How To Use Essential Oils Safely And Effectively?

There is a right way to use essential oils. Just because the bottle claims “pure/organic/plant-derived,” it doesn’t mean that aromatic oils can directly be used on the skin. They are highly potent, and hence, there are safety regulations to be followed. So, here is a guide that teaches you how to use essential oils safely so that you don’t end up sabotaging your skin or body.

How To Use Essential Oils Safely?

Essential oils are highly potent and hence, cannot be used on the skin directly. The safe way to use them is by either diffusing or diluting it with a carrier oil like almond oil, olive oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, etc.

Essential oils can be used in two ways:

  • Aromatic (or inhalation) method
  • Topical method

The “method of use” that you choose completely depends on the type of essential oil that you buy and the desired effect that you want.

Say, for instance, some essential oils might be irritating to the skin due to their chemical composition. Such oils require either excess dilution or may be better when used via inhalation.

how to use essential oils safely

Quick Fact: According to Lora Cantele, the executive director of Alliance of International Aromatherapists and a certified aromatherapist, your skin can absorb only 10% of the essential oils when rubbed. Hence, to get the most from them, it is best advised to use both methods – topical application and inhalation.

A. Aromatic Method

This is more of inhalation (not directly). The best example for this would be “aromatic diffusers.” Diffusers use water to scatter the oil into thin air rapidly. According to experts, this method tends to have the maximum and powerful effect on a human’s emotions and his or her respiratory system.


  • Good for sinus problems.
  • Great for respiratory issues.
  • Assists a person to get a sound sleep.
  • Helps relieve migraines and headaches.


Inhaling concentrated essential oils for a prolonged time can cause dizziness, nausea, vomiting, vertigo, lethargy, and even headaches.

B. Topical Method

Essential oils can be used topically, provided that they are diluted with a carrier oil before rubbing them on the skin. They are especially beneficial for a few localized treatments like burns, razor cuts, skincare, etc. The reason being their strong physiological effect.

Note: If you are still not sure which method works effectively for a particular illness or treatment, it is best to consult a qualified aromatherapist.

how to use essential oils

How To Use Essential Oils Through Aromatic Method?

When we say inhalation (or aromatically), essential oils can be used in the following ways:

1. Diffuser

ways to use essential oilsAromatic diffusers have been in the limelight quite lately. These tiny devices are not only handy but also incredible for numerous reasons. If you are into organic living, you would know that essential oil diffusers play a key role in your overall well-being.

While the benefits of using aromatic diffusers are extensive, here are a few to make a note of. They help in revitalizing your health, enhancing your energy, and ensuring that you get a relaxed sleep.

Usage: Essential oils are kept inside the device – either with water or heat so that they evaporate. By doing so, they help dissolve incredible scents to a room.

Remember that essential oils should not be heated directly because the chemical structure will change drastically with incineration.

2. Steam

best ways to use essential oilsThe concept of “steam therapy” is not new. In fact, it has been there for ages. The ancient Egyptians utilized inhalation therapy in their day-to-day lives to achieve maximum benefits.

Even today, professionals advise using steam therapy for treating multiple health problems, particularly those linked to the respiratory system.

Using essential oils with steam is a great way to get rid of colds, sinus infections, flu, nasal allergies, bronchitis, etc. Note that this method is not recommended for kids under seven years. However, children above 7 years can wear their swimming goggles or dark shades to protect their eyes.

Usage: Fill a large bowl with steaming water, as this will vaporize the oil very quickly. Add a few drops (not more than 2 – 4 drops) of an essential oil into it.

Cover your head with a towel and bend down closer to the bowl to inhale all the vapors. Take deep breaths and make sure to keep your eyes closed during the process. Don’t lean or shake the bowl, as this can hurt you badly.

Note:This technique is very potent and direct. Hence, using more than four drops might be overwhelming.

3. Dry Evaporation

how to use essential oilsThis is another effective way to use essential oils.

Usage: Add 2-3 drops of an essential oil on a tissue or cotton pad. Place the cotton pad or tissue closer to you.

Say, for instance, on your bedside table or next to your desktop. Let it evaporate.

For a strong dose, take a sniff of the tissue or cotton ball. However, don’t do it often, as this might cause dizziness or a headache.

4. Spray

how to use essential oils with sprayAnother great way to use an essential oil is to dilute and preserve them in a spray bottle. Sprays are not only fun but also simple to incorporate fragrance oils into your daily regimen. It takes only a few minutes.

Usage: Sprays are nothing but adding a few drops of essential oil to some amount of water, creating a sweet-smelling, water-based solution. Preserve this in a clean spray bottle.

Whenever you want to use it, shake it well and spray it into the air to set a good mood or perhaps, you can just spray it on your yoga mat as a natural cleaner.

Do not hand over the spray bottle to children, as they might playfully do something, which might lead to unwanted troubles. So, it is better to keep it away from young kids.

How To Use Essential Oils On Skin (Topical Method)?

Like inhalation method, even topical method features the use of essential oils in multiple ways. Since they have an excellent molecular structure, your skin can absorb the essential oils much faster. When applied on the skin (or topically), it usually takes around 20 minutes to affect each cell in the body. Later, the oil is metabolized in a few hours.

Please Note: It is highly dangerous to use essential oils on the skin directly. They are highly concentrated and hence, should never be used undiluted. Applying an essential oil (without diluting) can cause extreme burns, skin allergies, and other adverse reactions. For dilution, use carrier oils like coconut oil, sesame oil, castor oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, or olive oil.

Blending Ratio For Essential Oils

On average, essential oils are 70+ times intense than the entire plant. Hence dilutions typically vary between 2% and 10%.

