Essential oils are derived from many places including the roots, leaves, stems, bark, flowers and the peel of fruit. The oil is extracted most commonly by steam distillation (some citrus oils for example are extracted by cold expression).
When choosing an essential oil
You can use one or up to four different essential oils in a carrier oil. Essential oils should never exceed 3.5% of your final skin preparation.
Most essential oils are safe to be used at home, if used correctly. Please consult a reliable source to determine whether a specific essential oil is safe or not. Always keep your essential oils away from the reach of small children.
Most essential oils need to be mixed into a carrier oil, because they could cause irritation to the skin. Exceptions to this rule is lavender which is often applied neat on burns and tea tree oil, which is used neat on athletes foot. Rose otto and Sandalwood are sometimes used neat as perfume.
Mandarin essential oil is slightly phototoxic, and sunlight should be avoided after use, as it may discolour the skin.
Juniper is known to cause skin irritations and should be used sparingly.
Always avoid getting an essential oil in your eyes.
Essential oils are potent and are therefore hardly ever used in their pure form on the skin. They need an oil called a carrier oil to dilute with. Carrier oils are gentler and are mostly nut, seed or vegetable based. Cold pressed carrier oils are always better to use than their industrially extracted counterparts, because they contain far more vitamins, trace elements and fatty acids.
When choosing a carrier oil
Always choose oils that are compatible with your skin type and age. You can also use a blend of carrier oils. Sweet almond oil and olive oil are two carrier oils that can be used for all types of skin including aging and sensitive skin.
The carrier oils you use are important, as they can either improve or diminish the effect of an essential oil used.