Most people now have a friend whose answer to just about everything is, “there’s an oil for that!” For those of you who are starting to find out the many benefits of using essential oils, you may hear yourself saying that phrase often. Some oils have become popular remedies for common ailments and nearly any of them can be diffused to reap their benefits. But many oils can also be applied topically. Applying essential oils can provide a wide range of benefits including relaxation, boosting your mood, or relieving stress for starters. It is important to know how to mix oils and oil blends as well a how and where to apply them to get the most out of them.
Diluting Essential Oils
Before applying any oils directly to the skin, they need to be diluted properly. Occasionally, some oils can be applied directly to the skin. This method is called “NEAT.” However, it’s not recommended as a general rule as many oils are considered hot, meaning they feel warm, even uncomfortably so when applied to the skin. Dilution helps protect the skin and is recommended for any application. The oil’s effectiveness is not diminished in any way by mixing it with a carrier oil. Diluting with a carrier oil means using less of the essential oil and can help prevent skin sensitivity issues.
Carrier Oils and Dilution Ratios
So, what is a carrier oil? It is a vegetable-based oil that reduces the amount of essential oil that comes in contact with the skin. There are many options available including:
- Fractionated coconut oil
- Jojoba oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Avocado oil
Essential oils can also be added to unscented lotions or homemade body butter.
These are some basic dilution ratios to help get you started, but they can be tweaked a little to your preference. If you are unsure about diluting oils, bottles of pre-diluted oils with roll-on applicators may be a good place to get started. There are a few factors to consider when mixing your own such as skin sensitivity. For daily use, mix 2 to 3 drops of essential oil for each teaspoon of a carrier oil. If you have sensitive skin, start with 1-2 drops of essential oil for each teaspoon of carrier oil. Once the essential oil is mixed with a carrier, it can be applied to the skin. Be sure to check for skin sensitivity when using a new oil.
Where do I put it?
Once oils are diluted there are several key areas of the body to apply them. In general, oils can be applied in these areas:
- On the location of the pain, injury or discomfort
- The bottoms or tops of the feet
- Outside or behind the ears (never in the ear!)
- On the temples
- Abdominal area
- Inside of the wrists
- On the neck or nape of the neck
- Upper back
Some oils are considered photosensitive, which means they react to direct sunlight. These oils should be applied in a region that isn’t going to be exposed to the sun. They can cause a rash, pigmentation, discoloration or slight burning on the skin in sunlight. The photosensitive oils include bergamot, cumin, ginger, lemon, lime, and orange.
Areas to Apply Oils
There are many ways to use oils topically including to massage sore muscles, with a cold or warm compress, or in the bath. Also, there are numerous ways to apply oils directly to the skin and specific areas to reap desired benefits. After some experimentation you will find the oils and blends that work for you when applied to specific regions of the body. For instance, peppermint may help with digestion. Some prefer to apply it to the feet, others to the abdomen for this purpose. Here are a few general guidelines and suggestions to get you started.
- Need to Relax? Apply oils to the temples or across the forehead. Suggested oils include frankincense, lavender or anxiet-ease.
- Suffering from cold symptoms? Essential oils can be applied to the back o the neck or across the bridge of the nose. Suggested oils include peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus, lavender or breathin EZ.
- Are you too stressed? If you feel too tense, try applying oils to the back of the neck, the temples or across the top of your shoulders. Oils to use include peppermint, chamomile, ylang ylang or bergamot.
- Feeling a little down? Boost your mood by applying oils to the forehead, the wrists or behind the ears. Recommended oils may include orange, lemon, frankincense, peppermint, grapefruit, and sandalwood.
- Need better sleep? Oils to help you relax and get some sleep can be applied on the crown of the head, behind the earlobes or on the forehead, between the eyebrows. Oils to use for good sleep include lavender, cedarwood, vetiver, roman chamomile, and marjoram.
What do I do if the oil application didn’t work for me?
Whether you are new to oils or have been using them and enjoying the benefits for some time, you may occasionally have those instances when the application doesn’t seem to work like you thought it was supposed to. Maybe you even know of some other people who have talked about the wonderful effects they experienced from using an oil for a specific purpose. What do you do when it seems an oil is working for everyone else, but not for you? Here are a few tips.
Check the Dilution
The perfect dilution can vary between people and between oils. If the suggested 1 to 2% dilution rate (see dilution ratio chart here) isn’t working, bump it up a bit. Try using a 3% dilution instead and watch for changes.
More Frequent Applications
The body metabolizes essential oils quickly, so it is safe to use them throughout the day. If you’ve only been applying them one time a day, try spreading out two, three or even four applications over the day.
Try Other Oils
One of the things about oils is there are usually several choices that work for treating a single issue. If Tea Tree oil didn’t work for clearing up your skin, switch to Frankincense. Our bodies are all different and each has its own chemistry, experiment a little to find which works best for you.
Try Oil Blends
Often, a single oil doesn’t remedy a problem as effectively as you wanted it to. Try using a couple of oils together to see if results improve. You may also want to try some oil blends made of several oils. You may want to purchase a blend or make your own. Blends are made of specific oils that are known to treat common ailments or achieve certain desires. For example, the Breathin EZ roll on combines lemon, eucalyptus, peppermint and rosemary all known for helping combat congestion, stuffiness or allergy symptoms. The Chill-Ax-In roll on combines a carrier oil with lemon, rosemary, and lavender for a calming effect. Use oil blends that are premixed and ready to apply, or experiment with some of your own favorites.