A Beginner's Guide to Sourcing High-Quality Essential Oils for Skin and Body Care

(+A FREE Reference Guide to Download and Use When Researching and Shopping for Essential Oils)

In the realm of DIY body care, essential oils are potent, nature-derived ingredients that offer numerous benefits when formulating exquisite skincare products.

Essential oils are aromatic powerhouses that elevate your handcrafted body care products to a luxurious level. They are the soul of the plant from which they were distilled, and they hold the key to crafting personalized, natural skincare creations.

Delving into this fragrant world requires a keen understanding of purity, potency, and authenticity.

Creating handcrafted body care products that incorporate essential oils is not just about making products that contain quality or expensive ingredients, it's also about choosing the right essences that will deliver your desired results. All oils are not created equal, and there are a myriad of options available.

Here is a detailed guide that will help you make effective decisions when purchasing essential oils for your skincare concoctions.

Identifying and Decoding Your Essential Oil Needs

The benefits of using essential oils in body care are abundant. One of the greatest benefits is that there are unique properties in essential oils that meet just any need, whether the need is for a product that is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, soothing, or rejuvenating.

When it comes to choosing your preferred essential oils for handcrafted skin and body care products, several factors come into play to help decode and identify the appropriate oils needed.

Knowing your skin type is crucial when choosing essential oils for skincare, as it allows you to customize your formulations to meet your skin's specific needs.

Skin types have unique characteristics and concerns and respond differently to essential oils. Certain essential oils are better suited than others for addressing these concerns.

  • Prone to irritation and redness
  • Susceptible to sunburn or sun-related issues
  • Certain skincare products may cause stinging or tingling
  • May exhibit swelling or puffiness when exposed to irritants
  • Certain products or environmental factors may cause a burning sensation
  • Suggested essential oils: Chamomile, Lavender, Rose
  • Susceptible to enlarged and clogged pores
  • Texture may be uneven with raised bumps or rough patches
  • Prone to acne breakouts, whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples
  • Prone to redness, irritation, and inflammation during breakouts
  • Produces excessive sebum, the skin's natural oil, and appears shiny in the face's T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin area)
  • Suggested essential oils: Tea Tree, Cajeput, Clary Sage
  • Prone to flakiness and tightness
  • Appearance will look dull and lackluster
  • Discomfort in extreme cold and windy weather
  • Susceptible to fine lines, crackles, and wrinkles
  • Feels rough to the touch and may peel, leading to the shedding of the outer skin
  • Suggested essential oil: Geranium, Sandalwood, Carrot Seed
  • Pores in the cheek area may be small and refined
  • Prone to occasional breakouts, particularly in the T-zone
  • Certain areas of combination skin may be more sensitive than others
  • Skincare regimen may need adjustments based on seasonal variations and environmental factors
  • Requires balanced moisture; T-zone may be oily, whereas cheek and eye areas may require additional hydration
  • Suggested Essential Oils: Ylang Ylang, Neroli, Palmarosa

Let's cover the basics of essential oils.

  • Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of essential oils to enhance physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
  • Aromatherapy can be experienced through inhalation, massage, or topical application, allowing aromatic compounds to be absorbed into the bloodstream.
  • Essential oils are the volatile, concentrated essences extracted from plant material.
  • They are the aromatic and therapeutic lifeblood of the plant from which they were extracted.
  • Steam Distillation
  • The most common extraction method
  • Steam passes through the plant materials, causing the essential oils to evaporate.
  • The steam carrying the essential oil is then condensed back into a liquid, separating the oil from water.

  • Cold-Pressing or Expression
  • The method used primarily for citrus fruit.
  • Glands in the peel are punctured, releasing the essential oil.
  • The essential oil is then mechanically extracted and pressed out.

  • Solvent Extraction
  • This method involves using solvents like hexane to dissolve essential oils from plant material.
  • The solvent is evaporated, leaving behind the concentrated essential oil.
  • The resulting product is known as an absolute.

  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
  • Commonly used for delicate plant materials
  • CO2 is used as a solvent under high pressure and low temperature.
  • This method is considered to produce high-quality extracts, as it doesn't involve heat or harsh solvents.

  • Enfleurage
  • This traditional method is often used for extracting fragrances from delicate flowers.
  • Petals are placed on a layer of fat, and over time, the fat absorbs the essential oils.
  • The fat is then washed with alcohol to separate the essential oil.

  • Maceration (Oil Infusion)
  • Plant material is soaked in a carrier oil to extract essential oils.
  • The oil absorbs the aromatic compounds over time, creating an infused oil.

  • Hydrodistillation
  • Similar to steam distillation, but with the plant material submerged in water.
  • Steam is passed through the water, carrying the essential oils into a condensation system.

