The Ultimate Essential Oils Guide for Beginners

Updated: Aug 7, 2019

essential oils guide for beginners

As a beginner, it can be an overwhelming task to understand how to use essential oils safely and effectively. Grab a tea (coffee, chocolate, whatever) and let's dive into this guide together, shall we?

What are essential oils, exactly?

Essential oils are found in a few thousand different botanicals around the world. Not every plant has an essential oil. That's important! I had a person once ask me if she could get apple essential oil to match her candle. Hate it break it to you, Barb, but apples don't have essential oils #yourcandleissynthetic

Where do they come from?

The oils can be found in the bark, stem, roots, leaves, flowers, and even the seeds of these various plants. They are the lifeblood of the plant, the hormone regulator, attract pollinators and repel the bad bugs. Our bodies recognize these compounds and, as a result, we can use them on ourselves the same way a plant does!

They are kept in teeny little oil sacs (think of what happens when you peel an orange - you are smelling the aroma of the oil sacs broken open within the rind!) and are highly potent.

Where are they grown?

While essential oils are grown all over the world - from nature to greenhouses - dōTERRA sources only from nature in regions where the plant is indigenous or where the growing conditions match it's indigenous region. When plants are sourced from their natural habitat, they are SO much more potent! That's why we only need one drop of dōTERRA's oils per application, not the 5/10/15+ drops per dose of store-bought brands.

Why are they such a big fad?

Guess what? They aren't a fad. Nope, they've been around for thousands of years! Essential oils were even found in King Tut's tomb! That's right, their use has been dated as far back as Ancient Egypt and Ancient China. These ancient guys were smart.

It's becoming so popular now because, well, they're amazing! dōTERRA exploded as a company and as a result - as anything that does well - many companies wanted to cash in on this new 'trend' of natural health. Which is a shame, really. Because most of these companies have created synthetic oils, which can cause so much harm on our bodies. They can even label them as 'pure essential oils' and not be pure at all. If you haven't decided on a company yet, check my post about what to look for in an essential oils company.

How do you use essential oils?

Great question! There are 4 main ways you can use essential oils: aromatically, topically, internally (dōTERRA only, here to learn why), and environmentally. On the daily, we uses the oils in all 4 ways.


Love science? I don't. But I'm going to share some with you anyway because it's quite a fascinating process, actually!

When we inhale an essential oil, it goes through out nostrils to our olfactory gland (I literally used to think of a factory in my nose when I first heard this term as a kid) and then to our limbic system. This sweet limbic system is responsible for our memories, emotions, and moods. You definitely want to keep this system happy with essential oils! They balance everything out.

Depending on the message the teeny compounds in essential oils send to our limbic system, we can feel uplifted or calm, motivated or grounded, peaceful or passionate (oh la la). 

Ways you can use essential oils aromatically are: - inhaling right from the bottle - 3-5 drops in a cold mist diffuser (don't heat these babies or they lose their effectiveness)  - 1 drop mixed into your skin care products - a drop in your hand and inhaling (we call this a Scent Tent!)

I LOVE to diffuse my oils instead of using toxic air fresheners - the house always smells amazing. It's my fav way to balance my moods (and those of my boys!) and I make my own custom PUREfume.  


Applying essential oils topically means to place it directly on an area of the body that needs support. 

Did you know that you can increase the effect of an essential oil when you apply it with a carrier oil?? That's right! Only 1 or 2 drops of an essential oil in a dab of carrier oil will offer you amazing effects in minutes! Oh, and it helps with skin sensitivity issues, too.

Wondering what a carrier oil is? They include any vegetable-based oil like: coconut oil, almond oil, avocado oil, or hey, even olive oil if it's all you've got! We add a wee dab of a carrier oil to a drop of an essential oil and rub it in where we need it!

Got a little babe? Here are the dilution ratios for little ones because their teeny bodies need more carrier oil than us big peeps do.

We use oils topically most often on the bottom of our feet, shoulders, forehead/temples, and on our necks. I'm talking head tension, muscle and joint support, respiratory support, yada yada yada (ever seen that Seinfeld episode?). I use them daily with coconut oil for a face moisturizer and with shea butter for homemade lotion and sunscreen!


