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Essential Oils Guide

Essential oils are powerful plant extracts, creating a path to well being that we at Heritage Oils are committed to helping you discover.

Australia's contribution to the world of essential oils is relatively small with its most recognised oil being Eucalyptus. Before European settlement, Indigenous Australians used the oils from native plants for beverages, medicines and food. Early settlers took advantage of the oils from native species like Tea Tree for medicinal purposes, then in the early 19th century Australian essential oils became commercial. Australia has the capacity to expand further in growing and manufacturing essential oils from both native and introduced species.

At the crossroads of cutting-edge research and traditional wisdom, Heritage Oils has created essential oil-based well being solutions that empower you to avoid using harmful chemicals, enrich your life, do away with stress and negativity and reclaim your natural harmony.


What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils have been used for thousands of years for cosmetic, health and medicinal purposes as well as for their spiritual and emotional uplifting properties. Heritage Oils is bringing to you this ancient tradition, introducing you to a total mind/body well being that you may never have dreamed possible.

Essential oils are volatile, aromatic chemicals produced by steam (hydro distillation), or solvent extraction of various parts of plants including seeds, bark, leaves, stems, roots, flowers and fruit. They are highly concentrated, beneficial secondary metabolites that serve as the defense mechanism of the plant. Although plants do not have an "immune system," to thrive they must be able to resist the challenges of bacteria, fungi, viruses and be able to defend themselves against herbivores and they must attract pollinators, and they are also the communication system of plants. 

Essential oils can help balance and support the body to heal itself. Research has shown that essential oils help fight infection, contain balancing compounds and aid regeneration. They possess antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. The molecules of essential oils are lipid soluble and relatively small, giving them the ability to easily penetrate the cells and travel throughout the body in a matter of minutes when inhaled.

Essential oils have their own individual character, an absolutely unique identity. Their potency allows them to be used in small quantities for beneficial and effective results. Using the sun's energy, soil, air and water, a perfectly balanced blend of complex components is created. The combination of numerous elements gives each oil its individual fragrance along with its particular beneficial and healing properties.

There are four basic ways to apply essential oils: Inhalation - as breathed through the lungs,  Massage - as absorbed through the skin, Ingested - taken through the mouth into the digestive tract  Or through the absorbent tissues of the body orifices (suppositories or orally absorbed – not swallowed). 

If blended correctly with suitable combinations for body care and skin rejuvenation, the properties of the oils will normalize oil production of the skin. It is a fallacy that essential oils and carriers will make the skin oilier. They actually do the oppisite. It is mainly the synthetic ingredients of products that create problems.

Quality Matters

We want to be sure that at every step from establishing and growing the plants, harvesting the resource and distilling the oil, utmost care is taken to ensure that the quality of the essential oil is not compromised. In many cases we are in direct contact with the growers and distillers and oversee production. It is best to only use high-quality essential oils which have been grown without using chemicals, harvested at the optimal time and distilled with efficacy to produce the purest quality oil possible. Always store your oils and products in a cool area and away from direct sunlight.

Safe Use of Essential Oils for Health Issues

For those new to the wonderful world of using premium-quality essential oils for health issues, the subject of safe usage is of the highest importance. There are differing opinions about essential oil usage, and the viewpoint of the author usually helps bring understanding to what seems to be conflicting information. The warnings encourage the user to exercise caution.

For those seeking natural, healthy alternatives to conventional medications, we can embrace an integrated perspective about the use of these amazing, healing oils and quickly gain an understanding of the relatively short list of cautions.

With some basic information and common sense, we can safely explore many uses of essential oils for almost any health issue. Even an unpleasant experience is usually short-lived and the knowledge gained becomes helpful for future applications. By simply using a carrier oil should immediately reduce any direct action you may have with any potential skin irritation which can sometimes occur. A temporary irritation from an improperly diluted essential oil pales very quickly when we consider the side effects caused by some conventional medications. There is plenty of room to comfortably and safely explore essential oils and potential applications without causing harm.

While many warn that essential oils should never be used undiluted, a growing number of Aromatherapists and essential oil users find that quite a number can be safely used undiluted on the skin. The secret is, not to appy too much - least is best, and not to apply on the same section of the skin for a length of time.

Topical Use

If you are new to using essential oils, start slowly and remember that they are highly concentrated, and a little will go a long way. If you are using a new oil or blend for the first time, test a little on the skin, to be sure your dilution rate does not cause irritation. Some people test oils at the bend of the arm opposite the elbow or on the wrist. In some cases, the essential oil may be tolerated initially but can cause dermatitis reactions with subsequent use.

