Once upon a time I dumped almost an entire bottle of Wintergreen essential oil into a bathtub full of water and hopped in.
After about 30 seconds I had to jump back out because I began to shiver uncontrollably. Despite the bath water being extremely warm, I was freezing.
I dried off as fast as I could and ran to my bed, wrapped myself in as many blankets as I could and shivered for at least an hour. It was quite scary.
This was many years ago before I knew much about essential oils. Before I understood that essential oils are extremely powerful and highly concentrated substances. Obviously, I had done the wrong thing. And further education was necessary.
Thankfully I have learned to use essential oils carefully and I'd love to share more about that with you!
Using essential oils in natural body care is a great way to avoid chemicals, and synthetic fragrances (which are present in many conventional products). Essential oils provide natural fragrance as well as therapeutic benefits.
Creating and (and using) homemade body care products is a great way to reduce your toxic load and enhance your health.
Knowing how much essential oil to use in a product can be somewhat confusing. You've probably heard a few recommended dilutions, but may not be sure how to implement those when making body care products.
If that's you, I hope I can help! (It was me a few years ago as evidenced by my story above!))
Why Should Essential Oils be Diluted?
Dilution is necessary because essential oils are extremely concentrated (some essential oils are stronger than others). Very few should ever be applied “neat” (without dilution). Applying essential oils to the skin without proper dilution could cause burns or irritation.
Before diluting, it's important to be sure the essential oil you have chosen is safe for use on the skin.
Which Essential Oils are Suitable for Natural Body Care?
Lavender, geranium, sweet orange, rose, chamomile, rosemary, neroli, clary sage, mandarin, frankincense, helichrysum, patchouli, ylang-ylang, sandalwood, rosemary, tea tree, and carrot seed essential oil are generally considered safe.
Beware of phototoxic essential oils: bergamot, bitter orange, grapefruit, lemon (cold-pressed), and lime (cold-pressed). Lemon and lime essential oils that have been steam distilled are not phototoxic. (Not a comprehensive list)
If using phototoxic essential oils in body care products, use them in wash-off products (like sugar scrubs). If using in leave-on products, like lotions, they must be well-diluted and only a small amount of the recipe (unless they are being applied to an area of the body that won’t see the sun for 24 hours!).
Make Sure the Oil is Safe for You!
If though you may have selected an essential oil that's generally considered safe for use in natural body care products, you should also perform a patch test to make sure there are no reactions.
Everyone is different!
How to perform a patch test:
Dilute one drop of essential oil in ½ teaspoon of carrier oil (olive oil is a good option). Apply this to your inner elbow or forearm. Wait 24 hours. If no irritation occurs, it should be safe to use in your skin care products.
How to properly dilute essential oils for use in body care
Once you're sure an essential oil is safe for use, consider the following guidelines for dilution:
1% = approx. 6 drops of essential oil per ounce of finished product
1 % dilutions are generally suitable for natural body care products used by those with sensitive skin. (It's also the recommended dilution for pregnant women.)
2 % dilution
2 % dilution = approx. 12-14 drops of essential oil per ounce of finished product
2% dilutions are generally suitable for body care products used by healthy adults.
3% – 4% dilution
3% dilution = approx. 16-20 drops per ounce of finished product
4% dilution = approx. 24-26 drops per ounce of finished product
3-4% dilutions are generally reserved for products created for a small and specific area of the body and are not used on a daily basis, such as a foot butter or muscle rub.
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