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Before you start applying essential oils to your skin, it’s absolutely important to learn how to dilute essential oils for topical application. Diluting essential oils involves mixing a small amount of essential oil with a relatively larger quantity of carrier oil.
Understanding how to dilute essential oils will allow you to benefit from the powerful skin-nourishing properties of essential oils without adverse effects.
In this guide to diluting essential oils, I cover everything you need to know from dilution ratios and techniques to the best carrier oils to use for dilution, safety precautions, and more.
But first, why do you need to dilute essential oils?
Why Dilute Essential Oils
Diluting essential oils is usually only necessary for topical application.
Essential oils are highly concentrated extracts that contain potent medicinal, aromatic, and flavor-related properties of plants. While they offer numerous health and wellness benefits, they are too concentrated to apply to the skin directly. Our skin doesn’t handle the high concentration very well and can have an adverse reaction.
Even commonly used essential oils like lavender and tea tree, which offer great benefits for the skin, should never be applied undiluted.
Diluting essential oils for topical applications offers 4 very interesting benefits:
1. Safety – Applying concentrated essential oils on the skin can cause skin irritation, allergic reactions, and even sensitization. Diluting with carrier oil helps reduce the risk of adverse reactions and ensures safer use. This is because the carrier oil acts as a buffer between the skin and the essential oil, minimizing direct contact between the two.
2. Enhanced Absorption – Essential oils are too concentrated to be absorbed by the skin properly. Carrier oils help essential oils absorb better into the skin, maximizing their therapeutic benefits. Knowing which are the best pulse points for essential oils will speed up absorption even more, helping you get faster and more targeted relief.
3. Longer Staying Power – Essential oils are volatile organic compounds that can quickly evaporate when applied undiluted. Dilution prevents the volatile essential oil molecules from evaporating too quickly. As a result, the oils stay on the skin longer, allowing you to fully enjoy their benefits.
4. Cost-Effectiveness – Diluting essential oils helps stretch your supply, saving you money in the long run. Using a carrier oil allows you to spread a drop or two of essential oil over a larger area of skin and it’s safer too.
Best Carrier Oils for Dilution
Carrier oils are neutral vegetable and seed oils that help dilute essential oils and carry them onto the skin. They play a crucial role in the dilution process, enhancing absorption and reducing the risk of irritation.
These are some of the best carrier oils for diluting essential oils:
1. Fractionated Coconut Oil
Fractionated coconut oil is an excellent carrier oil for diluting essential oils for a number of reasons.
It has powerful moisturizing and nourishing properties, is easily absorbed by the skin, and leaves a pleasant, tropical scent. Coconut oil is also packed with antioxidants, which give it superior healing properties and its antimicrobial properties help keep skin ailments at bay.
2. Jojoba Oil
Jojoba oil is the closest in composition and consistency to the natural oils produced by our skin, making it an excellent carrier oil for diluting essential oils. It is non-greasy, easily absorbed, and suitable for all skin types.
Jojoba is non-comedogenic and won’t clog pores, making it the best carrier oil for acne essential oil preparations. It has a long shelf life and can even help regulate oil production in the skin.
3. Argan Oil
Often referred to as ‘liquid gold’, Argan oil is especially beneficial for aging skin. This luxurious oil is packed with essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins. It supports the skin’s natural barrier, enhancing its resilience against environmental stressors and preventing moisture loss, leaving the skin soft, supple, and glowing.
I’ve recently switched over to using this carrier oil to dilute essential oils when making skin and body care products at home. Its non-greasy texture and quick absorption make it an ideal carrier oil for various skincare formulations and a fantastic option for achieving healthy skin.
4. Grapeseed Oil
Extracted from dried grape seeds, grapeseed oil is a lightweight carrier oil that is easily absorbed by the skin. It is rich in antioxidants, vitamin E, and omega-chain fatty acids, which leave the skin looking healthy and glowing.
Grapeseed oil has a neutral scent and is suitable for all skin types.
3. Sweet Almond Oil
Sweet almond oil is a light, gentle, odorless carrier oil that works well for diluting essential oils.
