10 tips on using essential oils for beauty

I don’t profess to be an expert in using essential oils. In fact, I would admit to being a novice. While I do use them in my DIY formulations, I only use them sparingly. However, I’m kind of keen to experiment more with them and so I have been reading up about some of their properties. Anyway, if you’re also a beginner in using essential oils, you might like to know these 10 tips I’ve compiled about using essential oils.

1. EOs penetrate the skin deeply
Essential oils are able to cross the skin barrier and penetrate the skin so they do get absorbed. When you smell it, the scent is transported into your olfactory mucous membrane sending electrical impulses to the brain, which affect both body functions and emotions. When you massage or bathe, the essential oils you used are absorbed into the skin and enter the blood circulation. This is why they are used sparingly in skin care formulations. More importantly, people with health issues or pregnant or nursing women are recommended to keep away from using essential oils if possible.

2. Be careful with how you use essential oils
Many of us are probably more familiar with essential oils used in aromatherapy, where a few drops of an oil are dropped into a burner or diffuser to create a specific mood. And apparently, this is how the Germans like to use essential oils! However, this is actually not the best way as essential oils are non water-based phytochemicals made up of volatile organic compounds and hence, heat can change the constituents of the oil causing us more harm than benefits. Although most of us would only think about enjoying the scent from the aromatherapy, what we inhale can affect our well being.

3. Take note to choose 100% pure essential oil
As a result of what was mentioned in point 2, we should ensure that the essential oil used in aromatherapy is of a pure grade. I used to purchase essential oils that are cheap and didn’t give much thoughts to their grade. In fact, I had no idea. However, since knowing this, I’ve been more careful and so even though there are so many cheap selections on iHerb, I don’t buy them anymore.

4. Store your essential oil properly
Essential oils should be stored in bottles made of dark tinted glass with tight-fitting lids to keep away air and light. Although they should also be kept in cool, dark places, essential oils should not be stored in the fridge. Under proper storage conditions, most essential oils can be stored for at least 2 years and some can get stored for up to 18 months. You can probably tell that it has degraded when the smell is not as strong as before.

5. Never apply undiluted essential oil directly on your skin
While essential oils such as lavender and tea tree are considered safe to apply topically, it is always best to use essential oils on the skin by diluting in a base oil. Never use too much essential oil all at once; as a guide, add 10 – 25 drops in 100 ml base oil for body massages or create a facial mask by mixing 2 to 4 drops of essential oil into your mixture.

6. Essential oil can irritate the skin
Some essential oils like those of cinnamon bark and cloves, can irritate the skin. It’s best to find out if the essential oil you intend to use can irritate. And if you have sensitive skin or suffers from skin allergies, the expert recommendation is for you to blend 1 drop of essential oil with about 10 drops of a base oil such as Jojoba or Almond oil, and apply to the inside of your forearm. If your skin turns red, you are allergic to this essential oil. If you ever experience skin irritation, dilute with straight vegetable oil, not water.

7. Essential oil can increase photosensitivity
Some essential oils should not be used before sun exposure. Most of these are of the citrus family such as Bergamot, Bitter Orange, Grapefruit, Lime, Mandarin, Orange, Lemon, Lemongrass. So it is best to use this in the night rather than in the day. If your skin is prone to pigmentation, it is even better to avoid using them altogether.

8. Keep essential oil away from eyes and mucous membranes
You should take caution not to get any of the essential oil into your eye or mucous membrane such as rubbing the oil directly onto the nose. Like point 6, if you ever accidentally get essential oils in the eyes, dilute with straight vegetable oil, not water.

9. Do not mix too many essential oils together
Essential oils are recommended to be used one at a time although often, two or three complementary essential oils can be combined. Mixing too many essential oils together in a single preparation may result in many different aromatic molecules and would make it difficult to predict how they would interact.

10. Be careful using essential oils on your entire body
Daily application of the same blend of oils over your entire body for more than two weeks is not recommended as uninterrupted use of some oils exposes your liver and kidneys to chemical constituents that may be harmful over time. Alternate the oils or stop using for awhile before resuming.

If you’re a seasoned user of essential oil, do share your tips! Or tell us, what’s your favorite essential oil.


