There are many different ways to use essential oils to get the amazing wellness benefits they are thought to provide. How you utilize essential oils depends on your lifestyle and preference. You might prefer to use essential oil-infused products, like candles, or maybe you prefer to use an essential oil diffuser to get your aromatherapy fix. There are many easy ways to incorporate essential oils into your self-care routine.
Another common way is through topical application, whether that’s infusing essential oils into products like lotions, using essential oils in your bath, or adding essential oils to your skincare routine. With topical application, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that you’re using essential oils in a healthy, safe way that won’t cause you any harm.
Although essential oils offer many benefits for your emotional and physical wellness, when applying them directly to your skin, undiluted essential oils can cause some serious skin irritation, allergic reactions, or even blisters and burns. This also applies to diffusing—they must be mixed with water first for the proper use of essential oils. So if you’re thinking about using essential oils on your skin or in a way that would put them in direct contact with your skin, it’s important to know everything there is to know about diluting essential oils properly!
What Are Carrier Oils?
Much like essential oils, carrier oils are derived from plants. They’re called carrier oils in this context because they’re meant to carry essential oils safely to your skin. Carrier oils tend to be simple and unscented, so you don’t have to worry about them interfering with or change your aromatherapy experience. There are some standard options for choosing your carrier oil, and many of them are common household oils that you might even have on hand.
True to its name, jojoba oil comes from the jojoba plant, specifically, its seeds. It’s more of a wax than an oil, and so it might be a bit easier to apply to your skin, depending on where you’re applying it. It has a delicate, nutty scent that isn’t overpowering.
Jojoba oil is moisturizing, absorbs into your skin easily, and doesn’t clog your pores. This makes it an ideal carrier oil if you’re planning to apply it to somewhere sensitive, like your face.
Coconut oil is commonly used in cooking, so you might even have some in your pantry already. Unrefined coconut oil is derived from coconut meat and (usually) is processed without chemicals or additives, and so it keeps its natural, delicious scent.
There’s also refined coconut oil. Refined coconut oil is bleached and deodorized, and so it doesn’t retain the scent and flavor of unrefined coconut oil. In this way, refined coconut oil isn’t totally natural, and so although the idea of losing the scent of coconut might be preferable to you depending on how you feel about coconuts, it isn’t the best thing to use as a carrier oil. Make sure you select unrefined coconut oil if you’re going to use it as your carrier oil.
Coconut is ideal for mixing with your essential oils if you’re using it on your skin or for a massage. It contains nourishing polyphenols and fatty acids that are great for your skin.
Apricot Kernel Oil
Made from apricot seeds, apricot kernel oil has a light, sweet scent. It’s high in fatty acids and vitamin E, which makes it great for your skin, and it also absorbs really easily into your skin. It’s thought to calm your skin if it’s irritated, dry, or itchy, so it’s an ideal carrier oil if you’re using essential oils to soothe dry skin or a minor dermal irritation.
While it’s great for cooking, as you probably know, it also works great as a carrier oil. It’s useful for cleansing or moisturizing dry skin, but before you use it as something that you mean to leave on your skin for a long period of time, think about the scent!
Olive oil has a substantial aroma that you’re probably familiar with already. Using it as a carrier oil can interfere with your intended mixture of essential oils, so if you’re planning to use it as a carrier oil, think about how its aroma will add or detract from your aromatherapy experience.
Argan oil comes from the fruit of argan trees and is thought to be nourishing both topically and orally (not that we’re recommending you consume essential oils orally!). It is full of vitamins A and E, as well as monosaturated fatty acids -- all of which are great if you’re looking for a little bit of an extra glow.
Grape Seed Oil
Derived from grape seeds, this oil is a great carrier oil prospect if you’re trying to be environmentally friendly. It’s a byproduct of wine-making, and so you’re using something that otherwise might go to waste! Grape seed oil is high in vitamin E, and it’s lightweight, so it’s really good for your skin and absorbs easily.
Grape seed oil also has a negligible scent profile, so it won’t compete with or affect the essential oil mix you’re planning on using for aromatherapy.
Another oil often used for cooking, especially if you adhere to a high-fat diet, avocado oil is easy to find in any grocery store. It comes from the (surprise!) avocado fruit and has a nutty aroma. Avocado oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acid, which is great for nourishing dry or damaged skin.
Avocado oil can be a great carrier oil to use if you intend to apply essential oils to your skin, but it’s also a thicker oil that is thought to potentially increase sebum production. If you’re acne-prone, it’s best to patch test or consult your dermatologist before use.
Sunflower oil is increasingly easy to get at your local grocery store. It’s extracted from sunflower seeds and has a pretty neutral odor, so it’s a great carrier oil to use if you don’t want to add an additional aroma to your mix.
While sunflower oil is thought to have many of the same benefits to your skin as the other carrier oils we’ve mentioned, it’s also thought to be helpful in helping you resist toxins or germs that might cause infections. So if you’re looking to use your essential oils for health reasons, sunflower oil might be a good choice.
Other Carrier Oils
You can pretty much use any oil that’s safe to apply to your skin as a carrier oil to dilute your essential oil. Our list is by no means comprehensive, but if you’re not totally sure what oils are to choose for safe use, you can consult your aromatherapist or dermatologist for advice.
Here are a few more oils that work as carrier oils.
- Black cumin seed oil
- Rosehip oil
- Sweet almond oil
- Primrose oil
How Much Of Each Oil Should You Use?
Now that you know what a carrier oil is and some examples of carrier oils you could use with your essential oils, we should talk about how much of each oil you should use in order to create a safe, efficacious blend.
The amount of essential oils you should use in proportion with carrier oils depends both on your skin’s sensitivity, as well as unique conditions, such as allergies and pregnancy. Do some research on dilution ratios for each specific oil that you use—there are many dilution charts out there that focus on essential oil safety. In general, if you’re pregnant, you should consult your healthcare provider for medical advice before introducing a new substance to your routine.
If You’re Making A Massage Oil Or Body Oil…
Per ounce of carrier oil, for normal usage, it’s recommended that you use about 15 drops of essential oils. If you would like a more intense experience, you could go as high as 20 drops of essential oils when mixing with a single ounce of carrier oil.
If you’re using your massage or body oil for wellness reasons, like to try and ease the symptoms of muscle pain or injury, you can use a slightly higher dilution. This is specifically if you’re using your essential oil blend temporarily, so it’s okay if it’s a little more intense — if you intend your massage or body oil for regular usage, it’s better to stick with the 15-20 drops.
If you’re only using it to treat a temporary health concern, your dilution rate is one ounce of carrier oil with between 30 and 60 drops of essential oils. It’s best to patch test essential oil blends before applying them over a larger area and be mindful that a higher amount of essential oils is more likely to cause irritation than a lesser dilution.
If You’re Making Facial Oils…
You should use between three and six drops of essential oil per single ounce of carrier oil if your skin is sensitive. If you have normal skin, you can use between six and fifteen drops of essential oils per ounce of carrier oil. As always, especially with things that you’re going to apply to your face, you’ll want to patch test your blend first and maybe start with slightly fewer essential oil drops than you think you’ll need in your moisturizer, just to avoid any adverse reaction.
Essential oils can be beneficial when applied directly to your skin. However, they can also be abrasive and cause damage or irritation to your skin — which is obviously the opposite of what you want. In order to get the best use out of your essential oils, it’s important to know all about essential oil dilution to get the benefits while keeping your skin and body healthy and glowing.