Should You Incorporate Essential Oils into Your Skincare Routine?

“The Lord hath created medicines out of the earth; and he that is wise will not abhor them”

Ecclesiasticus 38:4

Essential oils are very powerful and potent liquid treasure troves that we have been gifted with. They have been used for over 5000 years for a variety of different purposes including the treatment of various diseases, perfumes for oneself and home, for cleaning, as animal repellents and in cosmetics. But should you be using essential oils in your skincare routine in the 21st century?

What are essential oils?

To answer this question on whether you should add essential oils into your skincare routine or not, first, we must understand what essential oils are. Essential oils are biosynthesized aromatic (volatile) compounds found in various parts of different types of plants. Essential oils differ from animal and vegetable oils as they are not made up of fatty acids. They are complex mixtures of hydrocarbons and oxygenated hydrocarbons. They are hydrophobic and lipid-soluble. Essential oils are either processed through steam distillation or expression.

Are Essential Oils Irritating?

“You should avoid using essential oils topically as they are irritating!” I have heard this from many people online, including dermatologists. However irritation is not a common reaction to the topical application of essential oils. Like most other ingredients, there is the possibility of irritation occurring depending on how the individual’s body reacts to the ingredient. The potency and method of application, the type of essential oil used and its quality are some other determining factors on whether irritation will occur or not. Certain essential oils like cinnamon, clove, oregano, and others are more likely to cause irritation. Peroxidation of essential oils can also cause skin irritation. Certain essential oils such as citrus, needle and tea tree oils are more prone to peroxidation. The quality of the essential oil is very important. You should aim for pure, unadulterated essential oils. In addition, essential oils should be diluted prior to topical application, for example in a carrier oil, to reduce its potency. As a general rule, you should not use more than 3% essential oil in a dilution. This concentration should be reduced if it is an essential oil which is more likely to cause irritation and/ or if you are a novice essential oil user.


Essential oils can also be sensitizing. Sensitization is the result of a gradual reaction of the immune system to any ingredient. Signs of skin sensitization include a rash, raised, itchy skin, or even eczema. Certain oils are known to be more sensitizing than others. Frequent use of the same ingredient can also cause sensitization, therefore it is a good idea to spice things up by changing the particular essential oil you are using. If you become sensitized to an ingredient/product, discontinue its use.


Most people are able to tolerate essential oils just fine as long as they follow the correct directions for use. For others, certain essential oils will work great while other types may cause a reaction. In my opinion, you should incorporate essential oils into your skincare routine as they are pure, powerful plant extracts that provide numerous benefits for overall wellbeing.

Benefits of the Topical use of Essential Oils

The question of whether or not and to what extent essential oils are absorbed into the body via the skin was a hot debate. However, we now know that essential oil components applied topically do show up in the bloodstream. 

The beneficial effects of the topical application of essential oils has been proven both through anecdotal evidence and research studies. One essential oil can have various benefits, on one side you can recognize its anti-inflammatory properties, turn it again to admire its antimicrobial features and turn it again to see how it positively affects your emotions, mind and mood. It would take me a whole, big book to describe all the benefits associated with every essential oil, so instead I will highlight just a few of my favorite essential oils for topical use and their benefits.

4 Powerful Essential Oils to Incorporate Into Your Skincare

Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender essential oil is one of the most popular essential oils for a reason, it is incredibly versatile and powerful. Lavender essential oil has anti-inflammatory[1],antioxidant[2], and antibacterial[3] properties. it has also been shown to have wound healing properties and increase the expression of collagen synthesis[4]. 


In addition, it can help with anxiety[5] and enhances sleep quality[6]. The combination blend of lavender, clary sage, and rose essential oil diluted in a carrier oil and applied in the form of an abdominal massage has even been shown to aid in the severity of menstrual cramps[7]. 

Tea Tree Essential Oil

Tea tree essential oil comes from the leaves of the Australian tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia). Tea tree essential oil has antibacterial, antiviral, and antiseptic properties. It has been shown to be an effective treatment for acne vulgaris[8,9]. Studies also show that tea tree oil can have anti-inflammatory and wound healing effects as well[10].

Geranium Essential Oil

Geranium essential oil smells similar to roses and the scent is enjoyed by most people. The sweet aroma masks the fact that it is an antibacterial and antifungal[11, 12]. Geranium essential oil has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties[13]. Another study published in 2018 found that geranium essential oil has the ability to reduce or prevent oxidative stress and “can be used in skincare regimen to slow down skin aging via its antioxidant properties”[14].

German Chamomile Essential Oil

Chamomile is considered to be the most ancient medicinal herb known to mankind. German chamomile is effective in the treatment for dry, itchy skin. Historically, german chamomile has been used in the treatment of skin disorders such as eczema, which is believed to be due to its three sesquiterpene constituents, azulene, bisabolol, and farnesene, which have anti-inflammatory or antihistamine effects. A study conducted on mice in 2010 demonstrated that the topical application of german chamomile essential oil on the skin of atopic dermatitis cases could downregulate the production of interleukin 4 from Th2 cells, suppress IgE or IgG1 overproduction and reduce histamine production, which alleviates the occurrence or progression of atopic dermatitis[15]. The essential oil is also said to have antioxidant properties, which its constituent chamazulene, has been shown to play an important role in[16]. German chamomile essential oil is also reported to relieve physical and mental stress, as well as give calming and sleep-inducing effects. 

As you can see, essential oils are powerful and versatile. I have only described the some benefits of a few of my favorite essential oils for topical use, however there are many other essential oils out there. You can either use a single essential oil in a carrier oil or add them to your creams and lotions, or you can create a blend of 3-5 essential oils, where they work synergistically to create an even more powerful effect. The essential oils you choose to blend with and even the order that you add each essential oil to the blend plays a huge role in the properties of the blend. If it interests you, you can search for further information on the topic through reliable sources online, books on essential oils, or even by speaking with an aromatherapist.

Sources cited