Carrier Oils: Using 'carrier' oils when applying pure essential oils is important as many essential oils if used directly on the skin can cause damage. It is felt by many Aromatherapists, that because of the molecular structure of essential oils, the carrier oil enhances the transdermal delivery of the properties of the essential oils. They believe there is rarely a reason to use essential oils undiluted when applying topically, although there are definitely exceptions, such as using Lavender oil undiluted for burns or Tea Tree for cuts and abrasions when nothing else is available.

There are a number of vegetable oils that can be used as carriers. Infused oils, sometimes referred to as Macerated oils have been permeated with one or more herbs. Some vegetable oils have other properties like Calendula Oil is a known anti-inflammatory and as a carrier can help to reduce pain.  

Rosehip oil is a carrier in our Skin Rejuvenation collection. Rosa canina, a rich red coloured seed oil, is produced from the hip of the Dog Rose, grown in the cool climates of Chile. We use this amazing oil for its hydrating properties can return the skin to a balanced state. Whilst it is a heavy oil, it is deeply penetrating for those whose skin is showing deep lines or dry from the environmental factors of wind and sun. Rosehip oil is a dry oil and it is highly unlikely to cause ‘break outs’ or clog the pores of the skin.

We use a slightly lighter Rosehip oil for our Skin Rejuvenation Day Oil, Rosa eglentaria, blended with other oils to increase effectiveness during the day.  .

By using Rosehip oil both day and night, blended with WA Sandalwood essential oil, it has been shown that skin elasticity has improved and the skin well toned to give it a healthy appearance. Rosehip oil also is known to boost skin cell regeneration and has been promoted by plastic surgeons to reduce the effects of scarring (see efficacy report).

Jojoba oil – Simmondsia chinesis - is an excellent choice as a carrier as it has no scent, has an indefinite shelf life and has antioxidant properties. The oil is quickly absorbing and can be considered as a light weight moisturiser for all skin types and ages. 

Coconut oil is a protein oil containing vitamin E, fatty acids and has anti-bacterial properties. Coconut oil has larger molecules that may interfere with the skin's absorption of essential oils, yet it is regarded for its moisturizing and cleansing properties and is chosen for use more as a moisture barrier than to facilitate absorption of essential oils. Virgin coconut oil has smaller molecules and is structurally different from unrefined coconut oil making it a good choice if absorption is desired.

We often include Camellia oil in our Skin Rejuvenation products as it is high in vitamin C and E, increasing skin metabolism and softening the skin.

Other Carrier oils popular in skin care are: Raspberry, Avocado, Sweet Almond, Apricot  Kernel, Hemp, Wheatgerm and a little less available - Apple seed and Cherry oils.

Carrier oils with essential oils:

Carrier oils are used to dilute or "extend" essential oils. Using a carrier oil lessens the intensity of “hot” oils (dilutes the heat), so when applying “hot” essential oils to the skin, we suggest that you dilute 1-2 drops in about a tablespoon of carrier oil. Apply to a small area of the skin first to see how your skin responds. For other essential oils, dilute 14-20 drops to 2 tablespoons/30ml for daily skin care. You can adjust with more or less carrier oil once you see how your body reacts and according to the need.

Most oils can be diluted and still be effective to meet the need. When we use a “hot” oil such as Oregano, we dilute the heat and extend its possibilities. When we use Lavender after a shower, we extend it with a moisturising oil and apply it as a skin moisturiser, or we extend Eucalyptus and apply it over our chest and back for a respiratory ailment.

If you feel that you want to use an oil undiluted because it’s more effective, for example for a mosquito bite, as long as you don't experience skin irritation, then use it as you feel best meets your need. Anything can become a sensitiser, especially with undiluted or prolonged use. Risk can be affected by concentration, length of time on the skin, condition, health of the skin and other factors.

Essential oils are a lipid and are attracted to the skin, which is also lipid. A single essential oil may have over 100 constituents, and the smaller components slip through the layers of skin more quickly than the larger components which take more time or don't penetrate at all. Once these constituents make it through the layers of skin, they are taken up by blood capillaries and begin to travel through the body.

While it is rare, essential oil constituents can combine with skin proteins to produce an allergic reaction we suggest that you put just a dab of diluted essential oil on the inner elbow to test for a reaction. A small number of people (0.1%) have a skin redness reaction to appropriately diluted essential oils.

Some people are more sensitive than others. Ultimately the user must be responsible to take precautions necessary to avoid misusing the oils or experiencing discomfort. Use special caution when applying the oils on children or those who may not be able to adequately communicate discomfort. For babies and small children, we typically avoid the use of “hot” oils unless the need calls for it, and then we only apply to the bottoms of feet with great dilution. For the very young and elderly we use greater dilution than for adults, such as 7-10 drops to 2 tablespoons/30-ml carrier oil. You can always add more essential oil once you are comfortable with application. Less dilution is needed as children mature.

