Essential Oil Amounts for DIY Products

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There are a million essential oil safety guides out there, but I had to create my own entry when it comes to adding them to skincare. Why? Well, let me start with a story:

I was excited about including essential oils in my DIY skincare recipes. After all, one of the reasons why I wanted to learn to formulate was so I could include the essential oils into my recipes.

I was watching Youtube videos and saw how people added essential oils to their recipes to their hearts content. I was pleased that I could just add as much as I wanted, and I wanted lots since their natural aroma is simply intoxicating.

However, when I did my skincare courses I learnt this is not true. Essential oil safety is something that must be learnt by all DIYers, especially if they want to use essential oils in their recipes.

My thoughts on adding essential oils to DIY products 🙂

If we don’t know the basics of essential oil safety, we will end up making a mistake. A very big mistake, which is quite dangerous.

I’m at loggerheads with myself when I see people doing this on Youtube and other blogs. I watched many videos and have seen countless recipes where essential oils were added to the mix without a thought of what might happen and/or proper precautions.

So, I thought that I should write my own entry, and since there are so many essential oil safety guides out there I wanted this particular one to focus on helping all DIYers who want to include essential oils into their skincare recipes.

It’s time for a basic fundamental about essential oils and the dosage that you MUST know to include them in your DIY skincare recipe.

Essential Oil for Skincare Safety: The Basics!

Essential oils and the benefits they provide have been around for centuries, so it’s no wonder that people are hooked on their wonderful scent and healing powers. But with so many different oils out there to choose from, does anyone know what is safe? Can we just mix them up without considering their potency and our skin sensitivities? The reality is while they are considered safe under certain conditions and concentrations, it is essential to know how these potent oils work with your skin, and how to use them.

What Are Essential Oils?

Lagunamoon Premium Essential Oils Set, 20 Pcs Pure Natural Aromatherapy Oils Lavender Frankincense Peppermint Rose Rosemary Sandalwood

Essential oils are generally made by steam distilling plant materials (and some by cold pressing) to produce the pure essence of a plant. What is created is a concentrated aromatic liquid that can then be used in different ways. They are complex mixtures of chemical compounds that give each oil its aroma and medicinal properties. There are approximately 90 types of essential oils out there in the market today.

Essential Oil Safety: Before You Start Using Them In Your DIY Products

I would like to share with you the knowledge I gained when I first started using essential oils in my DIY recipes. It is paramount that you educate yourself about essential oils before trying them out. There are many factors that can affect the way the oil’s properties will interact with your skin and body, so this applies to anyone who wants to get into DIY or already does it.

I have been asked at the market what the safe use levels of essential oils are. The truth is that this depends on the oil itself, your skin type and sensitivity, and how you will be using them.

There are some general rules to follow that I will share below.

1. How NOT to use essential oils in your DIY skincare recipes

Do your research about what essential oils are safe for your skin type and sensitivities. Know them by heart, understanding that each individual oil has different guidelines. Here’s what you SHOULD NOT do :

  • Don’t add essential oils without knowing what the proper dosage is for their use in your skincare recipes
  • Don’t add them in every single recipe you make. Each essential oil you add should fulfill a specific function. Don’t add them just for the sake of adding them
  • Don’t add more than the recommended dosage, even if you’re tempted or believe that ‘a little more is not going to do any harm’
  • Don’t go by what others say. If other people think a certain amount is safe because they haven’t experienced any issues, that does not make it ok. Everyone is different and we all have our own sensitivities so we all react differently to the same thing
  • Choose essential oils carefully. Know which ones are safe for your skin type and use them accordingly
  • Be well aware of the meaning of labels like ‘100% pure’, ‘natural’, etcetera

Why are these things so important? Because essential oils are highly potent substances that can have a lot of impact in our bodies, and not necessarily beneficial ones. If you ignore these precautions, you might end up with a skin breakout, an allergic reaction or even anaphylactic shock (which is life threatening).