It is rich in vitamins and minerals that nourish the skin, hypoallergenic, and readily absorbed by the skin. All of these properties make it the best carrier oil for sensitive skin and for soothing the symptoms of psoriasis and eczema
6. Olive Oil
Olive oil is an excellent choice for diluting essential oils. Two things to keep in mind when using olive oil. It’s a heavy oil and is better suited for more robust applications such as body massage. Secondly, it does have a stronger aroma than other carrier oils and as such, it may not be suited for making perfumes and other scented DIY projects.
Olive oil is rich in antioxidants, nourishes the skin, and has healing properties. Look for cold-pressed, virgin olive oil, as it retains more of its beneficial properties compared to processed oils.
Check out the full list of the 10 best carrier oils for diluting essential oils. Each carrier oil has its own unique properties, so feel free to explore and find the one that works best for you.
Can You Dilute Essential Oils With Water?
No, you cannot dilute essential oils with water.
Like all other oils, essential oils, and water don’t mix because of their very different chemical properties.
When you add essential oils to water, it will form two separate and distinct layers with the oil floating on top of the water.
Applying this unstable solution to your skin will cause the undiluted drops of essential oil to come in direct contact with the skin. This can cause irritation or sensitization.
The only safe way to dilute essential oils for topical use is with suitable carrier oils. Carrier oils effectively disperse and dilute essential oils making them safe to apply on the skin.
The only time you can dilute essential oils with water is when using an ultrasonic diffuser. These diffusers are designed to activate the oil and water and disperse the oil molecules into the air along with a mist of water vapor.
To be on the safe side, for topical applications, use only the recommended carrier oils for diluting essential oils. Avoid experimenting with other liquids such as vinegar or honey.
Plant Therapy’s Recommended Dilution Ratios
I use Plant Therapy’s Essential Oil Dilution Chart as a reference for my dilution ratios and percentages. It eliminates the confusion that stems from referring to different sources. Plant Therapy is a reputed essential oil brand and their dilution chart is based on extensive studies and research.
They have two essential oil dilution charts – one for adults and one for kids. Having one of these for easy reference takes away any guesswork or confusion.
The dilution chart lays out in an easy-to-read table format how much essential oil and carrier oil you need to add together to obtain different dilution percentages. You’ll also find helpful conversions and dilution guidelines alongside.
The best part about Plant Therapy’s Dilution Chart is that it’s magnetized so you won’t need to go looking for it every time you’re working with essential oils. Put it up on your fridge for easy reference whenever you need it.
Here’s what you need to know about dilution ratios. The dilution percentage refers to the concentration of essential oil in the final mixture.
0.25% dilution – 1 drop essential oil in 2 teaspoons carrier oil
0.5% dilution – 3 drops essential oil in 4 teaspoons carrier oil
1% dilution – 3 drops essential oil in 2 teaspoons carrier oil
2% dilution – 6 drops essential oil in 2 teaspoons carrier oil – recommended for most applications
3% dilution – 9 drops essential oil in 2 teaspoons carrier oil
5% dilution – 15 drops essential oil in 2 teaspoons carrier oil
10% dilution – 15 drops essential oil – 1 teaspoon carrier oil
Helpful Conversions: 1 Ounce = 6 teaspoons OR 2 tablespoons OR 30 milliliters
Recommended Dilution Guidelines For Adults:
For long-term or daily use and full-body application, use 1% dilution.
For short-term use, you can use a 5% dilution for faster results. This concentration may be too high for the longer term and may cause other problems.
For small areas of concern and acute situations, you can use a 10% dilution but proceed very carefully.
Most importantly, do a patch test on another area before using it for a therapeutic purpose.
Recommended Dilution Guidelines For Kids: Because children’s skin is so much more sensitive, you have to be very careful about using essential oils topically. Please read through the dilution guidelines on Plant Therapy’s Essential Oil Dilution Chart very carefully.
How to Dilute Essential Oils for Topical Use
Diluting essential oils for topical use is a simple process but it does require careful measurement and mixing.
You want to be especially careful to follow proper dilution guidelines to ensure safe and effective use.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to dilute essential oils for topical use:
The first step in diluting essential oils is to determine the desired dilution percentage.
Refer to the Essential Oil Dilution Chart to determine what dilution percentage to use for your application. If you’re following a recipe, use that as a reference.
Mix the desired quantities of essential oil and carrier oil in a clean, dry, glass bottle or bowl and stir gently to ensure thorough blending.
