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Essential oils must be diluted before being applied directly to the skin, as irritation or other skin reactions may occur. Although diluted oils may still cause a skin reaction to some, diluting the oils before application minimizes the risk of adverse reactions. It not only saves your skin, but your bank account as well, as you will use less oil and diluting the oils with a carrier oil prevents it from evaporating as fast as it would without. A reduction in volatility means more essential oil is absorbed into the skin and the therapeutic properties are maximized.


For a first-time user, a patch test is recommended. A patch test is a safe practice in which you place one drop of diluted essential oil to a small area of skin such as the inside elbow. After application, be aware of any adverse reactions for the following 24 hours. Possible reactions include not only skin irritation, but headache, nausea, respiratory complaints or dizziness.


Carrier Oil

A carrier oil, also known as base oil or vegetable oil, is used to dilute essential oils and absolutes before they are applied to the skin in massage and aromatherapy. When diffusing, it is common to dilute in water, but for added benefit, consider diluting in one of the following carrier oils. They are so named because they carry the essential oil through the skin and into the bloodstream. Diluting essential oils is a critical safety practice when using essential oils. Essential oils alone are volatile; they begin to dissipate as soon as they are applied.


Five of the best and most accessible carrier oils are as following:


  1. Coconut Oil

What can’t coconut oil do? Coconut oil serves as a great carrier oil because it has a low molecular weight, allowing it to penetrate your skin on a deeper level. It also contains saturated fats that help the skin to stay moisturized, while helping to provide a smooth and even skin tone. In addition to this, coconut oil has antiseptic and antimicrobial properties, so it’s perfect for relieving irritating skin conditions like acne, eczema and cold sores.

A randomized double-blind controlled trial sought to determine the efficacy of virgin coconut oil in treating mild to moderate xerosis, a medical term that’s used to describe dry, rough, itchy and scaly skin. Thirty-four patients were randomized to apply either coconut oil or mineral oil on their legs twice a day for two weeks. Researchers found that coconut oil and mineral oil had comparable effects, and both were able to improve symptoms of xerosis without causing adverse reactions.


As a carrier oil, coconut’s use on the skin are seemingly infinite. Combine 1–3 drops of any essential oil that’s safe for topical use with about half a teaspoon of coconut oil and rub the mixture into the area of concern. If you are using an essential oil internally, combine 1–2 drops with a half-teaspoon of coconut oil before ingestion.


  1. Almond Oil

Sweet almond oil is commonly used as a carrier oil because it contains antioxidants and helps to keep your skin smooth and soft to the touch. Historically, it was used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine to treat skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema.


Almond oil is light and absorbs easily into the skin, so when it’s combined with antimicrobial essential oils, like tea tree or lavender, it can help to gently cleanse skin by getting into pores and follicles. Almond oil also has emollient properties, so it may even be able to improve your complexion and skin tone. Almond oil is also one of the best carrier oils to use in a diffuser because it is light and will help to spread the scent of the essential oils of your choosing.


  1. Jojoba Oil

Jojoba oil is an excellent carrier oil because it’s odorless and serves as an emollient, helping to soothe skin and unclog pores and hair follicles. But beyond acting as a carrier oil, jojoba oil contains many of its own benefits for your hair and skin.


Jojoba oil is actually a plant wax, not an oil, and it can be used to moisturize, protect and cleanse your skin, promote the health of your hair, and even prevent razor burn. Many use jojoba oil because it helps to balance oil production in the skin, so it will reduce the greasy, oily feeling that may occur in skin and hair. Plus, jojoba oil contains vitamin E and B, which are used treat sunburns and wounds.


  1. Olive Oil

Olive oil is high in fatty acids, anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants. Not only does consuming real extra virgin olive oil benefit your heart, brain and mood, but it can also be used as a carrier oil to help hydrate skin, speed up wound healing and even help fight infections.


Research suggests that olive oil may serve as a promising treatment for skin related conditions like seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, acne and atopic dermatitis. It helps to improve these skin issues by reducing inflammation and fighting the growth of bacteria. Overall, it is a highy beneficial and healthy oil for the skin.

  1. Avocado Oil

Like the other carrier oils, avocado oil benefits your health when it’s both consumed and applied onto skin. It’s moisturizing, so it works best for those with dry, cracked, and rough skin. Avocado oil helps to improve skin texture, remove makeup and hydrate the hair. Plus, research conducted on rats suggests that avocado oil may help to reduce inflammation and increase collagen production, making it a very useful tool for treating skin wounds.

To use avocado oil alone, simply add a small amount to a cotton ball and apply it to dry areas on your face, cracked heels, dry cuticles and dry hair. To use it as a carrier oil, combine 1–3 drops of any essential oil that’s safe for topical use with about a half teaspoon of avocado oil and rub the mixture into any areas of concern.



Carrier oils are generally cold-pressed or macerated vegetable oils taken from, among others:

  • Apricot Oil
  • Grape Seed Oil
  • Sesame Oil
  • Primrose Oil
  • Canola Oil (or Rapeseed Oil)
  • Camellia Seed Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Marula Oil
  • Emu Oil
  • Castor Oil
  • Borage Seed Oil
  • On right side: Nuts:

o               Walnut Oil

o               Peanut Oil

o               Pecan Oil

o               Macadamia Oil

o               Hazelnut Oil

o               Cocoa Butter


Dilution Process

Now that you have your essential oil and carrier oil, it is time to mix them into an amalgamation of alleviation and amelioration. A blend of natural relief and tranquility. If it is going to be applied to the skin, the golden rule of dilution is:


6 drops of essential oil + 1 oz. carrier = 1% dilution


Dilution %

5 ml bottle

(1 teaspoon carrier oil)

10 ml bottle

(2 teaspoon carrier oil)

15 ml bottle

(3 teaspoon carrier oil)

30 ml bottle

(6 teaspoon carrier oil)


<1 drop E.O.

1 E.O. drop

2 E.O. drops

4 E.O. drops


1 E.O. drop

3 E.O. drops

4 E.O. drops

9 E.O. drops


3 E.O. drops

6 E.O. drops

9 E.O. drops

18 E.O. drops


4 E.O. drops

9 E.O. drops

13 E.O. drops

27 E.O. drops


6 E.O. drops

12 E.O. drops

18 E.O. drops

36 E.O. drops


7 E.O. drops

15 E.O. drops

22 E.O. drops

45 E.O. drops


15 E.O. drops

30 E.O. drops

45 E.O. drops

90 E.O. drops



1% dilution is recommended for children over the age of 2, elderly users, facial application, and longtime daily use.


2% dilution is recommended for children, bath and body products, and regular daily use of an oil for skin care.


3% dilution is recommended for specific localized pain and discomfort.


5% dilution is recommended for short term application on a small area.


10% dilution should be the maximum dilution applied on skin, at least for beginning users. This mixture is recommended for acute issues like muscle cramp or severe pain.


When it comes to essential oils, the saying “It’s better to be safe than sorry” should be taken seriously. Applying essential oils directly to the skin without proper dilution significantly increases the risk of adverse reactions significantly. Keeping safe use of essential oils in mind, make sure to always use the lowest dilution possible that gives you effective results.

Make sure to keep oils away from eyes, ears, and mucous membranes.  All individuals are different; therefore, it is impossible to ensure the safety and efficacy of these oils. Hot oils such as cinnamon, clove bud, and oregano should be diluted to 0.5%, and should not be used on children under two.


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