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essential oils and shea butter making a fragrant body butter

How to Use Essential Oils For Your DIY Skin Care

~ Updated June 2022

The Benefits of Essential Oils for your Skin

We are often asked what’s the correct ratio of essential oils to add to your skincare creation – a body butter, balm, serum, or anything else you make at home.

The answer is simple and easy to remember and apply, but first let’s see why you would want to use essential oils in skin care products.

There are 3 common reasons why essential oils are added to body care products:

  1. To take full advantage of the wonderful aromatherapy benefits of flowers and herbs, from relaxing lavender to stimulating peppermint, etc.
  2. To add many properties that some essential oils are notorious for: tea tree oil is a great antiseptic, peppermint oil increases circulation, and so on.
  3. Last but not least, essential oils are mixed and matched in homemade preparations to add some uniqueness to what otherwise would be just a plain oils + butters mixture.

Regardless of the reason for using essential oils in your homemade skin care products, here are some things you need to consider.

Amount of Essential Oils you can safely add to your DIY cosmetics

Essential oils are highly concentrated and very aromatic. Did you know that it takes 60 (sixty!) whole roses to make 1 (ONE!) drop of rose essential oil? And did you know that it takes about 2,000 LBs of cypress tree to extract 1 LB of cypress essential oil? Just let this idea settle for a moment and realize how concentrated EOs are.

Some essential oils are so potent that they come already diluted in some jojoba oil, like Vanilla, Rose and Jasmine, but most of them can be found 100% pure.

In either case, essential oils are not something to be used liberally on your skin, and are not safe to ingest, regardless of what some popular essential oils brands are trying to tell you. Here’s a good article about the dangers of ingesting essential oils. And here’s one that explains in depth why essential oils can be a poison when used incorrectly.

Back to our skin care recipes, due to the high concentration of Essential Oils, the highest recommended ratio of EOs to incorporate in your skin care preparations is 1-2%.

Here’s an easy conversion formula to help you in your DIY recipes:

1% = for 1 oz of oil or butter add 6 drops of Essential Oil

2% = for 1 oz of oil or butter add 12 drops of Essential Oil

An example of how to use this in a simple Shea Body Butter Recipe is:

4 oz shea butter + 2 oz cocoa butter + 1 oz apricot oil = 7 oz of body butter

7 oz of body butter can take anywhere between 42 (1%) to 84 (2%) drops of essential oils. Get it?

Our Top 5 Favorite Essential Oils

Every large grocery store chain, health food store, and on-line markets have an abundance of choices when it comes to essential oils, including many blends that have different aromatherapy functions. At Better Shea Butter we like to keep it simple, so here are our top 5 Essential Oils:

Neroli Essential Oil - Your Aromatherapy

1. Neroli

This is hands down our personal favorite.  Its peculiar fresh and citrus scent is like no other, and although pretty expensive, the scent is strong and a few drops go a long way.

Properties: skin rejuvenating, perfect for every skin type, helps dry out acne and minimize pores.

Smells like: citrusy, fresh, tangy.

Price: expensive. Neroli sells for anywhere between $20 and $80 for just 1/6 ounce.

Vanilla - BBC Good Food

2. Vanilla

With Vanilla, you have two choices:

A. Get a Vanilla in Jojoba oil. This is easily found in all the grocery stores or on line markets, and it is affordable. You can double up the drops of this EO in your recipes since it’s already diluted in a carrier oil.

B.Get Vanilla Absolute, also called Vanilla CO2 extract. This is pure vanilla and more expensive, thicker and darker in color.

Properties: Skin moisturizing, relaxing.

Price: Vanilla in Jojoba can be around $17, while Vanilla Absolute is around $50 depending on the source.

How to Grow and Care for English Lavender

3. Lavender

Lavender is the most popular scent amongst women, men and children. Even pets seem to like it. You can get French, Bulgarian, Italian or domestic Lavender, and depending on where it’s grown, it may have a slightly different twist to it. If you want to keep it simple, just grab it from your local grocery store or on Amazon and you’re all set.

Properties: tends to even out complexion, calms skin irritated by sun exposure. Relaxing.

