Safety

  • Does diluting essential oils give you a headache? Or the thought of diluting for your baby give you a panic attack? Looking for a simple graphic that's easy to understand and know how much carrier oil and essential oils to use?

    When using an essential oil topically, most should be diluted with a carrier oil such as olive oil or coconut oil to use them safely. Remember, essential oils are highly concentrated and are too potent to be used straight from the bottle. You many only need a drop or two to achieve a specific outcome. To use more than necessary will waste your oils and increases your chances of having irritation, sensitization and phototoxicity.

    Dilution makes your oils last longer, reduces adverse reactions, prolongs aromatherapeutic effects and doesn't dilute the effectiveness of the essential oil.

    DERMAL IRRITATION
    You may come across the term “hot oils”; this pertains to oils that must be diluted prior to using. These oils can cause severe burns, blisters, burning sensation or sensitization when used straight from the bottle. Examples include but are not limited to: Cinnamon bark or leaf (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), Clove bud (Syzygium aromaticum), Citronella (Cymbopogon nardus), Cumin (Cuminum cyminum), Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), Oregano (Origanum vulgare), Peppermint (Mentha x piperita), Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

    DERMAL SENSITIZATION
    Certain essential oils can cause sensitization; a type of allergic reaction often displaying as skin irritation, inflammation or photosensitization. Examples include but are not limited to: Cassia (Cinnamomum cassia), Cinnamon bark or leaf (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), Clove bud (Syzygium aromaticum), Citronella (Cymbopogon nardus), Cumin (Cuminum cyminum), Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), Oregano (Origanum vulgare), Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

    PHOTOSENSITIZATION
    Phototoxicity or photosentisization will cause burning, blistering or discoloration of the skin and can occur when using certain essential oils - primarily citrus - and then spending time in the sun or UV light. Photosensitive oils include but are not limited to: Bergamot (Citrus bergamia), Cumin (Cuminum cyminum), Distilled or expressed Grapefruit (low risk) (Citrus paradisi), Expressed lemon (Citrus limon), Expressed lime (Citrus medica), Bitter Orange  (expressed) (Citrus aurantium)

    Once you’ve diluted your oil, do a small test spot on your skin to see if your skin is sensitive to that particular oil in that particular location. If irritation develops, dilute the oil with more carrier oil and it should subside. If you have a reaction where the spot is inflamed for several hours, discontinue use and avoid that oil as you are allergic to that oil.

    Top Certified Aromatherapists around the world repeatedly recommend a safe dilution ratio range of .5 to 5%.

    The chart below illustrates 0.5% to 3% dilution ratios. To determine the dilution ratio, consider who will be using the essential oil and how often they will be using them.

    Fore example, if you're an adult using the item daily, you would use a 2% dilution. For a 10ml Rollerball bottle, you would only need 4 drops of Essential Oils, TOTAL. Let’s look at the math on that. A 10ml bottle holds approximately 200 total drops. Thus, 4 drops essential oils and 196 drops (or so) carrier oil.

    If you were making a blend for your Child (1% dilution) and wanted to put it in a 10ml Rollerball, you would use only 2 drops of essential oil and 200 drops of Carrier Oil.

    Anything more than the guidelines is wasteful and can be unsafe. Don't waste your oils or compromise your safety. Be smart about using essential oils and educate yourself prior to using.

    Worth noting... top Certified Aromatherapists don't recommend using certain essential oils while pregnant [link], [PDF download] and stress that extreme caution should be used.

    MYTH: If essential oils are pure, they are safe to use undiluted.
    Just the opposite! If essential oils are pure, they are highly concentrated and should be diluted. Though Lavender is considered one of the most mile, people have reported sensitization from prolonged Lavender use.

    MYTH: Only "Hot" oils or those with sensitive skin should dilute oils prior to using.
    "Hot" oils and mostly all other oils should always be diluted prior to using.

    MYTH: If using an oil neat and there is a skin reaction, this is a "detoxifying" process.
    Not true. A reaction is something to be taken seriously and can be permanent.

    MYTH: "I use oils all the time neat and have never had a reaction"
    Possibly true that you may not have had an outward reaction. Not every risk is outwardly apparent. Think of long-term prescription drug, tobacco, drug or alcohol usage.

    These are general guidelines and should be considered a starting point. For those with sensitive skin, health issues, and frequency of use, these ratios may be different.

