Can Aromatherapy Essential Oils Be Used On Skin?
Never apply essential oils directly to skin or a bath!
Essential oils used in Aromatherapy should not be used undiluted directly on skin without a carrier oil. Many essential oils are too volatile to be applied to your skin without being diluted first as they can cause severe allergic reactions or worse.
It may be tempting to add a few drops of Lavender Oil to a relaxing bath before bedtime, especially with children. But, beware that the Lavender oil will float on top of the water and can come in direct contact with the skin as water doesn’t dilute oil. Essential oils in a bath or any other application need to be diluted by a carrier oil to make them safe.
What Is A Carrier Oil?
A carrier oil is just a vegetable extracted oil that is used to “carry” essential oils in a lower concentration as part of a lotion or massage oil. Think of carrier oils as the transport system for essential oils.
Examples of carriers oils include Almond Oil, Grapeseed Oil, JoJoba Oil. Even less exotic oils that you may use on a daily basis such as Coconut Oil or Olive Oil can be used. The most popular oils used to dilute Essential Oils are Coconut Oil and Sweet Almond Oil. There are many more types out there, each with a specific benefit. It is a good idea to match an oil’s benefits to be complimentary with the essential oils used to achieve the desired result.
No Fun In The Sun - Phototoxicity Of Essential Oils
Be careful when using certain essential oils or products containing essential oils when going out into direct sunlight.
Phototoxicity of some essential oils may cause what looks like a sunburn when exposed to direct sunlight. Applying them as part of a balm or a lotion before going into the sun is not recommended because the essential oils stay on your skin. In soaps and hand washes they are safe(er) as they will be washed away.
Essential Oils To Avoid In Direct Sunlight:
- angelica root
- bergamot (unless it is "bergaptene-free")
- lime (cold pressed oil)
This is not an exhaustive list and there are many essential oils that may be hazardous when used in sunlight. Citrus based oils need special attention. Be sure you fully understand which essential oils you are using and how they might react in direct sunlight. Be safe!
Patch Test Essential Oils, Especially With Kids
Another thing to be aware of, especially with children is how the skin will react to an essential oil product. We would always recommend you patch test an essential oil product before regular use. Even products containing essential oils in a carrier oil or lotion may produce an allergic reaction depending on the concentration used.
Simply applying a very small amount of the product to the skin will be sufficient to assess an irritation or allergic reaction. Children’s skin especially is sensitive and we would recommend a go-slow approach.
In summary, essential oils deliver many amazing benefits that will get you results. Never apply essential oils directly to skin and always use them in a diluted form at the right concentration.