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Essential oils have been used for years in many cultures to treat numerous conditions, from reducing stress to healing wounds to clearing sinuses. There are at least 90 essential oils frequently recommended by dermatologists to treat skin conditions, with more than 1,500 common combinations.

One of the newer applications for essential oils is in helping the appearance of cellulite. Cellulite is an area of skin, most commonly on the hips, thighs, buttocks, and stomach, that appears lumpy and dimpled due to bulges of fat accumulating under the skin.

However, cellulite doesn’t only affect those who are overweight. According to the Mayo Clinic, genetics likely play the biggest role in determining whether or not you will have cellulite.

While cellulite on its own it is not a serious medical condition, the appearance can be distressing for some. One 2014 study reported that up to 90 percent of women, but only 2 percent of men, have cosmetic concerns about cellulite after reaching puberty.

According to a 2017 review article, published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the most commonly used essential oils for treating cellulite include:

Essential oils are not to be used directly on the skin, as they are very potent and can cause irritation. Essential oils need to be blended with carrier oils. Common ones you might have in your pantry include coconut oil or olive oil.

Other carrier oils recommended by the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy include:

Properly diluting essential oils

Once you have chosen at least one essential oil and a corresponding carrier oil, the experts at the University of Minnesota suggests dilution ranging from 1 to 5 percent. If you’re massaging large areas of the body, stick closer to 1 percent.

  • 1 percent: 1 drop of essential oil per teaspoon of carrier oil
  • 3 percent: 3 drops essential oil per teaspoon of carrier oil
  • 5 percent: 5 drops of essential oil per teaspoon of carrier oil

Next, apply the essential oil mixture to the affected area and gently rub. Because these oils tend to evaporate quickly, it is recommended that you apply them two times per day.

A small 2018 study from Thailand showed that massaging with an herbal wrap containing lime and lemongrass (as well as a number of other oils and herbs) regularly for eight weeks reduced both the appearance of cellulite and the size of skin folds.

However, it is important to keep in mind that there are a number of different factors that could have contributed to these results, including the act of massaging.

Purchase lime and lemongrass essential oils online.

There are several precautions you should take when considering an essential oil treatment.

  • Ensure your treatment room has good ventilation.
  • Keep oils away from eyes.
  • Keep oils away from flames, as they can be extremely flammable.
  • If treatment causes skin irritation, and if the irritation continues after stopping essential oil use, contact your doctor.
  • If you or your child accidentally consumes any essential oils, immediately contact the nearest poison control center and try to drink whole or 2 percent milk. Do NOT induce vomiting.
  • Do not ingest essential oils.

Consult with your doctor before trying any treatment plan, including those involving essential oils.

Essential oils have been studied for treating cellulite with minimal side effects. However, there is still research that needs to be done on the best oils and combinations to use, as well as their true effectiveness (versus the effectiveness of just a carrier oil or massaging).

Talk to your doctor or dermatologist before using any essential oils, so they can provide guidance for the best treatment options for your skin type.