A Comprehensive Essential Oil Guide

A detailed guide that includes information on all the popular oils, active ingredients, properties, skin type, potency, perfume scents and more. Over the years I’ve gone on to add many important reference guides, naturally expanding this work.

Step 5: Add the essential oil

Many of the DIY crafts found here at SavvyHomemade are calling for one of these oils as an ingredient.

So in this article, I originally thought it would be nice to create an essential oil guide to help shed some light on their properties, pairings, substitutes, and uses.

Over the years I’ve gone on to add many important reference guides, naturally expanding the work into a comprehensive essential oil guide that contains a lot of information. I’ve also created a comprehensive essential oil use chart with more details on over 40 of the best oils with links to buy. And all of these oils can be found easily via my Ingredients store on Amazon.

So please take your time and bookmark this for future reference.

Essential Guide eBook

If you prefer you can read the flipbook below. And if you join SavvyHomemade this is one of Five eBooks you get to get to download and keep!

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Add the essential oil

Alright, so you’ve been hearing good things about essential oils and their uses, but you’re not quite sure which oils will get you the most bang for your buck.

Well, the good news is, it’s pretty hard to go wrong with essential oils. They are basically little drops of liquid gold for the body and mind.

They’re extracted from all kinds of things found in nature- flowers, plants, seeds, bark, etc.

Their healing powers and uses vary widely. They can be used to a host of homemade beauty products candles, soaps, medicines, and various face care recipes. This essential oil use chart shows how they can be used to treat everything from a light headache to a digestive issue.

Although essential oils have just recently gained popularity in the Western world, they have actually been used for thousands and thousands of years in the Eastern world.

But now that the secret’s out, it seems that the Western world just can’t get enough of them.

So much so in fact, that, when you go to your grocery store’s health aisle, you will probably find shelves littered with all sorts of varieties and brands.

A quick Google search will yield thousands of results and opinions on which are the best and where to buy oils online.

In order to save you some time and headache (although you can use essential oils to treat that), we’ve compiled a list of the most popular essential oils and their uses.

Read on to find out!

DISCLOSURE: The following information contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I’ll earn a commission, at no cost to you. Please read my full disclosure.


Fan of peppermint gum or ice cream?

Well, the love for mint doesn’t have to stop there. Peppermint is one of the most popular, widely known essential oils due to its impressive list of health benefits.

Other than making your breath smell good and your desserts taste better, peppermint essential oil can help with a range of physical ailments. These include stomach aches, cramps, muscle pains, headaches, and congestion.

Peppermint also has calming properties, allowing it to help ease your stress, anxiety, fatigue or anger.

And, next time you’re looking to freshen your breath, you can give some love to the air as well. Peppermint works as an air deodorizer. A great place to spray some is in the office, as it also helps with concentration.

If you’re looking for a healthy way to enjoy this essential oil, try it as a warm herbal tea.


If you’re looking to chill out, lavender essential oil is the way to go.

The calming properties of this essential oil are great for relieving anxiety, stress, insomnia and depression.

If you aren’t feeling down but still want to get in on lavender’s sweet floral smell, no worries. Lavender also contains anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Studies show it can make an excellent weapon for treating cuts, burns, insect bites, acne, stings, and earaches.

Lavender can be applied directly to the skin. Or you can apply a few small spritzes to your pillow for a good night’s sleep.

Tea Tree

Perhaps the mother of all topical oils, tea tree essential oil is actually referred to by experts as a “medicine cabinet in a bottle.”

And for a good reason. This essential oil contains antifungal, antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral properties.

There almost isn’t a topical infection or disease this oil can’t treat.

Tea tree essential oil doesn’t just quit with topical skin treatments, however. It can also be used to treat vaginal infections, body odor, chest congestion, and can even improve your oral health.

You’ll definitely want to steer clear of this oil if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding as well. It should also not be used on babies.


Okay, maybe you’re interested in using essential oils for more superficial reasons.

Definitely not a bad idea, as many popular beauty products actually contain toxic chemicals.

So, forget expensive hair products. A dab of rosemary essential oil massaged into the scalp can boost hair growth, fight premature praying, and treat dandruff.

Rosemary essential oil is also a natural facial astringent as well as a natural deodorant.

Looking to keep those pearly whites in check? Rosemary essential oil’s got you covered. Seeing as it’s a disinfectant, it works great for fighting cavities, bad breath, plaque build-up, and other dental issues.

This essential oil can also help get rid of cellulite, as it improves circulation, fade stretch marks, and combat acne.

Rosemary is great for adding an extra kick to any of your favorite savory dishes, especially any of the Italian variety.

Unfortunately, this is another oil that needs to be avoided during pregnancy. It should also be avoided by anyone suffering from hypertension or epilepsy.


If you’ve got some type of big project ahead, eucalyptus essential oil is going to become your new best friend.

