There is plenty to love about essential oils. They’re all-natural, smell amazing, and have contributed monumentally to the field of aromatherapy and holistic wellness. It can also be fun to try different ways of using essential oils to fully experience all of the health benefits they have to offer, whether it’s adding them to a diffuser, dissolving them in tea or bathwater, using them in cleaning products, or placing a few drops on clothing, bedding, or furniture.
You’ll Want To Properly Dilute Your Essential Oils Because:
The most common, and arguably most effective, form of aromatherapy is to apply the oils directly to your skin (topically). But just because it’s the most effective method doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the safest—in fact, using undiluted essential oils on your skin can be downright dangerous.
Why Skin and Pure Oil Shouldn’t Mix
Robert Tisserand, a leading expert the science of aromatherapy and essential oils and author of books such as The Art of Aromatherapy and Essential Oil Safety, succinctly named two reasons for essential oil dilution:
- “One, to avoid skin reactions: irritation, sensitization, and phototoxicity. Two, to avoid systemic toxicity, such as fetotoxicity, hepatotoxicity, carcinogenicity, and neurotoxicity. Adverse skin reactions are obvious when they happen, but systemic toxicities may not be. Skin reactions are totally dilution-dependent, and safety guidelines exist to minimize the risk.”
- In other words, dilution is imperative to protect yourself not only from the negative effects you can immediately see and feel when using undiluted oil. Sensitization is such an effect that results in irritation, burning, itchiness, and rashes. But dilution can also help prevent the effects you don’t see or feel—ones that settle a little deeper and can wreak havoc on your body.
So it’s always a good practice to dilute your oils with carrier substances such as lotions, creams, butters, shampoos, soaps, aloe jellies, and water. You can also use carrier oils such as sweet almond, olive, coconut, argan, jojoba, and rosehip. And diluting isn’t as intimidating as it sounds—it’s actually pretty simple. Per the Tisserand Institute’s recommendations, here is a guideline to properly diluting essential oils:
|Dilution||10 ml / 2 tsp of carrier||15 ml / 3 tsp / 1 Tbsp of carrier||30 ml / 6 tsp / 2 Tbsp of carrier|
Recommended for children over 2 years, facial applications, long term and daily use.
|3 drops essential oils||4 drops essential oils||9 drops essential oils|
Recommended for daily use, children, and bath and body products.
|6 drops essential oils||9 drops essential oils||18 drops essential oils|
Recommended for specific and localized discomfort.
|9 drops essential oils||13 drops essential oils||27 drops essential oils|
Recommended for short term use (no more than two weeks) for a specific area of concern.
|15 drops essential oils||22 drops essential oils||45 drops essential oils|
Recommended for smaller areas of concern and acute instances.
|30 drops essential oils||45 drops essential oils||90 drops essential oils|
*2% dilution is generally the accepted standard for safe topical use.
Stay Safe Moving Forward
Essential Oils are meant to help improve and maintain your wellness, not to hurt it. But as with any substance, they must be treated with a degree of knowledge and respect.
Consider these safety tips when handling essential oils in the future:
- Do not apply undiluted essential oils to unprotected skin.
- Test diluted essential oils on a small area of skin before using them regularly and over larger areas.
- Always keep essential oils away from your eyes.
- Avoid using essential oils on damaged skin.
- Be sure to diffuse essential oils in well-ventilated spaces.
- Keep essential oils out of reach of children and pets.
- Wash your hands after handling essential oils.