The skin does not only cover and surround the body, but it is also the largest organ of the body, and essential oils enter the body through it.
For aromatherapy, the skin is of great importance: it is one of the two main ways in which essential oils enter the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body (the other way is through the lungs).
The skin is also a huge excretory organ, dissolving some of the body’s waste products in sweat and excreting them through the skin’s capillaries.
If the other excretory organs (kidneys and colon) are not working properly, the body will transport large amounts of waste to the skin in the hope of eliminating it through the skin.
But it is often more than the skin can handle, resulting in various skin conditions such as eczema, acne and boils.
If the skin can safely excrete the body’s waste products, it can also absorb beneficial substances while avoiding some of the harmful substances that can harm the muscles and organs beneath the skin glands.
Because of this screening function, the skin is considered to be “semi-permeable”.
The ability of the molecule to enter the skin depends on the size of its particles.
The molecules of essential oils are very small and simple in structure, so they can easily enter the skin.
It is evidenced by experiments with garlic oil. Some garlic oil was applied to the soles of the test subject’s feet and after 10 minutes the smell of garlic could be detected in the breath of the test subject.
It means that within 10 minutes the garlic oil had passed through the skin, into the bloodstream, and finally into the oxygen-deprived blood and reached the lungs.
Not all essential oils cross the skin so quickly. Essential oils added to a bath or massage can take anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours to be fully absorbed by the body, but a small percentage of essential oils will enter the bloodstream quickly after being applied to the skin.
Essential oils are oil soluble, which is another reason why the skin can absorb them so quickly.
The skin secretes a protective, oily waxy layer called sebum.
Essential oils dissolve in the sebum, accelerating the rate at which the skin absorbs them.
Once in the skin, the essential oil enters the intercellular fluid, from where it passes through the walls of the lymphatic vessels and microvasculature.
Then, the aromatic molecules enter the blood circulation and travel throughout the body.
It is a very efficient and safe way for essential oils to enter the body through the skin. Readers may find that I am one of the many aromatherapists who oppose the oral use of essential oils.
I believe that the application of essential oils to the skin is not only quick and effective, but also avoids the digestive system altogether.
If you are creating a more serious condition, such as an infection, a massage with essential oils on your back every half hour will absorb more essential oils than can be absorbed orally, without harming the mucous membranes of your stomach.
There are a few points to note: before using essential oils for massage, be sure to dilute the oils to less than 3% with carrier oil.
Avoid using essential oils that can cause skin allergies.
If you have sensitive skin, it is best to test your skin’s reaction by rubbing a little bit of any kind of essential oil before using it.