Phototoxic essential oils contain a high percentage of a constituents called Furanoids which cause an increase in the effects of the sun on our skin. These constituents are commonly found in the peel of citrus fruits – they are what cause the fruit to change colors as they ripen in the sun. Fascinating! But….
Applying a Phototoxic oil (even diluted) can result in:
Severe burns, Blistering, Change in skin color (usually brown) and/or Swelling
Photosensitive essential oils still pose a risk but much less:
Not all citrus oils are created equally. The worst offender is Bergamot but some citrus oils have less furanoids and fall under a milder photosensitive category. And some citrus oils like Mandarin and Wild Orange aren’t an issue in the sun at all.
Thankfully there are only a handful of oils you need to be really careful with. Phototoxicity is mainly a concern when a phototoxic oil or a product containing an oil is applied to the skin and left on. Products like face washes with citrus oils are diluted in the product and rinsed off. Products you wash off are not known to cause issues issues. DoTERRA took the extra precaution of using steam-distilled Lemon and Lime in their skincare products – distilled citrus oils are not photosensitive at all! Internal use of citrus oils is also typically a non-issue. Do take care if you have extremely sensitive skin.
Here are some guidelines for which oils to avoid for sun-exposed skin:
Other new oils from doTERRA that contain citrus oils:
Hope blend contains distilled Bergamot so it is not photosensitive.
Just remember to apply these where you wont be exposing skin to the sun, or use them on the bottom of your feet, and you’ll be just fine. Essential oils are such a wonderful blessing in the hot summer months – Terrashield to avoid bug bites, Peppermint to stay cool, Citrus oils in your water to help you stay hydrated and so much more. No need to avoid them, just be careful with a few.
Keep your oils “where the sun don’t shine” and have a fantastic spring and summer!