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Training as an Essential Oil Practitioner

by Carole Preen(more info)

listed in aromatherapy, originally published in issue 280 - August 2022

I have taught Aromatherapy diplomas since 1996 and have always loved sharing my passion for this amazing therapy but in 2015, after receiving many phone calls from people who wanted to study aromatherapy but who were not interested in giving massage treatments, I realised that we needed an Essential Oil Practitioner’s Diploma as well. I was the first person in the UK to set this up (to my knowledge) and as I have been involved in writing the national core curriculum for aromatherapy via the Aromatherapy Council, and have taught aromatherapy for so many years as well as writing aromatherapy qualifications for awarding organisations, it was easy for me to write an essential oil theory course and strip out all of the massage elements.


Carole Preen with Graduating Students

Carole Preen with Graduating Students

Aromatherapy is so much more than just administering massage and in fact is just one of many methods of administration. Therefore, in the essential oil practitioner’s diploma, our students are taught and encouraged to use a wide range of methods, such as making up bespoke creams, lotions and gels, lip balms, sniff sticks, roller balls, vaporisation, compresses, diffusion, bath blends to name but a few. As a result, once qualified, as essential oil practitioner can do everything an aromatherapist would do except deliver an aromatherapy massage. The most important thing is that in order to make up a product for an individual’s health needs, we have to take a full consultation first. Essential oils are not licensed medicinal products but rather come under both the general and Cosmetics Products Safety Regulations. As such, a therapist is not allowed to make any medical claims on the blends without first taking a full consultation.

This used to fall under S12(1) of the Medicines Act in 1968 but this was superseded in 2012 by regulation 3 of the Human Medicines Regulations, and it talks about “herbal medicine products” and essential oils fall into this category although in a Herbal Medicine qualification, essential oils are only taught at a basic level. My essential oil diploma is actually an ideal CPD course for herbal medicine practitioners as well. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) regulates herbal medicines in the UK and advises that those herbal medicines prepared in a one-to-one consultation are still exempt from the directive:

“Medicines prepared by practitioners themselves for patients in accordance with the exemption described in Regulation 3 of The Human Medicines Regulations 2012 (formally Section 12(1) of the Medicines Act 1968), are largely unaffected by the Directive”.

Therefore, despite the previous concerns about losing S12(1) and how this would affect aromatherapist (and now essential oil practitioners) in the UK, we do seem to be able to carry on as before.

The essential oil practitioner’s course is also ideal if you are thinking about setting up a brand of products containing essential oil and is not only gives you the competency and knowledge to blend correctly, but also gives you the advice you need on the legal requirements to do this correctly. As stated before, it is very important that you do not make any medicinal claims on your products, unless they are licensed (which is very costly!) For example, you might make up a blend to help insomnia, but you cannot state that on the label unless you are making it up for a specific client following a face-to-face consultation. Instead, for general public sale you could say that the blend may help you relax and get a good night’s sleep. These days, a face-to-face consultation can be done online via video call as well as in person. The only obstacle with online consultations is that it is more difficult to do patch testing and I always prefer to be able to make up the blends for my clients for them to take home with them. However, during the Covid-19 pandemic it was great being able to continue to work and support clients by doing consultations online and posting out or delivering their remedies.

When you are making aromatherapy/essential oil products on your premises this practice may be subject to notification under the Cosmetic Regulations or licensing by your local authority who should be contacted for details. Although there is no single piece of legislation that applies to the manufacture and sale of essential oils and aromatherapy products containing them there are several pieces of consumer protection legislation that might apply to these products. These include the General Products Safety Regulations and the Cosmetic Products Safety Regulations as mentioned earlier. The specific regulations that apply to essential oils and aromatherapy products will depend on the type of product and can be difficult to identify. You will also need to get your products assessed and notified on the UK Cosmetics Portal or you can face prosecution by Trading Standards. A Cosmetic Product Safety Report (CPSR) prepared by a recognized toxicologist is a minimum requirement and it is illegal to sell you products without going through this process and have your essential oil products CPSR checked. Also, you will not be able to obtain product liability insurance unless the products have been CPSR checked. As a therapist we would not practise without insurance and if you want to supply essential oil products to the general public, you should not do so without insurance as if someone reacts to a product and you are not legally compliant, the costs can be enormous.

