Essential oils are incredibly versatile and beneficial. Many of us use them regularly. But do you know how to use them safely? After all, essential oils can be dangerous if not used properly!
Click to read how to safely mix essential oils with carrier oils and avoid any potential harmful reactions on your skin! You can learn all about safe dilution, what carrier oils are best for essential oils, and much more!
Okay, not all essential oils are all equal; some brands are better than others and quality matters a ton when you’re applying something to your skin topically all the time. Also, the purer the oils, the more benefits you can reap from using them!
Ready? Let’s begin!
What are carrier oils?
Carrier or base oils are oils that are pressed from plants, seeds, kernels, and nuts. They are used to dilute essential oils for topical application. You already know some of the carrier oils: sweet almond oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil.
Not all carrier oils are created equal. They have different beneficial components, color, absorption speed, and much more. Some of the carrier oils are comedogenic, which means they shouldn’t be used for can-prone skin (so use these instead for oily skin), others can help with skin tightening, or they can even minimize scars.
Overall, carrier oils were used back in the ancient Greece and Rome. They’re not a modern invention but in the sense of aromatherapy, carrier oils are
base oils that dilute essential oils before topical application, as the latter are much too potent to apply directly to the skin.
These oils are easily included in homemade skincare. When you know a little bit about how they act in a recipe and what they’re good for, you can make yourself a lovely concoction and save money at the same time!
Now, you don’t have to use essential oils with carrier oils if you don’t want to. But essential oils are a nice touch in the recipes as you can create your favorite scent and add it to recipes.
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are potent, concentrated, and aromatic liquids. Each essential oil is extracted from one type of plant. They are known as volatile oils and ethereal oils. In some cases, they’re named after the plant; such as oil of lemon bark.
They have been used in alternative medicine for ages (3000-25000 BC) since these oils pack a number of benefits in that small bottle. They smell nice, right? And combining different oils smells even nicer. But essential oils also come with therapeutic benefits since they are in their essence a concentration of a certain plant and all its useful parts.
That’s why you should know that we can’t make essential oils from just about any plant. Also, not all oils from all plants are safe for us to use.
The essential oils are extracted from plants in the two most important ways:
- By steam distillation
- By expression
How to use essential oils with carrier oils
Here are some of the recipes from the blog, where we use essential oil with carrier oils.
- Lightweight grapeseed facial oil
- Helichrysum Facial Serum for dark circles
- Rosewood and Camellia facial repair oil
- Basic facial oil for normal skin
- Almond oil massage oil
- Basic whipped body butter
- Shimmering whipped body butter
- Skin firming body butter with patchouli
- Facial mask for acne with clay
Can you apply essential oils directly to skin?
No, you shouldn’t apply essential oils directly to your skin. These oils are concentrated and pure. They can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions. Always make a patch test before using these oils on your skin. Dilute them with carrier oils.
There are claims online that you can apply essential oils to your skin directly, but I don’t recommend doing that unless you have extensive knowledge on how to work with essential oils.
Sensitization: what is it?
When applying essential oils undiluted to your skin, you may experience sensitization. That’s basically a skin allergy where you end up with a severe rash. This is a very serious thing as it can even lead to anaphylactic shock.
Once you develop sensitization to essential oil, you are likely to remain permanently sensitized to that essential oil, even if you begin to adequately dilute it. You may also develop a reaction to other essential oils as well and will also experience reactions to products that contain these oils.
In other words, developing this allergic reaction to an essential oil can prevent you from using that oil in the future as well (because the allergic reaction isn’t a one-time thing, but a more permanent problem). What’s more, you’ll also react to products that contain this specific essential oil.
Diluting essential oils with carrier oils
Let’s have a look at how to dilute essential oils with carrier oils. There are some general guidelines and rules that can help you work with essential oils in a safe way. Also, when buying these oils, the manufacturer should provide you with a safety sheet on the dilution ratio. Not all do, though, so here are some safety rules for essential oils and their topical application!
This amount is equivalent to 5 drops of essential oil to one ounce of carrier oils.