The skin and organs of a newborn are very juvenile, and it seems best to use these potent essential oils with the greatest dilution possible to achieve the desired results (or not at all under the age of 2). With this as the basis of usage, consider the need and follow what you feel suits essential oils can be used with less dilution without any harm. Always test your application on yourself first and then a very small area on your baby to be sure their skin will tolerate it. When applying the diluted blend on babies and small children, apply to the feet, lower legs and back to reduce the risk of the oil getting into the mouth or eyes. Worst case, it will be briefly unpleasant, but certainly worth avoiding if possible. NEVER ALLOW A SMALL CHILD TO INGEST ESSENTIL OILS. 

Use carrier oil, not water, to dilute any unpleasant effect. Water is not a good choice for diluting an irritating oil because it traps the oil and drives it against the eye or skin. ‘Like attracts like’.  Choose oils that are refreshing and gentle on the skin.

Once you gain personal experience using the oils, you'll learn which oils you find most helpful and how best to dilute them for your need. If you are in doubt, PLEASE USE YOUR COMMONSENSE AND CONSULT A DOCTOR OR AN EXPERIENCED AROMATHERAPIST FOR ADVICE. 

Essential oils for Bath/Shower

Choose oils that are refreshing and gentle on the skin. For example:

Lavender - relaxing

Blue Cypress – anti-inflammatory

Sandalwood - anti-bacterial

Males like Patchouli which was a popular aroma in the early 80's.

Once you are comfortable using the oils in a bath or shower, you'll discover which oils suit you best. Some people enjoy the invigorating tingle and muscle relaxing effect of using Peppermint and Sweet Orange oils as a foot bath. Explore the possibilities slowly, and you should feel the reward.

Internal Use

Compared to the vast number of essential oils available, there are relatively few that are suitable to be taken internally, and there is controversy over that list. Most Cold Pressed oils are suitable to be used in food as long as there is proof of quality. Other essential oils are very potent and Heritage Oils does not advocate for their ingestion.

Inhalation and Diffusing

The easiest and simplest way of diffusing essential oils into the air for inhalation is to use an aromatic diffuser. A cold air diffuser uses room-temperature air to blow the oil up through a nebuliser/atomiser. This creates a micro-fine mist that is dispersed into the air. The oils will then remain suspended for several hours to freshen and improve the quality of the air. The antiviral, antibacterial and antiseptic properties of the oils kill bacteria and help reduce fungus and mould. Essential oils, when diffused, have been found to reduce the amount of airborne chemicals and metallic’s. Many essential oils such as Eucalyptus or Tea Tree - Manuka are highly antibacterial and are extremely effective for eliminating and destroying airborne germs and bacteria.

Inhalation is the most efficient way to deliver essential oils to the internal system of the body as they cross into the blood stream through the lungs. The internal lining of the respiratory system is a mucous membrane, which is thinner than our external layers of skin, so inhaling essential oil has much quicker access than topical application. This rapid absorption into the blood stream has a direct effect on infection and congestion within the respiratory system and on the central nervous system. Also, inhaled oils interact with cells at the back of the nose and can stimulate a change in the areas of the brain that control nausea and vomiting as well as sleep and mood. Inhalation is the safest method of essential oil use (although those with asthma or severe allergy sensitivities may have issues to consider).

Unlike candles or aroma lamps, cold-air diffusers disperse oils without heating or burning, which can render the oil therapeutically less beneficial and possibly create toxic compounds. Some claim that burned oils may become carcinogenic. Cool, micro-mist (atomisation) is considered the best way to provide both aroma and therapeutic healing value with essential oils. It does not alter the chemical composition of the oils, while it breaks down the molecules and produces a particle size small enough for the lungs and body to absorb rapidly.

Research shows that cold air diffusing certain oils may:

• Reduce and/or eliminate bacteria, fungus, mould
• Relax the mind and body, relieve tension and clear the mind
• Improve concentration, alertness and mental clarity
• Stimulate neurotransmitters • Stimulate secretion of endorphins
• Stimulate growth hormone production and receptivity
• Digest petrochemicals on the receptor sites
• Improve the secretion of IgA antibodies that fight candida
• Improve digestive function
• Improve hormonal balance
• Relieve headaches
• Dispel odours

Diffusing typically helps eliminate allergy symptoms. Spa-type diffusers (vaporisation) combine essential oils with water and produce a mist with ultrasonic wave assisted with a fan to force the mist into the environment. This is considered by some to be a less effective way to provide therapeutic aromatherapy because the majority of the mist is water vapour which quickly drops from the air to the floor.


