how to use essential oils

If you want to learn how to use essential oils it doesn’t need to be an overwhelming experience, and if you follow this guide it will help you to use them safely and effectively.

Important Disclaimer

The health topics on Aroma Utopia have not been assessed or approved by the FDA. The advice as well as strategies contained on this site may not be suitable for every situation. They should not be mistaken for medical, legal, or other professional advice or service. You should, without hesitation consult your naturopathic physician concerning the use of essential oils, along with any other complimentary modalities. Reading this guide suggests that you understand and agree to our full disclaimer.



Essential oils have been in use for thousands of years, and whether you’re interested in using them primarily for aromatherapy or as therapeutic products and solutions you should have some understanding of their properties, because each essential oil is not always used in the same way.


Guidelines for Using Essential Oils Correctly

Personal Decree

Use your personal judgment where essential oils are concerned. If there is one person that knows your body better, it’s you. You know exactly what you need to relieve yourself of certain conditions. All you need to do is make the right judgment call on what is useful or not for your body. This is regardless of how well other users recommend certain essential oils. You should not expect to achieve the same result as other users. Therefore, your personal decision on the oil you use and how you use it matters a lot.

Understand Essential Oil Safety

Usually, any essential oil you buy will have safety measures embedded on it. However, safety concerns can differ for different essential oils. For instance, Young Living aromatic oils are pure; therefore, they are extremely powerful. With that in mind, you should never assume that an essential oil is safe to use neat (applied directly). Some essential oils can cause allergies or other negative effects, such as sensitization and skin irritation; and pregnant women are discouraged from using specific essential oils.

Follow the Precautions Astutely

While essential oils have been in use for thousands of years, and are natural it is still important to approach their use with the same caution that you would use in applying any other product. Follow label instructions carefully, especially if you have never used the designated oil. Do not just take someone else’s word and attempt to blindly use an essential oil. Always remember that learning how to use essential oils is not simply an art, but a skill that you can improve with time. The best way to do so is by following each and every precaution intelligently.


General safety Rules of using Essential Oils

  • You should never use essential oils undiluted on your skin, unless instructed.
  • Handle essential oils with protection, such as protective gloves.
  • Any residual or spilled essential oil should be immediately cleaned up.
  • Always provide adequate ventilation when using or handling young living oils in your home.
  • You should avoid ingesting essential oils unless it is recommended by your physician. Pregnant/ nursing women, elderly people and children should avoid using some essential oils directly unless advised by a physician.
  • Allergic reactions or skin sensitivity may occur when you use specific essential oils.
  • Natural oils in their purest form must never be applied near or directly on any part of your body openings, such as the eyes, ears and nose.
  • Allow your tolerance to the fragrance and effects to increase with experience.
  • Patch testing before using essential oils for the first time is recommended.
  • Never assume that different essential oils can be used to achieve a specific purpose.
  • Always take extra precautions when using essential oils, regardless of what the manufacturer says.
  • Some Young Living oils can cause drowsiness and sleep, particularly when driving.
  • Do not over use natural oils on your body; take a break of at least two weeks in between uses.
  • Essential oils are generally inflammable; therefore, keep away from heat.


Methods of Using Essential Oils

There are various methods of using essential oils that you need to understand, and they include the following four:

  • Topically (skin)
  • Aromatically (inhaled)
  • Internally
  • And externally (usually around the home).

As a safety reminder, as far as using essential oils is concerned, this guide and all the essential oils mentioned will be using the following symbols:


Safe use of aromatic oils is a multifaceted topic that involves many safety concerns. This is mainly based on the long history of customary use. One of the most important concepts you need to know about essential oils is that natural oils cannot be used the same way. For instance, peppermint oil and lemon oil have many applications. At the same time, Wintergreen oil cannot be used internally because of its adverse effects. So always do a detailed research on the different types of essential oils before putting them into use.


Safety Precautions that You Need to Know

  • Using the same essential oils for long durations may lead to aggregated effects and can cause sensitivity after a given period of time.
  • Some essential oils are not used in aromatherapy because of their known toxicity. For instance, Wintergreen oil is at times on the exclusion list. However, if it is used properly, it is an effective analgesic.


Applying Essential Oils Topically

Applying essential oils topically is an essential part of aromatherapy massage. Many factors influence the absorption of essential oils. Such factors can include:

  • Hydration of the skin
  • Temperature of the skin
  • Whether or not the skin is broken
  • Quality of the skin and age.

One can easily poison themselves through topical application, although the dose would have to be incorrect or extraordinary abnormal. There are two major skin problems associated with inappropriate topical use of essential oil, and they include: irritation and sensitization.


