unsafe, either, and properly educating yourself will help you to understand the complexities of essential oils and their relative safety.

There are many ways to use essential oils, including inhalation, diffusion, topical use (applied to the skin), and even internally (ingestion). Each of these methods has safety considerations that must be considered, and there is no rule of thumb as to which method is the safest. Internal use in particular requires a high level of knowledge, as essential oils when taken internally tend to have a higher degree of associated risk.

What you need to know in order to use essential oils safely

Below are the most important considerations when using essential oils. Remember, this covers only very general usage, and does not provide recommendations for treatment of any medical condition with essential oils.

Before using essential oils, you should understand:

  • Neat application, and why to avoid it
  • Why you shouldn’t ingest essential oils
  • Why to avoid phototoxic oils in the sun…and other sources of UV rays
  • How to store your oils, and why it can make a difference
  • When not to use essential oils: they are versatile, but they can’t be used everywhere
  • Why not to use essential oils in the same way for every person
  • How — and why — to diffuse essential oils in moderation
  • How to safely and wisely use essential oil nasal inhalers
  • Why it’s important to keep your oils out of reach of animals
  • Other important considerations based on each individual’s unique makeup

So… are essential oils safe?

The most accurate answer is that it depends. Basic safety guidelines are just that—guidelines— they are not hard and fast rules that always must be adhered to, which is how so much misinformation, confusion and differing opinions have come about.

At Essence of Thyme College of Holistic Studies, we advise a cautious approach when first experimenting with essential oils. Follow the basic safety guidelines and understand that there are variables. This can be based upon the specific essential oil or the specific individual, and often both. Keep in mind that essential oils and other aromatics are very powerful and less is more when using them. Be a steward for our precious plants and their sustainability. Go slowly, don’t hesitate to ask for help from a qualified aromatherapist, breathe, and enjoy the experience.


About Essence of Thyme College of Holistic Studies

Essence of Thyme College of Holistic Studies offers 300- and 630-hour professional aromatherapy certification programs that help you grow a successful, fulfilling career by specializing and creating your market niche. Professional Level Certification prepares graduates to become aromatherapy consultants, launch product lines or retail businesses, or provide services as an adjunct to existing holistic health specializations. Master Level Certification and electives are ideal for certified aromatherapists seeking higher education or a path to clinical aromatherapy practice.

All Essence of Thyme programs focus on aromatherapy product development and advanced formulation, evidence-based research, spa and business management, international industry regulatory guidelines, and sustainability and conservation of essential oil and carrier oil-bearing plants.

Our comprehensive, evidence-based programs meet or exceed the criteria set forth by 5 international professional aromatherapy associations. Learn more about our aromatherapy certification programs.


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