FAQs about essential oil phototoxicityBy
Phototoxicity is when the sun makes you burn severely after you’ve used essential oils containing furans (furanoids) on your face and other UV ray-exposed areas of skin. In some people, it can leave permanent marks of darkened skin.
What are furanoids? Furanoids act like prisms that amplify UV light? Furanoids are found leaves and seeds of plants, but most commonly in the rinds of fruit to help them ripen and maximize sugar content. This is how the rind changes colors as it ripens.
What do furanoids do to skin? If you apply citrus essential oils to your skin, and then go out into direct sunlight, lay in a tanning bed, or receive radiation treatments, you can burn which sometimes leaves permanent patches of dark color in your skin’s pigmentation. This is called phototoxicity.
Are all citrus essential oils phototoxic? No. Only the citrus oils that contain enough furanoid compounds are phototoxic. Mandarin, Sweet Orange, Tangelo, and Tangerine are not phototoxic, but caution should be exercised anyway for those with sensitive skin. Citrus oils that are distilled from the rind instead of cold-pressed from the rind, are not phototoxic. Young Living only sells essential oils cold-pressed from the rind.
Are only citrus oils phototoxic? No. Fennel, Anise and Cumin contain enough furanoid compounds to be phototoxic.
Will I burn if I take the oils internally? No. If you take phototoxic essential oils by capsule or use them to flavor your drinks, you will not experience phototoxicity because you didn’t apply the oils to your skin.
Will I burn if I wear a hat and long sleeves? No. Only UV exposed areas will burn. Be sure to cover ALL areas where you applied phototoxic essential oils.
Will I burn if I have black skin? Maybe yes, maybe no. Dark skin is already heavily pigmented so it would take seven more times the amount of furanoids to burn black skin. If you have sensitive black skin, wear appropriate clothing while in the sun.
Will I burn if I dilute a phototoxic oil in a carrier oil. Yes.
Will I burn if I wash them off before I go into UV rays? Yes. The furanoids have already penetrated deep enough.
How long do I have to avoid UV rays once I’ve applied a citrus essential oil to my skin? Up to 12 hours. If you use the oils before bed, you can go out into the sun the next day. You can use a tanning bed or receive radiation treatments the day after you’ve applied phototoxic oils.
Single Essential Oils to avoid in UV rays
Angelica (Angelica archangelica)
Anise (Pimpinella anisum)
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
Bitter Orange (Citrus aurantium)
Cumin (Cuminum cyminum)
Fennel (Foeniculum fulgare)
Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi)
Lemon (Citrus limon)
Lime (Citrus aurantifolia)
Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium)
Rue (Ruta graveolens)
Essential Oil Blends to avoid in UV rays
Stress Away Roll-On
Reference: Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple, David Stewart Ph.D, DNM, pages 64, 379-383
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