Essential oils are natural products, but that doesn’t mean they are ok to use as-is out of the bottle. Essential oils are highly concentrated, and although come from plants made by nature, they can irritate the skin, cause headaches, or other irritations if misused.
1. Keep them out of reach of children. Consider them as you would any therapeutic product in your home.
2. Keep a bottle of carrier oil handy. Carrier oils dilute an essential oil, slow down its rate of absorption, and spread out its location of absorption, which will reduce, relieve, or prevent any oil-induced skin irritation.
3. People with sensitive skin should use a patch test to determine if they would react to a particular oil. This is especially important for people with several food/plant sensitivities. It is generally safe to apply essential oils to the soles of the feet even for people with sensitive skin.
4. Pregnant women should consult their health care professional with essential oil knowledge before using essential oils. Oils with hormonal qualities should probably be avoided.
EO with hormonal benefits include: fennel, anise, sage, clary sage, blue tansy, tarragon, niaouli, cypress, myrtle, wild tansy, helichrysum & German chamomile.
(Taken from page 413 of The Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Easy.)
5. Essential oils rich in phenols should be used with caution when applying to the skin. Sensitive areas such as the throat & face should be avoided, as well as the tender skin of young children.
EO with phenol include: wintergreen, anise birch, clove, basil, tarragon, fennel, oregano, thyme, mountain savory, peppermint, tea tree, calamus, cinnamon bark, Moroccan thyme, citronella, marjoram, nutmeg, lemon eucalyptus, parsley, ylang ylang, cassia, onycha, bay laurel, e. dives, sweet thyme, thuja, hyssop, cumin, eucalyptus, myrtle, rose, Spanish marjoram, carrot seed, catnip, helichrysum, neroli, sage, bergamot, blue mallee, myrrh, petitgrain, spearmint.
(Taken from Table 48 of The Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Easy.)
6. Keep essential oils away from the eye area where even the vapors can cause irritation. Do not handle contact lenses or rub the eyes with essential oils on your fingers. Oils with high phenol contact can damage lenses and irritate eyes. If essential oils accidentally get into the eyes, dab a carrier oil in the eyes to stop the burning. Don’t use water. Water will drive the oil in faster, increasing the burning sensation.
7. Essential oils may be applied on or around the ears, but don’t pour essential oils directly into the ears.
8. People with epilepsy, high blood pressure, or who are prone to convulsions should consult a health care professional before using essential oils. Hyssop, fennel & wild tansy oils should probably be avoided in these cases.
9. Most commonly used essential oils have been designated by the FDA as being “Generally Regarded as Safe” for oral usage. This designation is abbreviated as “GRAS.” Before ingesting them, GRAS oils may be diluted with honey, milk, rice milk, olive oil, or other lipid dissolving liquid.
Young Living makes sure we know which oils are able to be safely ingested by providing their Vitality labels on oils safe to ingest. ***Please note: do not consume oils directly out of the bottle. Although they can be safe to ingest, doing so must be done with moderation, considerable dilution, and care.
10. In using essential oils in bathwater, first add a dispersant, like a gel or liquid soap, to avoid concentrated droplets that can sometimes gravitate to sensitive areas of the body. There are ways to safely disperse oils in a bath given in most books on applied aromatherapy. My favorite way is by adding them to epsom salts and baking soda before adding to the bath water.
11. Some oils are phototoxic. When applied to the skin, avoid direct sunlight or the rays of tanning lamps for at least 12 hours afterwards.
EO considered photo toxic are: angelica, bergamot, bitter orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime, petitgrain & rue.
(More info can be found on page 381 of The Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple.)
12. Keep essential oils in tightly closed glass bottles away from light in cool places. (Normal room temperatures are cool enough.) In this way, they will maintain their balanced chemical composition and potency indefinitely.
The Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple, by David Stewart.
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