If you have a scale, a 1% dilution would mean adding 1 gram of essential oils to 99grams carrier oils, or 0.5g essential oils to 49.5g carrier oils.
Why a scale? Because counting drops of essential oils isn’t too reliable.
This dilution is recommended for: children older than 2, the elderly, daily use, facial skincare, long term use.
This amount is equivalent to 10 drops essential oil to one ounce of carrier oil. It’s also the most common dilution and it’s considered safe for healthy adults.
With a scale, you’d add 2g essential oils to 98gram carrier oils or 1gram essential oils for 49g carrier oils.
This dilution is recommended for: children, bath and body products, regular and daily use, adults
This amount is equivalent to 20 drops essential oils to one ounce of carrier oil.
With a scale, that would mean 3g essential oils to 97g carrier oils, or 1.5g to 48.5g.
Recommended for: specific problems on a certain area of your body (such as sore muscles)
This amount is equivalent to 40 drops essential oils to one ounce of carrier oils.
With a scale, you’d measure 4g essential oils to 96g carrier oils. And that is a lot!
Recommended for: specific problem when you use the product for no longer than 2 weeks
For specific concerns and small area applications, you can also make a 10% dilution. This means you can use up to 80 drops essential oils per one ounce of carrier oil. this is a potent and powerful dilution so work with care. After all, 10g essential oils in a 100g recipe is a lot, and I mean a lot of aroma!
What is the best carrier oil for essential oils?
There is no such thing as the best carrier oil for essential oils. What I mean to say is that there is no one single carrier oil that would be the absolute best for essential oils.
As you noticed above, there are dozens of different carrier oils so it all depends on your preferences, skin type, cosmetic product, etc.
What do I mean by that? Well, I may use coconut oil for my body butter and dilute essential oils in that. But I won’t use coconut oil for my face since it’s comedogenic and it may cause breakouts and clog my pores and make a complete mess.
Just like essential oils, carrier oils are versatile and they all come with specific benefits. Not every carrier oil is great for your skin. Once you figure out your skin type, then you can start talking about the best carrier oil for essential oil. Because those carrier oils will be the best for you to use and dilute essential oils. Not only will the base oils help your skin benefit from the essential oils, but the base oils will also benefit your skin as well.
Below, I’ve listed some of the best carrier oils specifically by skin type. Note that the list is made on the oil’s properties. Just because an oil is non-comedogenic, it can still cause some unpleasant effects for your skin. pay attention to oils and observe your skin especially if you’re acne-prone.
- Apricot kernel oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Hemp seed oil
- Safflower oil
Essential oils: use any that you like
- Carrot seed oil
- Tamanu oil
- Raspberry seed oil
- Rosehip seed oil
- Jojoba oil
- Grapeseed oil
Essential oils: bergamot, chamomile, sandalwood, lemon balm
- Black cumin seed oil
- Safflower oil
- Hemp seed oil
- Rosehip seed oil
Essential oils: lemon, geranium, lavender, tea tree, roman chamomile
- Hemp seed oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Evening primrose oil
Essential oils: tea tree oil, clove, lemongrass, frankincense, lavender
- Camellia seed oil
- Marula oil
- Avocado oil
- Argan oil
- Macadamia nut oil
- Olive oil
- Pomegranate seed oil
- Prickly pear seed oil
Essential oils: Helichrysum, myrrh, sandalwood, geranium, lavender, frankincense
Carrier oils to use for aging skin:
- Sansha inchi
- Sea buckthorn oil
- Rosehip seed oil
Essential oils for aging skin: Helichrysum, german chamomile, lavender, geranium, frankincense
Where to buy essential oils?
Nowadays, you can get essential oils from pretty much anywhere. But I have to tell you that there’s a difference between essential oil and a high-quality essential oil.
I’ve done my research and wrote a detailed review on the best essential oil brands out there. You can get most of them from Amazon, and some are very affordable too!
Further info on carrier and essential oils
Let’s have a look at a few important things about the oils before you leave:
Can you mix carrier oils?
You can combine more carrier oils together. That way you get beneficial components such as fatty acids, vitamins, and others from more than just one oil.
