Simple Living: Essential Oils


I have heard about essential oils for years. I've bought them for various uses, but for a long time I never really understood how I could use them beyond specific recipes. If I'm being honest here, I've continually found what is commonly shared around the internet about using essential oils seems to be, at best, generic information. General statements that, when someone feels clueless about a topic, seem helpless:

"Add them to vinegar." .......... "Use a diffuser to freshen a room."  .......... "Inhalation... topical... internal..." .......... "Put them in your bath water to help create a calming environment."

See what I mean? Generic. Which leaves me with a lot of questions: What does it actually look like to use essential oils in one's every day life? How do I know if I'm choosing the right oil? How do I know how much to use?

So first, let me tell you that this exploration into essential oils has been a fun journey. I love EOs because I know they are 100% natural, safe, and good for my body. They last a long time (thus worth the investment) and they are powerful. All great things. But, I'm not an expert. Merely a beginner. My goal today is to simply share my personal experience with essential oils.


What are essential oils?

"Essential oils are natural, aromatic compounds found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers and other parts of plants. They can be both beautifully and powerfully fragrant. They can lift your mood, calm the senses, and elicit powerful emotional responses."

Sounds a bit crunchy, no? Read on, these things work! 

My elementary definition: Essential oils are tiny little bottles full of naturally extracted oils in a variety of scents. They are extremely versatile and very good for your health. As I mentioned, they are 100% natural and can be used in endless ways. 


How do I use them?

Below are some of the most common uses of essential oils in our home.

1. Homemade Air Freshener // Diffusing

The number one way I use essential oils is as an all natural air freshener. (This also happens to be my first official essential oil habit, and my all-time favorite use of them - obviously!) Each morning I drop about 10 drops of lemon essential oil into a small pad and slide it into a small electric diffuser in my kitchen. Then I put about 5 drops of lavender essential oil into a candle diffuser in my living room. Immediately my house starts smelling so fresh! (Use use these two diffusers: Jasmine Aroma Diffuser & Scentball Diffuser and a third one which is no longer available for purchase but works similarly to this one.)

2. Preventative Health Maintenance

As soon as Sunday wakes up in the morning, I pick her up and we make our way into the kitchen for our morning routine. The first thing I do is open the kitchen cabinet and put two drops each of Frankincense and Lavender essential oils into the palm of my hand. I rub my palms together, cup them over my nose and take a deep breath. Then I wipe my palms on my forehead and on the back of my neck. And sometimes I let Sunday take a whiff. She likes to be involved. :) 

What is this doing? Why did I choose these oils for my morning routine?

  1. Frankincense "has relaxing effects on the human body including uplifting mood and heightening awareness." (Wiki)
  2. Lavender "has a calming effect with may aid in relaxation and the reduction of anxiety and stress." (Wiki

Along with eating well (superfoods, anyone?? :)), sleeping well, and being active, essential oils can be a great piece of the puzzle of helping to prevent illnesses. 

3. To ease ailments

You can't prevent every thing. When someone in our home is experiencing discomfort or illness, one of the first things I do is check out my essential oils cheat sheet. (I received this with the purchase of my Family Wellness Kit from DoTERRA). Below are a few examples of our success healing and soothing our bodies with EOs:

  • One day, Sunday ate a handful of new foods during lunch. A little while later she got extremely cranky and fussy. I noticed she seemed to be having stomach cramping fits every 5 minutes or so. She would fuss and crawl into my lap and not be able to get comfortable. Seconds later she'd sit up, hop down, and begin playing with her toys again. This happened over and over about 10 times. I went into the kitchen and diluted an EO blend (DigestZen - 2 drops) with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Then I took her into her room, laid her down, and gave her a gentle belly massage with the mixture. This created a soothing, comforting experience for her as well as the feeling of coolness on her tummy and a fresh aroma, which fought against the cramping (the scent distracted her mind from the pain). She did not have another fit after I applied the oils. (I was honestly surprised!) I re-applied the mixture before bed as well, just to be safe. I loved the experience of taking the time to nurture her with love, focused-attention, gentleness, and a holistic recipe. 
  • I suffer from migraines when my diet is not on par. Lately, I've found relief by putting 2 drops of Peppermint oil into my hands and and rubbing them together, then rubbing my temples and the back of my neck. So, so soothing. If I had only known years ago! 
  • Tommy has some dry skin patches that he's had for years on his hands. After regularly applying a mixture of 2 tablespoons of coconut oil + 4 drops of Lavender EO, the spots are almost healed. I know if he continued application for more than just one day, his hands would completely heal. But he's not as consistent as I am. :) 

4. Homemade Cleaning Recipes

For a while I thought essential oils were just aromatherapy. But they work, so I'm okay with that. And then one night I accidentally put lemon essential oil into my bath water and I learned how wrong I was. The lemon EO irritated my skin so much that I had to get out of the bath and immediately ask Tommy to rub coconut oil on my back on all the red splotches. He said "What happened to you?" I responded "I learned essential oils aren't just about the way they smell." Oops. :)

That's when I realized the powerful cleansing abilities of lemon essential oil. Yes, I had read it everywhere, but, you know. Now I add it to my homemade vinegar + orange peel cleaning solution and sometimes add a drop to my pots & pans while de-greasing them.

Plus, it smells so fresh and yummy!

5. Endless ways 

There honestly have been so many different ways I've used essential oils around our home. Here's just a few off the top of my head: 

  • Improving sleep (lavender, in diffuser)
  • Fight nausea (peppermint dabbed onto a washcloth and inhaled) 
  • Fight an upset tummy (digestzen + coconut oil, massaged onto tummy) 
  • Freshen the air in our home (in diffuser: lemon, lavender, or eucalyptus) 
  • Make homemade bath salts (epsom salts + lavender) 
  • Treating skin issues (coconut oil + lavender)
  • Increasing energy (lemon + ice water) 
  • Improving mood (frankincense, lemon, lavender)
  • Freshen the diaper pail (melaleuca [aka tea tree])  
  • Freshen foul smelling shoes (lemon + cotton ball) 
  • Decreasing appetite (slim & sassy blend, water) 

My favorite resources



So, there you have it. My very beginner-ish experience with Essential Oils. The more I learn, the more excited I get about having taken the leap into the whole world of essential oils. The uses truly are endless and they are, again, completely safe and natural! I believe in their power now after only using them for about 3 months. I hope to always have them on hand in our home! 

Liz Cook

Liz Cook is a wedding, birth, and motherhood photographer based in Central Virginia. Her intuition and creative perspective allow her to connect both professionally and personally with her subjects, and thus, her portfolio is saturated with authentic emotion. Whether she's sharing her story with fellow entrepreneurs or enjoying quality time with her husband and two daughters, Liz is both present and passionate about capturing and celebrating life. Her work has been featured by O "Oprah" Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Glitter Guide, Essence Magazine, domino, Rue Magazine, among others.