Internal use! Yey! Now, let's be super clear, this is only for Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade® essential oils. I don't want you heading to the dollar store or home decor store and grabbing a lavender for $5 and use it. No way, Jose!   

You can tell by checking the label which oils can be used as a dietary supplement. They support so many health conditions - just remember that you only need a drop or two. It's that whole 'less is more' thing. 

I use many different oils in my cooking as well. Just remember that if you actually heat the oil, it will lose it's medicinal super power. Still has the taste, though! 

Some ways I LOVE to add essential oils to food are:

- a drop of Peppermint in a green smoothie

- a drop of Wild Orange in homemade chocolate

- a toothpick amount of Oregano in pasta sauce 

- a drop of Cilantro in guacamole 

- a drop of Basil or Cilantro in a detox parsley salad 


Environmental use just means the ways you can use essential oils within your environment. The uses are LIMITLESS!

Let's take Saturdays, for example. We clean the house on Saturdays. I have an all-purpose cleaner, which is made with about 20 drops of oils (a mix of On Guard, Tea Tree, and Lemon) in a large spray bottle with water. Shakey shakey, spray spray, and the house is clean!

We also use a shower cleaner we whipped together with Lemongrass, vinegar, and water in a spray bottle. We use essential oils in our laundry, on stains, to freshen carpets, to clean the kitchen counters each night, as a linen/room spray, to take care of poop bacteria when the dog doesn't make it outside. See, limitless!

What are the best essential oils for beginners?

There are so many incredible oils, but I'm going to share the top 10 oils here. These are what most people start with and what I highly recommend. They are in alphabetical order because I can't bare to put them in order of importance. It's like picking your favourite kid (we love them all for their own different reasons, right?!).


A popular essential oil blend, dōTERRA Breathe's refreshing aroma can be used to create feelings of clear, easy breathing.

- Maintains feelings of clear airways and easy breathing

- Promotes a restful nights sleep

- Helps minimize the effects of seasonal threats

- Diffuse, inhale directly from palms, or rub on chest or feet when seasonal and environmental threats are high

- Use when outdoors to minimize the effects of seasonal threats

- Diffuse at bedtime for a restful environment 

Deep Blue

Formulated to soothe and cool, doTERRA Deep Blue is an enriched blend of oils perfect for a massage after a long day or an intense workout.

- Soothing and cooling oil blend

- Comforting part of a massage

- Apply on feet and knees before and after exercise

- Massage Deep Blue with a few drops of carrier oil onto growing kids’ legs before bedtime

- Rub Deep Blue on lower back muscles after a day of heavy lifting at work or during a move


DigestZen is a wonderful companion to aid in the digestion of food, soothe occasional upset stomachs, and reduce uncomfortable gas and bloating.*

- Supports healthy digestion when used internally*

- Consume to soothe occasional stomach upset*

- Take orally to help reduce bloating, gas, and occasional indigestion*

- Add a few drops to water to take internally*

- Rub on the stomach before flying or taking a road trip for a calming aroma

- Take DigestZen internally when traveling or trying new foods to soothe occasional stomach upset*

- Add to water or tea to maintain a healthy gastrointestinal tract*


Renowned as one of the most prized and precious essential oils, Frankincense has extraordinary health benefits.

Ways to use it:

- Ingest to support healthy cellular function*

- Aroma promotes feelings of relaxation

- Helps reduce the appearance of skin imperfections when applied topically

- Supports healthy immune, nervous, and digestive function when taken internally*

- Rub Frankincense on your hands after a long day of gardening for a warming and soothing effect

- Apply topically to help reduce the appearance of skin imperfections

- Can be applied to the bottoms of feet to promote feelings of relaxation and to balance mood

- Take one to two drops in a veggie capsule to support healthy cellular function.*


Lavender has been used and cherished for centuries for its unmistakable aroma and myriad benefits.

