What NOT to Do with Essential Oils

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This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

As long time readers know, I always try things out before recommending them.  Most of the time they turn out well, such as the expiration date experiment, powdered milk experiment; I even know what expired coffee tastes like.  Sometimes I had mixed results as when I tried shampoo substitutes.  

This time around, I had headache but thought I should try something different before I took a pain reliever.  I decided to try a home remedy for headache relief that I had read about:  rubbing peppermint oil on the temples.

Here is what happened

I dabbed peppermint essential oil on my left and right forefingers, and started rubbing my temples with it.

I started to smell the minty aroma and thought, “Hmmm that smells good!”

Thinking maybe I should add a bit more, I repeated the process.  Now I felt the area getting warmer due to the minty effects.

Next thing you know, the minty oil started traveling toward the corner of my eyes and boy did that burn!

I ran to the bathroom to wash my hands then rinse my eyes.  Sure I forgot about my pounding head – my eyes were burning too much!

After rinsing everything off the burning subsided after about five minutes.

After this little incident, I happened to see a Tweet from Gaye of Backdoor Survival mentioning an e-book that was just released: Aromatherapy Made Easy: The Ultimate Guide to Healing with Aromatherapy

I ordered it and read it in record time.  It is written for beginners which suited me just fine.  After reading the book, I now know essential oils must be used with a “carrier” oil (a plain base oil such as grape seed oil, almond oil, fractionated coconut oil) before they can be applied to the skin.  The carrier oil helps dilute the potent essential oil.

I had to share this story, so you know “what not to do.” and learn from my mistake.

Lesson learned:

  • Never apply essential oils directly to skin.  Always use a carrier oil.

I’m not giving up on trying out essential oils.  In fact, I’ve added Almond Oil and various other essential oils to my Amazon wish list.  I’ll let you know how my next experiment turns out!

© Apartment Prepper 2013



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  1. Bernie – There are some essentials oils that can be used “neat” (directly on the skin without a carrier oil). Lavender essential oil is one of those “safe on skin” essential oils and is so very useful, that if your readers can only afford to purchase a single oil, it should be lavender.

    No essential oil, however, should be used directly on the skin of pregnant women or young children.

    Hope this helps.

  2. I agree with Gaye up to a point. Lavendar when used on the skin is great…especially for localized pain; BUT essential oils should never take orally until it’s diluted in a carrier oil. My fave being coconut oil or olive oil. For headaches, stress etc. that’s where a drop on a cotton ball and slipped into the pillowcase works better. 😉

    1. Dee – I have been too chicken to take EOs orally although I did purchase some capsules so I could “load them up”. I do plan to try, though. If the EOs are safe to take orally (diluted or not), the label will show “supplement facts”. I am not sure everyone knows that.

  3. Lavender oil can be used directly on the temples for a headache, it does not irritate skin. Always test a small area of skin, before using anything topically, for allergic reactions.

  4. Just be glad it wasn’t that Thieves Oil blend. I made a similar mistake by rubbing it under my nose…to say it burned was an understatement!

  5. I have done the peppermint in the eye – The best thing to do is use Olive oil or Coconut Oil to get it out of the eye – Water will ONLY make it worse. I use peppermint (1drop) and lemon in my water every day. I have gotten the back splash in my eye on more then one occasion. Trust me when I say olive oil will give immediate relief. And please Note: I only use Therapeutic grade essential oils. Other oils could be made with synthetics to make them smell nice and SHOULD NOT be ingested.

    1. Hi Deb, You’re right, it must be therapeutic grade to ingest. Thanks for the tip about using olive or coconut oil for relief.

  6. I’ll agree that most essential oils should not be directly applied to the skin. Thanks to my wife’s warped sense of humor and Spearmint oil; I found out using a very sensitive section of skin.

    Took me 5 weeks to forgive her for that lesson.

    1. Hey Bob S – I guess more people have found out just how sensitive skin can be after an experience like this! Can’t blame you for taking 5 weeks to get over that! 🙂

  7. We should always conduct a small patch test of diluted essential oil on our inner arm before using so we would know if it’s going to irritate our skin. A lot of essential oils are really irritating to the skin so I guess it is better not to apply it directly to our skin if we aren’t sure of our essential oils.

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