How to Use Essential Oils on Your Skin: 3 Must-Know Rules

Certain essential oils work wonders for the skin — helping to prevent breakouts, slow the signs of aging, increase elasticity, and so much more! But essential oils are powerful and need to be used properly. Learn the rules for how to use essential oils on your skin so you can safely enjoy all the benefits!


So you want to add essential oils to your skincare routine…

You’ve heard about how certain essential oils help prevent blemishes, increase skin elasticity, balance oil production, increase skin hydration, and so much more.

You want to get in on this oily goodness and to you I say WELCOME TO THE CLUB!

Around here we love making all-natural skincare products jam-packed with the skin-loving benefits of essential oils. You are in the right place, my friend 🙂

BUT WAIT! Before we get ahead of ourselves and you start dumping lavender essential oil all over your bod, we need to go over some ground rules.

Yes, rules. Very important rules.

Because here’s the thing: essential oils are essentially extremely concentrated herbal extracts. Think of them as liquid herbal medicine. And just like other forms of herbal medicine or medicine in general, there are safe ways to use essential oils and unsafe ways to use essential oils.

Here we’re specifically talking about how to safely use essential oils on the skin so you can reap all of the wonderful benefits.

Certain essential oils work wonders for the skin — helping to prevent breakouts, slow the signs of aging, increase elasticity, and so much more! But essential oils are powerful and need to be used properly. Learn the rules for how to use essential oils on your skin so you can safely enjoy all the benefits!


The 3 Must-Know Rules for Using Essential Oils on Your Skin

Rule 1: Very few essential oils can be applied “neat” (undiluted) to the skin… and many people argue that even these should be diluted

The two essential oils generally considered safe to be applied to the skin “neat” are:

  • Lavender
  • Tea tree / melaleuca

But it’s critical to take precaution even while using these undiluted — they most certainly shouldn’t be applied to a large area of skin.

What can happen if you apply undiluted essential oils to the skin? You may experience an allergic reaction called “sensitization,” which can range from a rash or hives to difficulty breathing and even anaphylactic shock. And the thing is: this isn’t likely to be a one-time reaction. If you experience sensitization, you’ll need to avoid it indefinitely as it will likely happen again.

Certain essential oils work wonders for the skin — helping to prevent breakouts, slow the signs of aging, increase elasticity, and so much more! But essential oils are powerful and need to be used properly. Learn the rules for how to use essential oils on your skin so you can safely enjoy all the benefits!


Rule 2: Dilute essential oils to a maximum of 2%

In other words, essential oils should make up just 2% (at most) of your final skincare product.

So what about the other 98%? What exactly do I dilute the essential oils in?

Great question! Since essential oils will float on top of liquids, water, witch hazel, rose water, etc aren’t the best option.

Essential oils are best diluted in “carrier oils” (like jojoba oil, argan oil, grapeseed oil, etc) or butters (like shea butter, cocoa butter, mango butter, etc).

Find which carrier oils are best for your skin needs here: The Best Face Oils By Skin Type

Now if you’re scratching your head wondering how the heck you might figure out a 2% dilution looks like, well all you need to know is that 1 ounce (or 30 mL) is about 600 drops. So to achieve a 2% essential oil dilution, for each 1 ounce of carrier oil you use, you would add just 12 drops of essential oils — 12 is 2% of 600.


Rule 3: Some essential oils cause photosensitivity and so should not be used on the skin

In other words, these essential oils make your skin more vulnerable to UV rays. This in turn makes skin more vulnerable to uncomfortable sunburn as well as premature aging.

Essential oils that are known to cause photosensitivity:

  • Angelica root Angelica archangelica 
  • Bergamot peel Citrus aurantium 
  • Bitter orange peel Citrus sinensis
  • Cumin seed Cuminum cyminum
  • Grapefruit peel Citrus paradisi 
  • Lemon peel Citrus limonum
  • Lime peel Citrus aurantifolia
  • Mandarin leaf Citrus reticulata
  • Rue leaf Ruta graveolens

You may see varying safe dilution amounts for these essential oils. But my thought process is is: why take the risk when there are SO many other essential oils with wonderful skin benefits and no risk of photosensitivity? It’s just not worth it.


Now that you know the rules, it’s time to have some fun!

Find which essential oils would most benefit your skin here: The Top 10 Essential Oils for Skincare

And then start incorporating them in your homemade face oil blends, lotions, masks, scrubs… the list goes on and on!

Some ideas to get you started:

MY NEW BOOK "GLOW: THE NUTRITIONAL APPROACH TO NATURALLY GORGEOUS SKIN" IS FINALLY HERE!

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  1. Dear Nadia, I enjoy your website and blog very much. You are one of my favorite go to people for essential oil knowledge.

  2. Hello there! I’ve notice your Blend #3 carries 12 different essential oils, plus Vitamin E… How do you dilute these many different oils into the carrier oil? Following your advice of 2% dilution, and if in 30ml of a carrier oil, you add 12 drops of essential oil, Do you add only one drop of each 12 different oils? Would that be enough? Thanks!

  3. Hello Nadia , I would love to learn on how to incorporate essential oils into my regular skin regimen. We have several diffusers all over the house now and we love it . Some people tell me to mix few drops with my regular moisturizer. I am 60 yrs young, sensitive skin showing some rosacea on cheeks but not bad. Some large pores and some sagging on jaw and neckline. I’m wondering what essential oils to use.