This essential oil is very invigorating, helping you to improve your concentration and focus. In fact,  one place people love to spray this oil is in the car so that they stay focused on the road.

Eucalyptus essential oil is great for a whole host of other issues as well. It can muscle cramps and spasms, arthritis, bladder infections, fungal infections, sinus infections, bronchitis, and diarrhea.

This should also be your go-to essential oil if you have a runny nose, due to its insane ability to discharge mucus from your respiratory tract.

Eucalyptus essential oil is another one that comes in handy in the kitchen often. It can be added to baked goods, confectionary treats, meat products, and beverages for an awesome flavor boost.

Starting Your Organic Essential Oil Collection

essential oil

Below are links to 10 great essential oils from Plant Therapy (vis Amazon), this should help guide you when buying your very first oils. They are based upon Valerie Worwood’s recommendations in her Complete Book of Essential Oils also available here on Amazon.

Other than this you could buy a ready combined set, simply go for one of the starter collections.

About Active Ingredients & Essential Oils

There’s a whole host of different ingredients that improve the quality and appearance of our skin, hair and nails. Chief among these are carrier oils, cosmetic butters and the holy grail of active ingredients, essential oils.

But what do I mean by ‘active’ ingredient? Well, anything that can bring some kind of change to our skin, or help to clear up or improve a variety of skin ailments. Some oils hydrate, others smooth skin. Some can restore elasticity, others heal damaged skin. There are oils that even take care of a variety of bacteria, viruses and fungi.

But finding the right combination of active agents can be difficult. For example, if you were to use Rose and Lemon essential oil together, their properties are pretty much opposites. This means together they will cancel each other out, and you will see no befit at all. Boo!

You also need to keep in mind that not all essential oils are suitable for all skin types. An example of this would be using Lime essential oil on dry skin – this would probably make the situation worse.

But not to worry, because even if you love the scent of a particular essential oil, they can always be used by implementing techniques used by aromatherapists, such as diffusing or burning. You see, essential oils are as potent to the mind as they are the body. Your favorite aromas can be uplifting, stimulating or soothing.

Essential oils are wonderfully diverse, and can be used in a variety of different ways for a myriad of different reasons. Lets talk about how to choose the right essential oil for you, a friend or for a specific purpose.

Essential Oils and Skin Types

I’ve made a nice little table below that you can use to match essential oils to your skin types. It’s important to get this right, because the last thing you want to do is make a moisturising cream that will only make dry skin worse.

It may seem strange that we use oils to help something like oily skin. This goes back to how essential oils have active ingredients.

Although using ylang-ylang essential oil on oily skin may seem like we’re just adding more firewood to a fire, it will actually help to regulate the production of sebum – either boosting it or curbing it for lovely, balanced skin that is neither too dry or too oily.

This chart is by no means exhaustive, and there are many more available to buy (see below). Nevertheless, I just feel these are some of the best essential oils that will bring you fabulous results in your skin care products.

DISCLOSURE: The following information contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I’ll earn a commission, at no cost to you. Please read my full disclosure.

Rose Absolute
Patchouli Sandalwood
Ylang Ylang
Petitgrain Lemongrass
Juniper Berry
Ylang Ylang Lavender
Juniper Berry Lavender
Tea Tree
Rose Absolute
Ylang Ylang Rosewood
Rose Absolute
Sandalwood Rosewood

The Different Properties Of Essential Oils In Skincare

So the table above is great when you’re in a hurry, or looking for something that will just suit your specific skin type. However, there’s a whole host of active properties in essential oils, all doing different things.

With that in mind, I whipped up another essential oil use chart for you to use when learning how to make soap, skin care recipes for more specific issues. Perhaps you need something to fix the bags we all get under our eyes but desperately try to cover with make up. Maybe you have a spot of rosacea that you’d like to try and clear up. Lots of things are possible with essential oils!

I’ve also included how these different essential oils can have an effect on the mind. But remember, personal preference for different aromas is very important. If you hate smell of orange, you’re probably not going to find it very uplifting at all. Use your good judgment.

DISCLOSURE: The following information contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I’ll earn a commission, at no cost to you. Please read my full disclosure.

