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The Aromahead Blog - Aromatherapy Education and Resources

Safe Citrus Essential Oils for Massage

Oct 28 2019 - Blog - Blog Title - safe citrus eos for massage- 1200 x 628 - V1

How to Use Citrus Essential Oils for Massage without Risking a Phototoxic Reaction

The essential oils for massage that you choose to work with can make a big difference.

If the person you’re massaging (maybe it’s your client!) has a pulled muscle, you can use a massage oil made with inflammation calming essential oils that soothe sore muscles. (Try Lavender and Frankincense!)

If they feel a little chilly and low energy, you can create a massage oil that helps support their circulation and gets their energy flowing. (Try Black Spruce and Cardamom!) There’s a lot of room for creativity.

But what about using citrus essential oils for massage? Maybe you’ve heard that citrus oils are PHOTOTOXIC. Can you still use them in a massage oil?

You sure can!

Using citrus essential oils for massage oil is so incredibly uplifting—the aroma is bright and fresh, and just taking a whiff of it can make your client smile. Citrus essential oils can also calm inflammation and support immunity, so your massage oil would help your client feel optimistic, energized, and healthy.

But you definitely want to use SAFE citrus essential oils for massage.

Before I tell you how, I want to touch on why this is an issue in the first place. Citrus essential oils have some of the most lively, enchanting aromas, but we have to be careful when using them on our skin. This is because many citrus essential oils are phototoxic.

Phototoxic: Causing a skin reaction in sunlight.

This means that if you apply a phototoxic citrus essential oil to your skin, and then you spend time in the sun, you could experience a painful skin reaction like burning, blistering, or discoloration (which can be permanent). It’s the UV light reacting with the oil that causes the reaction, so you can also experience phototoxic effects in a tanning bed.

Unfortunately, many of our favorite citrus essential oils are phototoxic.

Fortunately, not ALL citrus essential oils are!

I want to share a recipe that uses citrus essential oils for massage that are NOT phototoxic. With this recipe, you don’t have to be concerned with phototoxic effects at all.

Safely Citrus Massage Oil

  • 1 oz (30 ml) jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis)
  • 4 drops Green Mandarin (Citrus reticulata)
  • 4 drops Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis)
  • 4 drops distilled Lime (Citrus aurantifolia)

Make this blend in a 1 oz (30 ml) glass bottle. Combine the jojoba and essential oils, shake gently, and massage away!

Oct 28 2019 - Blog - Recipe - Safely Citrus Massage Oil- 1200 x 1200 - V1

There are a few things I want to point out about this blend . . .

  1. There are two kinds of Orange oil in this blend. Green Mandarin and Sweet Orange are both varieties of Orange. Most of the Orange-family essential oils are not phototoxic (an exception is Bergamot, it is definitely phototoxic). Tangerine is also good to use.
  2. I used distilled Lime essential oil. That’s because Lime is special. It can be produced in several ways, and the way it’s produced determines whether it will be phototoxic. If it’s cold pressed, it’s phototoxic. I wouldn’t use cold-pressed Lime in a massage oil. But if it’s distilled, it’s not phototoxic. I only choose to work with distilled Lime for this reason.

Are you wondering about the other citrus essential oils?

Does this mean we can’t use our beloved Grapefruit or Lemon in a massage oil?

No, it doesn’t mean that. But for these oils, we need to stick within very safe, low drop counts in order to be safe. I share those drop counts with you in this blog post. The drop counts are different for each oil, so be sure you’re aware of that when you’re blending. 

Now you can feel good about using bright and sunny citrus essential oils for massage oil that helps people feel good!

Want to learn more ways to use essential oils for massage?

You’re going to LOVE my FREE webinar . . .


I’ll teach you more recipes to soothe tension, calm inflammation, and support healing. Your success using Aromatherapy for your clients will all depend on your level of knowledge.

Reduce Pain Using Essential Oils

Founder at Aromahead Institute
Andrea Butje is an internationally-recognized Aromatherapist who has changed the educational paradigm through her inspired approach to teaching essential oils and Aromatherapy Certification. Check out her book, The Heart of Aromatherapy, at Aromatics International!

Topics: aromatherapy for massage, aromatherapy massage oil, citrus essential oils, Massage and Essential oils, massage oil with essential oils, Phototoxicity

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