    FURTHER READING

  • Essential Oils & Photosensitivity
    This is a reaction that occurs when certain medications or other items, including essential oils, increase your sensitivity to sunlight when they are used internally or topically. Remember, your skin absorbs what you put on it (chemicals, makeup, lotions, nicotine patches, etc) into your bloodstream - often within seconds.

    Photosensitive reactions can result in phototoxic results like: sunburn, blistering or rashes on those areas exposed to sun or UV light (including tanning beds).

    To eliminate your risk, avoid the sun for the recommended time based on the essential oil you used. If you must go out in the sun, use sunblock (blocks the suns rays completely), NOT sunscreen (screens or filters the suns rays) as well as wear a hat and protective clothing.

    Always dilute these oils prior to use. DO NOT use topically when skin will be exposed to direct sunlight within the time periods stated above.

    This is NOT a complete list and ALL oils should be researched prior to using.

    Read more about Bergamot sun sensitivity info (click “Interactions” tab).

  • Children can also reap the rewards of using essential oils with a few safety precautions and research you'll be on your way to natural solutions for your kids!

    Some great places to continue researching essential oils are: WebMD andMedicineNet

    Here are a few simple safety rules when using essential oils with children:

    1. Do not use on infants under 24 months unless under the advice of a Certified Aromatherapist or Medical Doctor.
    2. Do not use internally unless under the advice of a Certified Aromatherapist or Medical Doctor. Also, do not use essential oils in the mouth for teething.
    3. Consult your doctor or a Certified Aromatherapist prior to using oils if you have an existing health condition, take medication, are pregnant or nursing.
    4. Photosensitization and phototoxicity can occur when certain essential oils, primarily citrus oils, are exposed to UV light – whether from sunlight or tanning beds. Reactions such as blistering, severe sunburn, changes to skin color or swelling can occur when applying phototoxic oils and then spending time in UV light. You can be susceptible for sometimes up to 72 hours after using certain oils; and therefore should stay out of the sun or cover your skin. Reactions can be temporary or permanent and may not present themselves immediately.
    5. Prior to diffusing oils in an area where a child is asthmatic or epileptic, research what oils are safe.

    More safety tips and more can be found in our "Using Essential Oils with Kids" Tear Sheet Pads.

    Essential Oils to AVOID

    • Anise (under age 5 which includes during pregnancy and when breastfeeding)
    • Birch
    • Clary Sage
    • Fennel (under age 5 which includes during pregnancy and when breastfeeding)
    • Hyssop
    • Idaho Tansy
    • Peppermint (under age 3)
    • Wintergreen

    Under Age 3

    • Eucalyptus (only at 0.5% dilution or less)

    Over Age 3

    • Eucalyptus (only at 1% dilution or less)
    • Peppermint (only at 1% dilution or less)

    Safer Alternatives to Peppermint or Eucalyptus: Pine, Spruce

     

    Precautions for Children and Pregnant or Nursing Mothers using Fennel Essential Oil 
    Alarming, yet interesting reads about Fennel Essential Oil which is a known convulsant [1, 2, 3, 7] and hormone modulator that should be avoided all together if pregnant, nursing or in children under 6 [3, 4, 5, 6, 7].

    Doctors won't place nursing mothers on birth control containing estrogen since it alters hormones; Fennel also can alter hormones. The capability for Fennel to increase milk production is a moot point as safety of baby and mother outweigh the potential benefit. A safe option would be Basil Essential Oil.

    Other known essential oil convulsants [2] include but are not limited to: eucalyptus, fennel, hyssop, pennyroyal, rosemary, sage, savin, tansy, thuja, turpentine, and wormwood.

    Just remember, just because essential oils are made from plants (as Alcohol and Tobacco are) doesn't mean they cannot harm you. Research what oil you want to use prior to using it. We recommend Robert Tisserand's Essential Oil Safety.

    These tips and more can be found in our "Using Essential Oils with Kids" Tear Sheet Pads.

    1. Epileptic seizure induced by fennel essential oil
    2. Plant-induced seizures: reappearance of an old problem
    3. Q & A with Robert Tisserand: "Are some essential oils hormone disruptors for children?"
    4. Fennel Essential Oil to Increase Mother's Milk? Is it Safe?
    5. Fennel use while Breasfeeding
    6. Aromatherapy during pregnancy and nursing... what's safe?
    7. Dr. Axe: Fennel Essential Oil Risks