Essential OilBenefits of oil when used in skincare products
Oily skin
Great for minor wounds, cuts and scraps. Soothing for rashes Mood Boosting, antidepressant
Carrot Seed
All skin types
Softens skins & rejuvenating. Good for soothing compromised skin Stimulates the mind and warms the heart
Oily skin
Balances skin that is quite oily. Great for treating itchiness and rashes Soothes the mind, antidepressant and an aphrodisiac
Dry and sensitive skin
Perhaps the best soothing essential oil you can buy Excels at nourishing dry, itchy and otherwise compromised skin Soothes and calms the mind
Clary Sage
All skin types
Balances the sebum production in the skin Good for acne and balancing oily skin, but excellent for all skin types Relaxes the mind, an aphrodisiac
Oily skin
Exceptionally healing A wonderful decongestant for the skin and the sinuses. Anti inflammatory agent Refreshes the mind, as well as stimulating. It can also aid concentration
All skin types, but particularly mature skin
Balances oily skin, Rejuvenates mature and tired skin. Encourages the production of new cells Soothes and heals compromised skin Soothes the mind, and exceptional meditation aid
Normal and combination skin
Great for soothing burns and patches of sore skin Speeds the healing of bruises Aids blood flow Helps to balance the production (or over-production) or sebum Uplifts and balances the mind
Oily skin
Unclogs skin that has become congested Helps to remove nasty toxins from the skin Destresser and antidepressant
Juniper Berry
Oily skin
Anti-inflammatory agents Relieves congested skin Calms the mind and promotes positivity and positive thoughts
All skin types
Treats damaged and compromised skin, particularly burns Soothes itching Soothes, calms and uplifts the mind
Oily skin
Excellent astringent and antiseptic Clears out congested pour Great for clearing out oily skin Refreshes the mind, as well as an antidepressant
All skin types
Hydrates and soothes skin Great for healing compromised skin Anti-infection Calming and focusing
Combination and mature skin
Restores elasticity to skin Rejuvenating Wonderful for encouraging the growth of new skin cells Uplifting and antidepressant, also and aphrodisiac
All skin types except sensitive
Great for sucking nasty toxins out of skin Soothes patches of dry skin Promotes formation of collagen, which can make skin firmer and appear younger Promotes and cheerful mindset, as well as warming sensations
All skin types
Regenerative effect on skin cells and tire tissue Fantastic at fighting fungal infection A wonderful, all purpose ingredient for skin care products Warming and relaxing, but also sensual and an aphrodisiac
Problem skin
Heals skin and unblocks congested pours Relaxes, soothes and calms the mind, antidepressant
Rose or Rose Absolute
Mature, but also dry and sensitive skin
Rehydrating Great for reducing patches of redness and inflammation Hands down the best oil for fighting the signs of ageing Soothing and uplifting
All skin types, especially sensitive
Good for rejuvenating skin and fighting wrinkles Soothes skin Soothes the mind, as well as steadying a strong emotions
All skin types
Rehydrates skin, as well as clearing up chapped and dry skin Balancing oily skin Soothing, antidepressant
Tea Tree
Problem and oily skin
Perhaps one of the best anti-septic essential oils Fantastic at fighting fungal and bacterial infections Fights acne and minor pimples/zits Very warming for the mind and the heart
Ylang Ylang
All skin types
Balances the production of sebum, so great for acne and oily skin Wonderful antidepressant, but also an aphrodisiac

Essential Oil Potency & Measurements

Add your rose essential oil

So let’s talk real quick about how strong essential oils can be, and how we need to keep that in mind when we’re deciding how much to use and how to use them.

Essential oils are exceptionally strong! So strong in fact that if you apply them directly to the skin they can irritate or even burn you.

You’ve got to be sensible about the quantities you use. We all want perfect, smooth skin. But adding extra essential oil for ‘double action’ can be disastrous. Besides, they smell so strong and can easily become overpowering. You don’t want to smell like you’ve stuck around while your apartment is being fumigated for bugs.

When it comes to measurements, I always say don’t exceed 0.5%. This means that if you’re making an all purpose moisturiser that weighs roughly 200g, you wouldn’t want more than 1g of it to be essential oil. If you’re making something exclusively for the face, you may want even less, at around 0.25-0.3%.

Now, what about products that you plan to wash off, such as face masks and cleansers? You could probably get away with adding more, but not much more. If you have sensitive skin, don’t even think about it.

Before we get on to how to calculate a percentage, I just wanted to make a comment on ingesting essential oils. YOU SHOULD NEVER EVER EVER DO THIS. In fact, the thought of it makes me shudder. It doesn’t matter if the bottle says they’re ‘therapeutic’ or whatever crap the sales person tells you. You should only ingest an essential oil under the strict guidance of an expert in the fields of homoeopathy, human anatomy and organic chemistry (a registered/licensed medical doctor who specialises in alternative medicines). But even then, I personally just wouldn’t do it.

Math is essential for essential oils!

You might be wondering how to work out 0.5%, and I don’t blame you because I’m terrible at math as well. It’s a super easy algorithm that is totally full proof (it’s math, after all). It looks something like this: Total weight of your product in grams / 100 x 0.5 = the amount of essential oil to use. This is how you work out percentages of anything though, so it’s good to commit it to memory (for all those sales!). Let’s take the example I used above, just to make sure I’m making myself clear. 200g of body moisturiser / 100 x 0.5 = 1g

Simple, right? But if you wanna make it even more simple, just use a calculator, or even google will do it for you!

