Essential Oil Topical Application: To Dilute or Not to Dilute

Essential Oil Topical Application

Anyone who has topically applied doTERRA Deep Blue® Soothing Blend before and after a workout knows how quickly and intensely it works.  Diluting essential oils in a carrier oil before an application is an excellent way to reduce sensitive skin reactions to certain essential oils, but will it reduce its effectiveness? The answer may surprise you. Recent research suggests diluting essential oils for topical applications not only does not reduce effectiveness but may actually have certain advantages.

The skin is one of the largest organs in the body, by both surface area and weight. Although it regulates several aspects of physiology, it is primarily a protector. The skin acts as a barrier to protect internal organs from variations in temperature, pressure and mechanical impacts. It also acts as a defender against unwanted foreign agents such as viruses and bacteria, and it does so with amazing proficiency. For thousands of years, it was thought that the skin was essentially impermeable, but modern research has revealed that it is not particularly effective at keeping out water and lipid soluble substances.

How essential oils permeate the skin when applied topically is a fascinating process. Essential oils are lipophilic, meaning they are attracted to and are soluble in fatty substances. Diluting essential oils in a carrier before application accentuates this property, providing more benefits.

Dilution is one of the most important aspects of effective topical application; it is also one of the most misunderstood. When used properly, carrier oils have been shown to improve essential oil topical application through several different pathways. Evaporation is the primary issue in topical application, as body heat and the skin present a formidable barrier. One of the most important benefits of dilution is that it slows the aromatic compounds, meaning that it decreases the amount of aromatic evaporation.  When diluted, essential oil chemical constituents have been shown to pass through the epidermis more efficiently than when applied neat. Another study showed that dilution may expedite the process, of the benefits of the essential oil.

Since the topical use of essential oils may induce a sensitivity response, especially on young or sensitive skin. To decrease the likelihood of developing a sensitivity, it is advisable to use a carrier oil to dilute the more potent oils and when trying an oil for the first time. The recommended dilution ratio is typically 1 drop of essential oil to three drops of carrier oil. A diluted mixture can be prepared in advance by mixing the oils in an empty glass bottle or for a single dose by mixing the oils directly in the hands.


Oils can be so confusing! There are so many ways to use them. Look at Kelly's exact daily routine to see how you get use them all day long. 

  • The oils I use first thing in the morning for clear skin and digestion.
  • Stress management oils and which to use before bed. 

Carrier Oils

Understanding proper dilution is an important factor in safe and effective essential oil use. Foremost, any substance that has a near-neutral pH, such as doTERRA Fractionated Coconut Oil, is incapable of altering the chemical makeup of an essential oil. Proper dilution, with an appropriate carrier, will not change the effectiveness. One of the most common concerns is the use of essential oils on those with sensitivity considerations, especially children. Dilution requires you use less oil for the same effect. When trying a new oil or when applying warmer oils such as Oregano or Thyme, dilution can decrease the risk for a hypersensitive reaction, reduce waste, and provide an ideal environment to discover which essential oils work best for your situation.

Along with improving application efficiency, there are also secondary benefits to using doTERRA Fractionated Coconut Oil as a carrier. It has a light emollient effect and is excellent for your skin. Unlike other vegetable-based oils, it does not leave an unpleasant greasy residue or interfere with the valuable properties of the essential oil it is carrying. doTERRA Fractionated Coconut Oil is also very stable, so you don’t have to be concerned that it will go rancid. Learning to use doTERRA Fractionated Coconut Oil appropriately as a carrier will improve the experience for your entire family.


Other carrier oils include Almond, Grapeseed, Jojoba, and Olive.  All have different benefits for different skin types. Below is a chart from doTERRA with the descriptions and the benefits.


In conclusion, if you are thinking of using oils topically, I completely recommend diluting them, because it will save you money in the long run and the effects of the oil will last longer than if you applied them topically “neat” without a carrier oil.





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