It’s easy to see why they must be treated carefully and used wisely.

2. Never apply directly to skin (dilute with carrier oil)

Essential oils are highly concentrated and potent and should never be applied neat (undiluted) on the skin. Most essential oils will irritate the skin and cause an allergic reaction in some individuals.

It is important that you dilute your chosen essential oil with a carrier vegetable oil (sometimes referred to as a base oil) first before applying this mixture onto your skin, body or massaging into muscles and joints. This will help prevent irritation, burning, and even discomfort. You can use almost any carrier oil: think almond oil, olive oil, grape seed oil and sunflower seed oil to name a few.

Skin reactions to essential oils are:

  • Irritation: Redness, itching, soreness
  • Sensitization: Allergic reaction (rashes, contact dermatitis, eczema, asthma, and pruritic erythematous eruptions)
  • Phototoxicity: When sensitivity strongly increases after exposure to sunlight. Reactions may vary depending on your skin type and the oil used. Effects of phototoxicity range from redness to irreversible damage. Citrus oils are the most phototoxic, followed by cinnamon, bergamot, lime, grapefruit and lemon.

Citrus essential oils which are actually NOT phototoxic are:

  • Lemon (distilled, not expressed)
  • Lime (distilled, not expressed)
  • Mandarin (expressed) – I use this one ALL the time
  • Orange (sweet, expressed) – This is my second favorite citrus essential oil
  • Tangerine (expressed)
  • Tangelo (expressed)

3. FOLLOW this helpful list for individual essential oils topical limits

Here’s a helpful list for topical limits. The very first thing to note about using essential oils in your recipes is that each one is different. Please follow these and respect your body, skin, and the essential oils you choose for your recipes:

These guidelines are applicable no matter what your skin type is — normal, dry, combination or oily.

Sensitive skin I would avoid essential oils altogether, or at least do a patch test to make sure you don’t have an adverse reaction (apply a small amount to the inside of your elbow and wait 24 hours). If there is no irritation or redness, try using your blend on a larger area of your skin.

ROSE ABSOLUTE (OTTO): 0.02% (contains small amounts of carginogens)
JASMINE ABSOLUTE: 0.4% face, 0.7% body (sensitization)
GRAPEFRUIT: 4% (phototoxicity)
LEMON: 2% (phototoxicity)
LEMON BALM (MELISSA): 0.30% face, 0.65% body (sensitization)
LIME (EXPRESSED): 0.7% (phototoxicity)
BERGAMOT EO (EXPRESSED): 0.4% (phototoxicity)
GERANIUM: 0.5% (sensitization)
LEMONGRASS: 0.6% (sensitization and phototoxicity)
MAY CHANG: 0.8% (sensitization and phototoxicity)
YLANG-YLANG: 0.4% face, 0.8% body (sensitization)
CINNAMON: 0.07% (sensitization)
BENZOIN: 0.6% (sensitization)
CLOVE: 0.1% (sensitization)
CUMIN: 0.4% (sensitization)
PETITGRAIN: 0.1% (phototoxicity)
SWEET ORANGE: 1% (phototoxicity)
TAGETES: 0.01% (sensitization)
ANGELICA ROOT: 0.80% (phototoxicity)

I really hope the above list is helpful. I couldn’t do without it. I have never personally experienced phototoxicity or sensitivity, but I’m always EXTRA careful and follow the rules to prevent any sort of reaction.

4. General percentages according to type of skincare product

As a rule of thumb, no more essential oil than 3% of the final product should be added although it will differ whether the product is a facial product or a body product and also the age of the person who will use the skincare (I never add essential oils if a kid or an elderly person is going to use my product).