This is an allergic response and usually occurs when one does not know how to use essential Oils. A reaction may not take place the first time an essential oil is used. However, continuous exposure to the same oil may cause inflammation and other significant reactions. If you suspect that a given essential oil causes an allergic reaction with your skin, you are strongly advised to discontinue using the oil. Well-known skin sensitizers are: benzoin; cassia; cinnamon bark; fig leaf; and verbena essential oils.


Any essential oil may react adversely with your body depending on how you use them. For instance, essential oils applied topically should never be used in close proximity to your eyes. A good number of essential oils have been acknowledged as irritants to the skin. They cause continuous irritation if they are used in a concentrated dilution or applied on delicate areas of the skin. Essential oils that have high concentration of monoterpenes including citrus oils have shown to be irritating when oxidized. Therefore, it is important to use them topically when they are fresh. Well-known skin irritants are: thyme; cassia; fennel; oregano; cinnamon bark; cinnamon leaf; fig leaf; and clove essential oils.

Dilutions & Solutions

Dilution is the process of mixing essential oils with carrier oils that renders essential oils safe to use on the skin. Dilution is an effective way of ensuring that essential oils are used safely without adverse side effects. Concentrated essential oils can be toxic. Even with the correct portions of essential oil and carrier oil, different factors can still make dilution a tricky process. Changes in the viscosity and temperature of essential oils can cause changes in their properties. Specific oils such as eucalyptus are thicker when cold, and thinner when heated. Solutions are also referred to as blended oils and are made up of one or more carrier oils combined with drops of an essential oil.

Popular Topical Application Methods


Massage is one of the best and most effective ways of applying essential oils topically. Including essential oils into massage is a good way to ease muscular aches and pains, treat a variety of conditions and lower stress & tension. Apart from feeling relaxed, massage can do the following:

  • Stimulate blood and lymphatic circulation
  • Reduce swelling
  • Relax muscles
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Soothe the nervous system.

You can gain from self-massage as well. Whether you massage deep into the muscles or lightly spread the essential oils on your skin, you will gain the above mentioned benefits.


Compresses are essentially a resource for relieving pain, swelling and inflammation. They can significantly help get rid of chills or fevers. There are two basic types of compresses:

  • Hot Compress: this form of topical application dilates blood vessels for better circulation; eases pains and aches; reduces stiffness; and relaxes muscles. You can use hot compress for backaches, abscesses, toothaches and chronic conditions.
  • Cold Compress: this type of topical application reduces swelling and inflammation. You can use cold compress for swollen and inflamed conditions; headaches; acute conditions and fevers.

To make a compress, add four to five drops of essential oil to either cold/ hot water. Then soak a cloth, cotton wool or towel. Remove the excess water and apply to the affected area.


Baths are an excellent way to heal sore and aching muscles, as well as reducing stress and tension. Essential oil baths are remarkably successful in treating different conditions, such as hyperactivity, arthritis, sore muscles, insomnia, allergy and asthma. Essential oil baths can remove the body of toxins and help treat emotional and mental problems. Instead of a full soaking bath; sometimes a simple hand or foot bath can address some conditions.

Other methods of topical application include: personal care (deodorant and perfumes); auricular therapy; and over the reflex points.

reflex points

Visual Guide for Applying Essential Oils Topically

  • NEAT (means that you can apply a specific essential oil without dilution directly to the skin). Nonetheless, you are strongly advised to do a patch test, just in case. Especially if you have a sensitive skin. Essential oils marked with this symbol are generally considered safe to use without dilution.
  • SENSITIVE: Indicates that you should do a patch test before topical application of an essential oil (especially when using on the elderly, children or people with sensitive skin), Essential oils marked with this symbol are generally considered safe to use with moderate dilution.
  • DILUTE: Dilute means that you should not use the designated natural oil neat on the skin. You should dilute the oil accordingly with a carrier oil. The precautions you take should be based on the following: Age, Temperature and quality of the skin, and whether the skin is broken. Essential oils marked with this symbol are generally considered safe to use with a heavier dilution. And seek medical advice if pregnant, elderly, ill or using with children and babies.




Applying Essential Oils Aromatically

This is one of the most popular methods of applying essential oils. Over the years, most essential oil users refer to it as inhaling. Applying essential oils aromatically can be very effective in dealing with various emotional issues: stress, depression, anxiety, fear, or even a lack of creativity. This is where the power of essential oils truly comes into their own!

Some Benefits of Aromatic Application

  • Relieve respiratory conditions, such as sinuses.
  • The oils promote positive moods and balanced hormonal system.
  • Improves the quality of air indoors by getting rid of any unwanted smells and pollutes.

Aromatic application is the fastest way to bring change along with transformation to a user’s thoughts and feelings. The best way to apply natural oils aromatically is through a device such as a diffuser. Traditionally, you can boil water and add three to five drops of essential oil and then inhale the steam.

Popular Aromatic Application Methods


essential oil diffuser

This is the process of dispersing ultra-fine cool or warm essential oil mist particles using a diffuser throughout an office, home or a room. The best diffusers and most recommended are ultrasonic diffusers. This is because they use ultrasonic technology to disperse molecules and don’t interfere with the molecular structure of the essential oils.




Direct Inhalation & Indirect Inhalation

What could be simpler than breathing in the aroma of an essential oil? Direct inhalation ensures that you reap the benefits immediately; whether you are in need of sharpening your concentration or boosting your immune system. To apply essential oils directly from the bottle, open the bottle of your desired essential oil and breathe directly. When you use indirect inhalation, apply undiluted natural oil to a piece of cloth or cotton ball and breathe from the soaked cloth or cotton ball. But always read the safety precautions on the bottle.


A humidifier ensures that the air in your room is moist by diffusing a fine cool mist or releasing clouds of steam. The humidity delivered by a humidifier helps you alleviate dry skin and dryness of mouth, particularly in dry regions or during winter. Humidification using essential oils can also alleviate symptoms of cold and flu and improve one’s moods and sharpen the mind.

steam inhalation

Other methods that you can use to apply essential oils aromatically include: natural room deodorizer; perfume/ cologne; fan; vent; and steam inhalation.






Applying Essential Oils Internally

Beware that not all natural oils can be ingested. The FDA has registered specific essential oils as ‘Generally Recognized as Safe’ (GRAS) for ingestion. Nonetheless, they are still embedded with precautions. The FDA does prevent essential oil manufacturers from making health claims about the effects of their particular essential oils. Regardless of the fact that research backs up such claims. This is because natural oils are not considered as drugs.

It is recommended that essential oils taken orally for medicinal purposes are only prescribed by primary care practitioners, such as aromatherapy specialists who have intimate knowledge of essential oil toxicology. An essence for external use can contain terpenes, but for internal use they have to be removed. However, clinical aromatherapy medics consider it safe to take given essential oils internally, so long as they are pure. They believe that day to day internal use of natural oils guarantees proper balance as well as functioning of intestines and they fight internal infection.

Safety Precautions for Internal Use of Essential Oils

  • Always start with a single drop of essential oil to see how the oil will affect you before you start using multiple drops of an essential oil.
  • Give your body ample time to break down a drop of essential oil you ingest before another. The most recommended interval is twenty minutes apart.
  • Take extra precautions or avoid essential oils that are high in phenols. Such natural oils do include thyme, cinnamon and oregano to mention a few.
  • If you do ingest essential oils, even for a short period, please add a drop of coconut or olive oil. This will dilute the concentration once it comes into contact with your mucous membrane.
  • Pregnant women should avoid ingesting essential oils altogether. Essential oils can interfere with how your liver works, and a pregnant or nursing woman needs to be free of any medical complications.

Popular Internal Application Methods


This is one of the safest ways of ingesting essential oils. You can actually cook or even bake using essential oils. Just make sure that the essential oil recipes you use do not require more than a single drop of an essential oil. There are some essential oils that must be used in moderation even if you are ingesting them through cooking. For instance, oregano is considered safe when used in moderation in cooking. Cooking helps to kill most of the essential oil molecules before you consume them.


You can best ingest essential oils by drinking through a blend. For instance, you can make a blend of water, almond oil, four ounces of rice mil and one drop of either lemon essential oil or peppermint essential oil and drink. Just make sure that the blend is well-mixed to avoid irritating your mucus membrane.

You can also ingest essential oils through a supplement such as honey or through vaginal/ rectal insertion.




Applying Essential Oils Externally

Most people don’t realize how to use essential oils in and around the home.

All-Purpose Cleaner

You can use any of the aromatic oils that are resourceful at eliminating different kinds of bacteria. Some of the best oils to use are: thyme; peppermint; oregano; lavender; grapefruit; eucalyptus; and cinnamon essential oil. Essential oil recipes require the following ingredients: twenty drops of the essential oil, half cup of water and half cup of apple cider vinegar. Then mix the ingredients in a clean glass spray bottle and shake accordingly. Use the solution to clean as well as disinfect your home.

Bathroom Cleaner

Tea Tree Oil is very good at eliminating mildew and mold in bathrooms. To get rid of mildew, you can apply tea tree oil neat in and around the bathtub. You can also mix it into a spray. You need two teaspoons of tea tree oil and two cups of water. Combine the two ingredients in a metal spray bottle.

Peppermint Mouse Bombs

Mice can’t stand the smell of peppermint and will stay away from areas where the odor is strong. You will need ninety drops of peppermint essential oil and thirty cotton balls. Then apply three drops of peppermint oil to each cotton ball. Place the cotton balls around your home in areas where mice are active.

So learning how to use essential oils can take some time, but once you have mastered the art of blending and understand the safety precautions you should have all the information you need.