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How to Get Essential Oil Off Skin: Best Methods & Post-Care Tips

Essential oils can have an incredibly soothing aroma, but let’s face it — sometimes, it can get a bit too much. These oils are highly concentrated, so getting them on your skin can be uncomfortable. 

Whether you spilled or misapplied them, knowing how to get essential oil off your skin is crucial. The smell might be too much, or you might even get skin irritation from the oil. In this article, we’ll give you some practical tips on getting rid of a stubborn essential oil and removing its strong fragrance. 

How Long Does Essential Oil Last on Skin?

Generally, essential oil lasts on the skin for about 20 minutes to 2 hours. But this timeframe can differ depending on the type of oil, how much you applied, and what your skin is like. 

Essential oils, like citrus oils, evaporate pretty quickly. In contrast, heavier oils like patchouli or sandalwood might linger on your skin a lot longer. Also, if you put undiluted or heavily concentrated essential oil on you, you might feel some skin irritation, or your body may react to the oil for a longer period of time. We’ll explore some of the risks related to that in the next section.

Potential Risks of Leaving Essential Oils on the Skin

Generally, essential oils are safe to use, but prolonged use of essential oils directly on the skin may lead to some risks and unpleasant issues, including:

  • Skin Irritation: You might notice some redness, itching, a burning sensation, or even an allergic reaction. That can happen with some of the more potent essential oils like lemongrass, peppermint, citronella, or eucalyptus.
  • Photosensitivity: Typically, citrus oils (lemon, lime, or orange) might make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. That comes with a risk of sunburn or pigmentation.
  • Dryness or Excessive Oiliness: Some oils strip away the skin’s natural oils (citrus, peppermint, tea tree), while others will make it more oily (jojoba, ylang-ylang). Prolonged exposure may lead to dry skin or excessive oiliness. Apart from the oil concentration, its effects will vary depending on your skin type. 
  • Allergic Reactions: If you’re unsure whether you’re sensitive or allergic to a particular type of essential oil, you should always do a patch test before applying too much scented oil for skin. Otherwise, you risk experiencing swelling, skin rashes, or hives. 
  • Dermatitis or Skin Sensitization: If you use essential oils over a longer period, your skin might react to them more in time. This can cause allergic reactions, chronic inflammation, or dermatitis. So, it’s best to take a break from essential oils every now and then.

To minimize these risks, dilute your essential oils according to the guidelines, always do a patch test before applying one on your skin, and remove excess oil if necessary. If you see experience persisting effects, it’s best to seek medical help.

Essential oils aren’t for everyone. They might smell great and might even help for relaxation, but if your skin is too sensitive, you should dispose of your essential oils safely.

washing off essential oils with soap and water

How to Get Essential Oil Off Skin

Whether you applied too much too quickly, or you just want to get rid of some essential oil residue, following the tips below will help you restore your skin.

What to Do Immediately After Contact

If you have excess essential oil on your skin, you should act quickly to minimize any side effects. Here’s what you should and shouldn’t do:

  • Avoid rubbing: Don’t rub the oil into your skin as that will spread it out, and your skin will absorb more of it. As a result, your skin might get more irritated.
  • Blot with a clean cloth or tissue: Do it gently to remove some of the excess oil.
  • Rinse with cold water: That will help to dilute the oil and relieve your skin from any discomfort.
  • Pat dry: Use a clean towel to gently pat the area after rinsing. Again, it’s important to rub it in.
  • Assess your skin: Check for any signs of redness, itching, or irritation. Then, you can try some of the methods below.

It’s crucial to remove excess oil as soon as possible to reduce the chance of any side effects.

Methods to Remove Essential Oils From Your Skin

If you want to ensure that no essential oil residue will remain on your skin, you can try these methods:

  • Soap and Water: This is a simple yet effective method to clean your skin from essential oils. Make sure to use a fragrance-free soap to avoid further irritation. Wet the area and lather the soap on your hands. Then, apply the soap to the affected area with circular motions. Massage for at least 20 seconds to help break down the oil with the soap. Rinse and pat dry to finish.
  • Dilute With Carrier or Baby Oil: You can use coconut or olive oil for that. Mix the carrier oil with some water, wet the affected area, and apply the diluted oil to it. Massage with circular motions, let it sit for a few minutes and rinse the area thoroughly. 
  • Baking Soda: If you’re wondering how to remove essential oil from the skin, you should try baking soda. It’s incredibly effective for cleaning and neutralizing smells. Mix with some water to create an exfoliating paste. Wet the affected area, apply the paste on it gently, and massage it into your skin. Let it sit for a few minutes. Then, rinse it thoroughly and pat dry. It’s crucial to go gentle with this paste or the exfoliation might irritate your skin.
  • Vinegar: Dilute the vinegar with water to reduce its acidity and make it safer for your skin. Wet the area, apply the vinegar solution to it, and wait for a few minutes. Then, rinse and pat dry. 
  • Alcohol: Vodka or any alcohol with a 70% concentration is best. Apply it to a cotton ball, cloth, or tissue and gently dab the affected area with it. Wait it out for a few minutes, rinse well, and pat dry.
  • Commercial Oil-Removing Products: If you’re truly an essential oils lover, you might want to invest in an oil-removing product specifically for that. Look for products that are gentle, suitable for your skin type, and free from harsh chemicals or fragrances. 

To sum up, if you want to learn how to neutralize essential oils on the skin, the important parts are diluting the product you’ll apply to remove the excess oil, applying it with gentle circular motions, and letting it sit for several minutes before rinsing it out. If you want to go the extra mile, I’ve prepared some more tips for you in the next section.

Post-Removal Care and Tips

If you want to ensure that your skin will remain healthy and balanced after removing residual essential oils from it, follow these tips:

  • Moisturize: Harsh essential oils can strip the natural oils of your skin, leaving it dry and flaky. To avoid that, use a gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer on the affected area. Looks for products with aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, or ceramides, to soothe your skin and restore its moisture barrier. It also helps to drink more water. 
  • Avoid irritants: Avoid harsh exfoliants or fragrances for a while. Also, refrain from trying on any new skincare products that have harsh ingredients. 
  • Protect from sunlight: Some essential oils may make your skin extra sensitive to sunlight, so it’s important to protect the affected area. Be generous with the sunscreen. Also, cover the area with clothing or stay in the shade to avoid side effects.

Remember to patch-test any new oils and products. Also, if you experience any severe skin irritation, seek medical help.


How to get peppermint oil off the skin?

To remove peppermint oil from the skin, wash the area with soap and water, using gentle circular motions. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry. If needed, you can also use a diluted vinegar solution or rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball to further remove the oil residue.

What happens if you put too much essential oil on your skin?

Putting too much essential oil on your skin can potentially cause skin irritation, redness, itching, and even chemical burns. Some oils are highly concentrated and may lead to sensitization or allergic reactions. Follow dilution guidelines and use essential oils in moderation.

Do essential oils evaporate on the skin?

Yes, essential oils can evaporate on the skin. That’s why their wonderful aroma is everywhere after you apply them. But how fast they’ll evaporate would depend on their concentration and your skin type.

Do essential oils absorb through the skin?

Yes, essential oils can absorb through the skin. That’s why they have therapeutic benefits and many other applications. But absorbing a highly concentrated essential oil may also lead to side effects like irritation, photosensitivity, or even allergic reactions.

What should you do if you have a reaction to essential oils?

If you get a bad skin reaction from spilled essential oil on your skin, immediately stop using the oil and remove any excess. Wash the affected area with soap and water. If the reaction is severe or persists, seek medical advice from a healthcare professional or dermatologist.

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