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How can be sure that the essential oils I use are safe?

Essential oils require careful handling. They are very concentrated substances with specific active properties and it is important to follow professional guidelines and apply common sense as you would with any other medicine.

If you buy from a reputable source, your oils will come with directions for safe application.

Can I use an essential oil neat on my skin?

The first general rule is not to use essential oils indiscriminately on the skin. The majority of essential oils are not suitable for neat application, though some, like Manuka or Lavender, can be used by most people in small quantities direct to their skin.

People with a history of sensitivity should always dilute with a carrier oil (1 drop to 1ml).

A general safe ratio for dilution is 2 drops of essential oil to a ¼ teaspoon of carrier oil. A qualified practitioner may recommend a higher dose but this is based on an extensive knowledge of the essential oils in use. If directions offer a range such as 2-5 drops, begin with the lower dose and only increase it if it seems necessary, a little at a time. A little like homeopathy, with essential oils less is more.

If a skin reaction is experienced, rub the area down with pure Olive or Almond oil or even butter, do not wash with water as this will make the essential oil penetrate further into the skin and may cause a greater reaction. The essential oils are drawn into the carrier oil and become diluted.

Are there any instances when essential oils would be dangerous to use?

Some essential oils have properties that are considered dangerous for certain conditions. Pregnancy, asthma, epilepsy, high blood pressure… if you are making your own blends and you have a condition to consider, always research well before proceeding. A good source of essential oils should be able to offer safe guidelines and products that include clear safe directions of use. (Click here for e-consult).

Is it unsafe to take essential oils internally?

Though some practitioners may prescribe an essential oil for internal use, in reality very few essential oils can be used this way and therefore it is NOT OK to take any essential oil internally unless a qualified practitioner has prescribed a safe method as part of a specific treatment. (If an oil is ingested by accident, drink fatty milk and seek advice, do not drink water nor induce vomiting.)