Aromatherapy And Formulation Tip: Total Concentration & Max Dermal Concentration In Aromatic Blending

Aromatherapy And Formulation Tip: Total Concentration & Max Dermal Concentration In Aromatic Blending

I have been hard at work writing about aromatherapy blending for different courses. So far I have written several pages of information on all of the factors I consider when blending. (To see a list of some of the factors I consider when blending, check out my article that I wrote last year on whether it is possible to blend with more than three to five essential oils and other aromatics). Recently a member of Herbs, Essential Oils, Perfumes & Formulation by Plant Alkemie facebook group asked a great question about aromatherapy blending. Since many people often ask the same question, I decided to write an article about it.

If I am blending together two aromatics with low max dermal limits, then how do I blend them together, and do I need to adjust the percent concentrations?

In aromatic blending, two percent concentrations that you need to consider are the general total concentration and the max dermal concentration.

For example, say that you wish to blend damask rose essential oil (Rosa x. damascena) with ylang ylang essential oil (Cananga odorata) for a body oil.

We (qualified professional aromatherapists) usually use a 2% total concentration of essential oils for a product that is applied all over the body for adults, such as a body oil. In other words, I suggest using a 2% concentration of your essential oil blend, and not a 2% concentration of each essential oil. The remaining 98% of the body oil consists of your carrier oils, antioxidants, and other ingredients.

For blending, you need to consider max dermal and total concentrations
Total concentration and max dermal concentration are only two factors of blending.

But you need to also consider the max dermal concentration of each aromatic too. Essential oil safety pioneer Robert Tisserand & chemist Rodney Young, and the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) suggest a max dermal concentration of 0.8% for ylang ylang essential oil1,2. There are five fractionations of ylang ylang essential oil. But they suggest the same max dermal concentration for them all1,2.

For damask rose essential oil, Tisserand and Young suggests a 0.6% concentration3. Their calculations are based on a methyleugenol content of 3.3%3. So I think that the max dermal concentration can go a little up or down, depending on if the amount of methyleugenol is lower or higher than what was used in their calculations. Please note: they list different max dermal concentrations for other rose aromatics, so see their book if you are using a different rose species or rose aromatic.

In a body oil blend, you could use no higher than 0.8% of ylang ylang essential oil, and no more than 0.6% of damask rose essential oil. Then you could add 0.6% of a third essential oil, so the max dermal concentrations of all of the essential oils would equal to a total concentration of 2% (0.8%+0.6%+0.6%=2%). You will need to consider the max dermal concentration of the third essential oil too (in this hypothetical example, we are assuming it is 0.6% or higher). You can blend more than three aromatics together (see my previous article on that) but for the sake of simplicity, I am just mentioning using one other aromatic!

You don’t need to always use 0.8% of ylang ylang essential oil or 0.6% of damask rose essential oil—you could use less than what is stated. And there may be a few specific situations where qualified professional aromatherapists might use slightly higher concentrations of these two aromatics. These are just their suggested maximum dermal amounts.

However, if you are using two highly irritating aromatics with low max dermal concentrations, then in many cases you may want to adjust and use less than the suggested max dermal concentration. For example, if you were blending cinnamon leaf (Cinnamomum verum) and clove bud (Syzygium aromaticum) essential oils together then in many cases you might use them below their suggested max dermal concentrations.

Do you enjoy learning about aromatherapy blending? Please let me know what you have recently blended in the comments!

If you have questions about my article on max dermal and total concentrations, please ask them in the comments below! If you have any questions about aromatherapy, herbalism, formulation, and perfumery, I would be happy to answer them in Herbs, Essential Oils, Perfumes & Formulation by Plant Alkemie facebook group or on Plant Alkemie Institute of Holistic Botanical Studies Facebook business page.

Want to read more of my tip article series? Check out the other articles: https://www.plantalkemie.com/tag/tip/

Resources

1Tisserand, Robert and Rodney Young. 2014. Essential Oil Safety, 2nd edition: Ylang-Ylang. Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier. pgs. 476-480.

2International Fragrance Association. 2009. IFRA Standard, 43rd Amendment: Ylang Ylang Extracts. Restrictions: Limits in the Finished Product: Category 4.
Accessed on 3/1/2020 at https://ifrafragrance.org/pdf/web/viewer.html?file=/standards/IFRA_STD48_0141.pdf

3Tisserand, Robert and Rodney Young. 2014. Essential Oil Safety, 2nd edition: Rose (Damask). Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier. pgs. 404-406.

***This article is copyrighted and it may not be used without permission.

4 comments

  1. Salahuddin

    Thanks Li for explaining it so beautifully

  2. This is all so confusing to me! Max dermal? I need to just know how many drops of an oil I can use to blend. I usually put 2 or 3 drops of each oil that I’m using in the palm of my hand with a carrier and rub on my feet and wrist!

    • Hi Jackie,

      Thanks for your question. I do not recommend mixing blends in the palm of your hand, since you might not be fully mixing them, and you could be using way more essential oil than is necessary. You want to add the ingredients to a bottle.

      Drops are not the most accurate form of measurement, but they are fine when you are making small amounts of products and only making products for personal use. If you are making a 1% total concentration that is approximately 6 drops of your essential oil blend in one ounce of carrier oil. If it’s a 2% total concentration that is about 12 drops of your essential oil blend in one ounce of carrier oil. As mentioned in the article, you also need to take into account both the total concentration as well as the max dermal concentration for safety reasons.

      The feet may or may not be the best place to apply aromatherapy blends. In aromatherapy, they are typically only applied to the feet for foot issues, or (for those of us with TCM or energetic training) we may suggest applying them to certain acu-points.

      Hope that helps!

      Cheers,
      Li