One of the ways we use our essential oils is topically. One frequently asked question is-Should I dilute? In my opinion, the answer, for the most part, is yes.... and here's why:
If you are just starting out with essential oils, my motto is go low and slow, and diluting helps us accomplish that.
Essential oils are highly concentrated. Did you know it takes 75 lemons to make 5 ml of lemon essential oil? Since essential oils are so highly concentrated, diluting them helps to ensure safety, minimizing the risk of skin irritation and potential adverse reactions.
Essential oils are made up of many different molecules, some lighter weight that evaporate quickly leaving the heavier molecules. Dilution in a carrier oil fixes the oil where the lighter molecules hang around longer, and you have the benefit of the entire oil, not just the heavier molecules.
Because essential oils are so concentrated, oftentimes you only need a drop or two, and if you are applying to a large surface area, diluting makes it easy peasy! If you are making DIY recipes such as deodorant, where you need the essential oil to hang out on the surface of your skin for as long as possible, dilution with a carrier oil accomplishes that.
It also stretches your essential oil dollars, why not achieve the desired result with the lowest possible amount?
If you want to use essential oils with your pets, you will want to dilute. Animals have a much higher level of scent that we do because of a high level of olfactory receptors. Did you know dogs have 149-300 million receptors and cats have 45-80 million, compared to 5 million in humans? Dilution keeps you from overwhelming your pet. Less is more when it comes to animals! Some species take longer to metabolize certain oils as well and dilution slows the absorption rate. (For more info on using essential oils with your dog, click here, and for horses, click here.)
Lets talk about the carrier oils:
What is a carrier oil?
A carrier oil is a naturally derived fatty oil from the seeds, kernels, or nuts of plants. They vary in consistency and absorbency. They have a limited shelf life of usually 6 months up to a year. You will want to use a cold pressed and organic version. They can offer their own therapeutic benefits based on the essential fatty acids and nutrients they contain.
My personal fave is fractionated coconut oil. It's inexpensive and stays liquid, making it perfect for roller bottle and massage oil recipes. Due to its low molecular weight, it absorbs easily and deeply into the skin but doesn't leave the skin feeling greasy. It doesn't stain and easily washes out of clothing. It also has antimicrobial properties and a long shelf life.
Olive oil is my close second, purely for the fact that most people, myself included, keep it on hand to cook with. Therefore, it's readily available, no extra effort required. It is a heavier oil and takes longer to penetrate into skin, which makes it useful if you want a longer contact time on the skin and a slower absorption rate. That also means it can leave a greasy feeling. It's high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, so works well for skin problems. You will want to purchase unrefined extra virgin olive oil, so no heat or chemicals were used in the extraction process.
Regular coconut oil is also a good choice. You will want to use unrefined, cold pressed, organic, virgin coconut oil. The amazing aroma can be a nice addition to your blends, recipes, or essential oil that you are using. Since it will remain solid in cooler temps, it's useful for DIY recipes, such as deodorant and salves. It contains saturated fats that can deeply moisturize skin.
I like to use Jojoba oil for diluting for the face or sensitive skin. Jojoba oil is actually a liquid wax. It most closely matches the natural oils produced by human skin, so it absorbs well. It's very emollient without being too heavy. It has a light, nutty aroma, and a long shelf life.
Below is a list of my honorable mentions. Fine to use, but I often don't, simply for the fact that I always have the oils above on hand for other things, and no special purchase is required.
Sweet almond oil works well for combination skin as it doesn't clog pores but is moisturizing. Its light and easily absorbed, however it may cause a reaction for those with nut sensitivities. It is high in vitamin E, making it very nourishing and good for skin repair.
Avocado oil, deeply moisturizing and full of vitamins and minerals, can be too heavy for acne prone skin but great for dry skin. It absorbs slowly, providing excellent nourishment for older skin.
Grapeseed oil is moisturizing while having a light, thin consistency, making it Ideal for use on the face or scalp. It is readily absorbed and good for oily or acne prone skin. Commonly used for cooking as well.
Here's one of my favorite roller ball recipes:
10 ml roller bottle
5 drops Cedarwood
5 drops Lavender
5 drops Frankincense
Add the essential oils to your roller bottle, top with carrier oil, gently invert back and forth to mix. Apply to the bottom of your feet, back of neck, or wrists and temples before bedtime.
Need a step by step guide to making a roll on? Click HERE!
So, in conclusion, no matter what carrier oil you dilute your essential oils with, by doing so, you are ensuring that you are using them safely and getting the most benefit from their therapeutic properties.
Have you ever diluted your oils? What has been your experience?