Where to Apply Essential Oils Topically for Best Results
Transitioning from aromatherapy to wanting to apply essential oils as a topical application is a natural progression for essential oil enthusiasts.
You may start out with a diffuser, aromatherapy jewelry, or an oil-friendly humidifier, but that’s just a jumping off point. You soon learn that there are other ways to use your essential oils, and applying it directly to your skin is beneficial when done correctly and safely.
This guide is designed to answer all of your questions regarding the topical application of essential oils. We want to help you maximize benefits from all of your favorite oils, but we want to make sure that you know how to do this safely. Let’s start with a discussion of whether direct application to the skin is really safe.
Essential Oils and Your Skin – Is Direct Application Safe?
The simple answer here is yes, assuming that you know how to do direct application to apply essential oils safely. You don’t want to grab just any oil and start splashing it around as you might perfume or a moisturizing lotion because some essential oils can irritate the skin. Others may even burn your skin or create substantial damage, so keep these important essential oil safety tips in mind:
- Don’t confuse topical application with ingestion. Topical applies to your skin, and ingestion involves the consumption of the oil. Some people assume that essential oils are safe for ingestion because they’re natural, but this is far from the truth. Many essential oils are toxic when swallowed, so you need to know a lot about the oil you’re using before you go that route. When applying oil directly to the skin, be careful not to transfer the oil from your skin to your mouth.
- Don’t assume that more is better. Just a drop or two of most essential oils is more than enough to deliver therapeutic results when you apply essential oils. When the oil is penetrating our skin, it’s even more important to start out with a small amount and increase your dose with time if needed.
- Start with a test patch of skin. When directly applying a new essential oil, apply a small amount to one tiny patch of skin. This allows you to minimize the damage if you do have a negative reaction. Even if you have used an essential oil topically in the past, you may want to test it before trying it on a new body part. Some areas of the body are simply more sensitive than others.
- Know whether dilution is needed and to what extent. This goes back to researching your oils so that you know how it is applied effectively with the lowest risk of skin irritation. Most essential oils do need to be diluted with a less aggressive oil, so go ahead and stock up on coconut oil and other high-quality carrier oils.
- Take caution if your skin is already irritated or inflamed. Some essential oils can soothe irritated or inflamed skin, but you have to apply them with adequate dilution and in the right amount. Other oils will cause more damage and should be avoided until your skin is in better condition.
- Stay away from direct sunlight after applying photosensitive oils. These oils can burn your skin when exposed to UV rays, so you should stay away from bright lights and direct sunlight for at least 12 hours after topical application. Citrus oils are the most common photosensitive oils.
While it’s important to remain cautious when using essential oils topically, this isn’t something that you should approach with fear. Take the time to research each oil that you may use in this way so that you understand the characteristics and risks of each oil.
Understanding the benefits of your essential oils and deciding what you want to gain from using them topically will help you determine where to apply essential oils for maximum results. We’ll talk about the best parts of your body for direct application at the end of this guide.
The Best Reasons to Apply Essential Oils Topically
Now that you know how to apply your essential oils directly to your skin safely, why would you want to take this approach to essential oil therapy? Some people simply enjoy the feel of smooth oil against their skin. Others are searching for natural perfumes and appreciate the wide variety of aromas available in the essential oil department.
Those are valid reasons to consider topical application, but there is one reason that beats all others: applying the oil directly to one specific part of your body for faster results.
When you inhale an essential oil, it enters through your nose and spreads throughout your body. This is a more general application that is great for whole-body treatments, and it’s effective for cognitive benefits like memory or mood enhancement. The problem is that it doesn’t go right to your joints when your arthritis is acting up or right to your bloodstream for an immune system boost when you’re fighting off a cold.
Essential oils are permeable, which means that they can break through the skin and enter your bloodstream directly. Some are more permeable than others, so it’s important to do your research and understand how each one works.
Which Essential Oils Can be Applied Topically?
It’s impossible to list all essential oils that are safe for topical application in one place because there are hundreds of oils on the market today. Some are better known than others, and the oils that you want to use will depend on the benefits that you want to gain.
What we can give you here is a brief list of essential oils that are commonly applied directly to the skin. You will often see these oils referred to as “neat,” which is a term that simply means their safe for topical application without dilution. There are also some oils that are safe for topical application but with a carrier oil. If you aren’t sure whether you need a carrier oil, it’s always best to err on the side of caution.
