Essential Oil Basics

Essential Oil Basics

Please note that despite my total obsession with essential oils, I am not an expert and like many of you reading this, I am always learning. I have chosen to take charge of my health by embracing all three models of essential oil use (as Young Living does): the English, German, and French models.  

  • The English model heavily dilutes a small amount of essential oil in a large amount of a carrier oil for massage.
  • The German model focuses primarily on inhalation of essential oils.
  • The French model prescribes undiluted topical application of essential oil as well as ingestion of pure, therapeutic grade essential oils (often under the guidance of a practitioner).

As with anything, there are differing opinions among experts, reference guides, and everyday essential oil users. Please use the below information to spark further research on your part so that you can also feel safe and confident when you use your essential oils. As always, consult a professional as needed or when in doubt over oiling safety. 

1. Purchase an essential oils reference guide – every oil user should have a reference guide!

An essential oils reference guide is a MUST! There are a lot of great reference guides available for you to purchase (my favorite places to purchase them from are Abundant Health and Life Science Products & Publishing). A reference guide will tell you which essential oil to use and how to use it (aromatically, topically, and/or as a dietary supplement) for areas of the body you want to support.

*If you have a medical condition, please consult with your healthcare provider before using essential oils.

2. Know how to dilute your essential oils.

Most essential oils need to be diluted with a carrier oil before applying them to the skin (to decrease the risk of skin irritation and sensitization). Common carrier oils are: coconut oil, sweet almond oil, grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, Young Living’s V-6 oil, etc.

If an essential oil is primarily used topically, the label on your bottle of essential oil will provide you with dilution instructions. A reference guide will also provide you with dilution instructions. For example, each drop of Young Living’s PanAway essential oil blend should be diluted with 4 drops of a carrier oil when applying it to the skin.

Some aromatherapists, reference guides, and essential oil users recommend diluting essential oils further than what the label instructs. For example, some use dilution ratios of 0.5-5% (then, part of the dilution is applied to the body). More carrier oil is always ok.


 3. Use with caution and further dilute essential oils for use on babies and children.

Aromatherapists, reference guides, and essential oil users sometimes have differing opinions on if and which essential oils are safe to use on babies and young children (as well as the topical dilution ratios to use). Please use a reference guide that you trust and consider consulting a professional and/or doctor if you plan to use essential oils on babies and young children. The below information is summarized from “The Quick Reference Guide for Using Essential Oils” (which includes a section on children and infants).

Essential oils that are typically thought to be safe for use on babies and children are: Bergamot, Cedarwood, Roman Chamomile, Cypress, Frankincense, Geranium, Ginger, Lavender, Lemon, Mandarin, Marjoram, Melaleuca Alternifolia, Orange, Rose Otto, Rosemary, Rosewood, Sandalwood, Thyme, Ylang Ylang, Gentle Baby (a Young Living essential oil blend). Young Living KidScents Oil Collection is typically safe for children ages 2-12. There are many oil users who use other essential oils on their kiddos, but those listed here may offer a good starting point.

It is typically not recommended that babies and young children ingest essential oils (because babies and young children are so small and oils are so potent). If an essential oil is ingested, give the child an oil soluble liquid such as milk, cream, or half and half. For your protection, you may want to consider calling poison control and/or seeking medical attention.

Always heavily dilute an essential oil with a carrier oil when applying to babies and children. When applying essential oils to babies, dilute 1-2 drops of essential oil in at least 1 Tablespoon of carrier oil. For children 2-5 years of age, dilute 1-3 drops of essential oil in at least 1 teaspoon carrier oil. Then, apply a small amount of that mixture to your kiddo. Making roll-ons are a convenient way to apply oils to your kiddo – check out the graphic below!


4. Use essential oils with caution if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.

Aromatherapists, reference guides, and essential oil users sometimes have differing opinions on which essential oils (and how they can be used) are typically thought to be safe and helpful to use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Please use a reference guide that you trust and consult a professional and/or your doctor if you plan to use essential oils while pregnant, if you plan to become pregnant, or while breastfeeding. The below information is summarized from “The Quick Reference Guide for Using Essential Oils” (which includes a section on pregnancy and motherhood).

Avoid the following essential oils during pregnancy: Basil, Birch, Calamus, Cassia, Cinnamon Bark, Hyssop, Idaho Tansy, Lavandin, Rosemary, Sage, Tarragon, Di-Gize, Dragon Time, Exodus II, Grounding, Mister.

Use the following oils with a bit more caution during pregnancy: Angelica, Cedarwood, German/Blue Chamomile, Cistus, Citronella, Clary Sage, Clove Bud, Black Cumin, Cypress, Davana, Fennel, Laurel, Marjoram, Mountain Savory, Myrrh, Nutmeg, Peppermint, Rose, Spearmint, Vetiver, Yarrow.