  • Fractional Distillation
  • This method is used to separate different components of essential oils based on their boiling points.
  • Fractional distillation allows for the isolation of specific aromatic compounds.

Different extraction methods preserve varying qualities of the plant. The choice of method depends on the type of plant, the part of the plant being used, and the desired end product.

  • Essential oils should be purchased 100% pure, undiluted, and unadulterated.
  • Oils labeled "Fragrance oils" and "Perfume oils" are synthetic and are not pure plant essences.
  • Look for certifications like USDA Organic or those verified by reputable aromatherapy trade organizations.

Reputable essential oil suppliers will generally provide:

  • The scientific botanical name
  • Extraction method
  • Region of origin
  • Batch-specific testing data
  • Traditional uses
  • Precautions
  • Packaging
  • Amber or cobalt blue glass bottles with tight-fitting lids.
  • Dark glass protects the oils from light exposure, preventing degradation.
  • Airtight seals prevent oxidation and maintain oil integrity.

  • Storage Requirements
  • Store essential oils in a cool, dark place.
  • Keep oils away from direct sunlight to prevent deterioration.
  • Avoid temperature fluctuations that could impact oil stability.
  • Do not store in areas prone to heat or humidity, such as bathrooms.

  • Shelf Life
  • Shelf life varies by oil type, generally ranging from one to five years or more.
  • Regularly check for changes in color, consistency, or aroma.
  • Properly stored essential oils can remain potent and effective for an extended period.
  • Discard oils that show signs of deterioration to ensure optimal therapeutic benefits.

Essential oils are potent, powerful substances and should always be diluted before use.

  • Keep essential oils away from eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Keep essential oils away from children and animals.
  • Avoid using or blending essential oils near an open flame.
  • Avoid working with essential oils while pregnant.
  • Ensure good ventilation when using essential oils, especially in confined spaces.
  • Essential oils are highly concentrated substances and should not be used undiluted on the skin.
  • Some essential oils (especially citrus oils) are photo-sensitizers and should not be worn in direct sun.
  • Be aware of potential allergies to specific essential oils. Check the oil's composition and avoid those that may trigger a reaction.
  • Don’t use essential oils internally, unless under the care of an aromatherapy professional or licensed practitioner.
  • Avoid prolonged use of the same essential oil. Rotate oils to minimize the risk of sensitization.
  • Concentration Levels
  • Adults: 2-3% essential oil to 1 ounce of carrier oil (typically 12 drops of essential oil per 1 ounce of carrier oil)
  • Children and the Elderly: 1-2% essential oil to 1 ounce of carrier oil
  • Use extra care with using essential oils on infants. Always use highly diluted concentrations and seek guidance from a qualified practitioner.

  • Carrier Oils
  • Always dilute essential oils in a carrier oil before applying it to the skin. Never apply essential oils neat or undiluted to the skin.
  • Common carrier oils for diluting essential oils are jojoba, sweet almond, coconut, and olive.

  • Sensitive Skin
  • Use a lower dilution in sensitive areas like the face, neck, underarms, and genital region.
  • Perform a patch test with a small amount of diluted essential oil to monitor for sensitivities.

Creating blends and synergies with essential oils is a creative way to incorporate their beneficial properties into your skincare routine.

It's essential to approach the blending process with care and knowledge to ensure not only a pleasing aroma but also the desired therapeutic benefits for your skin.

  • Have a purpose or intention
  • Identify the specific skincare goals you want to achieve.
  • Having a clear purpose will guide your essential oil selection.

  • Understand essential oil categories
  • Essential oils fall into different categories such as floral, citrus, woody, and herbal.
  • Understanding these categories and their properties can help you create balanced blends.

  • Balance scent notes
  • Similar to creating a musical composition, essential oil blends have notes—top, middle, and base or bottom.
  • Top notes provide an initial burst, middle notes offer body, and base notes provide depth and longevity.
  • Balance these notes to create a well-rounded and appealing fragrance.

  • Be mindful of oil concentrations
  • Essential oils vary in intensity, with some being more potent than others.
  • Be mindful of the concentration of each oil in your blend to avoid overpowering scents or causing skin irritation.
  • Start with small amounts and adjust as needed.

  • Trust your intuition and senses
  • If a blend feels and smells right to you, it's likely to be a good fit for your skincare routine.
  • Enjoy the process of creating your personalized blends and the therapeutic benefits they bring to your skincare ritual.

Navigating the landscape of sourcing and purchasing essential oils becomes paramount when using them for their therapeutic and skincare benefits.

As you learn more about sourcing essential oils, you will gain insight into price considerations, your local options, and batch-testing criteria to make informed purchasing choices.

