Summer is here and we're all out on the go-but don't leave the house lathered in your favorite essential oil without first checking to see if it's photosensitive. Otherwise you may find yourself with a burn to your skin that doesn't compliment that super cute sundress you planned to rock this season!
Have you heard of Photosensitive Essential oils? Certain essential oils can cause a skin reaction when exposed to the sun. This is called photosensitivity or phototoxicity. It’s a reaction to essential oils that could cause blistering of the skin where the oil had been applied, severe sunburn, or a long-lasting change to the color of your skin. Definitely, something to be avoided, but also something that's super easy to steer clear of by taking a few simple precautions. Don't worry, you won't have to miss out on using your favorite oils, we're just going to teach you how to use them in different ways!
While known for their bright, summery aromas, citrus oils are among the most common essential oils that cause photosensitivity. That’s because compounds found in citrus oils—known as furanocoumarins—greatly increase UV sensitivity. But (and this is an important but) not all citrus essential oils are phototoxic. And while most photosensitive oils are citrus, other oils can contain compounds or mixes of compounds that have the same effect as furanocoumarins, meaning they’re not sun-safe either. Always check the label before application to determine the oil’s photosensitivity.
So which citrus oils are phototoxic?
All of Young Living’s essential oils that cause photosensitivity are labeled. Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit, Orange, Bergamot, Tangerine, Peace & Calming®, Stress Away™, Citrus Fresh™, Gentle Baby™, and Joy™ are some of Young Living’s popular oils that cause photosensitivity, but other oils can come with these risks as well. Always check the label to see what cautions are associated with the oil you’re using.
If you’ve used a photosensitive oil on exposed skin, avoid the sun for up to 48 hours.
Pro Tips on Using Citrus Oils in Summer:
Wear sun-protective clothing over the phototoxic oil
Diffuse the essential oil instead of applying it topically
Use the phototoxic essential oil in a product that will be washed off (soap, shampoo, sugar scrub, bath bomb, bubble bath, shower gel, body wash, etc)
Use photosensitive oils at nighttime. Doing so helps reduce the risks associated with these oils. Feel free to add these oils to your nightly skin care routine, evening body wash or lotion, bedtime bath, or relaxing before-bed foot, neck, or back massage.
Cover application area Blocking UV rays by covering up will also help reduce your risk of reaction. Apply oil to the back, lower chest, or temples and throw on a crewneck tee and hat. Just be sure that anywhere you apply oil is fully covered with a heavy or tightly knit material.
Follow label instructions The best way to avoid a negative reaction is to follow the label instructions. Most undiluted photosensitive oils require 12 hours before sun exposure but some can take up to 48 hours. Be aware that the amount you use and whether you dilute both affect the concentration of photosensitive compounds—and always remember that sunscreen helps you stay safe in the sun, even after the recommended wait time.
Products Made by Young Living Containing Photosensitive Oils:
The Young Living website states the products such as creams, soaps and beauty products containing Photosensitive Oils are created with a process that removes the Photosensitivity so that their products can be used safely in the sun. I would still use caution and check their website for each product you have questions about to make sure.
We know that by taking these simple precautions, you are sure to stay safe and enjoy the best summer ever, with all your favorite essential oils in hand!!