Distilled from curative plants and flower petals, essential oils are the new norm when it comes to self-medication. These nature-sourced extracts provide at-home solutions for migraines, premenstrual aches, sleeplessness, and more.

Suffice it to say, these oils are powerful. So powerful, in fact, many of us underestimate the impact they can have on our health—whether positive or negative. So, in order to help you make the most out of your oils, while also staying on the safe side, we put together this quick guide. Below, find a list of 5 common mistakes people make when using essential oils, and exactly how you can avoid them.

MISTAKE #1: FORGETTING TO PATCH TEST

Much like skincare products, essential oils can have different effects on different people. In other words, what one person swears by may backfire on another, which is why first-timers should always exercise caution.

THE FIX: Perform a patch test for any essential oil you plan to use. Dot a small amount of oil over a patch of skin, such as your wrist or the inside of your elbow. For an hour or two, observe the area for any irritation or burning sensations. Should you have a bad reaction, avoid using the oil altogether.

MISTAKE #2: USING OILS UNDILUTED

A single essential oil is made with pounds of pure plant extract—a clear indication of its potent strength. When used directly from the bottle without the slightest amount of dilution, some oils may irritate or sting the skin.

THE FIX: Use a carrier oil such as coconut oil, olive oil, or grapeseed oil. A carrier oil acts as a vessel for the essential oil, enveloping it in a milder substance to ensure it’s gentle enough for the skin. And not to worry, this won’t affect the oil’s potency—it even helps prevent wastage and overuse.

TRY: Virgin Coconut Oil (250ml), on sale for P185 (limited time only), Skin Revolution Olive + Jojoba Beauty Oil, on sale for P350 (limited time only), Cold-Pressed Grapeseed Oil, P650

MISTAKE #3: APPLYING PHOTOSENSITIVE OILS IN THE DAY

Certain oils, especially citrus oils, increase photosensitivity, or the sensitivity to UV rays from the sun and other light sources. This means, at worst, essential oils can affect you the same way an intense sunburn would. Think: welts, blisters, and lobster-red skin. Ouch!

THE FIX: To reduce the risk of photosensitivity, avoid using UV-reactive oils in the daytime. At the very least, use them only on areas that will not be directly exposed to the sun, like your back or belly. If you want to know which particular essential oils are photo-sensitive, click here for a comprehensive list.

MISTAKE #4: DISREGARDING YOUR SKIN TYPE

While they are incredibly appealing for their straight-from-the-source simplicity, essential oils can be extremely potent. This is precisely why those with sensitive skin types should avoid using them topically.

THE FIX: Instead of essential oils, opt for emollient oils with pared-down ingredients and hydrating properties, like squalane and glycerin. These are infinitely more suited to hyperactive skin, and provide the same benefits as popular essential oils.

TRY: Pure Bliss 100% Pure Squalane Oil (40ml), P1,000, Bare Body Essentials Pure Premium Glycerin, P270

MISTAKE #5: NEGLECTING THE USE OF DIFFUSERS

Many people believe that to get the most out of essential oils, you must apply them topically. But once again, this will be difficult for sensitive-skinned folks. Luckily, you don’t have to coat yourself in oils to enjoy their healing properties—there are other ways to reap their benefits.

THE FIX: Using a diffuser can give you the full effects of essential oils without having to apply them on your skin. Just set the diffuser in a place you spend most of your time so you can breathe in the benefits all day. This trick will make your space smell good, too!

TRY: Pure Bliss Ultrasonic Aroma Diffuser, P1,999

So, are you guilty of any of these mistakes? Sound off in the comments section!

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