What are Essential Oils

Essential oils are organic compounds extracted from the bark, flower, fruit, leaf, seed or root of a plant or tree and have several healing properties. The oils in the plants are made up of very small molecules that can penetrate your cells, and some can even penetrate the blood-brain barrier. These oils are highly concentrated and have a strong aroma and can be used in aromatherapy and their benefits range from mental to physical healing.

Are Essential Oils Safe

Essential oils are generally safe to use and have very few negative side effect or risks associated with their use especially when used as directed. If you are trying to live a healthier, more natural lifestyle, they make for great alternatives to over-the-counter medications for both physical and mental health. Overall, there is good evidence that essential oils are both safe and can be a powerful healing tool in natural medicine.

Topical Application

Essential oils can be used topically on the skin. Most oils need to be diluted with a carrier oil such as coconut oil, sweet almond oil or jojoba oil. If you are using an essential oil for the first time, it is always safe practice to perform a patch test on a small part of your skin before full body application. 

To do this, dilute the essential oils in a 1:1 ratio, then apply a small amount to the inner part of your forearm or a sensitive part of skin. Wait 24- 48 hours to be sure that no negative skin irritations occur such as swelling, redness, hives or rashes. It is best to start with an even ratio, then work your way up slowly to avoid any irritations.

Learn more about Patch Tests

There are many essential oils that, when applied topically, can help enhance our skin and hair.
To learn more about them, read Essential Oils for Beauty and Hair

Skin Sensitivity

Let’s face it, not everyone’s skin will be able to handle all essential oils. Some people’s skin will have more sensitivity than others and that’s ok. If you do have sensitive skin, you want to avoid undiluted applications. Be sure to dilute essential oils with carrier oils such as coconut oil or jojoba oil. Essential oils that can be more tolerated with people with skin sensitivity include:

  • Frankincense
  • Lavender
  • Marjoram
  • Myrrh
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Thyme

Skin Precautions

Some essential oils, especially citrus oils, can increase photosensitivity. You want to be sure to not apply these oils on your skin within 12 hours before spending time directly in the sun. They may cause skin to burn. Although it may be tempting, do not use essential oils excessively on your skin. Some have lipophilic (fat-loving) nature and can cause an increase of dryness to the skin.

Avoid application of essential oils directly to damaged or open skin, wounds, infected scrapes or burns. Damaged and inflamed skin is often more penetrable and may be more sensitive to dermal reactions.

Some essential oils are rich in aldehydes and phenols which can cause negative skin reactions and MUST be diluted before applying directly to the skin. Some of these oils are cinnamon, clove and oregano.

If you are experiencing signs of dermal irritation, apply a small amount of carrier oil or cream to the affected area to dilute it and discontinue use of all essential oils for at least several days. Avoid applications of essential oils that have a known dermal irritant, inflammation or allergens such as eczema or rosacea. Some essential oils are known to be dermal irritants or to increase sensitivity. These would include the following:

  • Bergamot
  • Cinnamon Bark
  • Clove
  • Citronella
  • Cummin
  • Lemon
  • Lemongrass
  • Oregano
  • Thyme

Use caution when applying these topically to the skin.

Safety Tips When Using Essential Oils

Be sure to read the labels carefully of the essential oils you would like to use. Be sure they are safe to use topically and if so, what dilution ratios are suggested. For the best results, use essential oils that are 100% pure oils and are therapeutic grade. Many essential oils on the market today have been adulterated (altered or diluted) that may cause adverse effects on the skin.

If you experience any irritations to essential oils, apply more of a carrier oil to dilute it. Seek medical attention if irritations or reactions are severe.

Always ask your physician if you have any safety concerns or concerns regarding medication interactions. Some essential oils can alter the way certain medications work. People taking heart medications, such as blood thinners, should avoid using clary sage, cypress, eucalyptus, ginger, rosemary, sage and thyme oils.

Side Effects

Side effects of using essential oils could include:

  • Rashes
  • Asthma Attacks
  • Headaches
  • Allergic Reactions
  • Skin Irritations
  • Nausea

Immediately stop use and seek medical attention if any of these effects continue or get worse.

Learn More On: Which Essential Oils to Avoid and When

Summing It Up

Overall, essential oils are safe to use topically and can provide a lot of benefits to the skin when they are used. Be sure to read the labels and directions carefully before using them, and ensure you get 100% therapeutic grade essential oils. Each essential oil posses it’s own “healing” properties and there is one, two or three out there ready to meet your needs!

Have you or someone you know used essential oils topically? Which ones did you use and what did you like about them? Let us know in the comments section.

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This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. Neither Self Verve nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. Be sure to contact your physician before trying any of the items stated in the above article.