Photosensitive Essential Oils: Summer Safety Tips

Summer vibes are rolling in like a heat wave, and we know everyone has sun time on the mind. You can already see how the first day at the pool will go—first sunscreen application, then pool toy distribution, and finally supervision and relaxation in your favorite lounge chair. During the flurry and fun, don’t forget about the safe summer use of your favorite oils. Read up on photosensitive essential oils before you throw your gotta-have oils in with your summer book to ensure that your favorites aren’t essential oils that cause sun sensitivity.

What makes an essential oil photosensitive?

While known for their bright, summery scents, citrus oils are among the most common essential oils that cause photosensitivity. That’s because compounds found in citrus oils—known as furanocoumarins—greatly increase UV sensitivity. And while most photosensitive oils are citrus, other oils can contain compounds or mixes of compounds that have the same effect as furanocoumarins, meaning they’re not sun-safe either. Always check the label before application to determine the oil’s photosensitivity.

Peace and Calming essential oilHow can I know if an oil causes photosensitivity? 

All of Young Living’s essential oils that cause photosensitivity are labeled. Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit, Orange, Bergamot, Tangerine, Peace & Calming®, Stress Away™, Citrus Fresh™, Gentle Baby™, and Joy™ are some of Young Living’s popular oils that cause photosensitivity, but other oils can come with these risks as well. Always check the label to see what cautions are associated with the oil you’re using.

How does Young Living decide a blend is photosensitive? 

Gaging by the amount of photosensitive oil in the blend, Young Living can safely determine whether a blend is safe in the sun.

What’s the best way to reduce the risks of a negative reaction?

Use photosensitive oils at nighttimeTangerine Essential Oil
Using photosensitive oils at nighttime helps reduce the risks associated with these oils. Feel free to add these oils to your nightly skin care routine, evening body wash or lotion, bedtime bath, or relaxing before-bed foot, neck, or back massage.

Cover application area
Blocking UV rays by covering up will also help reduce your risk of reaction. Apply oil to the back, lower chest, or temples and throw on a crewneck tee and hat. Just be sure that anywhere you apply oil is fully covered with a heavy or tightly knit material.

Follow label instructions
The best way to avoid a negative reaction is to follow the label instructions. Most undiluted photosensitive oils require 12 hours before sun exposure but some can take up to 48 hours. Be aware that the amount you use and whether you dilute both affect the concentration of photosensitive compounds—and always remember that sunscreen helps you stay safe in the sun, even after the recommended wait time.

What should I do if I have a reaction? 
Lemon Essential Oil

If you or someone you know is having a reaction, get away from UV exposure immediately and follow one of the following procedures:

After skin reaction:

  1. Immediately wash with cold water and soap. Rinse thoroughly.
  2. Dilute and rinse the skin with vegetable oil to dilute the essential oil.

After eye reaction:

  1. Rinse opened eye for several minutes under running water.
  2. Apply vegetable oil with a sterile cloth around the eye to dilute any excess essential oil.

Always obtain medical advice if the skin is painful or the reaction covers a substantial portion of the body.


We love essential oils and know that you do too. That’s why we want to provide you with general information to help you increase your understanding of proper essential oil use. To best care for yourself and your family, always read and heed label instructions. The best news is that there are plenty of oils that are free of photosensitive compounds, so they’re ready for your summer adventures. It’s the perfect opportunity to try something new and find a new favorite!

Ready to get your summer started? Check out our posts on honey-lavender lemonade, oil-infused grilled zucchini, and a DIY citronella floating candle bowl!

What are your favorite ways to use oils in the summer?

Tell us in the comments below!

2018-07-17T11:15:58+00:00 May 30th, 2017|Essential Oil Safety, Essential Oils, Seasonal|17 Comments

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