Where to Apply Essential Oils: Everything You Need to Know about Safely Applying Essential Oils

Are you new to essential oils? Now sure where to apply essential oils?

I'm here to share a few tips to help you figure it all out.

Essential oils aren't difficult to use - there are just a few things you need to know about applying them - and one simple rule that will help you decide whether you should apply your essential oils to the skin or whether using aromatic methods (like a diffuser or inhaler) might be a better choice.

Are you new to essential oils? Now sure where to apply essential oils?Essential oils aren't difficult to use - there are just a few things you need to know about applying them. Once you understand a few simple principles about essential oils you'll wonder why you ever worried!

Where to apply essential oils

Learning where to apply essential oils isn't that hard to figure out.

Drop, dilute, apply. It's pretty simple (just remember to always dilute your oils!).

But, did you know that sometimes it might be better (and safer) to use aromatic methods - like running a diffuser, adding a drop to a favorite diffuser bracelet, or using an aromatherapy inhaler.

Here’s how you can decide for yourself whether you should apply the essential oil to your skin or whether you should try aromatic methods:

If the issue you’d like to address is related to the skin, muscles, or other physical concern - then properly dilute and apply the essential oils.

BUT, if the concern is related to the nervous system, if it’s an emotional issue, or if it’s a respiratory issue, then aromatic methods are a better and safer option.

If you’d just like to enjoy the aroma of your oils then run a few drops in a diffuser - there’s no need to apply them to your skin.

Don't forget to dilute!

No matter where or when you apply your essential oils -- don't forget that you need to dilute them. Read this post for all the details about diluting essential oils.


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Layering Oils

If you decide that topical application is what you need (say, for a muscle or skin related issue) and you'd like to increase the rate of absorption, layering two oils or an oil and a blend can achieve that goal. It can also be a nice way to create a specific blend for your own needs and increase the potency of the oils.

To layer the oils, apply the first essential oil with a carrier oil, rubbing it into your skin, before applying the next oil. (A carrier oil is simply a vegetable oil that is used to dilute essential oils so they are safe for everyday use.) Dilution is very important so you will need to keep a few carrier oils on hand.

To make the oils even more effective, place a warm compress on the application site. This is especially helpful for pain-related issues like headaches or muscle cramps.

What if an oil causes a reaction?

Essential oils can sometimes cause a skin reaction - because of their potency or if they are phototoxic (meaning they can cause hyper pigmentation to the skin when they are applied and then exposed to sunlight).

And, if you overuse or don’t properly dilute an essential oil you can develop a sensitivity to that particular oil.

So, what do you do if you think an oil is causing a reaction?

If an oil feels hot or causes any discomfort, wash the area with soap and water to remove the oil.

If you develop a rash, hives, or other skin irritation, stop using that particular oil. When the reaction has cleared, try again with a more heavily diluted oil. If the irritation returns you’ve probably developed a sensitivity to that oil and should avoid using it in the future.

The easiest way to develop a sensitivity is by improper dilution and applying too much and too often.

If you develop a sensitivity to an oil, start varying your usage - many essential oils can often be used for the same issue. So instead of depending on just one oil, use two or three different oils individually, diluting as needed.

Read more: Essential Oil Dilution Guide

Photosensitive Oils

A few essential oils are photosensitive - meaning that they react to sunlight. They should not be applied to skin that will be exposed to direct sunlight without proper, safe dilution.

So if you plan to apply any of these oils, make sure you apply them in locations that won't be exposed to the sun or make sure they are heavily diluted (or just plan on diffusing them).

Photosensitive oils can cause a rash, discoloration or pigmentation, or even burn the skin so please use caution when applying photosensitive oils.

Photosensitive oils include:

  • Angelica

  • Bergamot

  • Cumin

  • Ginger

  • Lemon

  • Lime

  • Limette

  • Mandarin

  • Orange

  • Yuzu


Free Dilution Chart

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Put your email address in the form below to join the community & learn how to create a healthy home with essential oils - and learn what you need to know about safely applying essential oils. 


Unique Ways to Use Essential Oils

Topical application of essential oils seems fairly straightforward. But, besides direct application, there are a few other ways you can use essential oils topically -- more unique ways to use essential oils.

  • Auricular therapy - applying oils to the rim of the ears

  • Vita Flex therapy - applying oils to the contact points on the foot

  • Massage (be sure to dilute oil by 15-30%)

  • Foot massage

  • Baths (add 3-6 drops of essential oils to epsom salts or bath gel before adding to water - see this homemade bath salts recipe)

  • Acupuncture

  • Acupressure

  • Compresses

  • Added to lotions, bath gels, or soaps

How to Make a Compress

A hot compress is an excellent way to intensify the properties of essential oils. The heat from the compress forces the oils deeper into the body. (This is a great option for migraines!)

Apply the oils using the direct application technique (don't forget to dilute!). Soak a washcloth in very warm water then wring out. Place on the application area and cover loosely with a dry towel to seal in the heat. Leave the cloth for 10-30 minutes. If you experience any discomfort remove the cloth immediately and apply more carrier oil.

If you are treating an inflamed or swollen area, you'll want a cold compress instead of a hot compress. Use either cold water or an ice pack to reduce the swelling or inflammation.



Get your free dilution chart

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Put your email address in the form below to join the community & learn how to create a healthy home with essential oils - and learn what you need to know about safely applying essential oils. 


Tonia L

Hey! I'm the owner of Happy Homeschool Nest - a website devoted to helping homeschool moms balance the needs of homeschooling with managing a healthy and happy home.