Phototoxic Essential Oils can cause a severe skin reaction if applied before exposure to the sun. Here is what you need to know about staying safe with essential oils!
Let’s talk safety for a minute!
Did you know that some essential oils are phototoxic?
Phototoxicity is caused when strong sunlight reacts to a photoactive substance. This reaction can cause burning, blistering and discoloration of the skin. Some essential oils increase the likelihood of a phytotoxic reaction and are therefore labeled “phototoxic.”
The essential oil components that are most commonly phototoxic agents are furocoumarins, which have the ability to absorb UV light, store it and release it into the skin. If they are put on skin that is then exposed to sunlight, phototoxic reactions can occur. Variables in phytotoxicity are dose, dilution and the amount of time between application and sun exposure. Generally speaking a phytotoxic reaction can occur between 12 and 24 hours after the oil is applied to the skin.
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Signs of a Phytotoxic Reaction
- Sunburn & Blisters
- Reddening of the skin
- Swelling with marked pigmentation changes
The risk of photoxicity increases if you have a blend with multiple oils which contain photosensitizing properties. An example of this is a blend of Grapefruit, Lemon and Lime.
Phototoxic Essential Oils:
Safe Use of Phototoxic Oils
The ideal place to apply phototoxic oils is the bottom of the feet. (Unless you are going to be sunbathing and laying on your stomach. :))
Additionally, use the following guidelines for dilution:
Bergamot: 1 drop per ounce of carrier oil
Bitter Orange (cold pressed): 8 drops per ounce of carrier oil
Grapefruit (cold pressed): 24 drops per ounce of carrier oil
Lemon (cold pressed): 12 drops per ounce of carrier oil
Lime (cold pressed): 4 drops per ounce carrier oil