A frequent question I get asked is how to apply multiple oils to the skin. This is called layering. So, How to layer essential oils? Is there an art to this? Should one go before another? Should you wait in between each essential oil? This can all be answered very simply with “yes”.
Blend vs layering?
Quickly I just want to point out that there is a difference in a blend and in layering. A blend takes time and specific chemical requirements done in a lab to get the ultimate blend of two or more oils based on their cellular components thus creating an all new oil. Layering is applying one oil, letting it absorb then moving to the next. You will get benefits from both applications and one is not necessarily better than the other. I find layering useful when I have a concern that has multiple components like a sprained wrist.
First is please ensure that your oils are properly diluted if necessary. There are two references to applying oils. If an “oil” is hot like Oregano you always want to apply with a carrier oil (Coconut oil, Olive oil, grapeseed oil etc). When not diluted these oils can have a burning sensation on the skin. If there is no need to dilute you will see the reference to apply “neat”. I personally always dilute when applying to my body as it helps with the ease of application and increases the surface area that I can reach with the oil.
How to Layer
I’ll go back to my reference of a sprained wrist. There are a few responses your body is most likely having like swelling, pain, and possible strains to the muscles, ligaments and joints. There are oils that support your body’s ability to heal itself. Here is an example of layering for the sprained wrist:
- Cypress oil helps your body relax and revitalize
- Deep blue will provide a comforting sensation of cooling and warmth the problem area
- Lemongrass acts as an overall tonic to the body’s systems
- Wintergreen is soothing and stimulating
Each oil can be applied then you would want to wait about 5 minutes and add the next oil.
Enhancers and Drivers
There is some truth to oils and/or carriers being able to help enhance the oil and help further drive it into our skin. Here is a very brief science lesson to help explain what I mean.
Our skin is a waterproof barrier to the outside world. The outside skin our “epidermis” is made of a layer of cells held together by bonds that are made up of fatty acids. Which if you think about it makes sense that our skin can repel water but an oil, any oil, would be readily absorbed. Right?
It would be great if all the oil we applied got through our epidermis barrier but that is simply not the case. It is still a barrier and it is believed that only around 10% of the essential oil will make it through.
So, how can we improve that? With an enhancer. This enhancer would actually help the oil get through by inhibiting the skin from performing at it’s top barrier functionality. So our oil could cross much quicker! If your enhancer is water based you are spreading the surface area of “attack” and gives the essential oil more movement to penetrate. Paired with a “driver” essential oil that helps penetrate quicker by interrupting that fatty acid barrier and you’ve set yourself up for the best absorption. The oils that have been shown to help with that are citrus oils like lemon and wild orange.
Bringing it all together
To help essential oils get into our skin more quickly you would want your carrier or enhancer to be a water based lotion or cream giving those oils the best playing field to get in. Secondly you would want to pair your oil with a driver, like lemon, that helps it to penetrate deeper.
I do want to say that though there are definitely some tips and tricks to get the most out of your essential oils sometimes the most important thing is getting the oil on! If you have a bee sting just get the lavender and apply it! Don’t run around looking for your carrier and your driver.
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