The 3 Ways to Use Essential Oils

Now that you’ve learned what essential oils are, how they work and how to find quality essential oils, you’re ready to start reaping all their benefits.

But how the heck do you use these things?

It’s most important that you’re using essential oils safely. Like I’ve mentioned in previous posts, these natural solutions are incredibly potent. Overdoing it can be harmful.

To make sure you get the most benefit out of your oils, I’ll go over the three common ways to use them.

How to Use Essential Oils

What exactly do you do with these little bottles of potent, fragrant bliss? Here are three ways for using essential oils along with a few guidelines for recommended dosages and safety concerns.

1. Aromatic

It’s not uncommon for an essential oil addict to have a diffuser going every waking moment of the day (and even while sleeping!).

I love diffusing essential oils for the main reason of creating a mood in my home and work environment to inspire different feelings. Need to focus? Need an energy boost? Need a dose of confidence? There’s an oil or a blend for all of those.

Aromatic use is beneficial for our brains and our moods because the sense of smell has the power to elicit those mental and emotional responses.

When essential oils are diffused, the aromas get introduced to our bodies through our olfactory senses. Our smell receptors are directly linked to the limbic system in the brain, which supports several functions like smell, emotions, behavior and memory.

The amygdala receives the scent and instantly triggers an emotional response before we’ve actually figured out what the smell is. Neurotransmitters from the brain send messages to our bodies, triggering cell activity.

Diffusing essential oils also has the power to purify the air. Citrus oils kill toxins and clean the air around you.

Finally, the release of essential oils into the air supports respiratory health. As an asthmatic, I’ve turned to essential oils far more often than my inhaler over the past couple years. Sleep with a snorer? Diffusing oils at night has been shown to help with that too!

How to use essential oils aromatically

  • Essential oil diffuser: This is an easy method for getting the aromatic benefits all day long. I love this Petal Diffuser from doTERRA, and I also have a portable diffuser for my car (essential oils make a long commute awfully exciting!). There are lots of great options out there, but if you don’t have a diffuser, there are still plenty of ways to use essential oils aromatically.
  • Inhale: Yep, it’s that simple. Open the cap of your favorite essential oil and take a big whiff, or place a couple drops in your hands and bring them to your nose as you breathe deeply.
  • Cotton balls: Apply a few drops of oil to a cotton ball and keep it in your purse, office, car or gym bag for a pleasant smell or energy boost.
  • Spray bottle: Mix a couple refreshing oils in a spray bottle and fill with water. Spritz on for perfume or mist it over furniture, your kitchen or bathroom.
  • Necklace: My new favorite way to have my oils on me is with a diffuser necklace. These pendants come with changeable colored pads. Dab a couple drops of your favorite oil on a pad that matches your outfit, and whenever you need it, breathe it in!

Set the mood

I love blending together a few oils for a unique scent and different benefits. Check out these doTERRA diffuser blends and recipes for ideas – seasonal, bedtime, allergy relief, you name it – there’s a blend for it!

2. Topical

Using an essential oil topically to heal an area of your body is a magical experience to watch. The first time you see Siberian Fir relieve a burn, Melaleuca reduce swelling or Frankincense minimize a zit, you’ll never look back! Feeling the immediate effects of Peppermint or DigestZen is incredible every time.

Essential oils can easily penetrate the skin. Once your skin absorbs them, the oils deliver a localized benefit to the area where applied.

But they also have the power to affect every cell in the body. This is why you hear advice to apply oils to the bottoms of your feet – this is where they can enter the bloodstream the quickest and get to work on your cells. I have my own nighttime ritual of putting lavender on the bottoms of my feet for a good night’s sleep.

Carrier Oils

When using essential oils on your skin, it’s recommended to pair them with a carrier oil (Fractionated Coconut Oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, grapeseed oil, etc.). Carrier oils are beneficial for a couple reasons:

  • Extra impact: Using a carrier oil with an essential oil can increase absorption into the skin. A carrier oil also helps to moisturize the skin and slow down the evaporation of the oil.
  • Skin sensitivity: Carrier oils help ensure that you’re using essential oils safely. If you have sensitive skin or are using oils on a child’s skin, a carrier oil dilutes the more potent essential oils so you’re unlikely to have a reaction.

Recommended ratio: Use three drops of carrier oil for every one drop of essential oil.

Recommended use: Apply oils topically in small doses several times throughout the day rather than using a single large dose at once. Repeat topical doses every 4-6 hours as needed. Take note of how your skin, body and mind react to using essential oils topically.