Price: Affordable, around $10-15.

SMYCKA eucalyptus, green, Artificial leaf - IKEA

4. Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus is the go-to oil to help nasal and bronchial decongestion (when you diffuse it). but can be incorporated in therapeutic balms, fizzy shower bombs or beard products.

Properties: antibacterial, decongestant, antiseptic.

Price: Economical, around $6-12 per bottle.

37,983 Spearmint Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

5. Spearmint

Some love peppermint in their homemade lip balms or toothpastes, others love spearmint. Kids love it too, it reminds one of classic chewing gum, and it is so potent that a few drops go a long way.

Properties: antiseptic, relaxing, cooling.

Price: Just like Eucalyptus oil, Spearmint is economical and sells for about $6-10 per bottle.

Best temperature to add EOs to a preparation

Have you ever felt like you have to keep adding more and more essential oils to a homemade skin care preparation because you can’t really smell much?

That is because Essential Oils are delicate and temperature sensitive. If you add essential oils to melted butter + oil as in a body butter, you can make the mistake to add them when they oils are still too hot. When you do that, the heat will “kill” most of the EO scent and you will start thinking that there’s something wrong with the quality of your essential oils or that you did something else wrong.

The trick is to never add essential oils to something that is hotter than 75F (or 23C). Use a cooking thermometer to check the temperature of your skin care preparation and just wait until it’s cold enough to add your essential oils.


BLOG UPDATE

After we took a trip to Italy to source Lavender flowers…

We stopped by this local wine and lavender company and snatched some of their amazing lavender essential oil. We then put 12 drops, or 2% of 1oz, in our 1oz Rosehip Seed Oil bottle. With a little shake, you have now created an exquisite face serum rich in antioxidants, and vitamins C & E!

So, whether you have just shea butter, a mix of oils and butters, or just a carrier oil, the concept is the same: measure between 1% and 2% in weight of your essential oil and add them in.

Now over to you – why do you use Essential Oils in your DIY skin care products and which oil or blend is your favorite? Open up the conversation by commenting below.

94 responses to “How to Use Essential Oils For Your DIY Skin Care

  1. Which Shea butter is best to use on hair for hair loss and to moisturize.
    Do you have a recipe for hair moisturizer.

    1. Hello Leatha!
      I use Ivory Shea like many of our customers, I like it for hair because of the slightly less fragrant scent as well as the ivory color. We have a blog about the benefits of Shea Butter on hair, check it out! We also have some awesome recipes saved to our Pinterest, which you can find by following us at pinterest.com/bettershea ~ and don’t forget to feel free to e-mail us with questions any time at [email protected] – have an awesome weekend!

  2. So many wonderful choices. I’m about to make some winter skin cream for my girlfriend. I’m using some unrefined shea butter, cold pressed avocado and sweet almond oil with a little beeswax. I’m going to try a few nourishing oils, some atlas cedarwood, some neroli (although what I have is old so the medicinal properties may be gone) a little ylang ylang, some lavender (Bulgarian) and a tiny bit of geranium.

    I don’t want to overdo the ESO in the mix and I only have 100ml glass jars so not very big meaning I’ll have to be careful. Cheers.

  3. Grand Rising. I had downloaded the ebook that was prior to the Christmas ebook. For some reason I’m unable to retrieve it. I was wondering is there anyway to have that ebook sent to me again. Looking for the mask recipe using bentonite clay.

    Thanks!

  4. Gee, that’s a tough choice. So many beautiful essential oils! I make lotions, body butters, lip balms and the blends are never-ending. I guess If I had to pick ide say Lavender and Chamomile. It looks like lavender is a very popular choice (as it should be!)

  5. Isabella, I make balm with essential oils and i don’t understand how i can combine beeswax and some of the other ingredients i use at a temperature under 75 degrees. Do you have any experience adding essential oils to waxes and harder oils?

    1. That’s a bit tricky because beeswax hardens before you get to 75F, so just add the essential oils when you are still able to stir your balm and ignore the temperature. You may need to increase the amount of EOs or possibly look into natural fragrances that are not essential oils, they are more powerful and could be a better solution for balms.

