how to dilute essential oils

Getting results from essential oils isn’t just about choosing the right oils for your needs. It’s also about knowing how to dilute essential oils correctly.

Dilution is everything when you’re using essential oils on your skin or on sensitive populations, such as kids or pregnant women.

So, in this essential oil dilution guide we’re going to look at everything you need to know about diluting these powerful oils.

By the end of this post you will learn about:

  • the best ways to dilute essential oils.
  • how to dilute essential oils for the skin and face,
  • essential oil dilution for kids (including babies).

By the way, if you’re pregnant, there’s a separate post on essential oils and pregnancy, just for you.


benefits of essential oil dilution why it matters

Before we dive in, it’s important to know that there are some essential oils that many people can use “neat” (i.e. undiluted) on the skin.

Lavender is probably the most famous one.

For most people, neat application of lavender is unlikely to produce adverse reactions.

However, even though you may not have visible side effects from undiluted essential oils, there are 4 reasons why you should always dilute essential oils for topical use:

  • prevents dryness
  • slows down evaporation
  • prevents adverse skin reactions
  • prevents toxicity

Prevents Dryness

All essential oils are drying.

This means that applying undiluted oils on your skin will eventually lead you down the path to dry (irritated) skin.

So, if these oils are so drying, then why do they appear in tons of beauty and skincare products?

Well, it’s because beauty products contain other ingredients that help to properly disperse and dilute the essential oils.

As a result, this counteracts the drying effects of the essential oils so that you can enjoy their healing benefits.

Slows Down Evaporation

Undiluted essential oils evaporate quickly once they’re exposed to air.

So, using them undiluted on the skin, means you’re wasting your oils and not getting a whole lot of benefits.

On the other hand, dilution slows down the evaporation process.

This allows your body to actually absorb more of the oils.

Plus, when you dilute your oils, you waste less of it.

And that means you spend less money restocking your oils 🙂

To see how dilution affects evaporation and the skin, check out this short video from essential oil expert and chemist, Dr. Robert Pappas.

Very helpful!

Prevents Adverse Skin Reactions

Adverse skin reactions to essential oils usually include symptoms like (source):

  • Burning sensation
  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Blisters

Although it’s possible for these symptoms to occur even with dilution (if your skin is particularly sensitive), these symptoms are most often associated with undiluted oils.

Prevents Systemic Toxicity

Using undiluted oils, especially in high amounts, on a regular basis, can be toxic to the liver, the nervous system and a developing fetus (source).

So, once again it’s important to dilute your oils properly so that you get all the benefits and none of the (potentially hazardous) side effects.


carrier oils for essential oil dilution
Macadamia oil is one of many carrier oils that work for essential oil blends.

In order to dilute essential oils for the skin, you need a carrier.

A carrier is simply a solution that “carries” the essential oil to the skin safely.

Generally speaking, liquid oils (aka carrier oils), are the best way to dilute essential oils.

Here are a few carrier oils to choose from:

  • Almond oil
  • Apricot kernel oil
  • Argan oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Evening primrose oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Hemp seed oil
  • Jojoba oil
  • Macadamia nut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Pomegranate seed oil
  • Rosehip oil
  • Sesame Oil

By the way, please know that you’re not limited to the oils listed above.

You can definitely use other plant oils.

The above list simply gives you the oils that are common and easy to find.

Other Essential Oil Carriers

In addition to oils, you can also dilute essential oils in butters like:

  • Shea butter
  • Mango butter
  • Kokum butter
  • Cocoa butter

However, keep in mind that butters are quite heavy.

So, you may end up absorbing less essential oils when you use mostly heavy butters.

Lastly, you can also dilute essential oils in:

  • lotions
  • creams
  • castile soap
  • shampoos
  • aloe vera jelly


Now it’s time to talk about the most critical aspect of essential oil dilution: the dilution rate.

The dilution rate tells you the concentration of essential oils in your blend.

So, let’s say you mix lavender oil and coconut oil in a 1% dilution.

That means 1% of the blend contains lavender oil.

For topical application, a dilution of 0.5 to 5% works for most people.

As you’ve probably guessed already, the higher the dilution rate, the higher the essential oil concentration.

To figure out what you need for each dilution level, use the essential oil dilution ratio chart below (source).

Note: if you’re reading this on a mobile device, simply swipe left/right on the table to view all columns.

(½ oz)
(1 oz)
(2 oz)
0.5%1 drop2 drops3 drops4 drops7 drops8 drops
1%3 drops4 drops6 drops9 drops15 drops18 drops
2%6 drops9 drops12 drops18 drops30 drops36 drops
3%9 drops13 drops18 drops27 drops45 drops54 drops
4%12 drops18 drops24 drops36 drops60 drops72 drops
5%15 drops22 drops30 drops45 drops75 drops90 drops
8%24 drops36 drops48 drops72 drops120 drops144 drops
10%30 drops44 drops60 drops90 drops150 drops180 drops
20%60 drops88 drops120 drops180 drops300 drops360 drops

10ml, 15ml and so on refer to the amount of carrier oil. These numbers also match up with the sizes of cosmetic bottles that are sold in stores and online (which are usually represented in ml).

With so many dilutions levels, how do you know what to use?

Here are some general guidelines:

  • 1% or less: for pregnancy, small children and face.
  • 2%: regular daily use
  • 3 – 10%: for treating acute conditions or injury for a short period of time (about 2 weeks)
  • 20%: for more severe conditions like burns, wounds or debilitating pain.

