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Guide to Diluting Essential Oils
Guide to Diluting Essential Oils
Undiluted Use of Essential Oils On the Skin Can Be Harmful and Potentially Cause Severe Irritation or Sensitization.
I routinely discover aromatherapy authors and educators that pass along the rule of thumb that it is safe to use some essential oils on the skin, most particularly lavender and tea tree, without first diluting them in a carrier oil. Using essential oils on the skin without diluting them is referred to as applying them "neat."
Never Put Undiluted Essential Oils On Your Skin.
Not even lavender or tea tree.
There are instances when experienced aromatherapy practitioners make exceptions to this precaution. Only once significant essential oil knowledge is gained should you ever attempt to apply any undiluted essential oil on the skin.
I have been a part of the aromatherapy community for over 13 years. Occasionally, I hear from or hear about those that have used undiluted essential oils and have developed permanent sensitization, even by only using a single drop of lavender essential oil per use. It's really not worth the risk. Diluting your essential oils not only helps to protect your wellbeing, it can also save you money.
Recently, while reading Marge Clark's book Essential Oils and Aromatics, I read her personal experiences and her unfortunate long term consequences for having used lavender essential oil neat:
"One of my mentors reminds me 'sensitization is forever.' And I know she is right. Years ago I read the books saying that lavender oil could be used neat (undiluted). I very unwisely used undiluted lavender on broken skin, and consequently set up a sensitivity reaction. Today, almost two decades later, if I come in contact with lavender in any form, I will immediately start a new round of contact dermatitis that can take months to heal." [Marge Clark, Essential Oils and Aromatics (Sandy, UT: Silverleaf Press, 2008), 32.]
What is Sensitization?
The symptoms of sensitization can vary from individual to individual, but think of it like a skin allergy that results in a severe and/or itchy rash. More severe cases of sensitization can potentially lead to respiratory issues or apparently even anaphylactic shock. Once you develop sensitization to an essential oil, you are likely to remain permanently sensitized to that essential oil, even if you begin to adequately dilute it. You may also develop a reaction to other essential oils as well and will also experience reactions to products that contain these oils.
Treat Essential Oils With Respect
Treat essential oils with the same care that you treat medicines. You don't need to be afraid or avoid essential oils and I'm certainly not trying to scare anyone out of enjoying all the benefits that aromatherapy offers. They can be an amazing blessing within a holistic lifestyle. Do remember, however, that when working with essential oils, less is more.
 
 
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