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Absorption routes for Essential Oils

Absorption Routes for Essential Oils by a Certified Aromatherapist from The Clawfoot: Recommended methods of use for essential oils and explanation of two different route methods, topical and inhalation.

Hello lovelies.

I wanted to talk to you today about the routes of absorption for your essential oil use. I want to state immediately that I do not promote ingesting essential oils. It is highly recommended that it is only done under the care of someone who has been educated in this specialty, ideally a clinical aromatherapist. I have not yet completed this level of education so I choose not to use oils in this method.

The two main routes that I will recommend are through inhalation and topical use.

  1. Inhalation – Inhaling essential oils stimulate the olfactory system and therefore the central nervous system. Contact of the essential oils with the internal structures of your respiratory system creates many benefits. Inhaling oils can treat respiratory conditions. The oils can cross into the blood stream from the lungs, which is a quick way to deliver oils into the whole internal system of the body via the blood. Inhaling essential oils can help prevent respiratory infections. The internal lining of the respiratory system is a mucous membrane. It’s a more delicate, thinner skin so take care when you are choosing oils to use in this method. Okay so there is a lot of science and physics I learned through my certification education. To keep it simple, it’s basically saying that your mucous membrane has two sides, one is facing the internal cavities and the other side is covered in capillaries (these pick up the nutrients that seep into the membrane). So, because of all these capillaries and the thinness of the membrane, the constituents of the essential oils are picked up via inhalation and are very quickly absorbed into the blood. It’s through the capillaries that they can travel throughout the body with blood.

  2. Skin – When you apply essential oils to the skin, it affects the skin directly and is another method of introducing the oils into the bloodstream. Your skin is a dynamic organ that can absorb topical substances. It’s safe to assume that anything applied to the skin can cross into the deeper tissues and into the bloodstream. Since the skin is thicker and less sensitive than the mucous membranes, you have a wider variety of oils that can be used on the skin. Essential oils are made up of hundreds of individual chemical components. Their ability to penetrate the skin depends on their size, volatility and their solubility in lipids or water. Generally a smaller molecule will pass more easily and quickly than a larger molecule. Once the oils penetrate the several layers of skin (which can take place over a 24 hour period) they are taken up by the blood and travel throughout the body. The more permeable the skin, the quicker the oils cross the layers and enter the bloodstream. Benefits of using this type of application are wide. It can be  healing to the skin itself, excellent for local inflammation, can have strong analgesic (pain killing) effects, allow for slow, continuous absorption over a period of time, can be applied directly to an area of concern.

Most Permeable: Head, trunk, limps.        Least Permeable: palms & soles

Safety Consideration

Inhalation – Be careful with dosage, too much oil inhaled can cause  headaches, dizziness and can irritate the membranes of the nose and lungs, keep it to 15 drops in a personal inhaler. Some oils can contract with asthma and serious allergies. Not all oils can be used for inhalation, some may be irritating.

Skin – irritation of the skin, care needs to be used when applying over areas that have been in regular contact with perfumes or synthetic cosmetics, do not apply to the genital region unless you are treating an infection and then you must ensure you are using skin safe oils and that they are highly diluted.

I hope this helps with any questions you had regarding how oils are absorbed during use. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions, I’m happy to answer! You can also reach out to me directly in my FB Group, you can find me at

Until next time,

<3 Much Aromalove


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