How To Dilute Full-Strength Essential Oils

Essential oils pack enormous wellness potential into a remarkably small bottle. This natural power is created by careful extraction of plant constituents from large amounts of botanicals – leaves, bark, seeds, petals and peels of plants. It takes 50 pounds of Geranium leaves, for instance, to extract just one pound of Geranium essential oil. This kind of concentration gives you access to and control over the natural constituents you apply to your skin … but due to this extraordinary power, it is important to control it.

Your skin is both a barrier and a doorway. It absorbs essential oil directly into your body and allows you to gain access to the health benefits these products offer. But skin can’t always handle the high concentrations essential oils pack. You may run into problems like skin irritation, phototoxicity (citrus oils reacting to sunlight and causing blisters), and topical allergies. To use essential oils safely and effectively, it is necessary to dilute them.


Benefits for Your Skin

Diluting is good news for both you and your skin. Adding essential oil to a neutral carrier oil makes it easier to spread the valuable essential oil over large areas, and more efficiently carries the aromatherapy benefits to your body. Plus, your little bottle will last way longer than you might expect since you are using the equivalent of just one drop or less with every application. There are some instances when it is advisable to use essential oils neat (at full potency) – such as in a diffuser, through an inhaler, or for some cleaning applications. But all topical use requires dilution.

How to Dilute
Don’t be intimidated by the process of diluting. It’s important, but certainly not hard to do. It gives you tremendous control over potency and personalization of the oils in your collection. All you need is a few drops of essential oil combined with a carrier oil such as Fractionated Coconut, Grapeseed, Jojoba, or Rosehip or even Olive Oil. For a 3% dilution do either of the following:

Combine 4 drops of essential oil with a teaspoon (5ml) of carrier oil and mix well. To scale that up, add 12 drops of essential oil to one tablespoon (15ml) of carrier oil. Or, open a new, empty 10ml roll-on bottle. Add 9 drops of your favorite essential oil and fill the rest of the bottle with a carrier oil. Replace the lid shake gently. Consider taking a shortcut by adding a few drops of essential oil to lotion, hand sanitizer, aloe vera, body soap, shampoo, or conditioner. For household cleaning blends, you can use water instead of carrier oil, but this isn’t recommended for applying to the skin since they easily separate between uses.

  • For children ages 2 to 10 and people with sensitive skin: 4 drops of essential oil in a tablespoon of carrier oil.
  • For adults with normal skin: 13 drops of essential oil in a tablespoon of carrier oil.
  • For short-term, targeted applications: 22 drops of essential oil in a tablespoon of carrier oil.

Safe Topical Use

Some essential oils are considered “hot.” Cinnamon, mint, clove, and others have spicy or mentholated qualities that can affect your skin. Use a lower dilution when mixing with these oils. Another thing to be aware of is that many citrus oils are phototoxic … they can cause blisters and an uncomfortable rash if used topically before exposure to sunlight. Dilute phototoxic oils especially well, and keep skin exposed to these oils out of the sun for 12-24 hours to avoid an adverse reaction.