Phototoxic Essential Oils
What Is Phototoxicity?
Some essential oils are considered phototoxic which means they make the skin more sensitive than normal to sunlight and UV lamps. When applying phototoxic oil to the skin above the recommended dilution, you should avoid exposure to the sun for 12–24 hours.
Oils that Cause Phototoxicity
The following oils are known to cause phototoxicity:
- Angelica (essential oil) if above 0.8% dilution
- Bergamot (essential oil) if above 0.4% dilution
- Cumin (essential oil) if above 0.4% dilution
- Grapefruit (essential oil) if above 4% dilution
- Lemon (cold pressed essential oil) if above 2% dilution
- Lime (cold pressed essential oil) if above 0.7% dilution
- Orange, Bitter (Citrus × aurantium, cold pressed essential oil) if above 1.25%
- Tagetes (essential oil, also known as Marigold or Taget) if above 0.01% dilution
The dilution recommendations are excerpts from Tisserand, R., & Rodney, Y., Ph.D. (2014). Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals (Vol. 2). Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.
Oils that Do Not Cause Phototoxicity
It is commonly believed that all citrus oils are phototoxic; this is untrue. The following oils do not cause phototoxicity:
- Bergamot FCF (furanocoumarin-free essential oil)
- Lemon (steam distilled essential oil)
- Lime (steam distilled essential oil)
- Mandarin (essential oil)
- Orange, Wild or Sweet (Citrus sinensis, cold pressed essential oil)
- Tangerine (essential oil)
- Yuzu (essential oil)
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