Essential Oil Application: Topical

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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

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.

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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

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.

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Simple Massage Oil

  • Servings: Yield=1 oz.
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients & Supplies:

Instructions:

  1. Combine ingredients in a small glass bowl, and stir to combine. Pour mixture into the 1 oz. plastic bottle. (Use a funnel if needed to avoid spills.)
  2. To use, simply apply small amounts of your mixture to the desired area, and massage lightly into the skin.

Essential Oil Recommendations:

You can use one or more of the following oils to equal a total of 15–30 drops.

  • Calming/Relaxing: Oils that are good for a calming or relaxing massage oil include cedarwood, Roman chamomile, lavender, clary sage, jasmine, myrrh, or ylang ylang.
  • Invigorating/Energizing: Some oils that would create a more invigorating or energizing massage oil include cypress, white fir, juniper, lemon, nutmeg, orange, grapefruit, or peppermint.
  • Romantic: Some oils that can be used to create a more romantic massage oil include rose, jasmine, clary sage, or ylang ylang.

Reflexology/Reflex Therapy

“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.

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Auricular Therapy

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.

Compress

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:

  1. Basin: Fill a wash basin with 2 quarts of hot or cold water, and add the desired essential oils. Stir the water vigorously; then lay a towel on top of the water. Since the oils will float to the top, the towel will absorb the oils with the water. After the towel is completely saturated, wring out the excess water (leaving much of the oils in the towel), and place the towel over the area needing the compress. For a hot compress, cover with a dry towel and a hot water bottle. For a cold compress, cover with a piece of plastic or plastic wrap. Finally, put another towel on top, and leave for as long as possible (1–2 hours is best).
  2. Massage: Apply a hot, wet towel and then a dry towel on top of an area that has already been massaged with essential oils. The moist heat will force the oils deeper into the tissues of the body.

Baths

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.

  1. Bathwater: You can simply add oils directly to your bathwater, but keep in mind that the oils will rise to the top, so it is best to avoid oils that could cause irritation to sensitive areas of the body. To add oils to your bath, place 3–6 drops of oil in the bathwater while the tub is filling. Soak for 15 minutes.AT-Bubble-Bath
  2. Bath and Shower Gel: Using a bath and shower gel as a base helps to evenly disperse the essential oils throughout the water and can increase the benefits obtained from using essential oils in the bath. To do this, just add 3–6 drops of oil to 1/2 oz. of a Bath and Shower Gel Base, and add to the water while the tub is filling.
  3. Bath Salts: Similar in concept to using a bath and shower gel, bath salts or Epsom salts help disperse the oils more evenly throughout the water. Combine 3–10 drops essential oil with 1/4–1/2 cup of bath salts or Epsom Salts, and dissolve the salt mixture in warm bathwater before bathing.
  4. Washcloth: When showering, add 3–6 drops of oil to a Bath and Shower Gel Base before applying to a washcloth and using to wash the body.
  5. Body sprays: A body spray can be used before or after taking a bath or shower. When used before, the water from the bath or shower can help drive the oils into the skin. When used after a warm bath or shower, the pores are open and will absorb the oils quickly. To make a body spray, fill a small spray bottle with distilled water, and add 10–15 drops of your favorite oil blend or single oils. Shake well, and spray onto the entire body.

15ml Spray Bottles

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.

Essential Oil Application: Internal

Essential Oil Application: Aromatic

Luxurious Lavender Bubble Bath

At the end of a long day at work or with the kids, there is nothing quite like a warm, relaxing bubble bath to help you unwind. This luxurious bubble bath is easy to make and incorporates the benefits of pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils.

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Mother’s Day Relaxation Gift Ideas

Mother’s Day is just around the corner! Since a mother’s work is often so constantly demanding, what better way is there to show gratitude for all the mother in your life does for you than to give her the gift of relaxation? Here are some relaxation ideas and gift basket suggestions as well as some recipes that you can make and give to the special women in your life!
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Relaxation Ideas:

A little while ago, we took a survey asking women what were some of their favorite ways to relax. The following are some suggestions that were made:

  • Aromatic River Rock Foot Bath: In a large basin, place a few smooth stones, warm water, and a drop or two of a relaxing essential oil. Get comfortable in a chair, place your feet in the basin, and enjoy feeling the smooth stones as you rub your feet over them.
  • Massages: Get together with a friend or family member and give each other massages. You can even include essential oils to enhance relaxation!
  • Engage Your Senses and Move with the Music: Get some finger paint, markers, or crayons and paper; clay or Play Doh; or anything that can engage your sense of touch. Put your favorite music on, and open an oil bottle or turn a diffuser on with a relaxing blend. Close your eyes, and let the music flow through you as you create a work of art! This activity will be more relaxing as you engage more of your senses.
  • Take a Relaxing Bath: After dry-brushing your body, take a very warm bath with an aromatic Bath Bomb (recipe below). Think thoughts of gratitude and fond memories or of the things you have accomplished recently.
  • Lay on the Grass and Look at the Clouds:  Find a quiet area, whether it is a beach, a park, or your own backyard. Lie down on a blanket and look at the clouds above. Don’t forget to allow your mind to relax!
  • Chase Bubbles: Buy or make a simple bubble-making formula. You can try this recipe:  3/4 cup water, 1/4 cup dish soap, and 1 Tbs. glycerin all mixed together. Blow the bubbles around your yard and allow yourself to be as childish as you desire. If it helps, get some children involved and let your inner child loose!
  • Breathe: The simplest form of relaxation is to just find a comfortable place to sit, close your eyes, and breathe deeply. Take deep, slow breaths through your diaphragm.  Breathe in for 5 seconds; breathe out for 5 seconds. Focus on just breathing rather than everything else you may have to do.  After a few minutes, you should feel much more relaxed.