Ways to use it:

- Soothes occasional skin irritations

- Taken internally, Lavender reduces anxious feelings and promotes peaceful sleep*

- Helps ease feelings of tension.*

- Add a few drops of Lavender to pillows, bedding, or bottoms of feet at bedtime

- Keep a bottle of Lavender on hand to soothe occasional skin irritations

- Freshen your linen closet, mattress, car, or the air by combining Lavender with water in a spray bottle

- Take internally to reduce anxious feelings*

- Use in cooking to soften citrus flavors and add a flavorful twist to marinades, baked goods, and desserts.


The cleansing, purifying, and invigorating properties of Lemon make it one of the most versatile oils, not to mention the top-selling essential oil that doTERRA offers.

Ways to use it:

- Cleanses and purifies the air and surfaces

- Naturally cleanses the body and aids in digestion*

- Supports healthy respiratory function*

- Promotes a positive mood

- Take internally to assist with seasonal respiratory discomfort*

- Add Lemon oil to a spray bottle of water to clean tables, countertops, and other surfaces

- Lemon oil also makes a great furniture polish; simply add a few drops to olive oil to clean, protect, and shine wood finishes

- Use a cloth soaked in Lemon oil to preserve and protect your leather furniture and other leather surfaces or garments

- Lemon oil is a great remedy for the early stages of tarnish on silver and other metals

- Diffuse to create an uplifting environment.

Tea Tree/Melaleuca

Tea Tree oil comes from the Melaleuca tree and is best known for its purifying qualities, which make it useful for cleansing the skin and home surfaces, purifying the air, or promoting healthy immune function.*

- Renowned for its cleansing and rejuvenating effect on the skin

- Promotes healthy immune function when used internally*

- Ingest to protect against environmental and seasonal threats*

- For occasional skin irritations, apply 1–2 drops of Melaleuca essential oil onto affected area

- Add 1–2 drops to water, citrus drinks, or veggie caps to support healthy immune system function*

- Combine 1–2 drops with your facial cleanser for added cleansing properties, or apply to skin after shaving

- Apply to fingernails and toenails after showering to purify and keeps nails looking healthy

- Add a few drops to a spray bottle with water and use on surfaces to protect against environmental threats

On Guard

As one of doTERRA's most popular oils, doTERRA On Guard is a powerful proprietary blend that supports healthy immune function* and contains cleansing properties.

- Supports healthy immune and respiratory function*

- Protects against environmental threats*

- Supports the body’s natural antioxidant defenses*

- Promotes healthy circulation*Energizing and uplifting aroma

- Add two to three drops in a veggie capsule for an immune boost*

- Add to water for an effective all-purpose surface cleaner

- Soak sliced apples in water and a few drops for a healthy, immune-boosting snack*

- Combine a few drops of doTERRA On Guard with Fractionated Coconut Oil for a natural hand cleanser


Known as a popular cooking spice, Oregano also acts as a powerful cleansing agent, and offers powerful antioxidants*—extending its uses far beyond the kitchen.

- Used as a powerful cleansing and purifying agent

- Supports a healthy immune system, healthy digestion, and respiratory function when used internally*

- Offers powerful antioxidants when ingested*

- Take one drop in a veggie cap or 4 fl. oz of liquid daily to maintain healthy immune function*

- Add one to two drops to a veggie capsule to support healthy respiratory function*

- Put one drop in place of dried oregano in spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, or marinade

- Put 10 drops in a 16-ounce spray bottle with water for a surface cleaner


The high menthol content of the doTERRA Peppermint essential oil sets it apart from others when it comes to quality—making it one of the best-selling favorites among doTERRA essential oils.

- When ingested, promotes healthy respiratory function and clear breathing*

- Promotes digestive health when taken internally*

- Repels bugs naturally Use a drop of Peppermint with Lemon in water for a healthy, refreshing mouth rinse

- Take one to two drops in a Veggie Capsule to alleviate occasional stomach upset*

- Add a drop to your favorite smoothie recipe for a refreshing twist

- Place one drop in palm of hand with one drop Wild Orange and one drop Frankincense and inhale for a mid-day pick-me-up

** if you're a breast-feeding mama, take caution as about 25% of women can have their milk supply affected by Peppermint

Need these oils in your life?

