How to Use Essential Oils Topically
Updated: Sep 16, 2020
What are essential oils and how can we best utilize them? To answer these questions, we must explore where they originate and how they interact with our bodies.
Where Essential Oils Come From
Essential oils are sourced directly from medicinal plants; they are made in special cells, usually under the leaves, bark, or peel. Each essential oil has a different composition that affects how they are absorbed and used by the body. Even oils from different plants within the same species have minute differences in their chemical structure. The oils are distilled by either steam or pressure and are collected for use. For reference, it requires approximately 220 pounds of the lavender flower to create one pound of lavender essential oil.
How They Are Absorbed into Our Skin
We don’t usually think about it this way, but our skin is the largest organ in our body. It forms a barrier between us and the outside world and is our first line of defense, however it is not impervious.
The Dalton is the standard unit of measurement for atomic mass. If the molecular weight is under 500 Dalton, it can freely pass through the top-most layer of skin. Essential oils easily pass into our bodies because they are far below that mark. However due to the volatile properties of essential oils, they can evaporate quickly, so they are blended with carrier oils to protect from evaporation and to prevent skin irritation from its high level of concentration. Essential oils pass through the body’s lipophilic (oil loving) and hydrophilic (water loving) layers due to its nature of having an affinity to both.
Benefits of Essential Oils
Different people have different strengths and abilities. Similarly, different plants have different beneficial properties that may help bring balance to the mind, body, and spirit. When you inhale or topically apply essential oils made from medicinal plants, your body can absorb them to utilize their unique beneficial properties.
How to Apply
Before applying directly to skin, make sure the essential oils you are using are diluted properly, typically in the range of 1-5%. Thinner oils (fractionated coconut, sweet almond, or grapeseed oils) will be easier to absorb by the body than more viscous oils (olive or avocado oils).
For topical use:
Apply to large surface areas to allow for more absorption into the bloodstream.
Apply directly to areas experiencing pain or irritation
Apply to pressure points (i.e. wrists, jawline, and temples)
Apply to areas with thinner skin such as the palms of your feet or hands. You can apply an oil to your feet before bed and cover with your favorite socks to prevent evaporation and promote absorption.
Apply the oils to the areas you hold stress in your body (If you do not know where you hold your stress, find a nice, quiet place to meditate and focus on your body. Start to scan from your feet slowly up to the top of your head and listen when your body tenses or can’t relax.)
Add a few drops to a bath, preferably with Epsom salts.The heat will allow the oil to absorb easier and the magnesium from the salts will relax the body
The Original Oil Shop
At the Original Oil Shop, we have options so our customers can determine what works best for them. We carry both full strength blends and oils that are pre-diluted with a carrier oil in a roll-on bottle (we mostly use fractionated coconut, hemp seed, and arnica oils). The full strength bottles allow for more flexibility; you can combine it with an oil or lotion of your choice, use it in diffusers, apply drops to your vacuum filter, or use in a spray bottle to spritz on your clothes to smell fresh. Roll-ons come pre-diluted so you can apply them directly to your skin anywhere, anytime.
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Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 7 Aug. 2018,