By: Kristin Bugden
Essential oils can provide several ways to help prepare for (and deal with) all the things that come along with summer – from sunburn to travel stress. With the summer season in full bloom, now is the perfect time to take a look at what oils you might already have in your home and perhaps add others to your collection that will serve you well over the next couple of months. We turned to two expert aromatherapists on their top essential oil picks for the warmer weather to help guide you further. Keep reading for their tips.
Both our experts agree that lavender is a top pick for summer. “Lavender is an all-time favorite fragrance, as well as a must-have for your summer travels and self-care,” says Irina Gubenko, founder of Fragrant Wellness and Holistic Certified Aromatherapist. “It’s extremely calming, soothing and cooling … It’s also a valuable insect repellant. If you can afford only one essential oil, make it lavender,” adds Stephanie Tourles, Certified Aromatherapist, Licensed Esthetician/Herbalist, Certified Foot and Hand Reflexologist and author of Stephanie Tourles's Essential Oils: A Beginner's Guide.
I don’t know about you, but I’m up for trying anything that’ll offer a cooling effect during those 90°F days – and peppermint can help. “A universal favorite, a quick whiff of peppermint essential oil is cooling, energizing and refreshing!” says Tourles. Gubenko adds that “peppermint delivers cooling benefits for the body and oxygenates the brain while opening up breathing passages.” During summer workouts or after being in heat for an extended amount of time, Gubenko recommends diluting one to two drops of peppermint in a carrier oil (coconut, olive oil, jojoba) and applying to the body. “Rub the mixture onto your head, neck and shoulders for a refreshing sensation, and then cup your hands over your nose and take a few deep breaths, allowing your lungs to expand,” she explains.
Tourles also notes that “peppermint’s cooling, astringent action quickly relieves hot flashes and tired legs and hot feet.” She shares with Lively a chilling spritzer suggestion involving this oil: “Combine 1 cup of unflavored (plain) witch hazel with ½ teaspoon vegetable glycerin and 30 drops of peppermint essential oil in an 8 oz. PET plastic or dark glass spritzer bottle. Shake well before each use and spray onto legs, feet or face (keeping eyes closed) several times per day to comfort and cool! Refrigerate for a more bracing effect!”
I’ve been using tea tree oil for a while now to heal blemishes and it turns out it’s great for a variety of issues. “Similar to lavender, tea tree oil does not need to be diluted, and is one of the most healing oils to use on our skin,” says Gubenko. “Often referred to as “nature’s first aid tree,” tea tree essential oil is a very effective broad spectrum antibacterial [and] antifungal…,” adds Tourles. “It’s gentle on the skin and amazingly effective against a wide range of ailments, especially infections of the skin, respiratory tract and mouth. It is energizing, cooling and effective against lice, ringworm and more.”
Since this oil does not need to be diluted, Tourles recommends using it as a spot treatment for all the potential discomforts of summer – “blemishes, insect bites and stings, warts, athlete’s foot, fungal nails, cuts and scrapes, localized rashes, burns, toothache and puncture wounds.”
If you’re prone to catching a summer cold, rosemary is one essential oil that you’ll definitely want to have on hand as it serves as a “strong antibacterial with an affinity for the respiratory system,” says Tourles. “To help relieve a dreaded summer cold, add a few drops of rosemary oil to a tissue and inhale deeply several times per day. Also known as the “herb of remembrance,” inhaling rosemary essential oil will counter mental fatigue and promote clarity of thought – which might just come in handy on busy summer days!” she adds.
Furthermore, this oil serves as a great addition to shampoo or conditioner since it can aid in “enhancing hair growth and shine, balancing an oily scalp, and controlling dandruff, as it tones, tightens and astringes skin tissue,” notes Tourles. “Add 24 drops to each 8 oz. bottle of shampoo and conditioner. Shake well before each use.”
Finally, cedarwood and citronella are two essential oils that are ideal for summer. “Cedarwood and citronella are often used as natural insect repellents and can be applied on the skin directly,” says Gubenko. “Pour a few drops into the palm of your hand and rub into skin. These oils are equally beneficial, so it is just a matter of an individual scent preference,” she adds. Interestingly, Gubenko also tells Lively that cedarwood and citronella are known for their emotional balancing properties. “Cedarwood has been researched for supporting the natural production of melatonin in the brain, thus promoting a good night rest.”
If you’re looking to add a few new essential oils to your arsenal, we asked our experts for their top product picks/brands. “I prefer to use essential oils that are derived from either certified organic crops that are properly managed or from plants that are ethically wildcrafted,” says Tourles. “Essential oils must be distilled or cold pressed using impeccable industry standards and the bottles labeled with all pertinent information including Latin name, any contraindications, and batch number,” she adds. To that point, her three favorite essential oil companies include Mountain Rose Herbs, Simplers Botanicals and Pranarom.
Gubenko suggests Young Living Essential Oils. “These oils are considered by many as pure, organic and therapeutic grade essences that have multiple application methods: topical, inhalation and ingestion.”