As the days heat up, there are some among us who are so eager for air conditioning they’ll duck into a random store or see a movie they don’t even care about, just to cool down. I happen to love the summer heat — give me a skimpy sundress and a balmy (read: sweaty!) rooftop party or long day by the pool in the blazing sun, and I’m in heaven! That said, there are a few essential oils I keep in my purse in case I need to freshen up after a yoga class (en route to said rooftop party).
Essential oils are the pure essence of a particular plant, extracted via distillation, and typically “taken” by deeply inhaling them through the nose, or placing a few drops on particular points on the body. Depending on the plant, they are good for everything from aiding in digestion to soothing a bee sting. Some oils have especially-powerful cooling effects. As in, literally bringing one’s temperature down. So, for the dog days of summer, these three essential oils are my top summer must-haves… pardon the pun.
Lavender — This soft, powdery, floral scent is one of my favorites, perhaps because it is so widely applicable. According to Ayurveda, Lavender decreases heat in the body, and also quells heat in the mind. Inhaling a few drops directly from the bottle or rubbed between your palms will not only cool you down on a hot day, but you can also apply a drop to your temples or forehead for helps alleviating those headaches caused by too much heat. It’s also uplifting, which helps with that sluggish feeling we can sometimes suffer from during heat of summer. Another neat trick for a particularly sweaty day — a few drops dabbed under your arms freshens you up and kills germs at the same time.
Peppermint — Just like a tall glass of iced tea, Peppermint essential oil offers frosty and refreshing relief. Its primary constituent, menthol, provides the powerful cooling effect, whether inhaled or applied to the body. Just opening the bottle and taking a sniff works wonders, but you can also apply a couple drops to the bottom of your feet or a drop to the back of the neck for an icy, tingly sensation (it’s highly potent, so really, just a drop rubbed between the hands and then patted on the back of the neck. And, it should not be used topically on children younger than 7 unless diluted in water). You can choose Spearmint essential oil or Eucalyptus as well, as both contain that integral menthol, and all three are lovely to use for cooling compresses – just add a few drops to water and soak a couple washcloths. They can be used right away or popped in the fridge and pre-chilled and then pressed on your forehead or the back of your neck.
Sandalwood — Sandalwood oil has long been prized in India — where it gets pretty darn hot — for its cooling, calming qualities. Its woody, earthy and ancient scent offers a more savory and subtle alternative to the floral qualities of Lavender, and Sandalwood more gentle to the skin than Peppermint. In Ayurveda it is known to cool Pitta Dosha, or literally quell the flames of the fire element – restoring calm and clear-headedness as heat and frustration arise. In Ayurveda Sandalwood is also said to “stop excessive sweating,” so again, this is one to dab under the arms on the hottest of days. Even just one drop smudged on the forehead/third eye area goes a long way. With Sandalwood, sustainable sourcing is incredibly important, as it gets rarer and rarer in the world. I recommend purchasing from Floracopeia, you’ll be getting the highest quality oil, and also know it’s being sustainably harvested and replanted.
**Essential oils are very powerful and should be used with caution. Always refer to the information and contraindications on the product bottles. They should never be taken internally, and avoid contact with the eyes. You can learn more about safe and effective use of Essential Oils here.