  • Conduct thorough research on essential oil prices to understand the market price range for specific oils. Higher prices don't always guarantee better quality.
  • Assessing quality considers factors like extraction methods, plant origin, and purity. Sometimes a slightly higher price may be justified by superior quality.
  • Read customer reviews and get recommendations to strike a balance between affordability and high quality.
  • Choose reputable online suppliers with a track record of providing high-quality essential oils. Look for certifications like organic or third-party testing.
  • Check the supplier's transparency regarding sourcing and production methods. Reliable suppliers often provide detailed information on their websites.
  • Consider the shipping policies and customer reviews to ensure a smooth and reliable purchasing experience.
  • Explore local farmers' markets, specialty stores, and health food stores. Local markets may offer unique or artisanal essential oil blends and aromatherapy products.
  • Engage with sellers at local markets to gain insights into the sourcing and production processes. This direct interaction can provide valuation information.
  • Be cautious and ask questions about quality control measures even when purchasing locally. Ensure that the oils meet your standards.
  • Purchasing directly from distillers can ensure a transparent supply chain. Contact distillers and inquire about their extraction methods and sourcing practices.
  • Learn about the distillation process employed by the distiller. Understanding this process can help you assess the quality of the essential oils they produce.
  • Request information on the distiller's commitment to sustainability and ethical practices, ensuring alignment with your values.
  • Prioritize essential oils from suppliers who conduct batch testing for quality assurance. This ensures consistency and purity in each batch.
  • Familiarize yourself with the testing methods employed by your chosen supplier. Some small suppliers may use third-party testing or in-house testing by qualified professionals.
  • Verify that batch testing results are accessible to customers, either on the product packaging or the supplier's website. This transparency is a sign of a trustworthy supplier.

When considering the specific needs of your skin to identify suitable essential oils, in addition to skin type and the other areas of importance discussed, it's important to reflect on these factors as well.

  • Define the therapeutic and specific skin-related goals you want to achieve. Do you want to address blemishes, promote hydration, reduce inflammation, or combat aging?
  • Research the unique properties of essential oils, considering factors like antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, or antioxidant effects to align with your purpose.
  • Ensure your chosen essential oils complement the carrier oils suitable for your skin type and the intended purpose.
  • Perform a patch test before widespread use to check for adverse reactions and ensure your skin reacts positively to the chosen essential oil.
  • Be mindful of allergies and skin sensitivities to avoid potential irritations or reactions.
  • Adhere to recommended dilution ratios to prevent skin irritation, especially for oils with higher potency.
  • Choose essential oils that also align with your personal scent preferences. This will enhance your overall experience and make your skincare routine that much more enjoyable.
  • Select carrier oils with textures and absorption rates that cooperate with your skin type, ensuring a comfortable and non-greasy feel.
  • If your values emphasize sustainability and ethical practices, choose essential oils that support responsible manufacturing protocols.
  • Begin with a single essential oil to monitor its effects on your skin and easily identify any positive or adverse reactions.
  • Introduce new oils gradually to assess their compatibility with your skin without overwhelming it.
  • Allow a sufficient observation period before introducing additional oils to evaluate their long-term impact on your skin.
  • Referring to the previous blending tips, experiment with combining different essential oils to create personalized synergies that address multiple skin concerns.
  • Pay attention to how your skin responds over time to understand which oils work best for your unique skin type.
  • Continuously educate yourself on the properties of essential oils, staying informed about new research and developments in the field.

Want a handy guide at your fingertips to refer to when sourcing and researching essential oils?

Of course you do!

Click the link below to download this helpful resource. Keep it with your body care supplier notes. 


Online suppliers to purchase high-quality, organic essential oils:

Online resources to learn more about essential oils and aromatherapy:

Reliable books to learn more about essential oils, carrier oils, and aromatherapy:

Blend A Fragrant Life with Essential Oils Email Course

As you continue to become acquainted with the myriad of herbs, plants, and the benefits they provide, take your herbal education up a notch and learn how to essential oils to make unique, nature-based synergies that will enhance your life through fragrance!

Over the course of five days, the Blend a Fragrant Life with Essential Oils email course will teach you the fundamentals of how to choose, blend, and produce a variety of scented products for your home and body using natural, wholesome ingredients, including essential oils. 

Go here, right now, to read more about the course and to enroll.

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Medical Advice Disclaimer:

The information in this blog article has not been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration. The information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases or conditions. This article provides the reader with practical information regarding handcrafted soap making, based on basic soap-making science and ancient anecdotal practices of health and beauty. In no way should the contents of this article be regarded as medical advice. It is recommended that the reader perform a patch test before using any formula described. The author and all invested parties will not be held responsible for any allergic or adverse reactions, contraindications, or ill effects from manufacturing or using any products described in this article.

©Michelle Morgan, The Anointed Bar, LLC


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