How to Carry Out a Patch Test with Essential Oils for Sensitive Skin

Essential oils are highly concentrated and can sometimes cause irritation and are generally diluted before using them on your skin.

Even when diluted essential oils can cause reactions to more sensitive skin types and so carrying out a patch test before using the oil in certain circumstances is recommended.

When to carry out a patch test?

It is worth carrying out a patch test before using essential oils on your skin in the following situations:

  • if you have very sensitive skin,
  • if you are generally prone to allergies,
  • if you have very young or aged skin,
  • if your skin is diseased or injured.

How to carry out a patch test:

  • Mix a very small amount of the blend you intend to use. (See blog post on blending for safe blend strengths).
  • Using the inside of the forearm, apply a couple drops of your blend to the pad of a band aid and keep the bandage on the skin. After 48 hours remove the bandage and check for irritation.
  • If the skin under or around the bandage becomes red, swollen, itchy, or develops blisters, that is a reaction and you should avoid skin exposure to the blend you tested. 
  • You can remove the bandage as soon as you become aware of a reaction, you do not need to leave it on for the full 48 hours.

Note: It is generally accepted that lavender and tea tree essential oils can be used neat on the skin, and they are very useful to apply to minor first aid situations, like small burns, cuts, spots, bites, but again it is worth carrying out a patch test if you have any of the above mentioned conditions.

Diluting essential oils in a base oil (eg. Olive oil, Almond oil) is ideal as they themselves have many nourishing properties that your skin can also benefit from.  Generally they are full of vitamins and fatty acids that help keep skin healthy and vital.  They also help the essential oils absorb into your skin more easily.

You do not need to dilute essential oils when using them in a burner, diffusor or for inhalation, in fact using a base oil in a diffusor may damage it.