This guide should be helpful:

  • LIP BALM: 0.4%
  • EYE CONTOUR: 0.1%
  • RINSE OFF PRODUCTS (not facial): Up to 3%

**Remember to refer to the above list of individual essential oils for guidance on recommended amounts. So, for example, if you want to add essential oils to your lip balm, you can’t add 0.4% of Rose Absolute (Otto) to your lip balm as that would go beyond the recommended dosage for Rose Absolute (Otto) which is 0.02%, but you can add 0.4% of Sweet Orange essential oil instead.

5. Blending essential oils for massage therapy safety

As with skincare, when blending your own massage oils, essential oils make up only a small percentage of the total product so be sure not to add more than 2-3% of the final product if the essential oil is not on the list above. If it is, please adhere to the percentage as stated in the chart above.

Knowing that essential oils can be toxic to the body if not used properly or in appropriate amounts will help you to better understand massage therapy safety guidelines.

Before using essential oils for massage, always test them on a small patch of skin. If you notice any redness or burning sensation after 10-15 minutes, then do not use them.

So now that you know what to do with your essential oils before using them, let’s move on to other general safety guidelines you should follow when using EOs.

General Advice

Some essential oils are safer than others, so read labels carefully and even if you don’t see a safety warning just remember that most essential oils can be toxic to the body if not used properly or in appropriate amounts.

If you’re not sure about their safety make sure to buy essential oils which clearly display a safety, non-irritant warning on the label.

I also suggest you learn about oils before you begin using them. There are many resources out there that can teach you to use essential oils safely, including books and workshops. These two books are a great place to start, I own both of them and they’re my go-to guides:

Neals Yard Remedies Essential Oils

Neals Yard Remedies Essential Oils

Essential Oils, Neal’s Yard Remedies

The Aromatherapy Beauty Guide: Using the Science of Carrier and Essential Oils to Create Natural Personal Care Products

The Aromatherapy Beauty Guide, Danielle Sade

Use only pure essential oils

When purchasing essential oils make sure to buy 100% pure essential oils. Some brands will dilute their oils with cheaper agents such as synthetic scents or carrier oils so be sure to check the label before purchasing. If unsure, go for a different brand.

Avoid contact with eyes and/or any mucous membranes

Some essential oils can irritate the eyes, skin and other mucous membranes, so make sure to avoid getting them in these areas. Just a drop of some oils such as peppermint and lemon can cause a lot of irritation.

Do not use citrus oils before exposure to sunlight

Most people know that citrus oils (such as Lemon and Grapefruit) increase our body’s sensitivity to UV rays. Make sure you do not use these oils before exposure to the sun. This is explained in the chart above.

Do not use internally

Many essential oils are not meant to be taken internally so only take essential oils internally under the guidance of a professional healthcare practitioner who you trust and who fully understands essential oils.

If you’re interested in a particular herb, root or flower (i.e. sage, ginger, lavender) simply decoct or infuse the fresh ingredient so the liquid can be safely consumed.

Keep out of reach of children

Always make sure to keep essential oils out of reach of children, a majority of them are highly concentrated and even a drop can cause irritation or worse if ingested. If accidentally ingested, essential oils can cause a fatal overdose in young children.

Do not use essential oils on babies, kids, the elderly or pregnant women

Most essential oils are not safe to be used on small children, babies and pregnant women.

If you have a child and you wish to apply essential oils to them there are carrier oils that can be used such as sweet almond oil or sunflower oil which are much safer for children. Always consult your healthcare professional before using any oils on your child.

Avoid prolonged exposure without ventilation

Avoid prolonged exposure to essential oils without ventilation (such as over the course of time, in a place that’s not air-conditioned or well-ventilated) as this could cause irritation, skin rash and burning sensations.

Don’t keep open and store all oils properly to avoid degradation & rancidity

Most essential oils DO NOT go bad or turn rancid for a long period of time if they’re kept correctly. However, it is recommended that you do not expose essential oils to direct sunlight or heat as this will negatively affect them. Every oil is different and some will last longer than others.

This post will be regularly updated as more information is found on the safety of essential oils. If you have any questions please leave a comment below and I will respond as soon as I can.

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