Safely Using Essential Oils

While essential oils have been used around the world since ancient times, those who are new often wonder: Are essentials oils safe to use? Our ancestors have long known that with the right know-how, essential oils can enhance personal hygiene, cooking and emotional and physical wellness. Now, with the backing of modern science, you can confidently begin to incorporate essential oils in a way that is safe and effective for you and your home.

When it comes to safety, the first step is to find an essential oil company you can trust. Because essential oils can be contaminated or compromised during the extraction process, it’s important to verify sourcing ethics and practices. Those with a strict protocol will produce oils that are consistently authentic, providing you with an experience you can count on.

Once you’ve found an essential oil distributor you can trust, the next safety step will be to dive into the many uses and benefits for each oil you use. Just like with any product you’re introducing to your system, you’ll want to understand the purpose behind the product you’re using, along with recommended application methods. Soon, incorporating essential oils will become second nature!

Essential oil safety guidelines

While some oils will come with specific safety guidelines to look out for, there are some general guidelines you should follow for every essential oil that is welcomed into your home:

Do a patch test.

Add one drop of oil to an area of your skin without hair, such as your inner arm. Wait one hour, and if any irritation occurs, dilute the area by adding a carrier oil (see below).

Dilute first.

When applying an essential oil for the first time, we recommend diluting the oil upon the first application to learn how your skin will react. You can dilute your oils by adding one drop of essential oil to every two drops of carrier oil, which is a neutral, plant-derived oil such as coconut or olive oil. For oils that are particularly hot, we suggest diluting with one drop of essential oil to every five drops of carrier oil.

Dilute hot oils.

Some oils have a particularly strong chemistry profile that creates a “hot” sensation on the skin, such as Cinnamon Bark and Oregano. Hot oil warnings can be found on their labels, and these oils should always be diluted before applying them to your skin. To dilute a hot oil, add one drop of oil to every five drops of carrier oil.

Read the labels.

If there’s something specific you need to know, it will be stated on the bottle. Before using a new oil, make sure to read the label for any specific warnings or recommendations.

Avoid certain areas.

Some areas of the body do not react well to essential oils, such as your nose, inner ears, eyes, broken skin or other sensitive areas.

Check for sun sensitivity.

Some oils, especially citrus ones such as Tangerine, Lime and Grapefruit, can burn the skin when exposed to sun after application. Use these oils when you know your sun exposure will be limited—such as during the evening—and check the label for sun sensitivity warnings before you apply the oil topically. Once a sun-sensitive oil has been applied to the skin, avoid direct sunlight or UV rays for at least 12 hours, including tanning beds.

Store them safely.

To avoid accidental ingestion or improper application, essential oils should be stored in a safe place that’s out of reach of children. Because the compounds within the oil can be altered due to excessive light or heat, we suggest storing them in a place that is room temperature and out of direct sunlight.

Watch the kids.

Essential oils have many wonderful benefits for children, but because your little ones’ small bodies are still developing, it’s important to always supervise them with essential oils. Before applying any oil topically to a child’s delicate skin, always dilute it. Start by applying the diluted oil to the feet before trying it on other areas.

Consult a health care professional.

If you have any concerns about how essential oils may interact with your body, we highly suggest consulting a health care professional.

How to handle essential oil sensitivity

All bodies are different, and as you begin to explore the different ways essential oils can improve your physical wellness, you may find that some bodies react differently from others. Essential oil sensitives aren’t uncommon, but most can be remedied with a few extra steps! Begin by diluting the oil to see how your body reacts to a lower concentration. For particularly sensitive skin, use half of the recommended concentration for that oil. If your skin is still having negative reactions, you may need to refrain from that particular oil. But don’t fret! Many essential oils contain similar chemical compounds to each other, so if one oil didn’t work, you can easily find a replacement that your skin will love. If you have any concerns or would like additional guidance on using a specific oil, our Member Services team is available to answer any questions.

Are there allergic reactions to essential oils?

When asking whether people can be allergic to essential oils, the answer is a little complicated. Allergic reactions happen when the body comes into contact with a harmless protein that the body identifies as a threat. High-quality essential oils do not contain any proteins, so they don’t cause allergic reactions in the same way one might experience an allergic reaction to peanuts or wheat. If you are experiencing similar symptoms to an allergic reaction after using an essential oil, the molecules in the oil may be causing irritation. These sensitivities are rare, but users should be conscious of their body’s reaction when using a new oil for the first time.

Those with a sensitivity to essential oils may experience:
  • Pain, swelling or tenderness in the skin
  • Skin irritation (such as itching, rash or hives)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Upset stomach

  • How to treat a reaction to essential oils

    If you’re having any kind of negative reaction after using an essential oil, immediately stop use. For topical reactions, dilute the skin by applying a carrier oil to the affected area. If you inhaled the oil aromatically, turn off the diffuser and go to an area where you can breathe without the presence of the oil, such as another room or outside. For internal use, call our hotline number (1.800.371.3515) for guidance. If the reaction is severe, seek medical attention. Those with an essential oil sensitivity may be able to dilute the oil, use a smaller amount or change their application method in order to avoid negative reactions. For example, they may have a sensitivity to an oil when using it topically but have no reaction when diffusing the same oil. It’s important to start slow, with low quantities, and track which application methods and doses cause a sensitivity.

    Removing essential oils from the skin

    For those experiencing skin sensitivity after applying an essential oil, it’s important to remove the oil from the skin as soon as possible. To do this, simply apply a carrier oil to the area and gently scrub. The carrier oil will help to “pick up” the essential oil off the skin, which then can be gently wiped off. This may need to be repeated a few times. If you don’t have access to a carrier oil, using soap and water will also do the trick. Apply soap to the affected area, wash and repeat until the area is clean. Let the area air dry and then apply a moisturizer that your skin has reacted well to in the past. Before using that essential oil again, make sure to dilute the oil with a carrier oil to possibly avoid future skin sensitivities. .

    What are sun-sensitive essential oils?

    We love essential oils for the natural compounds found within them; however, some oils contain furanocoumarins, which can greatly increase UV sensitivity. If a sun-sensitive oil is applied to the skin, the application area may have a negative reaction, such as burns or rashes, when exposed to direct sunlight. Sun-sensitive oils should not be applied to the skin if you plan on going into direct sunlight within the next 12 hours; if sun exposure is unavoidable, cover the area where the oil was applied with your clothing to avoid direct sunlight. Sun-sensitive oils will be specified on the product label, so always check before applying to the skin. Some oils have the furanocoumarins removed, making them safe to wear in the sun.

The following Young Living oils and blends are sun sensitive and should be used as directed: