Topical application is the process of placing an essential oil on the skin, hair, mouth, teeth, nails, or mucous membranes of the body. Since essential oils are so potent, and because some essential oils may irritate the skin or other areas of the body, they are often diluted with a pure vegetable oil (usually called a “carrier oil“) such as Fractionated Coconut Oil, Almond Oil, olive oil, Jojoba Oil, etc. However, some essential oils can be applied directly to the skin without dilution (this is referred to as applying the oil “neat”). Several topical application methods are defined below.
Direct application refers to applying the oils directly on the area of concern. Sometimes it isn’t possible to apply the oils to the area of concern, so the next best areas to topically apply essential oils are on the feet, behind the ears, and on the wrists. These are the fastest absorbing areas of the body because they contain larger pores. When applying oils topically, it is important to remember that because essential oils are so potent, more is not necessarily better; 1–3 drops should be sufficient.
When applying oils to infants and small children, dilute heavily with a carrier oil. Use 1–3 drops of essential oil to 1 Tbsp. of carrier oil for infants and 1–3 drops of essential oil to 1 tsp. of carrier oil for children ages 2–5. An easy way to make sure your essential oil is properly diluted is to pre-mix the essential oil with a carrier oil in a roll-on bottle. The roll-on bottle also helps make application easier.
Use caution when creating blends for topical use. Layering individual oils is preferred over mixing your own blends.
Note: “Layering” refers to applying one oil at a time (i.e., apply the first oil, rub into the skin, apply the second oil, rub into the skin, etc.). If dilution is necessary, a carrier oil can be applied to the skin before or after the essential oils.
Massage is the stimulation of muscle, skin, and connective tissues using various techniques to help promote healing, balance, and connection. Essential oils can enhance the invigorating, relaxing, stimulating, or soothing feelings of massage.
Unless you are a certified massage therapist and have a thorough understanding of anatomy, it is best to use only light to medium strokes for applying oils and to avoid the spine or other sensitive areas of the body.
Modern Essentials outlines a specific massage technique that can be done using essential oils and includes instructions and illustrations of various strokes.
Servings: Yield 1 oz. | Time: 2 minutes active | Difficulty: Easy
You can use one or more of the following oils to equal a total of 15–30 drops.
“Reflex therapy is a simple method of applying oils to contact points (or nerve endings) in the feet or hands. A series of hand rotation movements at those control points create a vibrational healing energy that carries the oils along the neuroelectrical pathways. The oils either help remove any blockage along the pathways or travel the length of the pathway to benefit the particular organ” (Modern Essentials, p. 48). Refer to our reflex hand and foot charts for more information.
Auricular therapy is a method of applying the oils to various points on the rim of the ears to effect changes on internal body parts. Similar to reflexology, small amounts of an essential oil are applied to the point before the point is stimulated with the fingers or with a glass Auricular Probe. Refer to our Auricular Body Points Chart for more details.
A compress helps with topical application of essential oils because the water helps drive the oils into the skin. There are 2 ways explained in Modern Essentials for doing a compress:
The concept of using baths to help topically apply oils is similar to using a compress—oils and water don’t mix, so the warm water will help drive the oils into the skin. There are a few methods that you can use to help you apply oils while bathing.
Want to learn more about topical application of essential oils? See Modern Essentials for more information on topical use of specific oils and more.
Source: Modern Essentials, 7th Edition, pp. 48–59.
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