beautiful woman showing skin for topical essential oils with a carrier oil

Jan 02, 2021

Essential Oil Safety - Using essential oils on your skin

You may be wondering if it is safe to use essential oils directly on your skin. The answer is yes. But, I always recommend diluting essential oils with a carrier oil before applying them to your skin.

Carrier oils are used to dilute essential oils and “carry” their therapeutic properties to your skin. Some of the most common carrier oils are sweet almond, jojoba, coconut, olive, avocado and rosehip oil. Carrier oils typically are unscented or lightly scented in comparison to essential oils.

How much you should dilute your essential oils depends on many factors, such as which essential oil or oils you plan to use, and your age.

I recommend you do a patch test before applying the oils to your skin, especially if you have sensitive skin. If you haven’t used a particular oil (essential oil diluted in a carrier oil) before, you can use a patch test to determine whether or not your skin is too sensitive.

How to do a patch test

Simply choose your carrier oil and mix in your essential oil of choice at an appropriate dilution. Then place one to two drops of the diluted essential oil mixture on the inside of your wrist. If you’re sensitive to that oil, your skin may turn red or itchy within a couple hours, though some allergists recommend testing for up to 24 hours.

If no irritation develops during those 24 hours, it’s likely safe for you to use the diluted essential oil. However, it’s good to be aware that a successful patch test doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t develop an allergy or experience a reaction after a future use.

Once you’ve diluted your essential oils, you can safely rub it onto your skin. Just remember you always need to dilute. 

How to apply essential oils topically on your skin

Experts recommend different dilution ratios depending on the situation. For example, if you’re applying oils to your face, or if you’re elderly, pregnant or nursing, the recommendation is to use a 0.5% -1% dilution.

You can achieve a 0.5% dilution by adding 3 drops of essential oil in 4 teaspoons of a carrier oil (1% dilutions is 3 drops of essential oil in 2 teaspoons of carrier oil.)

For full-body massages or regular daily use, the target is a 1%-2% percent dilution. (2% is 6 drops in 2 teaspoons of carrier oil.

For isolated areas, you can use a 3%-5% dilution. This is 9-15 drops of essential oil in 2 teaspoons of carrier oil.

Some essential oils require caution

It’s important to remember that some essential oils, such as cinnamon bark, ylang ylang and lemongrass, have skin application limits. This means you shouldn’t apply those oils topically, or even diluted in larger dilutions than suggested. Think of it like taking too much medicine, which is also dangerous.

If you do not experience a reaction from your patch test, you can use 1-2 drops of cinnamon bark, ylang ylang or lemongrass essential oil to 2 teaspoons of any carrier oil, preferably jojoba oil or coconut oil, and massage it gently over your skin.

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