There is a lot of controversy over neat essential oil application, so every user must decide where they stand on the issue. Some professionals believe that undiluted direct application is never a good idea while others firmly believe that it is beneficial. When you’re first starting out and you don’t know how your skin may react, it’s best to start with a carrier oil.
While this list is far from exhaustive, it should give you a good idea of which essential oils are safe for direct application to your skin:
- Ginger Essential Oil – This essential oil is often used to soothe digestive discomfort, but it’s also popular for back and stomach massages.
- Lavender Essential Oil – This is one of the most commonly used essential oils today, and it’s even used in many baby shampoos, soaps, and lotions. It has an incredible soothing impact and is often used to ease anxiety and promote deeper sleep. This is best applied with a carrier oil.
- Lemon Essential Oil – Besides the appealing scent that is easily mixed with a variety of complimentary oils, lemon oil is prized for it’s cleansing and purifying power. You can use it to make your own cleaning products when you’re not using it directly on your skin. A carrier oil will minimize the risk of skin irritation.
- Oregano Essential Oil – This oil is a natural antioxidant and has a variety of uses for your skin. It also has uses for your internal health and is derived from one of the most popular cooking spices. You definitely need a carrier oil before you apply this one topically.
- Peppermint Essential Oil – This is a strong essential oil that is often used to treat the gums and teeth, including freshening the teeth. It also has a cooling impact on the skin that is perfect for soothing aching, tired muscles.
- Roman Chamomile Essential Oil – This is one of the most versatile essential oils, and it has many potential topical applications. When used on your hair, it can promote volume and body. For your skin, it’s known as an anti-aging ingredient. When you’re ready to get a good night of sleep, apply it directly to your feet with a carrier oil for its relaxing effect on body and mind.
- Sandalwood Essential oil – Hawaiian sandalwood essential oil has a soothing effect and is often used to calm emotions and improve mood. Indian sandalwood oil is used in much the same way, but it’s also applied to the skin for skincare benefits.
- Tea Tree Essential Oil – Also known as Melaleuca, this essential oil is often used to treat head lice and dry scalp, which makes it a popular addition to homemade shampoos and conditioners. It has a natural purifying impact on the skin, so you may want to add it to your skincare products as well.
- Ylang Ylang Essential Oil – This oil is most commonly used in skin and hair care products, so try adding it into your homemade beauty products. It also has a soothing scent that is often combined with other mood-enhancing essential oils.
Get to Know Your Body – The Best Spots for Essential Oil Application
- Face – Many essential oils are effective for anti-aging and acne treatments, and some are incredibly moisturizing. You can even use some essential oils for exfoliation. Is it any wonder that natural oils are commonly used in commercial skincare products? The good news is that you can make your own from home without potentially toxic added ingredients.
- Chest – This is the most likely place to apply your essential oil if you want to improve your breathing. This part of your body is also close to your nose, so it’s a good place for aromatherapy benefits.
- Feet – The soles of the feet have larger pores than most other body parts. This allows the essential oil to penetrate the skin and get into your bloodstream much faster. You can apply a variety of oils to the bottom of your feet, but most people think of this spot as a good place for oils that help relieve symptoms of a cold or the flu.
- Abdominals – Your core offers a large area of skin that you can see and feel clearly for smooth application. Your organs are also located inside your abdomen, so you can apply oils directly to the skin when you want to impact specific organs. A bit of research online will tell you where each of your organs are located.
- Head & Hair – Many essential oils are used for stimulating hair growth, treating head lice, and combatting dry scalp and the resulting dandruff. You can also massage your scalp with some oils to soothe headaches and relax your entire body during times of intense stress.
- Arms & Wrists – This is a popular place for essential oils that boost your mood and relieve anxiety. You can easily lift your wrist or arm to your nose for a quick inhale whenever needed.
- Legs – This is a safe place for essential oils that treat dry skin, eczema, psoriasis, and other skin conditions.
These are the most popular body parts for direct application, but there are also some areas that you want to avoid with all oils. This includes your eyes, the inner ears, and sensitive genital areas. If you have some areas of skin that you know are more sensitive than others, than you should take extra caution if you want to try essential oils in those areas.
In addition to apply your essential oils do your dry skin, you can add some essential oils to your bath. This places the oil in direct contact with your skin, but it also applies heat so that the oil penetrates your skin much faster. You will also get the benefits of aromatherapy when using your oils in this manner. It’s a great way to inhale and directly apply at the same time.
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