Throughout the rest of this article we’ll look at which dilution levels to use for specific situations.

In the meantime, here’s a visual summary of the essential oil dilution chart.

Feel free to save/pin this image for quick reference!

essential oil dilution chart infographic


When using essential oils on the skin a dilution rate of 0.5 to 5% is safest for regular, every day use.

Now, having said that, there are times when you might need a higher dilution.

For example, if you’re healing from a burn or fighting an infection.

Based on information from the Tisserand Institute, use the guidelines below to determine the dilution level that works for your needs.

Face products0.2 – 1.5%
Whole body massage1.5 – 3%
Bath and body products1 – 4%
Specific problems4 – 10%
Pain and wounds5 – 20%

Remember that with essential oils, less is more.

So, start with the lowest dilution for your needs. If you don’t get the desired results, you can steadily increase the dilution level.

Once you’ve figured out your intended use and the recommended dilution, you should also make sure that the oils you have are actually safe for the skin.

The table below shows the oils that are known to cause skin irritation and allergic reactions.

You don’t have to completely avoid topical use of these oils.

However, it’s important to follow the maximum dilutions listed below (source):

Bay oil0.9%
Clove Bud0.5%
Cinnamon bark0.1%
Cinnamon leaf0.6%
Garlic oil0.1%
Holy basil1%
Jasmine absolute0.7%
Lemon myrtle0.7%
Lemon-scented tea tree0.8%
May chang0.8%
Oakmoss absolute0.1%
Peru balsam0.4%
Summary savory1.4%
Winter savory1.2%
Ylang ylang0.8%

Essential Oil Dilution For The Face

As we saw in the essential oil dilution chart, a 0.2% to 1.5% dilution is recommended for face products.

This means that whether you’re making your own face oil, anti-aging serum or face mask, you should always go with a 0.2% to 1.5% dilution.

Some of the essential oils that are effective and gentle enough for the face are (1, 2):

  • lavender oil
  • frankincense oil
  • juniper berry oil
  • geranium oil
  • tea tree oil
  • myrrh oil
  • rose oil
  • sandalwood oil
  • chamomile oil
  • copaiba oil
  • peppermint oil

Essential Oil Dilution For Hair

Essential oils can be mixed with shampoos, conditioners and other hair oils to:

  • stimulate growth
  • reduce hair loss
  • fight dandruff
  • treat dry hair

When you make an essential oil blend for hair, remember that your scalp is an extension of your skin.

And it’s also quite easy for anything that is applied onto the scalp to absorb into the brain.

So, when you dilute essential oils for hair, follow the same dilution guidelines as you would for your face (0.2 – 1.5% dilution).

Some oils that are great for hair growth and overall hair health include (source):

  • rosemary oil
  • peppermint oil
  • tea tree oil
  • sandalwood oil
  • lavender oil
  • geranium oil
  • clary sage oil
  • chamomile oil
  • cedarwood oil

Essential Oil Dilution For Bath

The first thing to note about essential oil baths is that essential oils do not mix with water.

So, never add essential oil directly into your bath water.

Secondly, do not use milk, salts or baking soda as a carrier for essential oil in a bath.

This is because all three of the above substances dissolve in water and the essential oils will separate out from them (source).

Instead follow one of the following recommendations:

  • Mix 5 – 20 drops of essential oils in 1 tablespoon of jojoba or fractionated coconut oil. This mixture won’t mix with the water. Instead, it will float above the bath water. It’s greasy, but protects your skin!
  • Combine 5 – 20 drops of essential oil with 1 tablespoon liquid castile soap. Add the mixture to your bath water. No greasy mess to worry about in this case 🙂


how to dilute essential oils for babies

Compared to adults, young children (and babies, especially) have thinner skin that absorbs substances more easily.

Therefore, it’s important to follow the dilution and safety guidelines shown below (source).

0 – 3 months0.2% or less
3 – 24 months0.25 – 0.5%
2 – 6 years1 – 2%
6 – 15 years1.5 – 3%

In addition to the above guidelines, you can also consult with a licensed aromatherapist.

It gives you an additional layer of verification and comfort.

Last but not least, for a detailed list of essential oils that are safe for kids, this article from the Herbal Academy as well as this one from Mommypotamus are helpful resources.


how to dilute essential oils with aloe vera

Aside from carrier oils, aloe vera is another carrier option for essential oils.

Just keep the following in mind when using aloe vera for essential oil dilution:

  • since fresh aloe gel from the plant is mostly water, it’s not ideal for essential oil dispersion. So instead, use an aloe jelly product that has been blended with a thickening agent. That thickening agent helps to better disperse the oil.
  • use the same dilution guidelines as you would for carrier oils.
  • since aloe has a sticky consistency, it’s best for spot treatments.
  • avoid using aloe vera gel on serious burns or heavily infected wounds because it traps heat, which can worsen the problem.


Can baby oil be a carrier oil for essential oils?

Baby oil is not a good carrier for essential oils because it contains mineral oil which creates a barrier on the skin. This barrier prevents the skin from properly absorbing essential oils.

How do you dilute essential oils to make sprays?

To make a face spray, blend 7 drops essential oil with 1 ounce of water and a dispersing agent (such as solubol). The dispersing agent allows you to emulsify water and oil together.


Even though there are some essential oils that you can use without dilution, knowing how to dilute essential oils will actually give you better results.

I hope this guide was helpful and that you now feel confident to move ahead with some essential remedies of your own.

If you have any questions or feedback about anything in this post, drop a comment below! 🙂

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