Relaxation Gift Ideas

Mother’s Day Gift Basket Suggestions:

  • All-Natural Moisturizing Lotion with Essential Oils (Click here for the recipe)
  • Exfoliating Foot or Body Scrub (See recipe below)
  • Luxurious Bath Bombs (See recipe below)
  • Essential Oils:
    • Modern Essentials suggests lavender, ylang ylang, lemon, Roman chamomile, geranium, frankincense, sandalwood, clary sage, orange, vetiver, melissa, bergamot, and rose as oils that soothe and relax (Modern Essentials, 5th Edition, pp. 42, 264).
    • Give some samples of single oils or make your own blend. A simple blend could be 1 part ylang ylang, 2 parts lavender, and 7 parts orange. Since people react differently to essential oils, it may be a good idea to give a little variety in sample bottles so they can use the ones that appeal to them.
    • Include a note letting them know how they can use them (e.g. rub on with a carrier oil, diffuse, or put in a bath along with some liquid bath gel or Epsom salts).
  • A Small Treat: ChocOILates or Honey Stix are great treats that also give the benefits of essential oils. You can also make something on your own like Carrot Cake Cupcakes.
  • Perfume Locket (Click here for the recipe)

Recipes:

Exfoliating Foot or Body Scrub

Exfoliating Foot or Body Scrub

  • Servings: Yield = 4 oz of scrub
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients and Materials Needed:

  • 1/4 cup Epsom Salt or another exfoliating agent
    (You can also use coarse sea salt, fine sea salt, raw sugar, brown sugar, table salt, or white sugar. The coarser the salt is, the more exfoliating it will be. Note: while salt works very well as an exfoliating agent, it can sting if it gets into open cuts or sores, so be sure to either warn recipients to only use on unbroken skin, or use sugar as your exfoliator instead.)
  • 1/4 cup Sweet Almond Oil
  • 2 capsules or 6–8 drops of vitamin E (optional).
    (This can be found as either capsules or liquid in most health, grocery, and drug stores. Besides being an antioxidant, vitamin E is also a natural preservative.)
  • 10–20 drops of essential oil(s)
  • Container to store your scrub
    (This recipe makes about 4 oz. of scrub. You can use a 4 oz. salve container or another jar.)

Instructions:

  • Pour all ingredients into a bowl, and mix together.
  • Pour the mixture into a 4 oz. Salve Container or small wide-mouth jar.
  • To use the scrub, place a small amount in the palm and scrub over moistened skin. Rinse off in a shower or tub (Note: the oils in this scrub can make the floor of the bathtub or shower rather slippery, so use extreme caution while rinsing off so you don’t fall).

Extra Ideas:

  • Use ultramarine powders or other natural powders and oil-soluble colorants to color your scrubs.
  • Try using different coarsenesses of salt or sugar to create progressively smoother scrubs (i.e. a coarse “buffing” scrub, followed by a fine “polishing” scrub) with different essential oils to help relax in each scrub.
  • Try combining two or more exfoliating agents to get a different feel for your scrub.

Luxurious Bath Bombs

Luxurious Bath Bombs

  • Servings: Yield = 6–9 bath bombs
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients and Materials Needed:

Instructions:

  • Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl and the wet ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix well with a whisk. The mixture will bubble just a bit and begin to clump together. After mixing a little with the whisk, put the whisk aside and work it with your fingers. Mix and blend the mixture until it is well combined and has the texture of mildly wet sand. It should clump together when you squeeze it with your fingers. If it is too dry, moisten it with the water in the spray bottle, one spritz at a time. You do not want the mixture too wet or it will not set up properly.
  • Press the mixture firmly into silicone soap molds or muffin tins lined with paper cups or plastic wrap (for easy removal). Let sit for 1–2 hours.
  • After the bath bombs are dry enough that they stick together, remove from the molds or muffin tins (and paper cups) and let sit on a fluffy towel overnight before using. If you live in a humid area, you may need to dry the bath bombs for 2 nights before they’ll be set enough to gift or use.

Extra Ideas:

  • Try using food coloring and dry herbs to decorate the bath bombs a little more.
  • Try dividing the batch after mixing the dry ingredients to make bath bombs with different scents or colors. Work with one scent at a time. Mix in the appropriate amount of the wet ingredients, moisten with the spray bottle if necessary, and press firmly into the molds before starting the process over again with another scent.
  • Try different essential oils for different purposes. For example, try making some relaxing bath bombs with soothing essential oils (e.g. lavender, ylang ylang, or Roman chamomile) or energizing bath bombs with invigorating essential oils (e.g. citrus oils, peppermint, eucalyptus, or rosemary).