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The Aromahead Blog - Aromatherapy Education and Resources

Citrus Essential Oils: Avoiding Phototoxicity

by Andrea Butje on March 22, 2010

Did you know that some citrus essential oils are not phototoxic?

If you’ve been avoiding all citrus oils out of concerns over phototoxicity, you can still use a few citrus oils without worrying about potential phototoxic skin reactions.

Citrus oils can generally be used without phototoxic concern if you stay within the proper safety guidelines. But for many aromatherapists, client compliance can be an issue--and even with compliance, there may be exceptions (someone might have a phototoxic reaction to a citrus oil even when used in the safe dilutions offered below). Likewise, if you’re a beginner, you may be uncomfortable keeping track of the dilution guidelines needed to ensure that phototoxic oils aren’t posing an issue.

These citrus essential oils do not cause phototoxic reactions and can be used safely in products for the skin:

  • Mandarin (Green) Essential Oil Citrus reticulata
  • Steam-distilled Lime Essential Oil Citrus aurantifolia
  • Orange (Sweet) Essential Oil Citrus sinensis

Robert Tisserand's book Essential Oil Safety has very useful guidelines for using citrus oils and avoiding phototoxicity. The information below is directly from Robert's book:

Safe Use of Citrus Essential Oils Per Ounce of Carrier Oil:
Cold Pressed/Expressed Bergamot -- 2.4 drops (I just consider this 2 drops per oz)
Cold Pressed/Expressed Lemon -- 12 drops per oz
Cold Pressed/Expressed Lime -- 4.2 drops (I just consider this 4 drops per oz)
Cold Pressed/Expressed Grapefruit -- 24 drops per oz

If you love bright citrus aromas and the wonderful therapeutic properties of citrus essential oils, stock up on sun-safe citrus oils.  Remember, all phototoxic oils can be used, as long as they're applied to areas of the skin that will not be exposed to the sun!

Owner/Instructor at Aromahead Institute
Aromahead Institute, owned by Andrea Butje, is a premier resource for online aromatherapy classes. Andrea offers her inspired approach to online aromatherapy certification through essential oil videos and original education materials. Check out her book, Essential Living: Aromatherapy Recipes for Health and Home, on Amazon!

Topics: essential oil safety, Aromatherapy Education, citrus essential oils, Phototoxicity

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