Frequently asked questions


I see the term “carrier oil” used in several places. What is a carrier oil, what does it do, and why should I use it?

Carrier oil is a vegetable oil such as coconut oil, olive oil, rosehip oil or jojoba oil, that can be used to dilute essential oils. Carrier oils ensure that essential oils applied topically are comfortable to the skin. Dilution with a carrier oil does not dilute the effect of the essential oil. In fact, it prevents waste due to excessive application.

What is “hot oil”?

“Hot oils” are oils that can cause a hot or warming sensation when applied to the skin. Examples of hot oil, for some people, Peppermint’s cooling sensation can be too intense. Heritage Oils recommends a skin test prior to first use. To skin test, apply 1–2 drops of essential oil to a patch of skin such as the forearm. Observe that area of skin over the course of 1–2 hours for any noticeable reaction; however, reactions occur usually within 5–10 minutes. If you experience a hot or burning sensation or develop a rash, add carrier oil to the affected area as often as needed. Lemon Myrtle is highly potent and can cause a burning sensation to the surface of the skin if used neat as a bath oil.

What if I experience skin discomfort or irritation?

If discomfort or irritation occurs, stop using the essential oil and apply a carrier oil to the affected area. If a rash occurs, this may be a sign of detoxification. Drink adequate water to encourage the release and removal of toxins in your body.  Before using the essential oil again, perform a patch test (see above under “What is “hot oil?”) and dilute with a carrier oil as needed. Be aware that some documents suggest diluting the oil with water, but water actually drives oil into the skin and eyes. Never use water in an attempt to flush the oil off of the skin, as this may increase discomfort. If essential oil gets in your eye, flush with a carrier oil as quickly as possible to alleviate any discomfort. If eye discomfort does not subside within 5 minutes, seek medical attention.

Can essential oils be applied to sensitive areas?

Avoid contacting sensitive areas such as eyes, ears, genitals with essential oils. If you choose to use the oil in any sensitive area, dilute 1 drop of the essential oil with 5–10 drops of carrier oil.

How often can essential oils be applied? How much do I use?

Follow the proper usage instructions printed on each essential oil label. Essential oils are very powerful, so start low and go slow. Excessive use of essential oils may increase the risk for adverse reactions. In most cases, 1–2 drops are adequate and using more may waste product. Depending on the essential oil, you can gradually build up to 3–4 uses per day, if desired.

Can essential oils be used during pregnancy or while nursing?

We strongly recommended that prior to using essential oils, you seek the advice and recommendation of a competent, trained health care adviser who is experienced in essential oil usage specifically if you are in the first trimester.

Can essential oils be used on children?

Many essential oils are appropriate for use on children but should be diluted with a carrier oil prior to use. Always store your essential oils out of their reach.

How does exposure to sun effect essential oil use?

Some essential oils, especially citrus oils, contain natural molecules that react with sunlight (UV light) and cause a sensitivity reaction.  Always use caution when starting to use a new oil. To reduce the risk of sensitivity, use patch testing (see above under “What is a “hot oil?”), dilute, and apply the oil to skin that will not be exposed to sun/UV light. It is safe to use a sun screen if you have applied an essential oil product to your skin. Citrus oils are not sun sensitive and can cause burning. 

What about the use of essential oils if I have a medical condition? Can essential oils interact with prescription medications?

If you have a disease or medical condition or are using a prescription medication, it is recommended that prior to using an essential oil, you consult with your Doctor.

How do I store my essential oils?

Always keep your essential oils in a cool place away from the reach of small children. Essential oils should be purchased in coloured glass preferably brown to prevent light from penetrating the oil and diluting its effect. All oils have a flash point. Whilst you will never experience it, it is best to reduce the amount of sunlight on your oil and it will have a longer life-span. All essential oils have a use-by date, many will last for more than 2 years if looked after. Citrus oils will last for around 1 year. 

What does it mean when I see an oil labelled ‘dangerous goods’ or DG?

It means that the oil must be labelled DG in transit due to its volatility. Citrus oils and Eucalyptus oil need a DG certificate but that doesn’t mean they are dangerous to use.

If an essential oil label states it has anti-bacterial properties does that mean I can use it instead of e.g. Dettol?

Manuka is one of the best natural ‘first aiders’ for cuts and wounds and a useful oil to keep in a first aid kit. The Australian Diggers had Tea Tree oil in their kits during the First World War to use as an antiseptic.

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