person using essential oil dropper person using essential oil dropper



  • Essential oils are highly potent and have the potential to irritate skin if not used responsibly.
  • Diluting essential oils prior to topical use helps minimize the risk of skin irritation and optimize the nature of the fragrance.
  • Effective diluting agents include carrier oils, creams, lotions, soaps, body butters, shampoos and conditioners.
  • Optimal dilution ratios for essential oils depend on a number of factors, including age, health conditions and medications, skin and olfactory sensitivity.
  • Guidelines for dilutions should be taken as a starting point for further exploration and use of essential oils should be discontinued if irritation occurs.




Essential oils are often used in aromatherapy massages for their pleasant fragrances and many reputed beneficial properties. These powerful plant essences have become so popular in massage and cosmetic applications that most people don't think twice about using them topically. But did you know that diluting essential oils is a crucial step before applying them directly onto your skin? Read on to find out about why you need to dilute essential oils and how you can do so.




The power of plant chemistry is a force to be reckoned with! Essential oils evolved over millions of years as natural defensive mechanisms for different plant species against animals, birds, insects, and bacteria. As part of the evolutionary process, plants developed extremely potent aromas and anti-microbial properties to ward off these threats. This extreme concentration of phytochemicals - which is intensified by the high volume of plant material required to produce a small volume of commercially available oil - makes essential oils potentially hazardous when used topically, particularly if you have sensitive skin, a chronic skin condition, or a tendency toward allergic reactions.

The undiluted use of essential oils can cause potential skin irritation and sensitivity due to their potency. By blending and diluting essential oils with milder products, you will be able to enjoy your custom formulated massage oil, lotion, cream, or similar body product safely without altering the properties of the essential oils. Dilution also helps enhance the physical experience of a massage. Essential oils are highly volatile, which means they evaporate quickly. By mixing them in a less volatile, more absorptive medium, they will linger longer on your skin, penetrate deeper, and prolong the pleasure of the experience.

In addition to taking precautions for the well-being of your skin, there is another particularly potent reason why essential oils should be diluted before use. While essential oils smell great from a diffuser bottle, you definitely don't want a concentrated version of the aroma to be stuck on your body. This is why blending and diluting essential oils with other products, such as carrier oil, can save your sense of smell from being overpowered by the strong aroma.

An often-overlooked advantage of blending and diluting essential oils is that it is a great way of saving money. A small bottle of essential oil can be quite expensive - even more so for oils extracted from rarer plants. This is exacerbated by the fact that essential oils evaporate quickly once outside of the bottle. If you were to use your essential oils without diluting them, they would run out very quickly. By diluting them, you can extend the use of your essential oils because the products that you can use to dilute them tend to last a lot longer.




There are many types of products that you can use to dilute your essential oils, depending on your needs. The most common option would be carrier oils, but you can also use body butter, lotions, creams, and soaps. If you want to add essential oil to your hair, you can add them to your shampoos and conditioners as well.

Important things to consider when making an essential oil blend include the type and quality of the essential oils used, as well as the blend's application and duration of use. In addition, it is important to consider the age of the user and whether they have any underlying health conditions, or if they are taking any medications that might interact with the oils.

As some essential oils - particularly citrus oils - may contain phototoxic properties, they should be avoided if the user will be exposed to the sun after use. Some essential oils such as Camphor, Wintergreen, Wormwood, and Tarragon, among others should be avoided during pregnancy. Other essential oils such as Eucalyptus, Peppermint, and Rosemary to name a few, may present a higher risk of irritation or toxicity to children or pets. It is therefore important to do some solid background research on the oils you are interested in before using them in a blend. Regardless of the type of oil you choose to use, 100% pure plant-derived essential oils are preferable for a high-quality blend.

As the skin of infants and children is often more sensitive than the skin of adults, do use essential oils sparingly when blending them. It is recommended to add just 1 to 3 drops of essential oil to every ounce (approximately 30 ml) of the diluting agent, for a maximum concentration of 0.5%. For adults, depending on your skin condition and the frequency that you want to use essential oils, you can add the following amount of essential oil to every ounce of the diluting agent:

  • 10 to 20 drops of essential oil (a maximum concentration of about 3%) for long-term regular use.
  • 30 to 60 drops of essential oil (a maximum concentration of about 10%) for use of no longer than 2 weeks.

