How to Use
We recommend blending essential oils with a vegetable, seed, or nut carrier oil like coconut, jojoba, or avocado oil. See dilution guidelines. With any internal use, we recommend consulting with an accredited aromatherapist of other naturopathic healthcare provider. Since essential oils are processed by the liver, if you have a compromised liver or liver disease, we strongly recommend working with your healthcare provider before use.
These are general usage instructions, for specific oil usage, see the individual oil product page.
- For immediate skin application: apply 1 drop essential oil + 1 teaspoon carrier oil, lotion or aloe gel onto skin (this produces approximately a 1-3% dilution).
- For neat (undiluted) application for acute issues (bug bites, stings, burns, etc.) apply 1 drop essential oil to affected area or to back, stomach, chest, or neck area.
- For pre-blending in a container: Mix 50-100 drops essential oil to 1 oz. of unscented body, skin or hair care products to make a 5-10% dilution. (see our dilution guide for different dilution ratios).
- For baths: Mix 5-10 drops essential oil to 1/4 cup Epsom salt or other coarse salt to bath water. Or, add to 5-10 drops essential oil to 1-2 tablespoons milk or honey and add to a bath (this disperses the essential oil evenly throughout water so you don’t have undiluted drops in contact with your skin).
See discussion on internal use of essential oils. Use under the guidance of a qualified naturopathic, aromatherapist or other healthcare provider. Check with your doctor before if taking prescription medications for possible drug interactions.
- Dilute with carrier oil (see dilution guide), milk or honey to evenly disperse essential oil so it can be taken internally. Once diluted, 1-2 drops can be added to the beverage or food of your choice.
- Add 1-3 drops essential oil diluted as a 1-3% ratio to a capsule and swallow.
- Gargle with 1-2 drops of diluted essential oil.
- Diffuse in room diffuser or nebulizer.
- Inhale from bottle directly or add 1-2 drops to a tissue and inhale.
- Add a drop to palms of hands and cover nose and mouth and inhale.
- Add 3-5 drops of essential oil to a bowl of very hot (not boiling) water and inhale the vapour for 5-10 minutes; the effect will be maximized by placing a towel over the head.
- For air spray, add 10-20 drops to water in a spray bottle and spritz on surfaces or in the air*.
- Add 5-10 drops to an essential oil inhaler; use the inhaler every 15 minutes or so to alleviate symptoms.
- Add 1-2 drops to foods, marinades, desserts, & drinks to taste. To preserve therapeutic benefits, do not add to boiling liquids.
- In a spray bottle mix 20 drops essential oil and 1 teaspoon baking soda or vinegar into 1 oz. water. Spray on surfaces or in the air. Make fresh every few weeks.*
* Make fresh every few weeks because water changes the therapeutic shelf life of essential oils.
All Davina essential oils are of the highest quality pure essential oils. We do not add any adulterants–artificial or natural–into our oils. We demonstrate this by providing the GC/MS tests for each single oil. Our oils are distilled (or expressed) from reputable botanical sources, are extracted correctly, and have therapeutic benefits. Essential oils are in a concentrated form and as such often need to be dispersed in a carrier oil (vegetable, nut or seed oil) for safe use. Coconut oil has been added to some of our products intended for immediate use like our rollerball applications. We have noted where this is the case on the individual product pages.
These are general safety guidelines. Some oils have special precautions, please see specific oils for reference.
- Do not put essential oils in or around the eyes, the ears, or other orifices. If essential oil does contact your eye, immediately wash your hands with soap and water and then put some carrier oil on a paper towel or a finger not exposed to EOs and gently wipe your eye. You may need to do this a few times. You can also flush with saline solution. If irritation persists, seek medical advice.
- Seek a qualified health-care professional for internal use.
- Perform 2 patch skin tests on small areas on the arm on successive days before using on larger area.
- People with asthma and seasonal or skin allergies should proceed cautiously with essential oils.
- People with multiple chemical sensitivities or who have had allergic reaction to perfumes should proceed cautiously with essential oils. (Tisserand and Young p.658)
- Cancer treatment: Because of possible and unpredictable effects on immune mechanisms, Robert Tisserand recommends that essential oils are avoided from one week before to one month following a course of chemotherapy or radiotherapy. (Tisserand and Young p.656). Rhiannon Lewis suggests using oils through inhalers to manage nausea and anxiety during chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
- Keep all essential oils out of the reach of children. They can be poisonous if large amounts are swallowed.
- Epileptics: The following essential oils are potentially convulsant for anyone who might be vulnerable to epileptic seizures: Western Red Cedar, Wormwood, Genipi, Hyssop (ct pinocamphone), Sage, Thuja, Pennyroyal, Buchu, Calamint, Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), Mugwort, Lanyana, Ho Leaf (ct camphor), Boldo, Wintergreen, Birch, Rosemary, Yarrow, Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoechas), Feverfew, and Spike Lavender (Lavandula latifolia). (Tisserand and Young p.134, table 10.2)
For a full discussion of essential oil safety see: Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young’s book, Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals (second edition).London. Churchill Livingston, 2014.
