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Essential Oils 101 - What, Why & How?

Michelle Brass | 01 October

Are you interested in getting started with essential oils but don’t know where to begin? Or do you love diffusing your oils but want to know what else you can do with them? Here is some inspiration to take you from novice to expert!

Learn everything you need to know about getting started with essential oils from Zea Essentials in-house aromatherapist and naturopath Michelle Brass.

What are Essential Oils?

Essential Oils are the concentrated extracts of a plant that retain their natural smell and properties. We use essential oils to enhance mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.

They are taken from a plant in various ways, such as steam distillation, extractions or cold pressing. The ways the oils are obtained from a plant depends on the type of plant it’s coming from and which part you are using, such as the flower, leaves, bark, seed or resin.

Every essential oil contains many different components and are commonly used in aromatherapy (the practice of using essential oils together to create a desired aroma or response) and skincare.  

Some of the most well-known essential oils across the world that you may already be familiar with include Lavender, Frankincense, Eucalyptus and Sandalwood.

In Australia, we are very fortunate to have to access to an abundance of high quality, locally grown essential oils - many of which are endemic to Australia. You can see all of our Australian grown oils here:

Why Use Essential Oils?

All essential oils have a wide range of unique health benefits and aromatic qualities, which is why more and more people are incorporating them into their daily lives.  

Many possess anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, which is great for around the home especially during Winter time. 

The inhalation of essential oils can stimulate areas of the limbic system in your brain that can then enhance emotional health, wellbeing and memory.

Aromatherapy can also balance the physical body, by helping to reduce stress which may help in the reduction of headaches, tight muscles and other problems associated with an elevated stress response.

And when inhaled or applied topically (diluted), they may also help balance your mood, reduce stress and anxiety, calm and focus your mind and re-energise your body.

Particular essential oils may also work as anti-inflammatories, reducing muscle and joint pain such as Kunzea, Frankincense, Sandalwood and Pink Peppercorn.

Essential Oils

How do You Use Essential Oils?

There are so many different ways that essential oils can be used! Here are a few of our recommended ways to use Zea Essentials in your home. 

Diffuser Inhalation

Add 2-4 drops of pure essential oil to water in either a traditional oil burner, or preferably, an aroma diffuser to benefit from the healing properties of that particular oil or essential oil blend.

Apart from the benefits listed earlier, inhalation of particular oils may also help clear sinuses, boost the immune system and reduce congestion.

Steam Inhalation

To help with congestion and mild upper respiratory complaints, try adding a few drops of the desired essential oil to a bowl of boiling water.

Close your eyes and cover your head with a towel. Lean over the bowl at a comfortable distance (approximately 20cm). Inhale through your nose for 4 to 5 minutes. To capture the full benefit of the steam and breathe in deeply.

Some recommended Zea Essentials for steam inhalation include Coastal Tea Tree, Kunzea or Breathe Easy, as they all possess anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, which may help with sinus congestion or flu-like symptoms.


A damp cloth compression is a wonderful way to use essential oils, particularly for menstrual cramps, headaches or joint pain. Simply combine approximately 6-8 drops of essential oil to 2-4 drops of emulsifier (anything that will allow you to mix oil with water).

Once combined, add the blend in to 2 cups of lukewarm or cool water. 

Mix together and soak your cloth, preferably 100% cotton. Allow the cloth to absorb the liquid then wring out and place on the appropriate area of the body.

For headaches, we suggest Lavender, Peppermint or Rosalina.

For menstrual pain, we suggest Rose Geranium, Frankincense or Kunzea.

For joint pain, we suggest Kunzea, Nerolina or Sandalwood.

Alternatively, our Concentrated Massage Oil is a great option for each of these ailments above. If you choose this option, no emulsifier is required but increase the quantity to 14 to 16 drops of massage oil, to 2 cups of water.


Massage is a great way to gain the therapeutic benefits of essential oils, but please always dilute in a carrier oil before applying the skin. This will help prevent adverse reactions such as skin irritations and burning.

Some of our recommended carrier oils for body massage include fractionated coconut oil, sweet almond oil and grapeseed oil.

For a body massage oil, we recommend 10 to 15 drops of essential oil, to every 30mL of carrier oil.

You can create your own personal massage oil using either single origin oils or even one of our popular Lifestyle Blends, which has been already formulated to help you achieve your desired outcome.

Our “Stress Relief" Blend is an all-time favourite among the Zea Family, as the uplifting aroma of Ylang Ylang, Patchouli, Sweet Orange, Lavender and Bergamot helps to reduce stress levels and anxiety, while imparting feelings of balance and peace.


Essential oils can have incredible benefits for your skin when used correctly, including helping to reduce redness and irritation. Similar to when using for massage, you should always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil before applying to your face and decolletage area. We recommend a dilution rate of 0.5-1.5% in a carrier oil. 

A favourite oil for the face for anti-aging is Rose Geranium, and is particularly beneficial in helping those with fine lines and dry skin. Add to a base of Rosehip oil, and use as a night oil to replenish and renew tired-looking skin.


De-stress, relax your muscles and unwind by re-creating a DIY spa experience with Zea Essentials, right in your own home. Combine 3 to 12 drops of essential oil with your preferred emulsifier, to ensure the essential oil will disperse effectively in the bathwater. Run a nice warm bath with this mixture, get in the tub and relax. 

Add ½ a cup to a warm bath and soak for 15 to 20 minutes. 


Essential oils such as Lemon, Sweet Orange and Clove Bud are natural, safer, non-toxic way to clean your home. Combine one or more Zea Essentials with white vinegar (optional) and water in a 500ml spray bottle, to create a beautifully-scented and effective cleaning spray for your home.

Here is one recipe you may like to try for an Australian All-Purpose Cleaner:

Mix all ingredients in a 500mL spray bottle. Shake to combine. Spray and wipe on tables, cabinets, sinks, and anywhere else throughout the home. 

Further Resources

If you are new to the world of aromatherapy, it can sometimes be overwhelming to sift through all the information out there on the internet.

If you would like to learn more about essential oils, here are some great places to start your aromatherapy journey:

1) Our Essential Oil Starter Kit comes with 5 starter essential oils Aromatherapy Guide that provides a compact, but an extensive overview, of how to use essential oils. 

2) Tisserand Institute is regarded as one of the world's most accurate and up-to-date sources of aromatherapy knowledge and best-practices

3) Our blog features lots of informative posts on using essential oils and their properties 

We look to joining you on your aromatherapy journey!