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Recipes For Health And Beauty Using Essential Oils

by Nicola Jenkins.(more info)

listed in aromatherapy, originally published in issue 84 - January 2003


This feature shows you how to make a wide selection of stimulating and soothing products for cleansing, toning and moisturising, as well as wonderful natural oils and bubble baths to complete your aromatherapy routine. The recipes should not take more than ten minutes to produce, and will be ready for immediate use. I have included some of my favourite recipes, and I have described them so that you are able to imagine their aroma before you blend them.

Picture of essential oils


Glass Jars and Bottles

Various shapes and sizes are needed for your blends. Glass is better than plastic, as it can be sterilised at a high temperature after use, and you can therefore recycle any beautiful bottles you find. Amber glass jars and bottles are usually available from your local chemist.

Plastic Bottles

Plastic bottles of various shapes and sizes are best for blends that will be placed near the bath or shower. Containers with flip-top caps, pump actions or sprays are suitable. Be careful about recycling them however, as plastic can retain traces of essential oils. Do not use plastic bottles which have contained medication.

Glass Mixing Bowl and Glass Rod

A glass mixing bowl or jug and a glass rod are best for blending, as they can be cleaned properly after use. If you don't have a glass rod, a metal spoon can be used instead.

Unperfumed, Lanolin-Free Bubble Baths, Shower Gels, Shampoos, Conditioners, Moisturisers and Cleansers

Various such products are now available. They often have labels indicating they can be used on infants, or on sensitive or damaged skin. You should avoid perfume-based products. Lanolin, a waxy product found on sheep's wool, also causes some sensitivity in those who are allergic to wool, or have very sensitive skin, so is best avoided.

Grapeseed Oil

This good, all-purpose carrier oil is ideal as a base for massage blends or bath oils. It has a light, non-greasy texture, so it will not feel sticky.

Avocado Oil

This carrier oil is heavier than Jojoba and is therefore appropriate for a drier, more mature skin. It is useful for anti-ageing blends.

Sweet Almond Oil

A good all-round carrier oil which is also useful for massage blends.

Calendula Oil

This light oil is not as greasy as Sweet Almond oil. It is wonderful for treating scar tissue and reducing the size and appearance of stretch marks, and can help to heal skin marked by severe acne. If you find that it doesn't moisturise your skin as much as you would like, blend it with equal portions of Jojoba or Grapeseed oil.

Jojoba Oil

Jojoba is technically a wax, bought in liquid form. It is an enriching carrier oil and a wonderful base for face products – either as a face oil itself, or used sparingly to enhance a moisturiser.

Flower Waters

These are a by-product of the distillation of essential oils and they smell slightly of their floral origins. Gently astringent, they can be used on their own as effective toners. Rose Water smells pleasant and is available from most pharmacies. Orange Flower water (Neroli) also has a pleasant smell. Both are useful bases for perfumes. Lavender water is an acquired taste and might be best left alone.

Surgical Spirit/Alcohol

Surgical spirit or alcohol can be used to fix perfumes. If you are using alcohol, vodka is the most appropriate as it has no scent of its own.

Measuring Cups, Jugs or Spoons

These are used to measure liquid base products. A glass measuring jug would be appropriate, although a plastic one is fine, as long as the essential oils are not placed in it.

Metal Spoon

For blending when you don't have access to a glass rod. This is easier to clean than plastic or wood.

Essential Oils

See recipes.


Shampoos, face oils, cleansers and toners, shower gels, bubble baths, moisturisers and massage oils can be made quickly and easily. Use an unperfumed base that relates to the item you want to make. I am making a shampoo here, and have chosen an unperfumed, lanolin-free shampoo base.

The amount of essential oils added depends on the quantity of base product used. As a guide, for a total of 20ml (0.6fl oz) of liquid base product, use 8 drops of essential oils. Use 20 drops for every 50g (1.8oz) of cream base.

You can use just one essential oil, or choose several. Here, I use a total of 100ml (3.2fl oz) of shampoo base and 40 drops from a selection of three essential oils.