Using EOs with children:
There is no standardized or formalized age of children when use of essential oils is deemed safe. However, some prudent guidelines have been suggested.
- Keep all essential oils out of the reach of children. They can be poisonous if large amounts are swallowed.
- Intermittent diffusion of essential oils in a average size room with good ventilation is safe for children of any age. For example, 30-60 minutes on, then 30-60 minutes off. Programmable diffusers are perfect for this. Intermittent diffusion is much more effective, as well as being safer, than continuous diffusion.
- Essential oil safety expert, Robert Tisserand’s recommended dilutions for children are:
Age Whole body Local use
Up to 3 months 0.1% 0.2%
3-24 months 0.25% 0.5%
2-6 years 1.0% 2.0%
- How often you apply depends a bit on the problem and the age of the child, but a general guideline would be 3-4 times daily.
- For children of 3 and under, peppermint is best avoided altogether, and eucalyptus can be diffused, or used topically at up to 0.5%.
- For children aged 3-6 both oils can be diffused, and used topically at up to 0.5% (peppermint) and up to 1.0% (eucalyptus).
- Other oils that are useful but safer for children include pine, spruce and rosalina.
- Children have very strong immune systems, in fact a child’s immune system needs to be challenged to become strong and to remain strong. Daily protection using essential oils, over many weeks or months, may always not be a good thing. “Use when needed” is a good general guideline.
Using EOs During Pregnancy:
- The aromatic use (see above) of EOs is generally safe during pregnancy.
- Unfortunately, there is little to no human research about essential oil constituents crossing the placenta. The safest path is to just assume that essential oil constituents will cross the placenta.
- Since we’re assuming that essential oil constituents cross the placenta, it is generally suggested that the mother use very little essential oil during the first trimester, and only as needed at a 1% dilution. For anyone concerned about the use of oils they should be avoided completely during the first trimester.
- As a general rule, undiluted essential oils should not be used in massage or in the bath during pregnancy because of the risk of accidentally using too much oil.
- We do not recommend internal use of essential oils during pregnancy because it offers the highest dose, and because of the rapid absorption into the bloodstream.
- There are approximately 50 essential oils that are contraindicated during pregnancy, and another 15 that should be restricted during pregnancy and lactation. (Tisserand and Young charts p.152–153 and p.156)
- These are some of the most commonly used oils that are contraindicated during pregnancy:
- Anise, Birch, Black Seed, Carrot Seed, Cinnamon bark, Blue Cypress (Callitris intratropica), Fennel, Ho leaf (Cinnamomum camphora ct. camphor), Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis ct. pinocamphone), Myrrh, Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoechas), Oregano, Sage (Salvia officinalis, Salvia lavandulifolia) and Wintergreen.
- See complete list of essential oils contraindicated during pregnancy.
Using EOs on Animals:
We do not recommend the use of essential oils directly on the fur or skin of small animals. Small animals can have toxic reactions to essential oils being applied to their fur or skin.
Occasionally, individuals can be sensitive to an essential oil or a particular component found in essential oils. Or they can develop a sensitivity to a component after repeated exposure. Using safe dilution levels of oils can greatly reduce the possibility of a sensitivity, but many other factors can also effect a person’s reaction to essential oils (e.g., stress load, general health, age, allergies, etc.). Below are types of reactions which could occur.
1. Irritation (also called irritant contact dermatitis (ICD) or contact urticaria)
- Irritation is always localized to the areas where the product has been applied.
- Irritation is always dose dependent (the higher the dose, the worse the irritation). The signs may be delayed, although they are usually immediate and acute. Irritation is the most common form of skin reaction.
- Irritation generally occurs on first exposure. There is usually an immediate reaction, such as a rash. In severe cases blistering could occur.
Signs of skin irritation:
- Red, irritated skin
- Itchy skin
- On darker skin, the reaction may manifest as darkened pigmentation and dryness rather than red, itchy, irritated skin seen on lighter skin shades.
How to avoid irritation reactions:
- Using less essential oil, or a lower dilution, can resolve it.
- Oils often responsible are high in phenols, aldehydes and monoterpenes. Use these oils in lower dilutions.
- Don’t use oxidized oils. (Oils which have been exposed to oxygen for too long can become oxidized).
- Use lower dilutions with children, and chemically sensitive people.
- Always test a new blend on a small area of the forearm first. Wait 10–15 minutes to be sure that no irritation reaction is stimulated.
Irritation is dependent on:
- The concentration of the dilution and the part of the body the substance is applied to.
- Contact time on the skin.
- Penetration. The longer the oils are on the skin, the greater the reaction potential. Skin creams are more problematic than products you can wash off, such as soap.
- Skin type and skin condition.
- Age. Babies, children and the elderly have a lower irritation threshold.