The concentrations mentioned above are general recommendations, however, there are some essential oils that have special dilution needs that you should be aware of. For instance, due to the potential for phototoxicity, it is recommended to dilute Lemon essential oil to a concentration of no more than 2% before use and to dilute Grapefruit essential oil to a concentration of no more than 4% before use. Similarly, to minimize the risk of an allergic reaction, it is recommended to dilute Clove Bud essential oil to a concentration of no more than 0.5% before use. These are only a few special cases but there may be many more to consider when selecting essential oils for a specific purpose. For this reason, you should always do thorough research on any essential oil you are interested in before using it in a blend.




The following chart is intended as a quick reference for the ratios required to make light essential oil blends. Units are provided in common measuring tools for convenience. Note that 1 metric teaspoon is equal to approximately 5 ml and 1 metric tablespoon is equal to approximately 20 ml.

Essential Oil Blend Percentage Essential Oil Amount Carrier Oil Amount
0.5% 1 drop 2 teaspoons
2 drops 1 tablespoon
10 drops 100 ml
1% 2 drops 2 teaspoons
4 drops 1 tablespoon
20 drops 100 ml
2% 4 drops 2 teaspoons
8 drops 1 tablespoon
40 drops 100 ml
3% 6 drops 2 teaspoons
12 drops 1 tablespoon
60 drops 100 ml

Regardless of the blend you use, if there are any signs of skin irritation, such as redness or a burning feeling, stop applying the blend immediately and remove it by washing with a gentle soap.

It is also important to use your own olfactory preferences and sensitivity as a gauge of a good blend. Some people have especially sensitive sniffers and may prefer lighter concentrations of some blends than others. Remember, if a blend doesn't smell right to you, it's probably not the right blend for you!

At New Directions Aromatics, we carry a wide range of essential oils. Check out our store today or contact us to let us know how we can further serve your needs.




The following chart provides a breakdown of common topical applications for essential oil blends and some guidelines for dilution. Note that these guidelines are approximate, that optimal dilutions will vary on a per user basis, and that further investigation should be conducted into the properties of individual essential oils before use. Visit NDA's product for more information about a wide variety of essential oils.

Application Target Essential Oil Percentage Dilution Ratio
(Drops Essential Oil: Diluting Agent Measurement)
Massage Oils 2-3% 4-6 drops in 2 teaspoons of carrier oil
Massage Creams 2-2.5% 4-5 drops in 2 teaspoons of base cream
Compresses and Fomentations 0.5% (10 drops in 100 ml water)
Ointments 2-5% 4-10 drops in 2 teaspoons of base ointment
Lotions 1-1.3% 2 drops in 2 teaspoons of base lotion
Baths Up to 10% 10 drops maximum (depending on age) in 1 teaspoon of carrier oil
Foot Baths n/a 4-6 drops in the bath depending on age
Shampoos and Conditioners 0.4-0.6% 20-30 drops in 1 cup of shampoo / conditioner




Even when using essential oils in non-topical applications, it is important to temper the strength of their aromas to prevent unpleasant reactions such as headaches, light-headedness or nausea. The following chart provides a breakdown of some popular non-topical applications for essential oil blends and some guidelines for dilution. Again, these guidelines are approximate, and further investigation should be conducted into the properties of individual essential oils before use.

Application Target Essential Oil Percentage Dilution Ratio
(Drops Essential Oil: Diluting Agent Measurement)
Air Sprays ~0.8-1.7% 50-100 drops in 300 ml water
Inhalations n/a Up to 2 drops (depending on age) in a bowl of steaming water, in a diffuser or on a dry medium such as a cotton ball
Insect Repellant Sprays 2-2.5% 40-50 drops in 100 ml water
Floor and Furniture Cleaners 2% (subject to olfactory preferences) 40 drops in 100 ml water




Essential oils are a wonderful addition to many massage oils and cosmetic products, but they must be treated with caution to ensure a safe and comfortable experience. Always dilute essential oils before using them topically and be sure to use a dilution ratio that takes the specific needs and risk factors of the end user into consideration. Even non-topical applications of essential oils should be treated with caution and diluted to prevent adverse reactions. Be sure to use high quality, 100% pure essential oils in your blends, and always do your research before working with a particular oil, as some may be friendlier than others for your needs. NDA provides information on a vast range of essential oils and diluting agents to help guide you in your blending endeavors, so be sure to check out our resource pages and get to exploring some blends!


IMPORTANT: All New Directions Aromatics (NDA) products are for external use only unless otherwise indicated. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, and it should not be used by anyone who is pregnant or under the care of a medical practitioner. Please refer to our policies for further details, and our disclaimer below.

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