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5 min read / 23 January 2023 / Laura Garvin Gomez

How to Use Essential Oils Topically

Discover the power of essential oils and learn how to safely apply them topically for enhanced wellness and natural healing.

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There are several ways to enjoy essential oils, be it through a diffuser, candle or applied topically directly to different parts of the body.

If you want to use essential oils topically, it needs to be done in the right way to keep your skin safe, so we’ve put together some helpful tips and offer some suggestions on which ones you may want to try first.

What does it mean to apply essential oils topically?

When talking about applying essential oils topically, it refers to the application of the oil directly to the skin while diluting it with a carrier oil. However, given the potency of essential oils (for example, 1 drop of rose essential oil is equivalent to about 1,000 rose petals), you always have to be very careful about how you apply essential oils to your body. When applying an essential oil topically, you should always use a carrier oil to dilute it, as it reduces the risk of you experiencing an allergic reaction.


Where can you apply essential oils topically on your body?

You can enjoy the wonderful benefits offered by essential oils on most areas of your body, including your:

  • Arms and legs

If you have dry skin, soreness or pain, essential oils may be able to help improve the condition of your arms or legs. is particularly good at creating a calming effect on the body, which could be ideal after a long, tiring day.

  • Feet

After a long day of being on your feet, sometimes they need a little bit of TLC to rejuvenate them. Mix your chosen essential oil with a carrier oil and rub directly into the soak or soak your feet in an essential oil foot bath to relax and unwind.

  • Back

You can also rub essential oils into your back to treat things such as tension, soreness or unexpected pain. is a good option for this due to its cooling effect on the skin, while is another popular option for back massages.

  • Neck

Stress often gets into the neck and can cause a lot of discomfort, so massaging in an essential oil such as or can offer some relief. Mix with a carrier oil and enjoy the relaxing benefits as you start to unwind.

Hands topically applying essential oils


Essential oils safety tips

There are some essential oils you must be particularly careful with when using them topically, especially the likes of and due to their citrus bases. They can be photosensitive which means they can make your skin more sensitive to sunburn or UV radiation.

It is a good idea to avoid exposure to direct sunlight or artificial UV rays for up to 12 hours after applying these oils topically. If you do intend on using these types of oils, it may be a better option to diffuse them or apply them on skin that will not be exposed to light.

You should also avoid applying essential oils topically to your:

  • Eyes and surrounding skin
  • Inner ears and inner nose
  • Genitals
  • Injured, broken, or damaged skin

Some people worry that you can overdose on topically applied essential oils, which can happen if the application guidelines are not closely followed. Medical experts state that can cause toxicity in adults, so you should always take care when applying any essential oil to your skin.

What should I do if I have an allergic reaction?

Allergic reactions are rare, although they can happen, so it’s helpful to know what to do if you see an unexpected response on your skin, such as increased tenderness or irritation.

Before applying an essential oil to your skin, carry out a patch test to ensure there is no adverse reaction. Mix 5-10 drops of carrier oil with 1 drop of essential oil and apply a small amount on the inside of your wrist. Let it soak in, and keep a close eye on the area of the skin for one hour to see if there is any reaction.

In most cases, your skin will react quite quickly, although the hour mark is there just to make sure. If you do see a bad reaction, use coconut oil on the area to cool and ease it.

Woman getting a facial

What are the best essential oils to apply topically?

You’ll quickly find there are lots of essential oils and carrier oils you can apply topically to your skin and body. Here is a small selection of some of the most popular:

Nourish your skin with Vitamin E

is well known for its importance to your body, which is why so many cosmetic brands include it in their ingredients, making it ideal for topical application. It is highly effective at hydrating and moisturising skin and hair. At the same time, its anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce itching and skin inflammation that arise due to conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Use Vitamin E Carrier Oil in your ultrasonic humidifier to reduce the signs of ageing, while also helping to manage the appearance of scars.

Lavender Essential Oil can treat and improve skin conditions

If you suffer from acne breakouts, lavender essential oil could help to ease the condition by killing off unwanted bacteria. Skin inflammation is reduced, and pores are unclogged once applied with a carrier oil after you have washed your face. It can also work wonders for blotchy or dry skin and if you are trying to calm an eczema breakout. And because it is high in antioxidants, it fights off free radicals, which are partly responsible for the wrinkles and lines seen on the face.

Try Black Pepper Essential Oil to cleanse the body

has much more to offer than simply adding taste to your food. It also offers several health benefits, from easing anxiety to soothing muscle pain. Or you can use black pepper essential oil as a simple cleanser, as it has been said to improve circulation and improve urination and sweating cycles so you can remove excess water, fats, urea and uric acid. The oil is also antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial, which can help when trying to fend off a cold or flu.

Treat your skin to the luxury of Rosehip Carrier Oil

There is a long list of health benefits that can come with using rosehip carrier oil due to the high concentration of vitamin C stored inside. In fact, it is thought to have more vitamin C than a lemon or orange, which is ideal for reducing ultraviolet light damage. Vitamin C is also good at healing wounds, preventing dry skin and encouraging collagen production for smoother skin. is high in vitamin A, which is great for reducing wrinkles, reversing sun damage, lowering hyperpigmentation and for treating mild to moderate acne.

Botanical illustrationEssential oils can work wonders for your skin, hair and nails, although they must be used correctly. As long as you use a carrier oil and do not apply too much of oil to your body, you should be completely safe and can enjoy all the benefits they have to offer. And don’t forget, there are a lot of other ways you can use essential oils, so do not worry if applying them topically is not right for you!

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Medical Disclaimer

The content in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to take the place of medical advice. Please consult your personal physician for any advice or treatment regarding specific health questions. Neither the article editor, writer, nor the organisation of Nikura takes any responsibility for possible health consequences following the information given in any article. All readers should consult their physician before taking any advice given within these articles.

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