  • 1% mixture = adding 6 drops of an essential oil into 30 ml of carrier oil
  • 2% mixture = adding 12 drops of an essential oil into 30 ml of carrier oil
  • 3% mixture = adding 18 drops of an essential oil into 30 ml of carrier oil
  • 5% mixture = adding 30 drops of an essential oil into 30 ml of carrier oil
  • 10% mixture = adding 60 drops of an essential oil into 30 ml of carrier oil

Generally, a dilution of 2.5% is advised for adults whereas for kids, it is strongly recommended to 1% for safety.

5. Applying On The Skin

how to use essential oils on the skin When it comes to using essential oils on the skin, there are two important things to keep in mind:

  • Dilute it with a carrier oil.
  • Do a patch test.

Essential oils are concentrated and highly potent. Hence, when applied directly on the skin, they can cause difficulties in breathing, burns, allergies, rashes, and sometimes anaphylactic shock.

Usage: Choose a good quality carrier oil like olive oil, grapeseed oil, almond oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, or castor oil to dilute an essential oil. You can even use cold cream or moisturizer, given that there aren’t too many additives in it.

Every essential oil bottle comes with clear instructions about its usage. However, if it is missing or you are in doubt, go with 2% dilution, meaning that you should add 30 ml of carrier oil to 10-12 drops of essential oil. If the individual to be administered is an elder or a child, go with 1% dilution (i.e., 30 ml of carrier oil to 6 drops of essential oil).

Wash your skin properly so that your pores open up, leaving the skin clear and fresh. Apply a small amount of the “diluted” oil onto the skin gently.

It is best to use essential oils in the morning or evening. Do not use essential oils more than 3 times in a week. You can increase the frequency only if you do not experience any itchiness or rashes or your skin stays dry.

6. Baths

how to use essential oil in bathsAdding aromatic oils to your bath can be highly beneficial not only in soothing your body but also in relaxing your mind. However, to use it in baths, keep Epsom salts handy, as this serves as the base for any essential oil.

Essential oils won’t completely dissolve when dropped in the water tub. That’s the reason Epsom salts are used. With salts, they dissolve wonderfully.

  • Oils to add in baths: When it comes to using essential oils to your bath, go for Peppermint oil, Lavender oil, or Sweet orange oil.
  • Oils to avoid in baths: Do not use spicy oils like lemongrass oil, oregano oil, bergamot oil, cinnamon oil, basil oil, and thyme oil into baths, as they are photo-toxic and can cause irritation.

Usage: Swirling the essential oil into the Epsom salt bath can make it float on the water, which, in turn, can encounter your skin undiluted. Hence, it is vital to dilute the essential oils before using.

Fill the water tub with hot or lukewarm water. Add 1 or 2 cups of good quality Epsom salt to it. Swirl it to dissolve properly. In a cup, take 2-3 teaspoons of any carrier oil (jojoba oil / almond oil / coconut oil / olive oil / grapeseed oil / castor oil / sesame oil) and add 3-5 drops of your preferred essential to it.

Based on the water quantity, add 2-3 teaspoons of liquid castile soap to the mixture. Blend them well and drop the mixture into the bathing water. Swirl again to make sure everything is dissolved.

Finally, soak yourself and have a relaxed essential oil bath.

7. Massage

how to use essential oil for massageUsing essential oils for massages can be highly helpful in treating sore muscles, body pain, tiredness, etc. The concept of massaging the body with aromatic oils aren’t new.

They have had a great history – in fact, they have known to have existed from the ancient times. Massages help in increasing the overall blood flow and boosts the blood vessels to function better.

Usage: Add about 10 – 12 drops of an essential oil to 30 ml of almond oil or grapeseed oil. Use this mixture to massage your body. This composition not only enhances the lymphatic circulation but also provides deep relaxation and loosens muscle stiffness. The stiff veins are relieved, helping the blood to flow efficiently throughout the body.

Guidelines To Read Before Using Essential Oils

Whenever you use an essential oil, make sure to adhere to the following instructions:

  • Never use an essential oil without diluting it. Mix it with a good carrier oil (olive oil/almond oil/jojoba oil/coconut oil/castor oil/sesame oil) before applying it on the skin.
  • Never use essential oils on deep cuts, skin burns, and open wounds.
  • Besides carrier oils, dilution might also involve fragrance-free white lotion, balm, perfume base, butter, or water (since water and oil don’t go with each other, an emulsifier can be used).
  • The “normal” dilution is usually suggested at 2%.
  • Never apply an essential on the eyelids, lips, mucous membranes, or anywhere around your eyes.
  • Though a slight irritation is common to occur after applying an essential oil, too much is a sign that you should discontinue using it right away.
  • If the irritation is too much, wipe off the essential oil with butter or carrier oil, but not water.
  • Store the essential oils in a cool, dry, and dark place – covered with airtight lids.
  • Keep the essential oil bottles away from babies, children, and pets.
  • Do not diffuse an essential oil into an area that is unventilated.
  • If there are pets, children, or babies in the house, consult a professional aromatherapist before diffusing them.
  • Keep the essential oils away from flame and heat, as they are highly flammable.
  • Avoid using essential oils during pregnancy and serious illnesses.
  • Do not use essential oils without educating yourself properly. Whenever you are in doubt, consult a qualified aromatherapist.

What Else You Need To Know?

Besides topical application and inhalation, essential oils can also be used for cleaning too.

According to Sejal Shah, a New York-based dermatologist, it is best to inhale an essential oil (through diffusers or steam) if your problem is emotional or internal. Lavender oil is apt for such conditions.

Even clinical studies have demonstrated that inhalation poses real-time benefits for individuals suffering from anxiety, insomnia, nervousness, improper mental focus, menstrual pain, and depression.

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