How to Properly Dilute Essential Oils for Massage Lotions & Oils

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When I completed my first aromatherapy program, I eagerly jumped into making lotions and soaps using my newfound skill set. For various reasons, massage therapy hadn’t worked out for me yet at the time, and mixing aromatherapy body care products provided me with an outlet to still contribute to the healing of others.

Looking back, this time in my life provided me an opportunity to understand the subtlety of healing at a level beneath even the direct touch between healer and recipient. Now the longer I stay in the aromatherapy community, the more I perceive that level of subtle understanding being desired and explored by others.

While the best ways to learn about aromatherapy are through an education program or apprenticeship under an established aromatherapist or herbalist, essential oils have never been more accessible at home as they are now and many people including many massage therapists are excited to try out these healing oils in body care products of their own.

Safety First

If you haven’t yet completed an aromatherapy program or read anything about essential safety at all, stop, and take a few moments to account for your skills and desired outcomes. If you’re mixing products to be used on people with allergies, sensitivities, medical issues, or even pregnancies, you need to be mindful of how the essential oils you use relate to these conditions.

It’s best to get in the habit of taking the time to research potential contraindications for each essential oil you plan on using. To be doubly sure, research potential contraindications for each medical condition in the client you plan on providing care for as well.

Also make the time to research something about the plants the oils you use are derived from. What other plants are in their family? If someone has an allergy or sensitivity to one, they may have an allergy or sensitivity to others.

Robert Tisserand’s Essential Oil Safety is considered a critical text in the safer use of essential oils. Invest in a copy or a safer use course when you are able.

Read More: Tips for Essential Oil Safety

Dilution Guidelines

Very few essential oils can be used neat—that is—directly out of the bottle and applied to skin. Because of this, dilution in a carrier oil is usually indicated. Different application methods call for different dilution ratios, so the amount of essential oils to be added to your carrier will vary whether you are mixing a massage lotion or an aromatherapy bath.

In general, for mixing massage lotions or massage oils, a standard aromatherapy dilution would be 2.5%, or around 15 drops of essential oil for every ounce of carrier. For use on children, the elderly, or those with sensitive skin, a 1% dilution or around 6 drops of essential oil for every ounce of carrier is suitable. For everyday practice and home use, these are your two go-to dilution ratios to keep in mind.

Those trained in aromatherapy may at times create products with up to a 10% dilution, or 60 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil, for the short-term treatment of certain conditions such as acute muscle pains, joint aches, or inflammation. Unless you have been trained to know what you are doing, exploring aromatherapy at this dilution ratio is not a safe practice.

Learn more about dilution from NAHA’s page here: How to Use Essential Oils

Other Resources

For additional learning, check out these organizations and schools:

National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy

AromaHead Institute

Heart of Herbs Herbal School

New York Institute of Aromatic Studies


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Pat Mosley (NC LMBT #16882) is a licensed massage and bodywork therapist in the Winston-Salem area. His work is rooted in compassionate touch, permaculture, and deep ecology with the resilience of all Earth's children in mind. Connect with him via email to info@pat-mosley.com

AromatherapyPat Mosley