    1. Yes you can! Exact directions vary depending on what ingredients you have in your body butter, for example of you have beeswax or a hard butter like cocoa, you may need to soften up your body butter a bit so you can stir in the EOs, if the body butter is easy to stir at room temperature, you can add the EOs without any heating needed. The key is to stir them in really well to ensure even distribution. I hope this helps.

  6. Hi, I am new to making lotions and body butter. Infact I just tried to make my first batch….what Im finding is the smell of the shea butter is unpleasant. I added lavender oil and chamomile oil however the mix still smells like the Ivory shea butter. So, can you recommend another oil to add to help with the shea butter smell…The mixture cosists of coconut oil, shea butter, chamomile oil and lavendar oil. Thanks Kim

    1. Hi Kim,
      A bit of the unrefined nutty scent will linger in the actual body butter, but when you apply it on your skin it will evaporate in little time. Adding coconut oil or any other carrier oils dilutes the scent as well. Basically it sounds like you have done everything I would recommend, it’s honestly just a matter of learning about unrefined shea butter. If you really do not like the scent and it bothers you, my recommended alternative butter is mango butter, it is unscented and almost as soft as shea and easy to whip, you can give that one a try. I hope this helps.

  7. Hello!

    I have a question for you 🙂

    I have been making deodorant. I just switched from unrefined shea butter to refined shea butter to have a less nutty smell and for my deodorant to be white instead of yellow. I have been adding spearmint essential oil to the deodorant. With the unrefined…the smell was pleasant and clean smelling all day. With the refined deodorant, I noticed the essential oil smell is not sticking…almost goes away shortly after the deodorant is applied. Do I just increase my ratio of essential oil? Or is this a common problem with refined shea butter?

    Thank you so much!

    1. Hello Tricia! To be honest, I have not used refined shea butter for any recipes at all, I’m a rebel on this and only use unrefined shea butter.

      Here’s some opinions that may help you:

      If I don’t want the nutty scent of unrefined shea in my products I replace it with mango butter. Mango butter is mechanically refined so there are no chemicals or solvents used, unlike refined shea butter, which is usually refined using solvents.

      I would not increase peppermint or other essential oils in a deodorant because I would worry that it would irritate the delicate skin of the armpits. I highly recommend you try mango butter, I have an article comparing shea and mango in my blog if you want to research it, or you can ask more questions here 🙂

    1. After years of recipes for either my personal use or our blog, I have learned that while many companies are popping up and selling essential oils with different claims, I default to 2 brands available in most grocery stores: NOW foods and Aura Cacia. Whole Foods also has their own private label brand of EOs which I’m sure are fine. Just look at the ingredients to make sure they are pure EOs, and do not ingest them, they are not food or supplements, they are for aromatherapy and skin care creations. I hope this helps!

      1. Great article! If I may, I would caution relying on essential oils that say ‘organic’ or ‘pure’. Since the FDA does not govern essential oils, companies can mislead you. Do your research on the product. Key things to look for is where the oils are harvested, what is the process used for extraction, and… is there independent 3rd party testing?. The best oils are extracted in their country of origin. Many companies use solvents and chemicals to extract oils and still call them pure. Reputable companies use 3rd party testing to guarantee the product is truly pure. Also, high quality essential oils have a therapeutic healing value. Otherwise, if you choose a lesser grade you’re opting for just the aroma. If you want the healing value that essential oils are known for then please do your research.

    1. A “carrier” oil is an oil that “carries” essential oils to your skin. Essential Oils are highly concentrated herbal and flower oils that when applied directly to your skin, can irritate it, and the solution is to dilute a few drops in a neutral oil that will “carry” the benefits of the EOs to your skin. Carrier oils are also used as an ingredient in DIY skin care like body butters, face serums, bath bombs and more.

  8. Im making a body butter, that will include up to three oils. If im using 2%, would that be up to 84 drops of EACH oil or would I use a total of 84, amongst the three oils?

    1. You want 84 drops TOTAL, so divide that up amongst your 3 essential oils. Please note that not all essential oils have the same strength, some are very overpowering and can take up the whole scent of a product, for example 10 drops of peppermint or lemongrass EOs will be a lot stronger than 10 drops of lavender. I recommend you start with only 1 or 2 essential oils in your preparations if you are new to blending oils, that way if you don’t love your combination you can do a better job in the future without wasting ingredients.

