According to the University of Minnesota, essential oils can be applied to the skin, inhaled or ingested. However, it is important to consult with an aromatherapy book or professional before getting started, as different oils have different properties and all oils cannot be used in the same ways. The application method used typically depends on the effects desired from the oils, as well as the type of oil being used.
Some of the most common ways to apply essential oils topically include baths, sprays, massages and compresses, according to the University of Minnesota. Most types of essential oils require dilution prior to application to the skin to prevent irritation. Typically, most essential oils should be diluted to a concentration of no more than 3 to 5 percent of the essential oil in a carrier oil. For inhalation, multiple methods are available, such as using a diffuser, sprays, steam and dry evaporation.
According to the University of Minnesota, some essential oils can also be ingested. However, in the United States, it is recommended that ingestion only takes place when a patient is supervised by a licensed health care provider, as many oils can have adverse and even life-threatening effects when taken internally. For topical and inhalation applications, it is important to review the safety and suggested use information for the oil used to prevent adverse reactions.