The Only 3 Essential Oils You Need

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There are hundreds of essential oils available. Crazy, I know, and yes I want them all. While each one shines in its own way, many of the benefits overlap from oil to oil. Which is great news; that means you don't need to buy a massive kit to get started with aromatherapy. 

The Essential Oil Starter Kit

I've heard it said by many herbalists and aromatherapists and it's true: it's better to know one oil (or herb) and its many uses really well than it is to know a little bit about and only one way to use a lot of them. In my opinion, there are really only three essential oils you need.


The queen of the oils, as it is often called, is the quintessential multipurpose oil. My aromatherapy instructor repeatedly told us if we only have one oil in our house, we should make sure it's lavender oil. Just burnt yourself on your curling wand trying to get the perfect waves? Lavender oil to the rescue. Pimple that is officially the bane of your existence? Lavender oil, my friend, lavender oil. Muscle pain? Yup, lavender oil again.

There are so many ways and reasons to use lavender:

  • Rub a single drop unto your temples for headache relief
  • Apply it directly to bug bite for to bring down swelling and stop the itch 
  • Add a couple of drops to your bath water for a relaxing soak before bed


I love the aroma of all the citrus oils, but I'm not a hug fan of their phototoxicity. It's summer and I can't wait 24 hours to go in the sun. No ma'am. But with mandarin (the fruit that is, the leaf does increase your chance of burning), that's not a concern. Yay!

It's incredibly balancing. Mandarin is uplifting and energizing, but won't leave you feeling wired. It's calming and relaxing, without being sedating.  Plus it just plain old smells good.

Some of my favorite ways to use it are: 

  • Diffusing it during my morning routine for a gentle pick me up
  • Diluting it into a vanilla infused body oil; it smells just like an orange creamsicle
  • Mixing a drop or two into my homemade cleaning supplies to mask the smell of vinegar

Tea Tree

Tea tree oil is the go-to oil for antimicrobial needs. It's so good at fighting fungi, bacteria, and viruses that the Australian military included it in soldiers' first aid kits during WWII.

It's potent, but it's also gentle.  Which makes it incredibly versatile:

  • Put a couple of drops in a bowl of steaming hot water. Breathe in the steam to relieve a stuffy nose or chest congestion
  • Dab a drop on a pesky pimple  
  • Add a few drops to distilled water or a hydrosol in a spray bottle to mist a room with. Great during cold and flu season

Lavender, Mandarin, and Tea Tree are great oils to start with or even end with. Don't get me wrong, I love exploring new oils, but I'm learning less really is more. 

What are your favorite oils? Which ones can't you live without?

Kendra Tolbert