Essential oils are everywhere.
In the field of aromatherapy, they are used for things like relieving anxiety, helping to soothe an upset stomach, aiding in memory recall, and even for helping the skin to heal faster. They are a useful part of the natural medicine cabinet, for sure.
While using essential oils, there are two very basic ways to apply them. “Neat” refers to the oil being placed directly on the skin and “Diluted” refers to the oil being mixed in a base oil first. This base oil is what will be referred to as a “carrier” oil, since it carries the oil.
There are VERY few times when an oil should be placed “neat” on the skin. Doing so can cause more harm than good, as there are oils that can burn the skin in full concentration. This can also lead to sensitizing of the skin to the oil, and in some rare cases, cause a future allergic reaction for the person. Once that happens, that person is no longer able to use the oil without a reaction. This can happen no matter how “pure” or “theraputic grade” the oil is.
For a minor burn, a single drop of lavender directly on the skin would be one of the ONLY appropriate times to use an essential oil “neat”.
The most common way to get the benefits of the essential oil when using inhalation therapy is by diffusing the oil, or by adding it to a necklace or other jewelry. The benefits are realized without it coming into direct contact with the skin.
Using the essential oils on the skin, for applications such as a compress, massage oil, or even in a relaxing bath, using a carrier oil is the ONLY way to ensure safety. As a general rule for healthy adults, a good dilution is 1-3% of the total oil. That means for every 100 drops of a carrier oil, only 1-3 drops of essential oil are used. For children, the dilution rate is even lower.
To make the math easier, we are going to use 1 teaspoon=64 drops. So, if you want a 1% solution, you will use 1 1/2 teaspoons of carrier oil for every drop of essential oil.
Knowing how to choose a carrier oil is important.
Each of them have different properties, and are useful for many different applications. Some are nut based, and for those who can’t have nuts, they will need to avoid them. Some are cheaper than others. Here are some carrier oils to choose from to help you with your essential oil applications.
Apricot Kernel Oil-made from the pressed kernels of apricots, and used interchangeably with sweet almond oil. this is a light oil, that has a slightly nutty scent. Often found in cosmetics and natural body care. (get it here)
Avocado Oil-a light green oil that leaves no greasy residue on the skin, avocado oil is thick and creamy. Commonly used in soap making or luxury body care. It is also used as a high temp cooking oil, as it can withstand heats of over 400 without breaking down. (get it here)
Coconut Oil-perfect for massage oils, this thick oil is solid at a room temperature of 76. Although solid, it easily melts with body skin temperature, and is quickly absorbed by the skin. Also used as a cooking oil, and is common to many kitchens. (get it here)
Grapeseed Oil-processed from the seeds of the grapes, this thin oil is often used in culinary applications as well as cosmetic. This oil has no odor, and is light in color. (get it here)
Jojoba Oil-one of the thickest oils used in body care and aromatherapy, this oil also is considered to be anti-inflammatory. That property makes it a great carrier oil in skin salves that are meant to soothe broken, burned, or rough skin. (get it here)
Olive Oil-often found in kitchens as a cooking or salad dressing base, this oil coats the skin well and is quickly absorbed. It’s strong scent makes it best used as a fraction of the total carrier oil. (get it here)
Rice Bran Oil-extracted from rice during the milling process, this clear oil has no scent of it’s own and is quickly absorbed by the skin. Also used in culinary applications, rice bran oil is becoming common in natural care products. (get it here)
While this is by no means the entire list of all carrier oils available,
these are some of the most common and easily affordable oils on the market. You can find most of these oils in your local grocery or health food store, or online. (each one is linked to where I purchase it)
What carrier oil would you use most often? Be sure to pin this for later!