Words to Know –


If you purchase doTERRA essential oils, you might see in your product guide that some oils can be applied “neat.” This means that they are safe to use on your skin without a carrier oil. Still, it never hurts to use a carrier oil if you’re not sure how your skin will react. ALWAYS use carrier oils with children.


A “hot” essential oil means it can actually be incredibly hot to apply to your skin. Always use a carrier oil with hot oils. If you’re not sure, Google it or consult your product guide. Cinnamon and Oregano are a couple examples of “hot” essential oils.

Where to Apply Essential Oils Topically

Common areas include:

  • Neck and shoulders (hello, Deep Blue after a long work day!)
  • Forehead and temples (recovering from a rough night? Bust out the Peppermint!)
  • Chest and abdomen (Breathe and DigestZen are your new best friends.)
  • Bottoms of feet (Balance, Frankincense, OnGuard – for everything from sanity to immunity!)

Fun Ways to Use Essential Oils Topically

  • Mix a few drops in with bath salts for a relaxing soak.
  • Apply essential oils to a hot or cold compress.
  • Add essential oils to your favorite lotion or moisturizer.
  • Massages! One of my new weird little things is giving Kyle hand massages with essential oils.

A Few Topical Concerns for Using Essential Oils Safely

  • Avoid the eyes – if you do get an essential oil in your eye (this seriously happens to me all the time, dang it Peppermint!), use a carrier oil instead of water to get it out.
  • Avoid inner ears and nostrils.
  • Avoid direct sunlight for 24 hours after applying citrus oils to your skin – they’re photosensitive.

3. Internal

It’s hard for me to recommend internal usage because everyone tolerates essential oils differently.

For example, oils that are meant to aid in tummy pain relief have caused me to have heartburn or diuretic consequences. But some people see great benefits from taking them internally.

Though, I do love a little lemon oil in my water or cassia in my coffee (though I canNOT do cinnamon!).

I’ll give you the basic guidelines for taking essential oils internally, but take note of what works for you and what doesn’t. Don’t try to force something your body doesn’t like.

How it Works

When you ingest essential oils, they enter the bloodstream directly through the gastrointestinal tract. Then they’re transported throughout the rest of the body.

Being lipid soluble, essential oils transport readily to all organs of the body, including the brain. They’re metabolized by the liver and other organs, and go through our system just like any other thing we consume.

How much is safe?

First of all, not all essential oils are safe for internal consumption. If you’re using doTERRA essential oils, there’s a simple way to find out if an oil is okay to take internally.

If a doTERRA essential oil bottle contains the supplement facts on the bottle (just like any packaged food would), then it is safe to take internally. If your oil bottle does not have that supplement facts information, do not take it internally.

Since essential oils are so complex and potent, our body can only handle so much. It’s important to NOT overdo it! The proper dose may differ from person to person, based on age, size and health status of the individual.

Start with the lowest possible dose, about 1 or 2 drops, and increase as needed. According to doTERRA, the recommended internal dose is 1-5 drops, depending on the oil or blend. Taking a higher dose for too long eventually will no longer add benefit. Taking too much can even become harmful.

Take smaller doses every 4-6 hours as needed. Over the course of 24 hours, your maximum should be no more than 20 drops.

If you’re taking essential oils daily for prevention purposes, it’s recommended to take a lower dose. If you want to take a higher dose, consult your physician.

I personally only use one drop of any oil I take internally. I’ll put a drop of oil in my water or tea a few times throughout the day and don’t have any problems with that.

Ways to Take Essential Oils Internally

  • Cooking or baking: Ah, my favorite. Baking with a fragrant essential oil, like cinnamon, makes the whole house smell like apple pie! You can use essential oils in place of herbs and spices in your favorite recipes. Remember, since they’re so potent, you only need a drop or two to get the flavor.
  • Drinks: Add essential oils to flavor your water, smoothies, tea, coffee or even cocktails.
  • Veggie capsules: Place a few drops of oils into a veggie capsule and take them like a pill.
  • Under the tongue: This is a great place to apply a preventive oil like OnGuard or Frankincense because the oil gets into the bloodstream faster.

Using Essential Oils Safely

We covered a lot today in how to use essential oils. The most important part is knowing what you should be aware of so that you’re using essential oils safely.

  • Look for the “Neat” label when applying to your skin. Dilute with a carrier oil if the product does not have the “neat” label, and always dilute when using on children’s skin.
  • Be careful with “hot” oils on your skin – always dilute.
  • Consume an essential oil only if it has a supplement facts label on it, similar to a food product. Don’t overdo it, and listen to your body.

Have any questions about how to use essential oils? Let me know by leaving a comment!

Ready to get your own essential oil starter kit? Check out doTERRA’s enrollment kits for the best deals.

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