Whether you are new to aromatherapy or have been using essential oils for 30 years, you probably have read “everything we put on the skin gets absorbed into the bloodstream” – or – “60% of what we apply to the skin gets absorbed” – or even – “when applied to the skin up to 80% penetrates via the sweat glands and hair follicles“.
When asked for references to support these statements, there is nothing. Why? Because these statements are not true.
Robert Tisserand has addressed absorption at length in classes and online in his Facebook page, and debunked the “80% and 60%” claims numerous times.”
“Since essential oils are not water soluble, they cannot use these (sweat) glands to bypass the skin barrier. Not even water-soluble substances enter the body through sweat glands. If they did, we would put on weight after a swim or a shower. The palms and soles have no hair follicles. Hair follicles contain sebum, an oily substance, and there is some evidence that essential oil constituents are able to use this route to bypass the skin barrier.” –Robert Tisserand, Robert Tisserand Essential Training [Facebook Group] ref. http://aromatherapyunited.org/myth-apply-to-feet/
What is the truth then? From this article “Why Is Essential Oil Dilution Important?” we read in part, “About 5% of applied EO is absorbed into the body through the skin…” — http://roberttisserand.com/2014/05/essential-oil-dilution-important/
Asked where this statistic comes from, author Robert Tisserand replied:
“Transdermal absorption is in Essential Oil Safety p42-44 and Table 4.2. From all the data I assume a max of 10% and an average of 5%.”
So then, what is the best method for introducing essential oils to the bloodstream for systemic effect? Answer – inhalation.
“On p 49 under Inhalation you will find data on absorption into the blood and pulmonary uptake – generally 40-70%.” — Robert Tisserand