As an aromatherapist and expert in essential oils, I am constantly being asked by email or social media to recommend oils for people. We always have to explain that we cannot give advice for medical conditions without doing the full consultation first. Everyone is different and we have to determine a blend based on a person’s medical history, what medications they are on (as some essential oils may interact with prescribed medication), about women’s health (as some oils will interfere with hormones) and their lifestyle so that we can safely create the perfect blend for their individual’s needs. A consultation is therefore quite long for a first meeting with a therapist but absolutely essential for efficacy, client safety and professionalism. We will then make up the product with clear instructions on how it should be used and give aftercare advice. We will label the product with the client’s name, what it is for and include the botanical names of the oils used and dilution ratio. Just like prescribed medications, essential oil blends are created for that individual and should not be shared with anyone else. The label will also need to have the therapists name and contact details in case there are any problems. We record all of the information on the selection of essential oils and why and the dilution ratio selected and why on the client’s records. These consultation forms are actually admissible as evidence in a Court of Law should there ever be a case.


Carole leading Kew Garden Tour

Carole Leading Students on Kew Gardens Aromatic Tour


One of the other advantages of writing the essential oil diploma and stripping out all of the massage elements was the ability to deliver it online. An aromatherapy diploma has to have a minimum of 90 hours in class under direct supervision of a tutor and this is quite right as you need to develop and hone your skills in massage techniques; something that simply cannot be done satisfactorily online through watching a video. Students are taught not to follow a routine but to work to the needs of the individual client and adapt as required. They will need to undertake an in-depth diploma in anatomy and physiology alongside their aromatherapy studies. The essential oil diploma also requires the anatomy and physiology and we also include pathology. Although all online, you have access to your tutor by email, phone, social media or pre-arranged Skype call. We also offer in-class additional blending workshops and an Aromatic Tour of Kew Gardens every June and we are now adding in monthly zoom meetings for everyone to meet each other and ask questions. So, if you need additional support, it is there for you. We also mark all of your coursework and case studies and give copious amounts of developmental feedback, often sharing our own experiences as experienced therapists. Other online courses do not offer such support and are quite basic as many of my past students will testify. They may have done a cheap online course elsewhere and then are blown away by the depth of studies we offer! We also offer it all in modules and pay as you go to make it more affordable.

Many prospective students will state that they are not interested in studying anatomy and physiology and just want to study essential oils and do I have a course for that. The answer is simple, you cannot study one without the other if you want to set up in practice. They go hand in hand and without understanding the body and the way in which it should function, we cannot administer or prescribe essential oil therapy effectively. It all becomes completely fascinating. After all, aromatherapists and essential oil therapist are complementary therapists who work alongside other healthcare professionals – we are health professionals too.

As well as the essential oil diploma, I do have an introductory course in essential oils if you would like to try that out first. I have also developed lots of in-depth CPD courses in essential oils and these are all available on our website. You can do certain modules that will lead up to a level 5 upgrade in aromatherapy for existing aromatherapists who wish to upgrade their skills and the modules include working in various fields of medicine as well as advanced essential oil chemistry and the psychology of essential oils and how they interact with our energy systems. As you can tell, I am totally passionate about essential oils and if you would like to work with me, I will be delighted to share my passion with you during your studies.

Further Information

For full details on all courses offered please visit where you will also find my email address and contact number.


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About Carole Preen

Carole Preen FCHP FANM HonMIFA is a Fellow of the Association of Natural Medicine and the former Aromatherapy & Allied Practitioners' Association and has been a practitioner since 1994 and an educator since 1997. She is also an honorary lifetime member of the International Federation of Aromatherapists awarded for her contribution to the profession. As well as specializing in Aromatherapy and Anatomy, Carole also introduced Neuroskeletal Re-alignment Therapy to the UK. Carole is an specialist educator, and internal and external moderator working in both the private and FE sector and has level 4 qualifications in quality assurance. She is Director of Complementary Health Professionals and may be contacted on Tel: 0333 577 3340;
For further information about Neuroskeletal Re-alignment Therapy (NSRT) please view the website at with links to published articles and a Facebook page. The diploma course is accredited by Complementary Health Professionals through Natural Therapeutics. Training details and information on booking a treatment with me is available via Mob: 07455 195 515

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