Essential Oil Dilution

Essential Oil Dilution + Carrier Oils

One of the questions I get asked a lot is whether or not diluting essential oils is mandatory. It can be tough to decipher the skin care information on the internet, so here’s a quick guide.

First, No

Contrary to the Internet, it’s not mandatory to dilute essential oils. I have used essential oils neat (straight on my skin without carrier oil) since day 1 and I rarely dilute for my children. The advice to always, always dilute is not necessarily correct. There are experts out there who recommend really high dilution (to the tune of 1 to 2 drops essential oil to 98 or 99 drops carrier oil) and to never use essential oil without carrier oil. My professional opinion is that that is very conservative usage.

However, there are exceptions.



Not every body is the same. Just because one person can handle it neat, doesn’t mean another person can. This is because no body is the same. Test out the essential oil on a small area first and see how your skin reacts.


Every skin is different. Generally speaking, if you have sensitive skin, you will want to dilute. Children’s and elderly skin is also more sensitive, so you will want to dilute for those populations as well.


Not every oil feels the same. Some are more prone to sensitizing the skin than others. Using essential oils high in phenols undiluted will likely cause a rash. These are oils that feel burning to the skin: oils like cinnamon, clove, thyme, basil, cassia, and blends that contain these. Do not use these oils undiluted. Even if you’ve been using oils a long time and don’t have sensitive skin, they will still feel burning. If you choose to use them on children, dilute minimum 2:1, and more for younger children. You may find you need more after it’s applied. In this case, just apply more carrier oil until the sensation passes. Give the skin a break from essential oils after this.

However, even essential oils like eucalyptus, peppermint, & spearmint and blends containing these oils can be sensitizing to the skin, though for many these ones are fine. You will find children will still need these diluted.  Test new essential oils on a small area of skin first.


If you are unsure or choose to be cautious, dilute your essential oils. It doesn’t necessarily change the efficacy of them, however, I do find with clients that the high, high dilution of 1 to 2 drops essential oil in 97 drops of carrier oil does not produce as great of results. (This is roughly equivalent to 2.5% dilution.)




What Carrier Oil Should You Use?

My go-to carrier oil is coconut oil. I choose organic unrefined coconut oil. I keep separate jars of coconut oil and clearly label because I do not want to mix my oils or moisturize my skin with a bit of food residue from my cooking oil. Yuck.

I mostly use fractionated (liquid) coconut oil to make a blend or serum or facial oil with essential oils.


Other types:

Jojoba – oily, acne-prone, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis

Sweet Almond – dry, irritated, itchy skin – warming & plumping oil

Rosehip – mature, aging, dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis

Calendula – acne-prone, irritated skin, inflamed skin, children & baby, eczema, psoriasis

Grapeseed – oily, acne-prone, damaged skin

Apricot kernel – sensitive, inflamed skin, children & baby, eczema, psoriasis

Coconut oil – skin infections, dry skin


Butters for balms:

Solid coconut oil (will naturally melt at warm temperatures)

Shea butter

Cocoa butter


Use organic, unrefined or virgin carrier oils. This means its gone through the least amount of processing as possible. I never buy any of my skin care products out of the cooking aisle unless it’s organic, unrefined solid coconut oil, and especially no random, cheap knock-off brands. I want only the best for my skin, and you should, too.

Using organic and pure products with no petrochemicals etc with your essential oils reduces your risk of reaction as well. (As a side note, if you’re buying glycerine for your soaps, don’t buy it at the craft store. It’s just a bunch of petrochemicals. Make sure to get vegetable glycerine)


Bottom Line

Know your skin type and test essential oils first.

Dilute hot oils like clove, cinnamon, cassia, thyme, basil, spearmint, peppermint, eucalyptus & blends with these botanicals.

Dilute for children & elderly.


Okay, so tell me. What are your favourite carrier oils?

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