  1. Ana N says:

    Hi, this is a great article about essential oils.
    Can i ask regarding the undiluted EOs, why do we have to use the diluted ones?
    What are the possible harms of using undiluted version of it?

  2. char says:

    thanks for your article – was just in time for me as i just received the EOs i ordered.

    do u know what’s the best way of inhaling the EOs – nebulizers? but they are uber expensive. My dad drips the EOs on a towel, and pegs it behind a fan to circulate the oil. primitive but effective since a nebulizer is so ex!

    i eagerly opened the helichrysum i ordered…and I actually don’t like the smell! probably cos’ I prefer lighter lifting scents. it’s heavy musky honey like but after smelling it for a few more times, it’s okay. I haven’t tried it yet for the scar on my leg though!

  3. Khadija says:

    Very informative article. Always good to learn more. I am interested in creating massage oils including KENZA Pure Argan Oil with essential oils like lavender, rose or clover.

  4. Eco Beauty says:

    Hi Sesame, where do you usually buy your EOs? Does the pic above show your own collection of EOs? That’s quite a lot! ?

    I think the only tip I can add doesn’t have anything to do with how to use them but how to store them properly. They should always be stored upright or the EO will slowly melt the plastic cap overtime. It happened to one or two of my EOs ?
    Eco Beauty last post is: The Return of Lavera Natural Cosmetics

  5. Mihel says:

    Thanks, that was exactly the post I was hoping you’d write ?

    Couple question I’d like to ask:
    What happens when the essential oil penetrates deep into the skin?
    And how deep does it penetrate?

  6. BebeTaian says:

    Irritation and other issues, mainly. For example, because I used rosemary EO often, I used a rubber-encased dropper lid on the bottle. In storage, the bottle tipped on it’s side. Oh, it didn’t leak… until a day or two later, when the EO actually ATE THROUGH THE RUBBER ENTIRELY. Think of that directly on your skin, undiluted. Also, some (like rosemary oil), when ingested, can kill you or put you in a coma. Properties of even normal foodstuffs when concentrated can be harmful. A spring of rosemary on your lamb or chicken is one thing. Thousands of stems of rosemary concentrated into an essential oil is another. When 1-2 drops of rosemary oil to 20-25 drops of carrier oil is used, it’s fine on my skin and increases circulation. Using it straight would leave a kind of burn.

    Any oil can do this. Some should never be used on a person, like pennyroyal oil, which, while available, is poisonous. Some “harmless” “natural” products are also poisonous in quantity. So research first which ones can be used on the skin, and then use them in the right proportions. 1-2 drops for every 10-20 of carrier oil is the standard. Too much of an oil or the wrong plant oil can be unsafe, anywhere from mild irritation or allergic reaction, to poisoning or killing yourself by accident.
    BebeTaian last post is: Patchwork Progress

  7. annie says:

    no.10 is quite interesting. Because if we buy a store bought body oil that has a blend of EO and continue to use over a long period of time, it might become toxic to us? what about when we buy bath&body product that has eo blend in them?

  8. xin says:

    i am currently using a body oil with eucalyptus, lemongrass and ginger. i find that it helps to keep my morning sinus away. i try to alternate the use of different body oils every night just in case one of the ingredients gets too much in my system
    xin last post is: Happy Chinese New Year

  9. Alan Howard says:

    Very interesting fact about essential oils, I hadn’t really taken a few of these points into consideration especially the correct store of each bottle. Thanks for the contribution!

  10. Sesame says:

    @Ana N: I think some of the ladies here have given you excellent answers to your question already. ?

  11. Sesame says:

    @char: Seems like nebulizers are more convenient. But I do like the idea from your dad!

    Helichrysum smells very herbal-y. Not something that people can take to immediately. Hope it’ll work well for you!

  12. Sesame says:

    You’re welcome!

  13. Sesame says:

    That’s good to know…that it helps with your morning sinus. I think it’s a good idea to alternate. I do too.

  14. Sesame says:

    Yes, it’s best you have something to alternate if you’re using an oil with essential oil. For those lotion based with EO, the concentration maybe a lot lower so the implications are somewhat lesser.

  15. Sesame says:

    @BebeTaian: Very good info there! Thanks for sharing your views and you’re absolutely right about the EO eating through the rubber. In fact, one of the tips I should have shared is to make sure the dropper is not made of rubber.