Perfumes are made in the same way, substituting flower water and surgical spirit or alcohol in place of the base product. To make perfumes, use surgical spirit or alcohol at Step 1 and the flower water at Step 4. You will notice that you use fewer drops of essential oil for perfumes; this is because the essential oils don't mix as well with water and alcohol as they do with carrier oils. At these lower levels, you are unlikely to get an adverse skin reaction.

Storing Finished Products

Your finished products have a shelf life of around one month to six weeks. This can be extended by an extra two weeks if the products are stored in a cool location, such as a fridge. Although the perfume should remain beyond this period, the blends are unlikely to be fully effective in therapeutic terms.


Cleansers and Toners

Cleansers and toners can enhance the effects of aromatherapy face oils and moisturisers, and speed up the healing rate, when used in your daily routine. Use an unperfumed cleanser as a base.

Cleansers remove trapped dirt, cleanse the skin and calm and soothe any inflamed areas. They are particularly effective when used with essential oils which have strong antiseptic qualities, such as Lavender, Bergamot, Geranium and Grapefruit. Anti-inflammatories such as Yarrow and Chamomile are excellent, as are oils such as Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Frankincense, Patchouli, Benzoin, Rosewood and Rose, which all help to heal skin conditions.

The above oils are excellent too when used in toner recipes, although the more astringent ones are better for particularly oily skin – Lemon, Peppermint, Rosemary and Lemongrass. These can be blended in unscented toners or, for the best results, use flower waters such as Orange Blossom or Rose Water. Rose Water blended with Witch Hazel is a good base for an oily skin. The Witch Hazel gives the Rose Water a more astringent and antiseptic quality. Plain Rose Water is more appropriate for anyone with dry or sensitive skin.

Citrus Cleanser

A woody, citrus-like, mildly astringent blend which is excellent for combination skin – it will help to balance out patches of dry and oily skin.

Grapefruit 4 drops
Geranium 2 drops
Cedarwood 3 drops
50g (1.8oz) cleanser

Forest Toner

A soothing blend which cools and calms the skin. It can also help to reduce the inflammation and infection associated with acne.

Bergamot 7 drops
Sandalwood 5 drops
Lavender 3 drops
40ml (1.3fl oz) Rose Water or unscented toner

Cheer Up Cleanser

This is a delicate blend which raises the spirits and improves circulation. Rosewood and Grapefruit are both mild astringents and together with Palmarosa they will improve the colour and texture of the skin.

Palmarosa 3 drops
Rosewood 4 drops
Grapefruit 3 drops
50g (1.8oz) cleanser


Moisturisers are one of the easiest cosmetics to enhance with essential oils. There is a large range of lanolin-free, fragrance-free, hypoallergenic products available. A moisturiser's job is to soothe dry skin, reduce fine lines and provide a little additional help at weatherproofing. You can enhance the effects of your moisturiser, not only with essential oils, but also by adding a little Jojoba oil – 5ml (0.2fl oz) for every 50g (1.8oz) of moisturiser – or an Evening Primrose oil capsule to the blend.

Don't forget, you can adapt these recipes to use them with a liquid base – a bubble bath, shampoo or shower gel. Simply increase the liquid base to 60ml (1.8fl oz) and use the same recipe given here.

After Gardening

This aromatic herbaceous moisturiser brings the garden into the home, reminding us of how plants can be beneficial in a variety of ways. Lavender has antiseptic properties and will soothe cuts, grazes, insect bites or stings. Lemon is a mild astringent and Marjoram is wonderful for aching muscles and joints.

Lavender 3 drops
Lemon 2 drops
Marjoram 3 drops
50g (1.8oz) moisturiser

The Orange Tree

A light blend which smells like a citrus grove – the blossom and fruit of the orange tree, plus a hint of wood. An excellent remedy for dry skin, for those experiencing anxiety or for anyone unable to fully express their emotions.

Orange 6 drops
Neroli 4 drops
Sandalwood 10 drops
50g (1.8oz) moisturiser


This soothes burnt skin and is extremely useful when used as an after-sun cream. It can also reduce uncomfortable, dry, scaly eczema patches. As an added bonus, it seems to keep mosquitoes at bay too!

