There are three ways to apply essential oils — Diffusing, Topical, and Ingestion. While diffusion is the best method of application, topical is a very close second. Figuring out which oils can be used neat (undiluted) on the skin and which can not depends on the person and their own body chemistry. For example, most people can use Lavender neat but my teenage daughter can not. It gives her a big rash. My boss is the one person I know who can use Cinnamon Bark neat. So you need to choose wisely and pay attention to your body when you start using any essential oil.
The following are a few guidelines to help you decide what to do.
What to do
Essential oils are extremely powerful. They are the scent and therapeutic properties of the plant, condensed into an incredibly powerful, highly concentrated liquid. As such, some can have a bad effect on your skin, including causing chemical burns when used unwisely. For example, some oils like most of the citrus oils and Angelica Root, are phototoxic and if you go out in the sun within an hour of application and the skin is exposed to the sun, it will cause a bad burn.
Whether you have used essential oils for 10 years or 10 minutes, you should always use a carrier oil the first time you apply an oil to your skin. The traditional rate for adults is 4-8 drops of oil in 1 tsp. of carrier oil.
Just for reference, a 5 ml bottle is approximately 1 tsp. So just add the number of drops you desire in an empty bottle and add your carrier oil. After you put the lid on, shake it well. Then leave it in a cupboard overnight to allow the oil to distribute evenly through the carrier oil.
Always test a small patch of skin before using a new oil or blend on a large area or sensitive area of skin. If you have any negative reactions, don’t wash it off with water. That might trap the oil into your skin. Use a carrier oil to dilute the oil and spread it over a wider area of skin. Olive oil you keep in your kitchen is great for this since most people will have that on hand. Instead of a burning sensation there might be an unpleasant tingling that is tolerable until the effects wear off. Or you can keep “washing” it with carrier oil until it is tolerable.
Treating children under the age of 12 is different than treating adults. Their small bodies need far less than a full grown adult so dilute properly for their age.
Remember, read up on an essential oil before using it. Know what it’s used for, what precautions to take (if any), and if there is ever a reason not to use it. If you don’t have an encyclopedia on oils, you can look them up right here on our site.
Carrier oils should be chosen wisely. Always buy a cold pressed, vegetable, nut or seed oil. Fractionated Coconut oil (F.C.O.) is the very popular because it doesn’t stain, absorbs easily into the skin, has no scent and is inexpensive. Others prefer a different type of carrier oil that has its own beneficial properties as well.
Many will use just 1-2 drops of oil neat and apply to the feet, wrists, behind the ears, back of the neck where it meets the skull, and occasionally the forehead. With such a small number of drops, this is fine. However, for some even this is too concentrated a dose. Pay attention to your body and how it reacts.
Just remember to err on the side of caution. Apply with a carrier oil and try it out. If you find you don’t need it, or need less/more, then change the way you apply it. You are the one in control. Make it fun!
Have you had any bad experiences with applying an essential oil neat? What oils can you use neat and which do you need diluted? Please share in the comment section at the bottom of the page. Everyone would like to hear from you and your own personal experiences.