How To Dilute Essential Oils For Skin: Easy and Complete Guide

how to dilute essential oils for skin

When you’re using essential oils topically, the dilution process can totally make or break your ability to get the right results.

And even though dilution sounds like you’re getting a weaker version of essential oils, it actually enhances the action of the oils.

So, whether you’re brand new to essential oils or you’re experienced (but want a quick refresher), this article is going to guide you on how to dilute essential oils for skin.

We’re going to dive into proper dilution for the face and body, while also debunking some common misconceptions about essential oil dilution.

NOTE: the dilution recommendations in this article come from the Tisserand Institute (1, 2) and the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy.

DO ALL ESSENTIAL OILS NEED TO BE DILUTED FOR TOPICAL APPLICATION?

do all essential oils need to be diluted for topical application

Have you ever heard of “neat” application

It basically refers to applying undiluted essential oils directly to the skin.

Neat application is often done with oils like lavender, tea tree and rose. These oils are skin-friendly, and in many cases there are no visible adverse reactions from using them undiluted.

However, unless you’re dealing with a serious and acute situation (such as an open wound) neat application isn’t the best way to apply essential oils on a daily basis.

To get the most skin care or beauty benefits, it’s actually better to dilute your essential oils.

Dilution offers 4 key benefits that you should take into consideration. Here they are:

1. Dilution Enhances Absorption

Undiluted essential oils start to evaporate quite quickly when they’re exposed to the air.

So, let’s say you apply lavender over an old scar that you’re trying to fade (this is a popular use of lavender!).

A portion of that oil will disappear before it’s had a chance to be absorbed into your skin.

On the other hand, when you dilute the essential oil with the right carrier (we’ll talk about carriers soon!) the essential oil is dispersed within the carrier.

Therefore, when you apply the carrier onto your skin the essential oils have time to be absorbed without worry of evaporation.

2. Dilution Protects The Skin From Dryness

Generally speaking, essential oils can be quite drying. 

So, if you make it a habit of applying them undiluted, your skin can start to dry out.

This is why it’s so important to blend your essential oil with a nourishing carrier agent. It’s the best way to enjoy the healing properties of the essential oil while also nourishing your skin.

3. Diluting Essential Oils Means Less Risk of Irritation and Toxicity

Even when using “safe” essential oils like lavender, it’s still possible to have a bad reaction to them when they’re undiluted.

In such a situation, you might get blisters, redness, itching and/or a burning sensation (source):

So, once again, using a carrier comes in very handy. 

Furthermore, regular use of undiluted essential oils puts a strain on your liver and nervous system. 

So, when it’s all said and done, it’s always best to dilute all essential oils.

NOTE: since there are 8 billion of us on this planet, there will always be exceptions to every rule! So, don’t be surprised if you still experience an adverse reaction to an oil, even in the diluted form. It’s a sign that you’re sensitive to that oil and you should either reduce the dilution ratio, or avoid it completely.

CAN YOU DILUTE ESSENTIAL OILS WITH WATER?

Essential oils are mainly lipophilic, which means that they dissolve in fats. If combined with water, essential oils will simply float above the water (similar to mixing oil and vinegar). Therefore, water alone should never be used as a medium for diluting essential oils.

Now, you might be wondering if you can’t dilute essential oils in water, then how do you take an essential oil bath or even, make a water-based spritz with essential oils?

Well, keep reading because the answers to those questions (and many others) are coming up!

BEST CARRIER OILS FOR ESSENTIAL OIL SKIN DILUTION

best carrier oils for essential oil skin dilution

Since essential oils dissolve in fats, the best way to dilute them is to mix them with oils known as carrier oils.

The carrier oil serves as the medium in which the essential oil dissolves so that it can be “carried” to (and through) your skin safely.

Now, as for which carrier oils to use, the best ones are those that are liquid at room temperature (about 76 degrees fahrenheit).

In addition to using a liquid oil, it’s also important to choose an oil that matches your skin profile i.e. dry, normal, combination, sensitive, oily or acne-prone.

Based on all of the above, here are some carrier oils that are ideal for diluting essential oils.