If you’re not going to use the mix right away, combine the oils in a dark-colored glass bottle directly so there’s no wastage.
Label the container with the name of the essential oil and carrier oil used, the dilution percentage, and the date of preparation.
Store the mixture in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and heat. Properly stored diluted essential oils can last for several months.
Tips for Diluting Essential Oils
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when diluting essential oils:
– Start with a lower concentration: If you’re new to using essential oils or have sensitive skin, start with a lower concentration to minimize the risk of adverse reactions. You can gradually increase it as your skin becomes more accustomed to the oils.
– Patch test before use: Before applying a diluted essential oil to a larger area of your skin, perform a patch test. Apply a small amount of the diluted oil to the inside of your wrist or elbow and wait for 24 hours to check for any signs of irritation or allergic reactions.
– Follow specific recommendations for children: When using essential oils on children, it’s crucial to follow specific recommendations for safe use. Use a 1% dilution and choose essential oils that are regarded as safe for children.
– Consult a professional: If you have any underlying health conditions, are pregnant or nursing, or are taking medication, it’s best to consult a professional aromatherapist or healthcare provider before using essential oils. They can provide personalized guidance and ensure safe and effective use.
Difference Between Diluting And Blending Essential Oils
The terms diluting and blending are often used interchangeably with regard to essential oils but this is a mistake.
It’s really important to understand the difference between diluting and blending essential oils so I wanted to take a moment to discuss these differences.
Diluting essential oils refers to adding a few drops of essential oil into a larger quantity of carrier oil. This is relevant for topical applications only. If you’re not using essential oils topically, you don’t need to dilute them.
Blending essential oils refers to mixing two essential oils to achieve a more complex aroma. You can blend two or more essential oils from the same or different aroma families depending on the aroma or effect you hope to achieve.
When blending essential oils, you need to dilute the resultant blend only if you’re planning on applying it to your skin. If you’re using your new blend in a diffuser, there’s no need to dilute it.
Note About Phototoxicity
Some citrus oils, such as bergamot, lemon, and lime, can cause skin sensitivity when exposed to sunlight.
Always dilute phototoxic oils at a lower ratio and avoid sun exposure for 12 to 18 hours after application to avoid any adverse reaction.
If using phototoxic oils in leave-on products such as moisturizers, body lotions, lip balm, or perfume, ensure the dilution ratio is very low. And preferably use the product only in the evening.
Diluting essential oils is a critical step in using them safely and effectively. By following proper dilution guidelines and using the right carrier oils, you can enjoy the numerous benefits of essential oils without the risk of adverse reactions.
Remember to start with lower dilutions, perform patch tests, and consult a professional when needed.
Do I have to dilute all essential oils?
You need to dilute all essential oils with a carrier oil for topical use, in the bath, and also when making skin and bath care products or household cleaning products with essential oil. Get more details about how to use essential oils in the bath.
Do I need to dilute essential oils when adding to my diffuser?
This may vary depending on the type of diffuser. You will need to dilute essential oils when using an ultrasonic diffuser. However, in this case, the dilution medium is water, not carrier oil. The device is designed to vaporize the water in its water tank and release the water vapor along with vaporized essential oil molecules into the atmosphere.
Nebulizing and passive diffusers don’t need water. They work directly on the concentrated essential oil.
How do I know if I am allergic to a specific essential oil?
Before using a new essential oil, perform a patch test on a small area of the skin. Mix a drop of the diluted oil with a carrier oil and apply it to the inside of your forearm. Wait for 24 hours and observe for any signs of redness, itching, or irritation. Make sure to follow these essential oil safety guidelines at all times.
If any adverse reactions occur, avoid using that particular essential oil.
Can I mix different essential oils together before diluting them?
Yes, you can mix different essential oils before diluting them. Mixing together 2 or more oils can create unique and synergistic aromas loaded with therapeutic benefits. Always ensure that the combined essential oils are safe and suitable for the intended purpose and dilute them appropriately with a carrier oil before use.
What do I do if I experience skin irritation from diluted essential oils?
If you experience skin irritation from diluted essential oils, immediately stop using the product and wash the affected area with mild soap and water. Apply a carrier oil to soothe the skin. If the irritation persists or worsens, seek medical advice
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to serve as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before using any natural medication or if you experience any unusual symptoms. See Full Disclaimer here.