Essential Oil Safety
A big question most people have is are essential oils safe? I always say, they are safe if they are used safely. The problem is there is a lot of conflicting information out there on what is and isn’t ok to do with essential oils. This guide hopefully helps to clarify some of the questions you may have about the safety of essential oils. In no way am I trying to advise you on how you should use them or make any claims. I simply want to provide a little insight into this controversial topic.
One of the biggest issues when it comes to safety is adulteration as this increases the likelihood of an adverse reaction. This is why it is so important to be using pure, authentic and genuine essential oils. If you have read the rest of my blog you will know I use doTERRA essential oils. These are in my opinion the best and safest essential oils to use and the information below is provided in regard to these oils.
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Dilution & Carrier Oils
To dilute an essential oil you need to have a base or carrier oil. A carrier oil is a substance such as coconut oils and vegetable oils. Some vegetable oils can go rancid quickly, so an oil such as fractionated coconut oil is a great option as it doesn’t have an aroma, doesn’t solidify like regular coconut oil and is more stable.
Benefits of diluting
It is possible to have an adverse reaction to essential oils. Babies, children, the elderly, those with skin sensitivities, pregnant and breastfeeding women and the immune compromised need to make sure they are diluting their oils to avoid any adverse reaction.
A little goes a long way, just 1-2 drops can service your body. Diluting with a carrier oil will help your precious drops go further and last longer.
When you rub essential oils into your skin some of it will evaporate before it properly gets absorbed. By combining your essential oils with a carrier oil it helps it stay on your skin longer thereby absorbing into your skin and working more effectively in your body.
Carrier oils have awesome benefits
Different carrier oils have other benefits that can complement the essential oils you are using. Fractionated coconut oil is high in antioxidants and vitamin E, jojoba is great for hair and skin and grapeseed oil is moisturising. Using both essential oils and carrier oils together can give you even more amazing benefits.
Skin Patch Test
Be sure to do a skin patch test on a small area of skin to see if it has a reaction before you apply to a larger area of the body. Simply dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil and dab a little on a small patch of skin. Keep an eye out for irritation, redness, itching and swelling. If any reaction does occur then discontinue using that oil.
Using oils in the bath
When using oils in the bath you should not drop it straight into the water. Because essential oils are not water soluble. It will not distribute evenly in the bath. This is like using essential oils neat (without dilution) and could cause skin sensitivities. Make sure you dilute with a carrier oil, mix with Epsom salts or add to a bath wash before adding to the water.
Some essential oils are photosensitivity or phototoxic. This means that skin is more susceptible to UV radiation and it may cause it to temporarily become pigmented, red or irritated. When using a photosensitive essential oil topically it is best to avoid sunlight exposure for up to 12 hours after use.
The following oils may cause photosensitive reactions:
- Bitter Orange
Some of doTERRAs oils that may be photosensitive are:
- Breathe (Easy Air)
- Citrus Bliss
- Slim & Sassy (Smart & Sassy)
- Sunny Citrus
- Wild Orange
Essential Oils in the Eyes
Essential oils should not be used in the eyes, ear canals, open wounds or sensitive areas. If you get essential oil in your eye DO NOT use water. Instead dilute with a carrier oil. As essential oils are not water soluble they will not be picked up by the water you are using and may cause more irritation. A carrier oil however, will help to flush out the essential oil.
Using oils internally
It is important to do your research before using essential oils internally. If you chose to use this method of use it should be done carefully and with caution once you have familiarised yourself with safe practices and understand the pros and cons.
There are often three thoughts on using essential oils this way.
- It is safe to ingest essential oils.
- You can only safely ingest under supervision from a licensed aromatherapist.
- You should never use essential oils internally.
I am not making a statement about whether you should or shouldn’t use them internally but if you do there are a few things to be aware of.
- DO NOT use internally unless it is labelled wit a supplement facts box and/or says it is for internal use.
- Best practice for oral ingestion is to first dilute is a carrier oil and then pace inside a gel capsule. This will help to avoid any gastric irritation.
- Remember that less is always more.
- Children under 6 years old or under 20kgs should not take essential oils internally.
- If you are not comfortable using this method of application, then don’t feel pressured to do so.
- If you are unsure about anything consult your physician or health care professional.
“Many essential oils are safe for internal use. Excluding this method of application would eliminate perhaps the most powerful mode of administration. The ever-expanding body of essential oil research continues to confirm the safety of internal application and validate its many therapeutic uses…Some essential oils should not be used internally. An important part of using essential oils is regarding them on an individual basis, noting their specific chemistry, profile of therapeutic effects, and appropriate application methods. … As a physician, I too recognize that taking essential oils internally must not be regarded lightly. Because of their potent nature, it is important to use essential oils with the same level of caution and safety as any other drug or medication. But, when used mindfully, many essential oils can safely and effectively be administered internally.” ask Dr. Hill (March 2014)
Essential oils and children
Using oils topically and aromatically are the best application methods for children. Children under the age of 6 should not ingest essential oils.
- Make sure you ALWAYS dilute essential oils before applying topically to children.
- Be mindful of not getting the oils on kids hands or faces as they may get it in their eyes or mouth.
- Keep oils out of children’s reach. Whilst one ingested will probably not harm them a whole bottle could have harmful side effects.
- Make sure to dilute before adding to the bath.
Using essential oils during pregnancy
Using essential oils whilst pregnant or breastfeeding is a controversial topic and there is a lot of conflicting information on what oils you must avoid. If you decide to use essential oils whilst pregnant or breastfeeding, make sure you consult your physician or healthcare professional first. Make sure you read and research yourself you before you make your decision.
- The NAHA (National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy) guidelines can be found HERE.
- Stephanie Firtz (The Essential Midwife) has a great blog post HERE.
Essential Oils and Pets
This is another area that has some controversy around whether you should use oils with your pets or not. Whilst a lot of animals seem to be ok around essential oils, cats are an animal that you should be extra cautious with. Again, do your research before going down this avenue and remember your pets cannot talk and tell you if something is wrong, so make sure you are keeping in tune with how they are felling if you do decide to use essential oils with them.
Janet Roark (The Essential Vet) has a blog post on dos and don’ts of using oils with pets HERE.
- Modern Essentials
- Tisserand here
- Essential Oil Myths, Dr. Pappas here
- Oil Storage Tips- Use glass or high grade plastics (see here for details)
- Kids Safety & Usage here
- doTERRA Safety Guide here
- Sensitivity Reactions here