Yarrow 4 drops
Lavender 8 drops
Cedarwood 4 drops
Bergamot 3 drops
50 g (1.8oz) moisturiser

Sleepy Time

As well as being a great moisturiser for cracked skin, this is an effective remedy for those experiencing constipation, insomnia or nightmares. A favourite blend with children, the vanilla-like smell of Benzoin, and the fruity orange aroma, make this a familiar and comfortable fragrance. These oils can also be used in a bubble bath.

Orange 9 drops
Benzoin 6 drops
Roman Chamomile 5 drops
50g (1.8oz) moisturiser

Aching Joints

This is an excellent moisturiser for anyone who has aching joints. It offers a little pain relief, and it will warm the hands and soothe the skin. Add a capsule of Evening Primrose oil to the blend and you will have a lovely rich moisturiser which should improve the condition of your hands.

Roman Chamomile 4 drops
Yarrow 4 drops
Lavender 6 drops
Rose 2 drops
50g (1.8oz) moisturiser

Face Oils

A certain amount of oil is needed in our skin to keep it waterproof, weatherproof and generally in good condition. A face oil can help. Sparingly applied, the right blend can balance adolescent skin – clearing it and leaving it supple and reasonably unblemished.

Jojoba oil helps to maintain more mature skin, and can reduce fine lines. Jojoba oil is also particularly effective for blemished or combination skin. Its chemical structure is similar to that of sebum, the skin's naturally occurring oil. Sebum dissolves in Jojoba, so by applying it you can help to loosen any dirt trapped in the pores.

Avocado oil is absorbed into drier, finer skin quickly. Its richer, heavier structure means that it is also extremely good as a moisturiser and it is an excellent base under make-up. However, I recommend that you wait at least fifteen minutes after moisturising before applying any make-up.

Where the skin is scarred – from chicken pox, acne, cuts or more severe wounds – try using Calendula oil as a carrier. In many cases, it can significantly reduce the appearance of scar tissue, softening and encouraging the skin's normal growth.


This blend is wonderful for adolescent skin which is affected by hormonal changes, and it is popular with teenage males. It smells clean and musky, like a gentle cologne, and makes a nice change from the antiseptic smell of medicinal products.

Lavender 5 drops
Lemon 3 drops
Sandalwood 2 drops
25ml (0.8fl oz) Jojoba oil


I sometimes think of this as nature's bottle of correction fluid – it really does help to soothe and soften scar tissue. It also heals cracked and dry skin, leaving it supple and unblemished.

Benzoin 3 drops
Frankincense 2 drops
Sandalwood 2 drops
Rose 1 drop
20ml (0.6fl oz) Calendula oil


A wonderful blend for itching skin and dry eczema or dermatitis, this also doubles as a great after-sun blend if used in a moisturiser. It helps to heal the skin, keeps it moist and stops it itching.

German Chamomile 2 drops
Lavender 4 drops
Cedarwood 3 drops
25ml (0.8fl oz) Grapeseed oil or unperfumed moisturiser


This delicate blend is excellent for dry and wrinkled skin, leaving it moist and younger looking. It also smells heavenly – like a flower garden at night, inducing relaxation and sleep if used at bedtime.

Frankincense 4 drops
Rose 2 drops
Neroli 2 drops
20ml (0.6fl oz) Avocado oil


Essential oils can be extremely beneficial when used on the scalp and hair. Different blends can improve blood circulation, make hair shinier, ease dandruff or help combat head lice – and the fragrance will linger in your hair and in the bathroom.

To give your hair the equivalent of a spa holiday, make up the same blend in a carrier oil such as Grapeseed, to make a deep-conditioning treatment. Apply this to your dry hair, wrap it in plastic or in a plastic shower cap, then wrap a towel around your head and leave it for an hour. After an hour, add enough shampoo to the hair to raise a mild lather, then add water and shampoo as normal. This will add extra shine to your hair.

Don't forget, you can also blend essential oils in conditioners, to complete the healthy hair picture. Either stick to the same oils and recipes as for shampoos, or adapt them a bit.


An energising blend which improves blood circulation to the scalp, leaving you awake and refreshed. Improving circulation has been known to slow down hair loss.

Grapefruit 3 drops
Peppermint 3 drops
Lavender 2 drops
20ml (0.6fl oz) shampoo


This is quite a strong blend which can help improve blood circulation to the scalp. It can also be used to combat dandruff and dry, flaky skin. Those prone to dandruff may find that using a capful of vinegar in the after-shampoo rinse water will improve the condition of their scalp.