2.Phototoxicity (also called photosensitization and phototoxic contact dermatitis)
- Phototoxicity is a light-induced reaction to a photoactive substance, and requires both contact with the offending substance and subsequent exposure to strong sunlight (UV light). In practical terms, phototoxicity is a reaction to sunlight, which can cause burning, blistering, and discoloration (abnormally dark patches and red areas) of the skin. Some essential oils are termed “phototoxic,” since they increase the likelihood of a phototoxic reaction.
- The most common phototoxic agents (also essential oil components) are the furocoumarins. These molecules have a structure that gives them the ability to absorb UV light, store it, and release it in a burst into the skin. If put on the skin that is then exposed to sunlight, phototoxic results can occur. Variables are dose, dilution and the amount of time between application and sun exposure. A quick walk from the car to the house is not enough exposure, but working in the garden could easily be enough exposure.
Signs of phototoxic reaction
- Phototoxic reactions can occur up to 18 hours after the oil is applied to the skin and then exposed to UV light.
- The most common reaction is exaggerated sunburn and blisters.
- Serious erythema (reddening of skin) may appear.
- More intense erythema and edema (swelling) with marked pigmentation changes may also occur.
- Pigmentation changes may be permanent or resolve slowly over time.
Avoiding phototoxic reactions
- The risk of phototoxicity increases if you’re putting several oils with photosensitizing properties in a blend. For example, if you use Bergamot, Lemon and Grapefruit, the phototoxic reaction will increase if the site of the application is exposed to the sun or a tanning light for any length of time. We’re talking about a serious and painful reaction. Phototoxic reactions can occur up to 18 hours after the oil is applied to the skin and then exposed to UV light.
- If you apply the blend to an area covered by clothing and then go out in the sun, you’ll be fine. The phototoxic reaction only occurs if the blend is applied to sun (or tanning booth) exposed skin. Please don’t hesitate to use these amazing, healing oils. Just be aware of the sun.
Common phototoxic oils
Cold Pressed: (This is important, as some of these oils can be distilled and are then no longer phototoxic. The extraction method is vital as the components that cause phototoxicity are not always present in the distilled oil.)
- Lime (cold pressed)
- Bitter Orange
- Lemon (cold pressed)
Safe use of phototoxic oils if area applied is going to be exposed to UVA/B Light:
- Bergamot: 1 drop per 1 ounce (30 ml) of carrier
- Lime (cold pressed): 4 drops per 1 ounce (30 ml)
- Bitter Orange (cold pressed): 8 drops per 1 ounce (30 ml)
- Lemon (cold pressed): 12 drops per 1 ounce (30 ml)
- Grapefruit (cold pressed): 24 drops per 1 ounce (30 ml)
Sunlight or tanning bed rays must be avoided for up to 18 hours after application if any of these oils are used at levels higher than indicated. These oils applied to the skin at over the photo-toxic safety level will increase the chance of severe burns from ultraviolet light. (Tisserand and Young p.659)
There is a misconception that all citrus oils are phototoxic. The citrus oils below are not phototoxic:
- Lime (distilled)
- Lemon (distilled)
- Sweet Orange (cold pressed)
- Mandarin (cold pressed)
- Tangelo (cold pressed)
- Tangerine (cold pressed)
- Sensitization is an allergic reaction of the immune system. The reaction will be noticed in places other than where you applied the oil.
- It occurs upon first exposure, but may be so slight it is unnoticeable. With subsequent use of the oil an inflammatory reaction will occur. The severity of the reaction can seem out of proportion to the amount of oil being used.
Signs of sensitization
- Rash with inflammation
- Raised, bumpy, itchy skin
How to avoid sensitization reactions
- Oils high in aldehydes and lactones are more likely to be sensitizers. Use caution with these oils.
- Do not use old, oxidized oils on the skin.
- Always test blends on a small patch on the forearm first and watch for a reaction for 10–15 minutes.
- If someone already knows they are sensitive to certain aromas, avoid them or use them in very low dilutions.
- Sensitization isn’t always related to dose. It can be localized, generalized and even systemic. It may take more than one exposure to the offending substance for the reaction to be elicited.
- ACD is not as common as ICD, and only about 1% of the population has fragrance allergies. However, there is a trend of increasing sensitization among people who have never experienced problems before. The areas of greatest risk are the face and hands.
- Women are more likely to have fragrance allergies than men. Skin care products cause more reactions than perfumes alone.
- The issue of sensitization is not clear-cut. A substance can be non-sensitizing initially, but through metabolism and subsequent transformation within the skin, it can become sensitizing. Heat and humidity increase skin absorption, so skin reactions are more common in tropical climates.
- As components such as linalol and geraniol are so widely used in the fragrance and cosmetic industry, they have a wide public exposure. It’s possible that people can become sensitized to these components and thus react to so-called ‘safe’ oils like Geranium and Lavender.
Source: Aromahead Aromatherapy Institute