5. More essential oil is not always better.

Essential oils are very potent – a little goes a long way. Per “The Quick Reference Guide for Using Essential Oils,” use no more than 6 drops of essential oil at a time (for an adult) as a large amount of oil can cause you to feel uncomfortable. Generally speaking (and in my personal experience),  1-3 drops of essential oil is usually adequate for topical and dietary use. If you would like to cover a large area of the body (ex: legs, back, etc) with an essential oil, use more carrier oil to further spread that essential oil over the skin.

6. Drive essential oils deeper into into the tissue for faster relief.

Use a hot moist compress over the area of topical application to drive the essential oil deeper into the tissue.

7. If you get an essential oil in your eye or it burns your skin, do not rinse with water – use carrier oil instead.

Essential oils are not water-soluble, they are oil soluble. Therefore, use a carrier oil (coconut oil, sweet almond oil, grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, Young Living’s V-6 oil, etc) to dilute an essential oil if needed. If you apply an essential oil to your skin and it feels too strong, rub carrier oil over the skin to further dilute the essential oil. If you get a rash from an essential oil, discontinue use of that oil.

If you get a Young Living essential oil in your eye, do not rinse it with water (as water will drive the oil deeper into the tissue and cause your eye to sting even more). Instead, apply a carrier oil around and in your eye until the discomfort subsides.

8. Essential oils can be applied to MOST areas of the body.

For topical application, essential oils can usually be applied to the area of the body that you want to support. When in doubt or for generalized support, you can apply oils to the bottom of the feet, on the wrists, on the outside of the ear, behind the ear, and/or on the back of the neck.

Essential oils can be applied on a cotton ball, which can be placed in the ear. However, essential oils should never be put into the ear canal. Additionally, essential oils should not be used in the eye.

9. Keep essential oils out of the light and out of extreme heat.

Your oils will last much longer if stored properly.

10. Some essential oils are photosensitive.

Avoid using the below essential oils before or during exposure to direct sunlight (or UV rays) as it may cause a rash, pigmentation, or increase the chance you will get a sunburn. Each bottle of Young Living essential oil contains a label that will tell you if an oil is photosensitive.

11. The Vitality essential oils are labeled as a dietary supplement and include directions for internal consumption.

Young Living sells 42 Vitality essential oils, which are labeled as a dietary supplement and include directions for internal consumption (for adults, not babies and children). Refer to the dietary usage directions on the back of each essential oil bottle. Increasing the recommended dosage is at your own risk. Essential oils are often added to water, juice, milk, yogurt, smoothie, spoonful of honey, capsule, etc. If adding essential oils to a drink, use a glass cup (or glass water bottle) instead of a plastic one (as essential oils break down cheaper plastics). Use caution when setting a bottle of oil on a painted surface as the oil may dissolve the paint.

*Each Vitality essential oil has a regular counterpart. For example, Young Living sells Lemon essential oil and Lemon Vitality essential oil. Each Vitality essential oil is the exact same oil as its regular counterpart (ex: Lemon and Lemon Vitality is the same essential oil). The only difference is that each Vitality essential oil includes a label with instructions for internal consumption, while its regular counterpart includes a label with topical/aromatic instructions. Young Living separated the uses on different bottles to offer you multiple ways to use essential oils and to satisfy the marketing requirements of the FDA.

*While Young Living promotes and teaches ingestion of some of their essential oils, this is a controversial practice in the aromatherapy world. While I feel totally safe ingesting some of my oils, if this makes you uncomfortable, know that you can still experience AMAZING benefits just from inhalation and topical application of your oils. After all, this is about YOU and YOUR health/comfort level! :) 

Order Young Living Essential Oils Graphic


1. The Quick Reference Guide for Using Essential Oils by Connie and Alan Higley

2. Essential Oils Desk Reference (2014 Sixth Edition) by Life Science Publishing

3. Aromahead Institute: Introduction to Essential Oils:

COPYRIGHT: © Sarah Biskobing and The Oil Essentials, 2015. You may use the URL of this post to share it on social media. You may also use the URL of this post to link to it from another website/blog. However, no part of the text of this post may be copied and used in a social media status update or on another website/blog without prior written permission of the author. You may share the graphics/s associated with this post on social media as long as they are not edited in any way. However, you may not use the graphic/s associated with this post on another website/blog without prior written permission of the author. This post and the graphic/s associated with it may not be printed and distributed without the prior written permission of the author. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material is strictly prohibited.

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is based upon my research and personal use of Young Living essential oils. The statements made and the products mentioned on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please read the full disclaimer here.

Sarah Biskobing on Google+!