Once summertime rolls around, we all yearn to be poolside (or on the beach), soaking up the nice warm sun with our friends and family! Essential oils certainly come in handy for a variety of all natural summer DIY’s– sunscreen, cooling mists and more! But, there are a few dangers everyone should be aware of when it comes to using certain essential oils when you’re out and about in the sun.
Let’s start with a few helpful tips:
- Always read the label on your essential oil bottles (and skincare products), especially if you are unsure of the safety precautions. If the essential oil is not deemed safe to use in the sun, it will say something along the lines of– Caution: Avoid UV rays for 12 hours after applying the product. Any reputable essential oil company will have this type of warning on the label.
- The Essential Life is a holy grail book for essential oil users. You can read about each essential oil and it’s particular safety precautions. If the oil is not safe for the sun, it will read: Avoid sunlight or UV Rays to the applied area for 12 hours.
Learn more in The Essential Life Book!
Photosensitization is the immune system's response to certain substances being applied to the skin that reacts negatively to ultraviolet (UV) light. Photosensitization (or photosensitivity) can happen especially when the skin (in combination with the substance) is exposed to direct sunlight without the proper clothing or sun protection in general. Some symptoms of photosensitivity include:
- Skin rash
- Changes in skin pigmentation
*Symptoms may vary from mild to severe depending on how much light you are exposed to.
*Certain medication such as tetracycline will increase the photosensitivity of your skin
Certain essential oils contain furocoumarins, which is a constituent that causes the skin to be photosensitive. The higher concentration of furocoumarins, the greater the sensitivity will be. Oils that contain concentrated amounts of furocoumarins are cold-pressed citrus oils such as Bergamot or Lemon, with lesser amounts occurring in Wild Orange.
Single Essential Oils to Avoid in The Sun
- Bergamot (High Risk)
- Lemon (High Risk)
- Wild Orange (Mild)
- Grapefruit (Mild)
- Jade Lemon
- Fig Leaf Absolute (High Risk)
- Tangerine (Mild)
- Cumin (High Risk)
- Angelica Root
- Mandarin (Mild)
- Bitter Orange
- Rue (High Risk)
* Despite being mentioned in multiple articles, Lemongrass is NOT a phototoxic essential oil. It is not a part of the citrus family at all.
* The essential oils mentioned are not all equally phototoxic, some are milder than others but should still be avoided.
dōTERRA Blends to Avoid in The Sun
- Easy Air (CAN) Breathe (US)
- Citrus Bliss
- On Guard
- Smart & Sassy (CAN) Slim & Sassy (US)
- Sunny Citrus
- Holiday Joy
- Holiday Peace
- Clary Calm
*Brave and Thinker are heavily diluted essential oil blends from the kid's collection and has been marked safe to use in the sun by doTERRA. It’s up to you if you to use or avoid those.
*doTERRA uses steam distilled citrus essential oils to eliminate phototoxicity in their skincare products
Young Living Blends to Avoid in The Sun
- Peace & Calming
- Stress Away
- Citrus Fresh
- Gentle Baby
- Dragon Time
- White Angelica
- Inner Child
*This is not an inclusive list. Refer to the labels on your essential oil bottle or https://www.youngliving.com/
So how do I stay safe in the sun with essential oils?
1. As mentioned previously, always read and follow instructions on the labels of your products. Most will tell you to avoid UV rays for 12 hours after applying if the oil is unsafe for use in the sun.
2. If you want to use a photosensitive//phototoxic essential oil, use it in something that can be rinsed off like shampoo, or body wash.
3. If you want to apply your photosensitive/phototoxic essential oil to your skin and go out in the sun, make sure it’s in a place that the sun don’t shine… literally! Apply underneath a thick shirt, on the collar of your shirt, you can even apply it to your temples and throw on a hat that will give you proper coverage. Other places to apply: spine, bottoms of feet.
4. Alternatively, you can use an essential oil diffuser or carry around a nasal inhaler filled with your favourite blend so you’re able to experience the aromatic benefits without applying photosensitive oils to your skin!
5. It may be safe to take essential oils internally, however, we don't recommend doing so. Oral ingestion still has the ability to cause burns in conjunction with being exposed to UV light. (source)
6. Steam distilled citrus oils are not photosensitive/phototoxic and can be used as an alternative! Some companies also offer FCF essential oils which are furocoumarin-free (Bergamot FCF is most common). Reach out to your essential oil company to see what they offer!
We hope that you found the information provided in this blog post to be helpful. Please share this with friends, family, or anyone new to essential oils who may not know about these summer safety precautions. You could potentially save someone from a reaction. Have a safe summer!
DISCLAIMER: Make sure you are using the safest essential oils available to you. We use Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade. Do your research and choose a company that aligns with you and your values. All information mentioned in this blog post has not been evaluated by Health Canada or the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.