There are many different uses for essential oils — and many different methods of using and applying them to maximize their benefits. Topical application is one of the best methods for using essential oils because it allows you to test different oils on different parts of your body, helping to treat different ailments and often giving more targeted results.
To start, do some research: find out if the essential oil you’d like to use needs to be diluted with a carrier oil or pure vegetable oil. If it does, the general recommended ratio is 2 percent oil to mixer: that amount is about equivalent to 12 drops of oil in 30 millimeters of lotion, water, or carrier oil. And if your oil does need to be diluted, don't worry — it won't affect the potency or effectiveness of the oil. In fact, properly diluting essential oils actually increases their effectiveness and provides a better overall experience. Once you have mixed your essential oil with the carrier oil, be sure to shake the solution well before you apply.
Some oils, like lavender and sandalwood, are considered “neat” and do not need to be diluted prior to application. Do note, however, that if you are using citrus oils, you should avoid sun exposure after application: citrus oils will make your skin more sensitive to UV rays for about 12 hours after use.
No matter what essential oil you're using, test a small area of the skin to ensure that you won't have an adverse or allergic reaction to the oil. After you've tested the application, you'll be ready for your topical treatment. To properly apply an essential oil, massage it gently into the skin; you can also add an essential oil to a lotion or to warm bathwater for topical absorption. Many oils can be applied all over the body to promote things like healthier digestion, mindfulness and relaxation, clear skin, and pain and stress relief.
You can also apply essential oils to your face and temples, behind your ears, on the bottoms of your feet, around your vital organs, on your chest, and even on the roof of your mouth. Do your research and try out different oils in different areas to find which work best for you. For example, lavender oil is known for its calming properties and is often used as a sleep aid, but it can also help with respiratory issues. Sandalwood oil can help reduce scarring, though it is traditionally used to treat coughs and cold symptoms.
Although there are many other methods for using essential oils — inhalation, ingestion, diffusion, etc. — try topical treatment for fast and localized results.