  9. Hi, I have a question. I’m new to blending oils, can I mix lavender and tea tree essential oils using castor oil as the carrier oil? Also, can I apply this mixture on my face and body daily as a moisturizer? Thank you

    1. Yes, you can. However, have you used castor oil before? It’s a very dense and thick oil, I personally find it hard to apply on large areas. It’s a great oil for small concentrated areas like lips, or to add in smaller amounts to homemade skin care.

  10. hy, i decided to make body butters, but i’m not very sure of the quantity of EO to be added to about 1kg of Shea butter

    1. You have to do a conversion from kilos to ounces, then you multiply the ounces by either 6 drops of essential oils or 12 drops, depending on how strong you want the scent to be. For example:

      1 KG = 35 oz
      35 oz x 6 drops of EO = 210 drops
      or
      35 oz x 12 drops of EO = 420 drops

      HOWEVER, measuring in drops is only workable for small batches of a few jars of body butter. If you work with 1 kg, or 2.2 LBs, it’s better to formulate in percentages and calculate 1-2% of your essential oils instead of using drops. As you can see from my example, having to count 420 drops of an essential oil is just not practical.

      I should write an article specifically on this, it’s all about math and calculating percentages – not very fun, but it has to be done with bigger batches of skin care products to ensure consistency.

  11. Good morning. This was my first time making body butter and I thought I did pretty good but I’m thinking now that I put to much EO in it r maybe I used the wrong scent. I used orange with shea butter, avocado oil, arrowroot powder. Did I do something wrong

  12. I made my first batch of whipped shea butter. It came out great and smell really good. However, the smell does not last long. What can I do to make the smell last longer from the essential oil.
    Thanks

    1. You can add up to 12 drops of essential oils per every 1oz of your whipped body butter. Also, some EOs evaporate faster than others, which oils did you use?

  13. Thank you so much, I am new to the whipped butters and have made a few. I really do not like the unrefined Shea as well because the nutty scent seems to stick with me. I was wondering was it just me or would others smell that as well? So Mango butter would be the best go to as an alternative butter? I try to get crisp clean smells as much as I can. I love the citrus so smells, it’s something about orange, grapefruit, and lemon. I am trying to mix eo’s but I’m afraid that they would not mix. Do you have an suggestions? Thank you again.

    1. Hi Tarra,

      You are not alone in not loving the nutty shea butter smell. Mango butter is your savior, it’s just as pliable and soft as shea butter, and it’s scent-free so you can just substitute it for shea butter in any recipes that call for it. I love citrus smell too, you will be able to make great formulas using mango butter 🙂

      1. Hi, Isabella

        Thanks for this valuable article, just wondering to know a safe formula from mixing large amounts (for business) of shea butter with essential oil, or if there any book you would recommend.

        Regards,

        1. The general ratio of essential oils in a skin product is 1-2% of your total formula in weigh. This may not apply to ALL essential oils or blends, but it gives you a starting point.

  14. I received a gift box this Christmas Two Trees Handcrafted Shea Butter soap, made with Pure Essential Oils. Is this product good for facial use?

    1. It’s hard to tell without seeing all the other ingredients, I would try it once and see if it works for your skin.

  15. Hello,
    I am new to making body butters. I wanted to make body butters for family so I decided to do a mango scented body butter. I was unable to to find a mango scented essential oil so I got a fragrance oil. I did use the math equation to get the right drops for a 14 oz batch between 1%-2%. (97 drop of mango scented oil) After the batch was done I tested it. After maybe 30 minutes my skin was on fire!!! I’m wonder did I have a reaction because fragrance oils are synthetic ? I’ve never had an issue before with butters that had essential oils in it. Just looking for some feedback. Thank you

    1. Oh no, I’m so sorry that happened to you! Fragrances are A LOT stronger than essential oils, your container of fragrance or the manufacturer website should recommend the right ratio. The 1-2% that I recommend in this blog is only for Essential Oils. The other potential issue with a fragrance is that it’s often made of tens or even 100 ingredients, mostly synthetics derived from petroleum, so it could be that you are allergic to any of those 🙁
      If possible, you can use what you have made, melt it in a double boiler, add more mango and whatever oils you have in your original recipe, and double your body butter without adding any more fragrance or essential oils. This should dilute the smell without wasting your other products.

