Essential oils can be inhaled aromatically, applied topically to the skin, or ingested by mouth. If you are unsure where to start, refer to labeled instructions for use.
There are three different ways to use essential oils aromatically. First is simply inhaling from the bottle. Open the bottle, hold the bottle a couple of inches from your nose, and inhale the aroma.
Essential oils may also be applied directly to the skin. Many people choose to start by applying essential oils on the bottoms of the feet or the palms of the hands. The skin in these areas is a bit thicker and less easily irritated compared to other skin. Use caution when using essential oils on more delicate skin, such as under the arms, on the face, on skin that is broken, or any other area of the body you find sensitive.
Some essential oils like clove, cinnamon, and lemongrass are hot on the skin, whereas others like peppermint are perceived as cold. If an essential oil is too hot or too cold on the skin, always add carrier oil. Carrier oils are fatty oils that ensure the application of essential oils is comfortable on the skin. Many fatty oils, like almond, jojoba, coconut, olive, and hempseed, are excellent carrier oils. Petrolatum jelly, mineral oil, or other synthetic oils are not ideal because they act as an occlusive barrier instead of diluting the essential oil.
SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR TOPICAL USE
Very young children, especially premature infants, are exquisitely sensitive to essential oils, and additional caution must be exercised when applying essential oils to the skin. Some experts argue that essential oils should never be used on the skin of premature infants, but many parents choose to use essential oils on very young infants. Ensure the essential oil is very heavily diluted in carrier oil before use.
Before applying an essential oil to the skin, consider a patch test. To perform a patch test, apply 1-2 drops of essential oil to a patch of skin, such as the forearm. Observe the skin for 1-2 hours for any noticeable reaction, such as redness, irritation, itching, or burning.
If any discomfort occurs, do not apply more essential oil, and apply carrier oil as often as needed to the affected area. Never use water to flush the oil off the skin, as this may increase irritation. If any discomfort arises with an essential oil, dilute it with carrier oil before using again.
WHEN TO USE ESSENTIAL OILS
There is no perfect time schedule to use an essential oil. Some people choose to use essential oils very regularly, perhaps three to four times per day or more, while others only use as needed for a specific purpose. There is no perfect time or way to use essential oils. As you decide on a direction, be sure to consider the ultimate goal for the essential oil and select the administration method that most closely aligns with that aim.
There are truly only two major mistakes one can make while using essential oils: not using them at all or using way too much. Excessive use is loosely defined as using more that one milliliter at one time, this is not recommended.
There are three basic ways to use essential oils: topically, aromatically, and internally. It does not take much essential oil to make a large difference to your environment, a food or beverage, or your well-being.
Source: Essentials, 2nd Edition by Linsey Elmore