While some may think that aromatherapy is just smelling oils, that's certainly not the case. Topical application of essential oils offers numerous therapeutic benefits that complement healing achieved via inhalation. Essential oils contain compounds from diverse chemical families, which give them unique analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, and mucolytic properties. Though frequently housed in small 10-mL bottles, don't be fooled—essential oils are immensely powerful. In fact, many oils are 50 to 100 times more concentrated than their parent plant.
Safety is key, and each individual connects and reacts to oils and synergies differently. Some oils, like cold-pressed citruses, are photo-toxic and others can cause sensitization. Skin sensitization may occur if oils are improperly diluted or used too frequently in high doses. My rule of thumb: Only use tea tree and lavender neat on mature, adult skin. Most other essential oils require dilution in carrier oils.
There exists much misinformation on essential oils leaving one wondering how and where to use them. So, let's explore best practices for bodily application—from head to toe!