CARRIER OILSKIN TYPE
Almond oilall skin types
Apricot kernel oilall skin types
Argan oilall skin types
Avocado oilall skin types
Coconut oil (regular and fractionated)dry, parched skin, mature skin. Can clog pores for some people, especially if you have oily/acne-prone skin.
Hazelnut oilall skin type
Grapeseed oilall skin types
Hemp seed oildry skin; mature skin; combination skin
Jojoba oilall skin types
Macadamia nut oilall skin types
Olive oilall skin types
Pomegranate seed oilall skin types
Rosehip oilall skin types
Sesame oildry skin; combination skin, mature skin
Safflower oilall skin types
Sunflower oilall skin types
Walnut oilall skin types

NOTE: you can also dilute essential oils in thick oils (like castor oil) or butters (such as shea butter). However, because these are all very heavy, you won’t absorb quite as much of the essential oil as you would with a thinner oil. Also, be aware that mineral oil is not a suitable carrier for essential oils since it places a heavy barrier on the skin. This barrier can prevent essential oil absorption.

TIPS ON DILUTING ESSENTIAL OILS FOR YOUR FACE

For everyday use of essential oils on your face, the recommended dilution ratio is 0.2 to 1.5%.

Please keep in mind that some essential oils are known to cause irritations, even when diluted. So, it’s best to avoid using those oils on your face (unless you’re working with a licensed aromatherapist).

The essential oils to avoid on the face are:

ESSENTIAL OILS TO AVOID ON THE FACE
Ajowan
Bay oil
Cassia
Clove Bud
Cinnamon bark
Cinnamon leaf
Garlic oil
Holy basil
Jasmine absolute
Lemongrass
Lemon myrtle
Lemon-scented tea tree
Massoia
May chang
Melissa
Opoponax
Oregano
Oakmoss absolute
Peru balsam
Summary savory
Thyme
Winter savory
Ylang ylang

TIPS ON DILUTING ESSENTIAL OILS FOR YOUR BODY

Because the skin on the rest of the body is less delicate than the skin on the face, you can use higher dilution ratios.

Here are the general guidelines to keep in mind when diluting essential oils for your body:

  • Massage oil: 1.5 – 3%
  • Bath products (such as bath bombs) or body care products (such as moisturizer): 1 – 4%
  • Pain and wounds: 5 – 20%

Also keep in mind that another way to use essential oil on your skin is to add it to your bath water.

But since oil and water don’t mix, you will need a dispersing agent for this method to be effective. 

The two easiest options here are to disperse your essential oils in one of the following:

  • Liquid castile soap: this can be a brand name like Dr. Bronners or any other natural castile soap you can find.
  • Solubol: this is a natural dispersant that you can buy from online retailers. It allows you to combine oil and water safely.

Now, here’s how to use castile soap and solubol in a bath:

  • Mix 2 – 12 drops of essential oils with 1 tablespoon of castile soap or solubol.
  • Add the mixture to your bath water and enjoy a relaxing soak! 

ALTERNATIVE WAYS TO DILUTE ESSENTIAL OILS FOR SKIN USE: LOTION, ALOE VERA AND MORE

Aside from carrier oils, you can also dilute essential oils with:

  • Lotion and creams: Combine 6 drops of essential oil with 1 tablespoon of store-bought lotion or cream. This results in a 1.5% dilution.
  • Aloe vera: fresh aloe vera from the plant has a high water content that makes it unsuitable for diluting essential oils. A better option is to use a store bought aloe vera jelly product. These jellies contain thickening agents that are better for dispersing essential oils for skin application (these jellies DO NOT work for a bath). Here’s one to try.
  • Shampoo: this is ideal if you want to infuse your shampoo with hair growth oils like peppermint or rosemary. Follow the same dilution recommendations as for castile soap.
  • Water + dispersing agent: to make your water-based essential oil face spray, ,combine 7 drops of essential oil with 1 ounce of distilled water, plus solubol. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how much solubol to use.

FAQs FOR HOW TO DILUTE ESSENTIAL OILS FOR SKIN

Can you mix essential oils together for face?

Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, you can blend different essential oils for your face. For example, for acne you can combine tea tree oil and lavender (the latter helps with scarring). On the other hand, for wrinkles, clary sage and frankincense go well together.

Where do you rub essential oils?

You can apply essential oils from head to toe. For example, you can use them on your scalp to stimulate hair growth, on painful muscles or joints, or even on the back of the neck to relieve headaches.

CONCLUSION

Knowing how to dilute essential oils for skin use is critical for getting the best results from these potent natural compounds.

And as long as you follow the safety guidelines outlined throughout this article, you’re less likely to experience unwanted side effects from using them topically.

I hope this guide has answered your most burning questions on this topic. Now, go forth and dilute, and enjoy the beautiful results!

how to dilute essential oils for skin - pin with bottle and dropper

Related Posts:

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Essential Oil Dilution for Face: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

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