Want to start with all 10 oils? You can get a small, 5mL-bottle starter kit or a big, 15mL-bottle starter kit (with a diffuser!). Plus, you get ME as your mentor through your oil journey! I know you're excited about that ;)

How do I use the oils safely?

Safety is one of the most important parts in using essential oils. We can't just go around applying 20 drops in our diffuser or add 10 drops of Oregano to a veggie capsule. Not only is it wasteful of your oils, but these are POTENT and that's far too many drops! Now that you're so smart from reading all of this, you GET why the store-bought brands require you to use so many drops, right? #lackpotency #lackpurity

How many drops do I use?

Typically, in a diffuser, you use 3-5 drops. I like to make blends in my diffuser - like Peppermint and Lemon.

Topically, we only need a single drop.

Internally will vary on the oil. For citrus oils, I often put 2-3. In my daily optimal health routine, I usually have 5 oils I take in a veggie capsule (Frankincense, Copaiba, Turmeric, Pink Pepper, and On Guard).

How do I use essential oils with my kids?

Our favourite ways are in the diffuser (especially when emotions are high or they're wired at bedtime) and topically. We always dilute them, which depends on their age. You can check this post for suggested dilution ratios.

Depending on age, they can also use them internally. You'll see mine here in their YouTube Channel, Essential Oils Kid, as they make and eat oil-infused hummus and homemade dairy-free ice cream in minutes!

Are essential oils safe for pets?

This is a very important topic. As I mentioned earlier in this article, most essential oils on the market are synthetic (and they can still be labelled as 'pure essential oils'). I am only speaking about dōTERRA's oils, which ARE safe for animals. That being said, not all essential oils can be used on pets and precautions do need to be taken.

dōTERRA has a Veterinarian Advisory Board of vets from around the world who work closely with us to ensure everyone knows how to best use the oils with their animals.

1. Leave the door open. Don't turn on a diffuser and then close the door to the room so your pet can't leave if they want to. Always have a way for your pet to leave the room when you're diffusing. While some aromas are very beneficial to your animal, others are not and they need to be able to leave if they choose to do so.

2. Dilute, dilute, dilute. We use DigestZen on our 6lb dog whenever she has belly issues or Lavender when she's about to go to the vet (she shakes like crazy in fear if we don't). But we always dilute for her size.

3. Do your research. Look into the various oils that are safe (or that need caution) before applying them to your pets. This website by a vet is amazing for protocols and helpful suggestions for using the oils with your pets.

Over time you will learn exactly what your pet loves and what to avoid. Want more info on pets and oils? This video below is from some of the vets from dōTERRA's Advisory Board and they offer some excellent tips and tricks!

Some other safety tips

Here are a few other important things to note about essential oils:

Photosensitivity: Citrus oils create photosensitivity (meaning you can burn quicker) so avoid using them topically before going into the sun and leave a 12-24 hour gap if you have used them topically. That being said, Lemon is a GREAT way to naturally lighten your hair!

Away from children: As delicious as the oils are, do keep them out of reach of small kiddos as they may be tempted to drink up.

A little goes a long way: Keep in mind these sweet puppies are potent and you often need only a drop for effectiveness.

Don't use water: If you get oils in your eyes or a 'hot' oil on your skin, don't use water to remove it. Use a vegetable based oil, like coconut oil. Take a bit of it on a paper towel and wipe your eye or skin or wherever you may feel the burn.

Dilute: Diluting the oils is an important step for babies, children, pets, and those with sensitivities. Be sure to check the dilution chart for details!

Now you've got all the information you need to make an informed decision about the use of your oils! If you don't yet have essential oils and are looking for some guidance, reach out to me!

If you've already got these dōTERRA beauties in your life and are looking for assistance, be sure to reach out to the person who helped get you set up with your own account.

Happy Oiling!



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* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, as essential oils are not food nor drugs. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.