Essential Oil Safety FAQs

Essential Oil Safety

Are essential oils only for aromatherapy?

NOW® Essential Oils are highly concentrated plant and botanical extracts intended for aromatherapeutic use. Because these extracts are highly concentrated and potent, we recommend consulting with a trained professional or referencing other reputable resources for recommended dilutions before using essential oils for any purpose other than aromatherapy.

Infants, children, and pets may be highly sensitive to essential oils, even when used as directed in a diffuser. Always diffuse essential oils in well-ventilated areas, especially in the presence of children, pregnant/nursing women, pets, or individuals with respiratory or other medical conditions.

Can essential oils be used topically?

Some essential oils can be highly irritating to the skin, and direct skin contact with essential oils should be avoided. Do not use any undiluted essential oil directly on the skin, especially the skin of infants, children or pets, unless directed by a healthcare practitioner.

Are essential oils safe to use in the bath?

Essential oils are an everyday aromatherapy pleasure as well as an easy-to-use self-care practice. As is the nature of essential oils, all NOW essential oils are highly concentrated and are not water soluble, making it necessary to dilute them for dispersible use in spa-like applications such as a relaxing soak in the bathtub. Using essential oils directly in bath water will result in them sitting on top of the water which will very likely cause irritation. For those with extremely sensitive skin, it may be advised to simply diffuse essential oils in the bathroom during a bath instead of using the oils in the water. Simply inhaling their scent can offer plenty of aromatherapy benefits. At NOW, our in-house chemists and scientists recommend a few essential oils that can be utilized in bathing routines and suggest exercising caution or complete avoidance with others (see full lists below or see our essential oil infographic).

What can I use to safely dilute essential oils for bath use?

how to use EO in the bath thumbBefore adding essential oils to bath water, make sure you efficiently disperse them in a vegetable oil or combine with an unscented foaming product to effectively emulsify them. Carrier oils like fractionated coconut and jojoba are a great place to start when indulging in aromatherapy in the bathtub. In general, add about 9-12 drops of the recommended essential oil mixed in a tablespoon of carrier oil (please refer to a dilution chart for exact ratios). The properly diluted blend should then be swirled into the water before entering the bath.

We do not recommend mixing essential oils directly with bath salts, as many pre-packaged mixes have not been pre-tested to ensure dilution ratios. Mixing essential oils first with a carrier oil and then with bath salts is the proper way to go.

What oils do you recommend for bath use?

Several essential oils are approved by our in-house chemist for bath use when mixed in the proper dilution with a carrier oil including Bergamot*, Chamomile (Roman), Clary Sage, Eucalyptus, Frankincense, Geranium, Grapefruit*, Jasmine Absolute, Lavender, Lemon*, Lemongrass, Lime*, Myrrh, Neroli, Orange*, Patchouli, Rose, Rosemary, Sandalwood, Tangerine*, Tea Tree, Vetiver and Ylang Ylang.

*Avoid sun exposure for 12 hours after dermal use

Are there any essential oils that I definitely should AVOID using in the bath?

Our in-house chemist does NOT recommend using some essential oils in bath applications including Basil, Black Pepper, Camphor, Cassia, Cinnamon Bark, Clove, Ginger, Hyssop, Marjoram, Oregano, Pennyroyal, Peppermint, Spearmint, Wintergreen and all pines (Juniper Berry, Pine Needle, Balsam Fir Needle).

More essential oil bath use tips:

  • Always first dilute recommended essential oils in approved carrier oils (coconut, olive, and jojoba).
  • For essential oil and bath salt combinations, always dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil before mixing with bath salts.
  • Add blend to water and swirl before entering the bath.
  • Tub may become slippery so exercise caution.
  • Some essential oils can make skin extra sensitive to the sun, so read the label closely before using an essential oil topically and spending time outside.
  • Review more info about essential oil safety here.

Are essential oils safe to use around dogs and cats?

essential oil dogs cats thumbnailWhile there are a variety of benefits for humans, our experts advise caution when using essential oils around pets. Animals are very different from people, and the way they metabolize and eliminate undesirable substances from their bodies is very different as well.

Label cautions and usage

Each of our essential oils has been reviewed for safety, and specific instructions for their use can be found on the label and our website. Please follow our label cautions, which are there for your safety and are based on authoritative sources.

Essential oil recipes found on our site have been carefully crafted and evaluated by professionals; deviation from these recipes is not recommended.

Although our essential oils are pure and produced without chemical additives, due to strict regulatory requirements, pure essential oils sold for aromatherapy cannot be labeled as food-grade or bear instructions for topical or internal use.