There are a few tricks to mixing carrier oils together though. Pay attention to your skin type and use oils appropriate for that. Also, castor oil is very thick. Use it in small amounts and dilute it with a lighter oil for best effect.
Why do essential oils need to be diluted?
Essential oils are powerful and potent concoctions of plants. They come with numerous benefits (you can use them to minimize dark circles, treat sunburn, scare bugs away, treat a sore throat, minimize oily skin, and much much more).
But using essential oils undiluted on your skin can cause more problems than benefits. Just because essential oils are pure that doesn’t mean they’re safe to use; people with sensitive skin and those with oily or normal or combination, or any type of skin can have a negative reaction to essential oils. I’m not trying to scare you off from using essential oils (I do love them!). I only ask you to pay attention and think about how to use them:
- It’s safer to dilute them and prevent any skin damage
- it’s more affordable; a 10ml bottle will last a long time when diluted
- it can be more effective
- it helps the scent of an essential oil last longer
Still not convinced? Here’s how Robert Tisserand put it:
Essential oil dilution is important for two safety reasons. One, to avoid skin reactions: irritation, sensitization and phototoxicity. Two, to avoid systemic toxicity, such as fetotoxicity, hepatotoxicity, carcinogenicity and neurotoxicity. Adverse skin reactions are obvious when they happen, but systemic toxicities may not be. Skin reactions are totally dilution-dependent, and safety guidelines exist to minimize risk. This does not mean of course that every time a person uses an undiluted oil there will be an adverse reaction. Many times there won’t. But more is not always better, and minimizing risk is generally a good idea. A phototoxic reaction for example, can be very, very nasty.
Can I mix essential oils with shea butter?
You can mix essential oils with shea, but you’ll have to melt down shea butter to combine the two together. Think about it: when you’re cooking, combining a block of solid butter with a few drops of vanilla extract is nearly impossible, right? Soften or melt the butter to successfully mix the two together. It’s the same with shea butter. Soften it as much as you can and then add essential oils. Stir well until you’ve evenly distributed all the ingredients.
Can you use water to dilute essential oils?
No. It’s very simple: oil and water don’t mix. Essential oils won’t dilute in water. They’ll float on top no matter how hard you shake that bottle. If you really want to add essential oils to water, you can get yourself a solubilizer that will help you mix the oils with water.
How do you mix essential oils with olive oil?
Easily. Take olive oil that you’ll use in your recipe (it makes a great body scrub or a massage oil). measure the correct amount of oil and add the right amount of essential oils to it. Keep in mind though, EVOO has a scent that’ll be difficult to completely cover up with essential oils. While you can use the two together, I’d recommend you use a different oil instead.
Is castor oil a good carrier oil for essential oils?
Castor oil can be a good carrier oil for essential oils, but it depends what you’re trying to achieve. Castor oil is a very thick oil and it’s difficult to use it neat. I’d recommend you combine it with another carrier oil that’s more lightweight to break it up.
Essential oil safety
Essential oils are beautiful things but be sure to pay attention to the safety when working with them. Refer to the dilution ratio I provided above. Some essential oils can only be used in very small amounts to be safe.
What’s more, before using an essential oil on your skin, always do a test patch to avoid any allergies or skin irritations. There’s actually a very good book on essential oil safety from Robert Tisserand that you can get from Amazon. If you want to use a lot of essential oils on a daily basis, I’d recommend you give it a read. The book is a bit pricey, but you can give it a try for free, or rent it to read on Kindle if you have it.
How to mix essential oils with carrier oils: a Recap
Using essential oils for DIY skincare and aromatherapy feels somewhat rewarding as you combine scents that can beneficially influence your skin, your mind, and overall wellbeing. Scents and properties can vary from uplifting to calming, soothing to healing. You can make your home or your body lotion smell like fall, you can fight acne with essential oils, and many other ailments.
Choose the oils your nose loves the most and you can easily combine them with carrier oils that your skin loves. By paying a bit of attention to dilution rates, you can enjoy essential oils happily without any problem.
What do you think, what’s your take on essential oils? How do you love to use them?
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