Now there might be times when you’re using very small quantities, which can make using essential oils a little tricker. If you’re making a 35g night cream, that’s 0.16g of essential oil. That’s a really small number.

You can do one of two things here. Your first option is to buy scales that can read minute measurements. This would be your standard jewelry scales. I make a lot of jewelry, and I find it’s super versatile. I definitely recommend getting one if you’re planning on making very small batches involving essential oil.

Your second option is to go by drops. Of course, this isn’t as accurate as using scales, but it’s definitely doable. 1g of essential oil is roughly 25-30 drops, so divide the percentage by 30 to give you an idea of how much to add. You should then always round DOWN, just to err on the side of caution.

So as an example, 32g night cream equates to 0.16g of essential oil at 0.5%. 0.16 divided by 30 is 4.8 drops, rounded down to 4 drops. Simple!

How Best To Store Your Essential Oils


There are some important points to consider when you come to store your essential oils for future use. Firstly, they have to be stored in a cool place, preferably dark as well. I either keep them in their original box, or use an old shoebox instead.

Your essential oils should come in dark brown or blue bottles like these from Amazon. This is because essential oils are very susceptible to UV light. If there’s no protection, they’ll quickly deteriorate and lose their potency and aroma. If yours haven’t been stored in dark bottles when you purchase them, find a different supplier immediately.

Some essential oils will come with ‘best before’ dates. It isn’t strictly necessary to use this as gospel, as often oils are perfectly fine to use beyond this date. Besides, it’s not a use by date, and we never ingest essential oils anyway.

Providing you’ve followed my handy storage tips above, essential oils can stay good for many years. Some, dare I say it, actually improve with age! Citrus oils tend to degrade the fastest, but even so, I wouldn’t throw out an open bottle for at least a year.

If the oil smells fresh, then it’s most likely totally fine to use. But if you’re unsure, just throw it out for peace of mind. If you’re anything like me, you won’t get much chance to anyway, as you’ll use every last drop within a few months.

Perfume Scents – The Piesse Scale

In the 19th century a French man named Piesse decided that scents should be referred to in scales (similar to musical notes) resulting in the whole subject becoming quite complicated.

Thankfully today the system has since been simplified and perfume scents have been divided into just three groups, top, middle and bottom notes, a good balanced perfume should include a blend of all three. Click each link to jump down to the specific oil on the essential oil use chart

Perfume Scents – The Piesse Scale

For more info on essential oils and their uses: Essential Oil Use Chart

Top Notes:
Are light and fresh smelling, they are usually the first scent that you will detect in a blended perfume, and often the most volatile.
Anise, Bergamot, Eucalyptus, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lime, Mandarin, Spearmint, Peppermint, Sweet Orange, Petitgrain.

Middle Notes:
Form the main body of the perfume. They have a lasting fragrance that becomes noticeable after the top note.
Angelica, Bay, Black Pepper, Cardamom, Chamomile, Cypress, Clary Sage, Geranium, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Neroli, Palmarosa, Pine, Rose, Rosemary.

Base Notes:
Are rich and heavy, although they are the last to detect in a perfume they linger the longest and work as a fixative to the lighter top and middle notes, helping them to retain their aroma for longer.
Benzion, Carrot Seed, Cedarwood, Frankincense, Jasmine, Myrrh, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Vanilla, Violet, Ylang Ylang.

Clearly, it’s pretty hard to go wrong with whatever essential oils you choose, as they all have some pretty awesome uses and benefits.

Often times, choosing the right essential oil comes down to personal preference in regards to taste and scent.

Also, although these essential oils are for the most part safe, it is always a good idea to check with your doctor before consuming or using them on a regular basis.

What’ are your go-to essential oils? Drop us a comment below and share with us your favorites! We can then add them to our list of essential oils and their uses.

Essential Oil Use Chart & Uses

Click each link in this list to jump to the properties of a specific oil on my essential oil use chart.

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Angela Wills

Hi, I'm Angela, and I make most of the homemade things here at Savvy Homemade. I’m fearlessly dedicated to creating tried, tested recipes & products that will work for everyone. I'm an experienced soap maker, skincare formulator, author, busy Mom of 3, and recently a Grandma! Welcome to SavvyHomemade, it's my true passion.

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Discussion (7 Comments)

  1. Hi! I’ve been looking for a formula of essential oils that has a fresh linen type of smell. I can’t seem to combine any oils the right way to get this. Have you achieved this?

    • Hi Megan,

      Unfortunately not. Achieving that kind of scent is a challenging task – one probably best left to a professional perfumer. When I blend essential oils, I try to find combinations I like, and if I really want to mimic something I will (begrudgingly) use a fragrance oil.

  2. Hi Angela,

    I tried the whipped butter instructions on the page but my refine shea butter did not stay whipped. What am I doing wrong?


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