Topical application is a very effective method for applying essential oils. Because essential oils have low molecular weights and are lipid soluble, they easily penetrate the skin. Lipid soluble substances can enter a cell by dissolving in the lipid portion of the membrane and diffusing through it. The greater the lipid solubility, the more readily a molecule will pass through the membrane. Once absorbed, they stay in the applied area for a localized benefit. Although essential oils are readily absorbed, there are many ways to increase absorption.
Using a light massage will increase the blood flow to the area of the topical application, which improves distribution throughout the body. Using a carrier oil also increases absorption, especially in skin, that is dry or flaky as it helps moisturize the skin and slow evaporation of the oil.
To decrease the likelihood of developing a skin sensitivity, especially on young or sensitive skin, I advise you to use a carrier oil (such as Fractionated Coconut Oil) to dilute more potent oils and when trying an oil via topical application for the first time. The recommend dilution ratio for adults is typically one drop of essential oil to three drops of carrier oil. For young kids and babies, it is usually one drop of essential oil to 6-9 drops of carrier oil.
My advice would be to use several small doses throughout the day rather than a single large dose. Start with the lowest possible dose (1–2 drops). A topical dose can be repeated every 4–6 hours as needed. Because every individual is unique, the dose will vary for each individual based on size, age, and overall health status.
Beneficial areas for safe topical application of essential oils
- Neck (under the hairline)
- Forehead and temples
- Chest and abdomen
- Arms, legs, bottom of feet
Other effective methods of topical application
- Add a few drops of oil to a warm bath
- Make a hot or cold compress by soaking a towel or cloth in water, adding essential oils, and then applying to the desired area
- Add oil to a lotion or moisturizer and then apply to skin
Sensitive areas to be avoided with topical application
- Some facial areas, such as the skin around the eyes
- Eyes and inner ears
- Broken, damaged, or otherwise injured skin
There seems to be some controversy about the effects of applying essential oils to the feet. I have read some comments of skeptic doctors that say this is nonsense. First of all, I would advise you to consider the source. Many medical practitioners are against the use of essential oils because they think it takes business away from them. Second, don’t believe everything you read, simply try it for yourself and then judge. I was a skeptic at some point, but when I made my first sleepytime blend and I applied it to my feet and slept like a baby ever since, I simply drew my own conclusions. Your feet are the organs with the largest pores in our entire body. Given that essential oils are lipid soluble, they simply are being absorbed the fastest when applied to the feet.
Check out our dilution chart for proper use of your essential oils.
Tell me which topical essential oil application is most effective for you!