Topical Application of Esssential Oils

5:00 PM Posted by jo

The two most popular ways to use essential oils for aromatherapy are inhalation and topical application. 
Be sure to read the post, Before You Start to make sure you are aware of any precautions that needs to be considered.


Some oils are safe to use neat, which means undiluted on the skin. Lavender is one of the oils that can be applied without being diluted in massage oil first. It is important that you apply the correct lavender, and not lavandin marked as lavender. Or any other genetically-altered lavender. Lavandula angustifolia is the oil that is safe to use undiluted on the skin. Always dilute the essential oils in a carry oil before using it on children.

Carrier oils

Carrier oils, such as various vegetable oils, enhance the absorption of essential oils and prevent irritation. Sweet almond, apricot seed, wheat germ, grapeseed and hazelnut are just a few carrier oils being used.

It is wise to apply the essential oils to the bottom of the feet when starting an essential oil application. According to Gary Young this minimizes the chance of reactions and allows the body to become acclimated to the oil. Apply 3-6 drops of a blend or single oil to start with. Spread it all over the bottom of each foot.
Don't apply more than two single oils or blends at one time.

Use dark glass bottles when mixing massage blends. Essential oils should be kept out of light.

Apply 2 drops of an oil blend or single oil on the skin and massage it in. For larger areas mix 1-3 drops of essential oils with 1 tsp. of pure carrier oil. You want to make sure you read the labels on the oils.

Key areas for topical application are:
  • Crown of head
  • Temples
  • Behind ears
  • Neck
  • Upper back
  • Abdomen
  • Over vital organs
  • Soles and tops of feet
  • Ankles
Steps for topical application are:
  1. Place 2–3 drops of oil in the palm of your hand or directly on the desired area.
  2. If placing oil in your hand, rub palms together in a circular motion and then massage oil onto the desired point of application. If applying directly to the desired area, massage the oil into your skin using a circular motion. Repeat as desired.
Note: Essential oils are very potent and some may be irritating to the skin. If irritation occurs, immediately apply a carrier oil or pure vegetable oil to the area to dilute. Please read label direction for each individual oil before using.

Apply 1-3 drops of essential oils to the acupressure point with a finger. Start by pressing firmly and then releasing. Avoid putting pressure on the pressure point too long. You can use the reflexology or Vita Flex point as well. Massage the general area once you completed small point stimulation. 

Warm Packs
Use warm packs for deeper penetration of an essential oil after application. Dip a cloth in warm water, wring it out and and place it where the oil was applied. Cover loosely with  a dry towel to seal in the heat. Let it sit for 15-30  minutes unless discomfort is experienced.

Cold Packs
Apply ice packs or cold water after essential oil application when treating inflamed or swollen tissues. 

Creating the compress
Rub 1-3 drops on the location, diluted or neat depending on the oil used.
Cover with hot, damp towel.
Cover the moist towel with a dry towel for 10-30 minutes.
A warming or burning sensation may be experienced as the oil is penetrating your skin, especially in areas where the greatest benefit is felt. Apply a massage oil if it becomes too uncomfortable.

A milder compress
This compress is milder and more suitable for children and those with sensitive skin. I made a compress for my daughter a while back when she fell in the backyard. My Aromatic Compress for Bruising blog post gives more information about compresses.

Place 5-15 drops of essential oils into a basin filled with warm water. For neurological disorders use cool water. 
Agitate the water vigorously and let it stand for one minute. 
Place a dry cloth on top of the water to soak up the oils that float on the surface. Wring out the cloth and apply on the body. 

Essential oils don't mix with water so a dispersant is needed. Add 5-10 drops to 1/4 cup of Epsom salt or bath gel base and mix it together before adding the mixture to the bath water. 

You can add a few drops of essential oils on a wash cloth and use in the shower.

Lotions, liquid soaps, shampoos and more.
You can also add essential oils to unscented lotion, soap, and shampoos. 

8 oz. shampoo
80-100 drops essential oils

Body Lotion
8 oz. lotion
80 drops essential oils


Johanna is an aromatherapist and  she is passionate about educating people about health, essential oils, real food, natural remedies, and nutrition so they make healthier choices in their lives. 
Follow Johanna on twitter and facebook for more health tips and information.

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