  16. Just wondering how do you make rice cleanser set and what is a good preservative for this

  17. Hi,
    I want to make a butter to help psoriasis. Which oils do you suggest?
    Can I mix a few oils at the same time? Can I add a few drops of camamile made from a tea bag?
    Does the butter really need to be whipped again or is stirring good enough?
    Thanks.

  18. How do you make the scent of your body butter have a lasting scent on the skin. I made some, smells delicious when applying but does not have a lasting scent in the skin. My oils didn’t cost much so should I be using higher quality essential oils?

    1. Essential oils are very different than the typical fragrance we are used to, and their scent will evaporate easily. This is the “downside” of a natural scent. If you prefer something that lasts longer and are not allergic to synthetic fragrances, you can search for “cosmetic safe fragrance” and add those instead of EOs to your formula. Make sure you check the manufacturer suggested ratio because you will need a LOT less fragrance than Essential Oils.

  19. Can I use an essential oil for it’s properties and use a fragrance oil at the same time in a body butter? Will the essential oil still work or will that be dangerous???

    1. I am not sure about safety, those are things you need to test in a lab in order to be sure. If I were to test your idea, I would use 1/2 the amount of recommended Essential Oil, and start by adding 1-2 drops of fragrance to see how it smells. Fragrances are very powerful, I would start with a small amount first, you can always add more later.

  20. Good Day, I want to thank you so very much for sharing your information. I found this page to be most helpful. I am attempting again to make homemade shea butter with essential oils and the information you provided help tremendously. I was unaware of the temperature the butter should be before adding the oil(s), to allow the smell to illuminate, so thank you for that tid bit. That is why my previous shea body butters with the essential oils did not smell, i was putting the oils in right after the shea butter mixture was melted. I learned a great deal about the various essential oils, how much drops to use per oz(s) and what they provide for the mind body and souls. All this information once again was extremely helpful and will help me better produce a spectacular product.
    Very happy future entrepreneur!!!

  21. I’m preparing to make a batch of body butter using a few different butters and oil such as coconut oil, cocoa butter, and sweat almond oil and another that I can’t remember at this time. I’m planning on putting them in 2 oz containers and making separate ones like one will be lavender bc it’s a must have for me another is peppermint. My recipe requires any range of 15- 30 drops for the whole batch. I’m wondering since I’m breaking it up to body butter into 2oz how many drops should I use for every 2 oz.

    1. I am not sure, it’s hard to work out an exact ratio for very small quantities. It’s better if you do separate larger batches for each scent you use.

  22. I’m going to make some body butter and my sister wants a mild fresh and clean scent. Can you tell me which essential oils to use?
    Also my niece wants a tropical smell, which oils do I use for this smell?
    Thank you

    1. Because scents are very personal, it’s best if you let them smell your essential oils or EO blends and let them pick the scent that way before you invest in adding it to your formula.

  23. Hi , I am a beginner my first product was coconut oil soap thought I didn’t know how to calculate the percentage of essential oils but already know that if is too much is dangerous so I added little to my first attempt and it comes out nicely but now this information I got here will help me with my formula. My question is that can I use the same percentage in body butter and soap? Thanks for wonderful knowledge that you shared with us. can I have access to your website I like the way you explain things in your website. Thanks again God Bless

    1. For products that stay on your skin like a body butter or lotion, you never want more than 2% essential oils in case the oil is too strong for your skin and cause irritation. For products that get rinsed off your skin right away like soaps or a wash, you can use more fragrances or essential oils.

  24. Hi Isabella, thank you for sharing all your amazing recipes! can you please tell me what is the oz size of your rejuvenating face serum? Thank you

  25. I am using my EOs after my butter is already whipped. Can this be a reason why I cannot get the scent of the EOs and keep smelling the Shea scent?

