The blending of essential oils is fundamental to the craft of aromatherapy. Getting the most from a lotion you make or buy depends on your knowledge of how blends achieve particular results. A blend will affect the aroma and maybe even the texture of a lotion. If you have a specific need for your skin, you might want to look for or create an essential oil combination for that purpose. Aromatherapist, author and educator Laura Moorehead advises using only three or four oils in a blend but agrees more can be acceptable in some cases.
Essential Oil Blending Basics
Primarily, essential oils provide fragrance to a lotion and supplement the other oils and waxes present in the formula. Since they are used in small quantities, you don't have to worry too much about how they affect the consistency of the formula.
One way to develop a good scent sense is to categorize according to qualities like woodsy, floral, spicy, citrus and pungent. Then consider what groups work well together. Classic combinations like citrus and spicy and woodsy with floral are starting points for your own combinations.
A good blend will have a balance between the base, middle and top note oils. In other words, one scent shouldn't overpower the others. "You will discover over time that some oils have a much stronger aroma than others," says Moorehead. And although the scent may change over time, it should last longer than a few minutes.
Blends that invigorate and stimulate the senses are popular for all kinds of lotions, but are especially good for tired feet and legs. A blend especially for this purpose could include essential oils of rosemary, lavender, tea tree and lemon. These same oils could also work for a hand lotion or eye cream. If you want a more unusual combination, look for lemongrass, winter mint, tangerine and bergamot. Marjoram is another choice for an invigorating blend. Team it with jasmine and clary sage for depth and spiciness.
Lotions that help calm and relax should contain essential oils for that purpose. Lavender, chamomile and sandalwood have long histories that establish their relaxing and calming properties. To that list you can add a few suggestions from Moorehead: She sometimes includes frankincense and rose in anxiety-reducing blends. Of the three, rose is the most expensive. "There are many fragrance oils on the market that call themselves rose and are much cheaper but carry none of the properties of true rose," she says.
Although invigoration and relaxation are two of the more common goals for oil blends in lotion, there are many other situations that might call for them. Lotions specifically formulated for meditation, depression, fertility and sensual massage can be purchased or made at home. Other specialty blends revolve around seasons of the year. A spring blend, for example, could include cypress, juniper berry and lavender. In contrast, a blend for summer might be an insect-repelling mix of citronella, lavender, eucalyptus and lemongrass.
Amy Stanbrough is a writer of fiction and nonfiction. Her work has appeared in "Bust," "Woman's World," "Southern Exposure" and many other publications. Stanbrough holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from George Mason University.