I often read how diluting essential oils is not necessary in some cases and how it's safe to apply oils like lavender and tea tree oil directly onto the skin.
I feel it is my duty as a skin care blogger to tell you how much this isn't true and why.
To be able to harness the benefits of essential oils, you need to know how to use them safely and effectively.
Read on for the basic guidelines on how to dilute essential oils for topical use.
Why do you need to dilute essential oils?
Essential oils are plant extracts that are usually derived though the process of steam distillation of huge amounts of plant seeds, kernels, petals or leaves.
These oils extremely concentrated and potent. Take rose oil for example - 1 drop of it contains oils extracted from more than 1200 petals (about 40 roses).
Using essential oils directly onto the skin is referred to as applying them "neat."
It is very dangerous and I got discover this from personal experience.
when i didn't know about diluting essential oils
When I first tried using essential oils was because I was suffering from acne and I heard from a friend that tea tree oil helps a lot. I got myself one and start applying directly onto the skin directly.
I ignored how how much it burns and stings. My mantra was 'the more it burns, the more it works'. It did it work - one way or another. My eyes were crying, my nose started running, my skin became red and itchy.
After a quick search on Google Scholar, I found out what I did wrong - I did not dilute it. Although I am still cautious with tea tree oil, luckily no serious consequences are present.
This could have ended up way worse though.
Using essential oils only after properly diluting them is the smart and responsible thing to do, whether it is on yourself or your family.
Here are some of the dangers of not diluting essential oils properly:
what is sensitization?
Sensitization is a type of allergic reaction which occurs through the 'neat' use essential oils.
While skin irritation happens immediately and can be relieved, skin sensitization develops over time and you may not discover it until it's too late.
The symptoms of sensitization can vary from person to person. Severe cases of sensitization can lead to more serious problems like respiratory issues.
sensitization is a long-term consequence
Once you develop sensitization to an essential oil, you are likely to remain permanently sensitized to that particular essential oil, even if you begin to dilute it properly.
You may also develop a reaction to other essential oils or products that contain them.
Marge Clark, author of the book Essential Oils and Aromatics shares her experience of using lavender essential oil neat. She says:
"Years ago I read the books saying that lavender oil could be used neat (undiluted). I very unwisely used undiluted lavender on broken skin, and consequently set up a sensitivity reaction. Today, almost two decades later, if I come in contact with lavender in any form, I will immediately start a new round of contact dermatitis that can take months to heal." [Marge Clark, Essential Oils and Aromatics(Sandy, UT: Silverleaf Press, 2008), 32.]
Diluting Essential Oils Safely
According to the second edition of Essential Oil Safety by Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young, using a 2% essential oil dilution is generally considered a safe guideline for essential oils on adults.
To be able to measure the rate of dilution of essential oils we basically measure how many drops of essential oil to add in 100 drops of carrier oil.
For example, 1% dilution means 1 drop of essential oil to be diluted in 100 drops of carrier oil.
100 drops of carrier oil equals 5ml or 1 teaspoon of the liquid.
In the dilution chart below you can see the ratios for 0.25%, 0.5%, 1%, 2%.
Dilutions above 2% are considered suitable for topical application for only short-term use and only under the supervision of someone well educated in essential oils and aromatherapy.
0.25% dilution adding 0.25 drops of essential oil to 100 drops of carrier oil. Since measuring 0.25 drops is a difficult task, you can achieve this percentage by adding 1 drop of essential oil to 400 drops or 4 teaspoons of your carrier oil.
To make a 0.5% dilution rate you need to add 1 drop of essential oil to 200 drops or 2 teaspoons of carrier oil.
In the same fashion, 1% dilution rate means adding 1 drop of your essential oil to 100 drops of carrier oil or approximately 1 tsp of carrier oil. Another way to put it up is adding 6 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil. This dilution is appropriate for adults.
This is the recommended rate of dilution for adults. 2% dilution rate means adding 2 drops of essential oil to 1 teaspoon (100 drops) of your carrier oil. In other words, to get a 2% dilution you need to add 12 drops of essential oil to one ounce of carrier oil.
Should you be diluting essential oils when using them in your diffuser?
When using essential oils in your diffuser, you should follow the directions that come with the diffuser you have.
In most cases, you should not dilute the essential oils in any type of oil, but some diffusers require that you use water. Be sure to check the directions that come with the model that you have.
Treat Essential Oils With Respect
When working with essential oils, less is more. Diluting essential oils prior to application on the skin is a way to preserve both your health and the nature.
I encourage you to not miss out on the amazing properties of essential oils.
You should not be afraid to incorporate essential oils into you regimen and this is definitely not the purpose of my post.
My goal is to make sure you use the oils cautiously and always always always dilute them before applying onto your skin. Using them 'neat' is a danger for your health, waste of money and isn't sustainable.
A lot of resources and hard work are needed for us to be able to enjoy the benefits of these oils. Treat them with respect and use them wisely and safely.
Do you use essential oils?
If you already are using essential oils or have some awesome soothing recipes, remember to share them in the comments below.
For children or elderly, it is recommended to seek advice from a dermatologist or someone well educated in aromatherapy.
Are you new to essential oils? Be sure to check my guide for beginners Getting Started With Essential Oils.
Thank you for reading my blog, I truly appreciate it.
Stay tuned and take skin care 🙂