Bergamot 5 drops
Rosemary 2 drops
Lavender 3 drops
25ml (0.8fl oz) shampoo


This shampoo is a treat for anyone with fine, fragile hair, as the oils have cytophylactic properties (they encourage healthy cell growth). For the best results, before shampooing make up the same blend in a carrier oil such as Grapeseed. Apply a deep-conditioning treatment as described above, then shampoo using this recipe. This will condition your hair and add extra shine.

Sandalwood 2 drops
Frankincense 2 drops
Bergamot 2 drops
Lavender 2 drops
20ml (0.6fl oz) shampoo

Bubble Baths

When things get on top of you, there is nothing quite like a good soak in a hot tub with a good book or some soft music – up to your neck in bubbles. It is relaxing, soothing and uplifting, especially if the bath is perfumed with scented oils, specially chosen for their restorative properties. The following recipes will add a little something to your pleasure, and leave you feeling calm, refreshed and ready to conquer the world.

The recipes here focus on some of the more exotic essential oils, mainly because I am bored with all the commercial bubble baths containing Lavender, Geranium and Ylang Ylang.

If you want a more zesty, energising blend, try creating your own recipe. Start with three essential oils that make you feel refreshed and lively (for a 'morning' type of scent, make one of them a citrus oil – but check that you are not sensitive to these first.) Check the maximum doses for the oils then blend accordingly. Try adding your essential oils one drop at a time (one drop of oil A, followed by one of B, and so on), mixing well and then smelling the blend before you add more. This will take longer, but it gives you a clear idea of how just one drop can make a huge difference to how you feel about your creation.

Water Sprite

A tropical blend which should get you going on those cold, grey winter mornings. Lemongrass is great for muscular aches and pains, Coriander will give your immune system a boost and Jasmine regulates hormonal imbalances. This bubble bath smells gorgeous and it can also be used as a perfume. Reduce the dosage of Lemongrass and Jasmine if you have a sensitive skin, as they can sometimes cause an uncomfortable reaction.

Lemongrass 3 drops
Jasmine 2 drops
Coriander 3 drops
20ml (0.6fl oz) bubble bath

Miracle Worker

When you need to create miracles tomorrow, but can't quite face up to them today, try this blend. Frankincense helps you to breathe calmly and deeply, Ginger settles the butterflies in your stomach and Neroli lifts your spirits and combats shock. The result – a clear head and calm mind.

Frankincense 4 drops
Ginger 2 drops
Neroli 2 drops
20ml (0.6fl oz) bubble bath


Try this one in the evening – the ingredients will help you sleep. Marjoram and Yarrow are both excellent for muscular aches and pains, especially after heavy exercise. Geranium is uplifting and can promise pleasant dreams. All are good for the skin, especially if it is dry.

Marjoram 3 drops
Yarrow 3 drops
Geranium 2 drops
20ml (0.6fl oz) bubble bath


Not quite a minimalist blend, but the effects leave you completely calm, with a clutter-free mind and a beatific smile on your face. It's good for muscular aches and pains, sinusitis, minor chest complaints and for when your immune system needs a bit of a boost. Also excellent for keeping mosquitoes at bay.

Coriander 3 drops
Patchouli 2 drops
Vetiver 2 drops
Palmarosa 3 drops
30ml (1fl oz) bubble bath

Massage Oils

Massage is one of the main ways of experiencing the benefits that essential oils offer, and you do not have to be a professional Aromatherapist to use them in this way. Any of the carrier oils can be used; I would suggest Grapeseed oil as it is relatively inexpensive and easy to obtain. Massage oils can also be used as intensive moisturisers for your skin, either by adding a spoonful of a blend to your bath or by applying the oil after bathing. Macadamia Nut oil is one of the more expensive carrier oils but it soaks into the skin relatively quickly and does not leave any residue. If you would like a high quality carrier oil that is not as expensive, Sweet Almond oil is a good alternative.

If your skin is very dry, try enriching your chosen carrier by adding 5ml (1 teaspoon) of Jojoba or Avocado oil to the recipe. This will give the final blend a silkier texture, and your skin will feel much softer.

