How do cooling essential oils work?
Have you ever put an essential oil blend on your skin, and then felt the area turn cool a few minutes later?
That’s because some essential oils contain natural components that are cooling as they activate cold-sensing nerves in the skin.
A good example is menthol, one of the main natural components found in peppermint essential oil.
A lot of research has been done on menthol, so we know that when it touches the skin, it activates a protein called TRPM8 found in cold-sensing nerve cells. Menthol itself isn’t cold (nor are essential oils that contain it). But it does “trick” your brain into thinking it’s cold!
Another welcome effect of menthol is that as it makes the area feel cool, that sensation can effectively “numb” other sensations. (Menthol-rich essential oils are great for muscle and joint blends!) Menthol also invites a fresh flow of blood to wherever you apply it, allowing your body’s natural resources to flow through the area more easily. This helps “flush” toxins out of the area from within, soothing any redness or puffiness that may have built up with its anti-inflammatory properties.
And menthol isn’t the only natural component that behaves this way. There are a lot of essential oils that offer cooling relief, and they’re all great for summertime blends!
10 cooling essential oils for relief in hot summer weather
This list is far from exhaustive! There are many more cooling essential oils than we could include in this post.
For example, while you’ll see lime and orange oils in the list, all of the citrus oils are actually cooling. And while peppermint is the only mint oil listed, the other mints are equally cooling (such as corn mint essential oil and spearmint essential oil). Many of the floral essential oils, like lavender essential oil, and conifers also have gentle cooling properties (though it’s not as pronounced as in the mint oils or eucalyptus oil).
With its invigorating scent and natural menthol content, Eucalyptus Globulus Oil creates a refreshing sensation on the skin, providing a cooling effect that revitalizes even on the hottest days.
German Chamomile Oil soothes the skin with its gentle, anti-inflammatory properties, offering a calming and cooling touch that helps alleviate discomfort caused by overheating.
Known for its balancing properties, Geranium Oil helps regulate the skin's temperature, making it an excellent choice for cooling while promoting a sense of equilibrium.
Lavender Oil's versatile nature extends to its cooling abilities, as it relaxes the skin and calms inflammation, providing a serene and cooling sensation that aids in relieving heat-related discomfort.
Bursting with zesty freshness, Lime Oil is a cooling essential oil that invigorates the senses and uplifts the mood, making it a go-to choice for creating a revitalizing and cooling atmosphere.
Sweet Orange Oil delivers a delightful burst of citrusy coolness that enlivens the skin and uplifts the spirit, making it a great addition to blends that provide an instant cooling effect.
Palmarosa Oil's hydrating properties contribute to its cooling effect on the skin, creating a soothing and moisturizing experience that combats the effects of heat.
Peppermint Oil is renowned for its intense cooling sensation, which arises from its menthol content that activates cold-sensing nerves, offering a brisk and invigorating feeling.
Sandalwood Oil's earthy and woody aroma conceals its subtle cooling properties, making it a unique choice for imparting a grounded and soothing sensation during hot weather.
Vetiver Oil's deep, smoky scent belies its cooling attributes, as it helps the skin retain moisture and provides a calming, grounding sensation that offers relief from the heat.
* SAFETY NOTES: Be sure to check each oil’s product page for individual safety concerns.
While some of the above essential oils (such as German chamomile essential oil) are very gentle on skin, others (like menthol-rich peppermint essential oil) can be harsh on skin if used at high dilutions.
For example, in low concentrations, menthol feels blissfully cooling (as we’ve discussed above). But at high concentrations, that cool sensation becomes hot and uncomfortable.
Regarding the citrus essential oils, all of them are cooling. However, some citrus oils are also phototoxic—meaning you shouldn’t apply them to your skin and then go out in the sun. They can cause painful skin reactions in sunlight (and tanning beds). If you’re going to use lime essential oil, look for DISTILLED Lime Oil (which is NOT phototoxic). Orange (Sweet) Oil is also sun-safe.
5 Cooling essential oil recipes to beat the heat
When the heat turns up, stay cool naturally by making these 5 DIY essential oil blends including the 10 cooling essential oils listed previously.
This is a cooling moisturizing body butter that can nourish your skin while keeping it cool. With cooling peppermint essential oil and jojoba carrier oil, its fresh, bright citrus aroma is perfect for summer! Apply it after your morning shower before you go about your day.
Spritz your neck, face, shoulders, and wherever you’d like with this refreshing blend of cooling essential oils in aloe vera gel. Keep this cooling spray with you in a spray bottle if you’re walking around on a hot day.
Kids spend a lot of time having fun outside, especially when the days are long and sunny! This aloe vera gel-based blend is made with skin-repairing hydrosols (no essential oils necessary) that are gentle enough for children’s sensitive, irritated skin.
This simple, two-ingredient recipe comforts hot, puffy, sore feet after a long day of walking in warm weather. Simply combine the peppermint oil and jojoba, add it to a small tub of water, and soak your feet!
Sleep through a warm night by spritzing your sheets and pillows with this deeply relaxing, cooling blend of essential oils in Lavender Artisan Hydrosol.
Battling the heat wave
These blends work nicely hand-in-hand with natural methods like cross ventilation (opening windows on multiple sides of your house), using ceiling fans (which help you feel cool by wicking moisture away from your skin), and keeping the shades drawn against the strongest rays of the sun. You could even take a cool bath with a few drops of several essential oils like lavender oil to get cooling relief.
Creating your own approach for staying cool naturally can make the summer heat of super-hot days feel more comfortable. And make sure to drink plenty of water!