  16. Sesame says:

    Apparently, from what I’ve read is that it can penetrate into the bloodstream. However, some sources insist that the penetration isn’t that deep. Anyhow, I tink it’s best to exercise caution when using EO.

  17. Sesame says:

    That pic is a pic I took from a retail space so those EOs don’t belong to me. I don’t have that many. ?

    I used to get some from GOW, some from Skinactives, then some from mobile carts and I also have a few from Doterra.

    Good tip on storing them upright. Yeah, the EOs are so concentrated they can ruin the plastic.

  18. Sesame says:

    Sounds like a divine combination!

  19. Pollya says:

    Sesame, have you heard of the EO brand Young Living? It’s a US company but they’re available in SG. It’s the ONLY brand of EO (at least in SG) that claims that they are edible!! They are 100% pure therapeutic grade EOs, and most of their oils can be applied directly onto the skin. In fact, they advocate this often (applying to your soles, apart from inhaling) to get the most benefit from the oils. Oh, and of cos diffusing and nebulising too, but the latter is very expensive, as someone has mentioned above.
    The company functions on an MLM system (although they don’t call themselves that), so you can’t buy the products online or off their shelves unless you’re a member. (Or maybe you can, but the prices are much higher for non-members so if you are going to use their oils often, most people will just join). But you need to join under someone’s “downline” (see, MLM system); if you’re interested, I know someone I can put you in contact with. I’m not a member (yet??) but I’ve been using some of their oils and the experience has been very good. I’ve also heard a lot of testimonies about their oils helping for various conditions that you normally don’t expect EOs to be helpful/useful for (directly I mean), e.g. systemic diseases like diabetes and hypertension; joint pains, blunt trauma, bruises and cuts (apply the oils directly, e.g. lavender), emotional/psychiatric problems etc. Since most (if not all) of their oils are consumable, they also suggest adding to things like salads and drinks, esp for those oils that boost immunity and general health.
    They have a website (also specific country-based ones) so you can get more info there. The company also holds talks regularly on how to use their oils e.g. for first aid at home, beauty, children’s health, all sorts of topics (again, some you wouldn’t think of using EOs for). They can’t advertise officially that their oils are consumable because in SG (and many other parts of the world), EOs are listed under the “Beauty and Fragrances” category, so it’s against the law to advocate ingestion of products in this category.
    There are some distributors (the members are called “distributors”, even individual persons) who have set up their own websites/blogshops, so I think you can buy online from those places. But pls note they are individuals selling the EOs, and not direct from the co.
    Since I’m not a member, I think I can safely say I’m not “advertising” for them here, just sharing some things I’ve heard about these EOs ?

  20. Sesame says:

    I’ve come across the brand but wasn’t aware they have EOs. Sounds like Doterra actually, which also claims their EOs can be applied neat and drank. I’m using and yes, they can be applied neat but I think caution needs to be exercised with certain skin type because EOs, pure, can be very potent. So my recommendation is to mix with a base oil rather than applied directly. I think they operate the same way…something like direct sales and they cost a lot more than the usual EOs.

  21. lola says:

    Thanks for your helpful article, the information you posted helped me choose a new skincare brand which I hadn’t tried before. I decided to buy skinceuticals ce ferulic serum which helps to restore your skin surface and reduce signs of aging. My face needed something a little more advanced than the standard stuff you get in boots. It was quite expensive but totally worth it as colleague have commented and even my husband has even started to notice! I found skinceuticals on a new website called worksofbeauty.com They were really good and I received the product within 3 days and it came with free samples! Amazing – I definitely recommend skinceuticals and worksofbeauty.com to all my friends!

  22. Swati says:

    i have been using EO’s for an year now and i would concur with the irritation, buying pure grade and photosensitivity so it is very important to first find out which EO’s are actually suitable! and, even using lot of them at once. i have tried making perfume oil with them and one of the recipe turned out perfect ?
    Swati last post is: Do you believe in medical examination before marriage? {Your Opinion}

  23. Sesame says:

    Oh, sounds like a recipe I like to have. ?

  24. Sesame says:

    Good to know it works for you.

  25. Janet says:

    great article – I think #10 is not very well known and varying essential oils helps over a prolonged period

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