    1. Hello Bianca, It is fine to add the EOs when whipping your butters. However with Unrefined Shea Butter it is hard to fully mask the nutty/smoky scent it has, regardless of when the EOs are added. With this butter some use smells that they feel complement it well (several customers have had success with Rosemary and Lavender). If you are looking to have a body butter with a strong EO scent it would be best to use a butter with less smell as a base, like Mango or Kokum Butter. You can also use refined Shea Butter as most of the smell gets removed with the refining process.

  26. Hi Isabella,
    I am making a solid perfume with soy wax and jojoba oil. At 23c the mixture is solid so it is too late to add the EO.
    What should I do?
    Thanks!
    Gaya

  27. Hi, i was hoping you could help me out. I am trying to whip up some butters and add essential oils to them. The issue i am having is that once i have whipped it to the consistency i like and place it in the container, it then goes back to more or less a much more solid state. I am clearly doing something wrong. Do i have to add coconut oil? what keeps it from going hard again? Thank you so much for your help!

  28. Thank you so much for listing the recommended ratio of Essential Oils to incorporate. I ran across you site looking for that very thing. I am looking to make a hair and scalp conditioner or scalp oil…still deciding. I hope to use sage, rosemary and eucalyptus. Any ideas that you have about this is appreciated. Thanks again for your insight

  29. hi, this is the first time im attempting to make body butter, my question is can i just use cocoa butter and lavender essential oil ??does these two go well together or is it neccesary to add carrier oil to it ?
    thanks.

  30. I have a question and thank you if I’m making a 24oz batch of body butter I’m using Peppermint the dilution it’s 1% 3 drops but when made the scent was faint a little should I decrease butters more that have scent 15% coconut oil 30% shea butter and 5 % cocoa Butter the rest is 40% oils my product good just wanting to be sure on scent didn’t want to use less of EO or more. Thank you

    1. If your batch is 24 ounces, 1% of that is 0.24 ounces or 6.8 grams. Don’t measure the peppermint in drops if you can figure out the weigh. Try this ratio and let me know how it goes!

  31. I have been doing so much research on essential oils but I can’t Blaine a simple answer for blending essential oils that have different maximum dilution requirements. For example, if I make a 227 gram batch of body butter and I want to have it at a 1% dilution and I am using lavender and lemongrass. Lemongrass should be a 0.5% dilution but I want to have lavender at 1%. How do I do that? 0.5% of the 227 g is 2.27g. How much of the 2.27 g will be lemongrass

    1. If you want 1% essential oils total in your formula, and you also want 1% lavender EO, there is no more room for lemongrass. Am I understanding your question correctly?

    2. You cannot have a maximum dilution of essential oils at 1%, and also have 1% lavender plus 0.5% lemongrass. That does not add up. If you cannot go higher than 1% essential oil in your formula, then you need to split that 1% between lavender and lemongrass. If you want more lavender than lemongrass, try .70% lavender and .30% lemongrass. I hope this helps.

  32. Hello. Let’s say you want to blend 3 different oils, 4 drops of A, 2 drops of B and 1 drop of C, and you want to add them to a 30g batch of an emulsion. How do you calculate them into percentages so the ratios remain the same so you can use those percentages on a larger scale if you want to? Obviously 3 drops in a 100g batch will not smell or have the same effect as it would in a 10g. I hope I’m making sense.

    1. You’re making sense! You need to convert the essential oil measurements from drops to grams. You can either weigh them with a very sensitive scale, or you can look up online calculators that convert oil drops into grams (search for oil drops and not water drops conversion, they have different density). Once you have EO drops in grams, you pull out the math you learned in school (sarcastic joke because I had to do the same when figuring out how to formulate skincare) and you figure out what percentage your essential oils are in the 100g batch. Then you can scale up from there. Does this help??

  33. Hey i just bought 1kg of shear butter and neroli & clove essential oils to make a body,share and hair butter do these two oils go well together but they do go well with hair, face and body separately please help

    1. I would not use clove essential oil for face or body products, it’s too irritating. Neroli is great for everything and I personally love it. You can use it alone or in combination with lavender, it will give you a very flowery, fresh scent.

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