Calendula can be a useful carrier oil if you are trying to reduce the effects of scar tissue or stretch marks. Some people find that it is absorbed extremely quickly into the skin, so if you have dry or combination skin, try blending it with Jojoba oil.

Anti-Stretch Marks

Try this blend to help remove stretch marks after giving birth. During pregnancy, plain Calendula oil can help prevent them.

Roman Chamomile 1 drop
Frankincense 2 drops
Lavender 1 drop
20ml (0.6fl oz) Calendula oil

Muscle Soother

If you have a stiff neck or tense shoulders, this blend will help to ease muscle spasm. It is warming and soothing, reducing any inflammation – and it will help to relieve pain.

German Chamomile 1 drop
Rosemary 2 drops
Lavender 2 drops
Marjoram 3 drops
20ml (0.6fl oz) Grapeseed oil

Poor Circulation

If you have poor circulation, this blend will warm your hands and feet – whatever the weather. Rosemary can also be used to improve circulation. Try using it in this blend instead of Vetiver.

Vetiver 2 drops
Ginger 3 drops
Grapefruit 3 drops
20ml (0.6fl oz) Grapeseed oil


This smoky, citrus-like blend is popular if you are having problems sleeping, either through overwork, aching muscles or stress. Gently relaxing and comforting, it will have you snoozing in no time.

Vetiver 3 drops
Lavender 4 drops
Orange 4 drops
30ml (1fl oz) Grapeseed oil

Breathe Easy

Here is a wonderful oil which will help respiration if are suffering from a chest infection, hay fever or asthma. It will also help to ease aches and pains associated with winter colds and flu, clearing catarrh and encouraging you to breathe more easily.

Cedarwood 3 drops
Frankincense 3 drops
Benzoin 2 drops
20ml (0.6fl oz) Grapeseed oil

Clearing Cobwebs

Clear the cobwebs away from your mind and body with this energising blend, which is excellent when you want to make decisions or if you need to motivate yourself. Lemongrass and Ginger are both excellent for muscular aches and pains, and together with Geranium, they help ease digestive difficulties. The overall effect is gently warming and tropical.

Ginger 3 drops
Lemongrass 2 drops
Geranium 3 drops
20ml (0.6fl oz) Grapeseed oil

Edited extract from The Aromatherapy Kitchen by Nicola Jenkins. Search Press. ISBN 085532888-6. 2001.

You will need Base liquid or cream or Surgical spirit/Alcohol and Flower water Glass bowl Measuring jug Essential oil(s) Glass rod Sterilised bottle

1. Check the receipe and measure out the base product. Pour half the quantity into a glass bowl. For perfume, pour all the alcohol into the bowl

1. Check the receipe and measure out the base product. Pour half the quantity into a glass bowl. For perfume, pour all the alcohol into the bowl


2. Carefully add 8 drops of essential oil(s) for every 20ml (0.6fl oz) of base liquid, or 20 drops for every 50g (1.8oz) of base cream

2. Carefully add 8 drops of essential oil(s) for every 20ml (0.6fl oz) of base liquid, or 20 drops for every 50g (1.8oz) of base cream


3. Mix well using a glass rod or metal spoon, for 30 seconds or until all the oils are thoroughly mixed in to the base product

3. Mix well using a glass rod or metal spoon, for 30 seconds or until all the oils are thoroughly mixed in to the base product


4. Pour in the other half of the base product. Mix well, until the oils are thoroughly mixed in. For perfumes, add the flower water at this stage

4. Pour in the other half of the base product. Mix well, until the oils are thoroughly mixed in. For perfumes, add the flower water at this stage


5. Decant the mixture into a container. Store in a cool place. For perfumes, leave the blend to settle for a couple of days. Always shake well before use

5. Decant the mixture into a container. Store in a cool place. For perfumes, leave the blend to settle for a couple of days. Always shake well before use


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About Nicola Jenkins.

Nicola Jenkins started training as an Aromatherapist while working for a large educational publishing company. Although she never intended for it to be more than a hobby, she later traded in her publishing career to work as a therapist. She is now teaching Aromatherapy and Massage in London and practising Aromatherapy and Reflexology.

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