Essential oils should always be diluted in carrier oils, alcohol, or vinegar with topical use. These highly volatile plant extractions have been proven more effective with less harmful side effects when diluted. Experts agree, using essential oils neat can result in painful skin irritations, or worse! Professional aromatherapy organizations and learning institutes recommend a typical 2% dilution with the topical use of essential oils. These institutions include: NAHA, AIA, ARC, ACHS, The Tisserand Institute, and Aromahead.
Carrier oils are typically extracted by pressing plant parts, such as nuts, seeds, and fruit. Cold pressed oils are usually preferred over hot pressed oils. This is because heat can destroy some of the beneficial properties. Further, unrefined carrier oils are usually a better choice, without the additives. (However, keep in mind that some carrier oils are refined to remove harmful constituents).
Essential oils differ from carrier oils because they are typically steam distilled. Only the lightest, most chemically volatile constituents that have a molecular weight under 250 are extracted, leaving all heavier components and plant matter behind. This typically only representing about 1% of the plant’s matter. Thus, an essential oil’s chemistry can be quite different than that of the overall herb.
Essential oils are oil soluble. That means they do not dissolve in water. Depending on the essential oil species, it will be partially to mostly soluble in carriers listed below. Light essential oils, like citrus oils high in monoterpenes will be the most soluble.
“Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick.”