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The Essential Oils You Should Never Put In Your Bath

Gretchen Lidicker, M.S.
mbg Health Contributor
By Gretchen Lidicker, M.S.
mbg Health Contributor
Gretchen Lidicker earned her master’s degree in physiology with a focus on alternative medicine from Georgetown University. She is the author of “CBD Oil Everyday Secrets” and “Magnesium Everyday Secrets.”
Heather Moday, M.D.
Medical review by
Heather Moday, M.D.
Allergist & Immunologist
Heather Moday, M.D. is the founder of the Moday Center for Functional and Integrative Medicine in Philadelphia, where she practices both traditional medicine and integrative medicine.
Image by Jovana Rikalo / Stocksy
Last updated on September 30, 2019

Baths are an integral part of my self-care routine. Whether it be a bubble bath after a long, stressful day or an Epsom salt bath after a particularly taxing workout, it feels to me like a bath is at least part of the solution to every problem in my life.

Anxious? Bath. Tired? Bath. Can't sleep? Bath. I think you get the idea.

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There are a lot of great ways to bring your bath to a new level, but one of the best is by adding essential oils. Essential oils smell amazing and they each bring their own set of healing properties. Sounds like a win-win right?

What you need to know before you add essential oils to your bath.

Before you go dropping random oils into your tub, there's something important to note: Not all essential oils are right for the bathtub. Some of them can irritate your skin, eyes, and other sensitive regions, big time. So I spoke to Mariza Snyder, D.C.—functional medicine expert and author of the upcoming book The Essential Oils Hormone Solution (as well as a few other books on the topic) to figure out what the proper bathtime protocol is.

One well-known way to avoid irritating the skin with essential oils is to use a carrier oil, like coconut oil or jojoba oil. But is it the same for the bath? According to Dr. Snyder, it's not quite as simple as diluting your essential oil. "You never want to simply drop essential oils into your bathwater by themselves or they will potentially irritate the skin. That said, you do not always need to use a carrier oil when adding essential oils to your bath. You can also use Epsom salts and Castile soap to protect your skin and disperse essential oils throughout the bathwater."

There are also certain essential oils you shouldn't be adding to your bath even with a carrier oil.

The essential oils that do (and don't!) go in the bath.

Are you ready for the bad news? There's a pretty long list of oils that should never find their way into your bathtub, according to Dr. Snyder, such as:

  • Black pepper
  • Peppermint
  • Cassia
  • Spearmint
  • Wintergreen
  • Cinnamon and cinnamon bark
  • Clove
  • Hyssop
  • Camphor
  • Summer Savory
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
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Luckily, there's an even longer list of essential oils that are great for bathtime, like:

  • Bergamot 
  • Myrrh 
  • Ylang-ylang
  • Clary sage
  • Rosemary 
  • Sandalwood
  • Melaleuca 
  • Lemongrass
  • Roman chamomile 
  • Frankincense 
  • Lavender
  • Rose
  • Jasmine
  • Basil
  • Marjoram
  • Cardamom 
  • Eucalyptus 
  • Wild orange  
  • Grapefruit 
  • Geranium
  • Juniper berry
  • Geranium
  • Lime
  • Cedarwood 
  • Cypress 
  • Patchouli 

Ready for the perfect winter bath recipe? Add about 1 to 2 cups of Epsom salts along with 1 tablespoon of your carrier oil (you can use coconut, jojoba, or sweet almond, among others) or soap to a tub of warm water before adding no more than 3 to 6 drops of essential oils (I love ylang-ylang or rose) and swirling the bathwater before you jump in. Then, soak for about 20 minutes, and, of course, don't forget to breathe in slowly through your nose to savor the smell of whatever oil you chose. Enjoy!

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Gretchen Lidicker, M.S.
Gretchen Lidicker, M.S.
mbg Health Contributor

Gretchen Lidicker has a B.S. in biology and earned her master’s degree in physiology with a concentration in complementary and alternative medicine from Georgetown University. She's the author of CBD Oil Everyday Secrets: A Lifestyle Guide to Hemp-Derived Health and Wellness and Magnesium Everyday Secrets: A Lifestyle Guide to Epsom Salts, Magnesium Oil, and Nature's Relaxation Mineral. A Kripalu Center for Yoga and Ayurveda-trained yoga instructor, expert bread baker, and farmers market fanatic, she believes that no day is complete without a good dance party.