The #1 Way People Use Essential Oils Incorrectly, According to an Expert


Isabella Behravan

When I was first informed that I wasn't supposed to put essential oils directly onto my skin, I was shocked—shocked and pretty sheepish considering that I had an entire drawer of oils in my vanity that I had evidently been using incorrectly for years. But who was I to argue with the expert who (ever so sweetly) set me right? As the founder of cult-favorite natural beauty brand S.W. Basics, Adina Grigore is not just a very well-informed guru in matters of plant-based skincare—thanks to the monumental success of her brand, which is now sold in superstores like Target, it wouldn't be a stretch to credit her with bringing eco-beauty to the mainstream market.

But as I learned in a meeting with Grigore last year—that fateful day when I found out that everything I thought I knew about essential oils was a lie—the number one myth when adopting a plant-based routine is that every ingredient is unmitigatedly gentle and good for your skin. On the contrary, the reason why we've seen such a boom in the green beauty market is that plant extracts are powerful enough to rival factory-made compounds—they're highly potent and thus require a bit of responsibility when used in their purest forms, like essential oils.

Thankfully, I don't have to feel too bad about my ignorance, since I'm certainly not alone in my naiveté. While working on S.W. Basics and researching her best-selling first book, Skin Cleanse ($14), Grigore was so amazed by all the information there was to unpack about essential oils that she decided to pen a follow-up that focused on that subject alone. Just the Essentials ($15) launches today, and it's a bona fide glossary on everything you could possibly want to know about plant extracts, from tips for proper use to the science and benefits of the most common herbal remedies. (This new knowledge also gave way to a collection of essential oil–based perfumes called Functional Fragrances.)

"Essential oils are super-potent plant matter," Grigore explains. "One drop of peppermint oil is the equivalent of 28 cups of peppermint tea. We all know how good peppermint tea is for us, but we wouldn't ever consume that amount in one sitting." And that, she says, is the first thing to remember when considering these oils for DIY use.

So how about the right way to use essential oils? Keep scrolling for some of Grigore's very best tips, from the proper way to dilute your oils at home to her cure-all for motion sickness.