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When using photosensitive essential oils it is extremely important that you take safety precautions. Get a list of photosensitive oils and application tips.

How to Protect Yourself When Using Photosensitive Essential Oils

When using photosensitive essential oils it is extremely important that you take safety precautions. Get a list of photosensitive oils and application tips.If you spend any time at all on social media, you have likely seen pictures of people with burns on their skin after using essential oils and going out in the sun or after being exposed to UV rays when tanning.

These photos created many strong opinions among the essential oil community. As essential oil users, we have worked hard to share the benefits of oils with others. Many of these people were quite skeptical about essential oils and many have just started using oils or may still be on the fence. Then they see these pictures. I know these pictures frustrated many people as they were the result of unsafe use as opposed to the oils themselves.

Personally, I am thankful for these pictures.

I realize this may not be a popular opinion so please let me explain.

Am I thankful this person was injured as a result of using essential oils? ABSOLUTELY NOT! I am a strong advocate of safe essential oil use and NEVER want to see anyone harmed as a result of unsafe use.


That said, if it had to happen, I am thankful that this person shared the photos (regardless of their intentions in doing so). You see, we all talk about the importance of avoiding direct sunlight after applying photosensitive oils, but do people really GET it? I mean we all know that if you go out in the sun and don’t apply sunscreen that you will likely get a burn. Everyone knows the risks of sunburns yet many of us have been guilty of thinking ‘I’m sure it will be fine’ and then we are left to suffer the consequences later.


These pictures have created a lot of discussion around photosensitive oils, what they are and how to use them safely when exposed to the sun. When we talk about our experiences/ mistakes it allows others to learn. That’s why I wrote this post on my family’s most embarrassing essential oil experiences to help make sure others didn’t have the same silly/painful mistakes happen to them.

These photos were not pretty and truly show how dangerous and painful it can be if you expose your skin to direct sunlight after applying photosensitive essential oils. It’s hard to look at those photos and think ‘oh, I’m sure I will be fine’.

It is my hope that one person’s experience will be a lesson to MANY and that it will greatly reduce injuries from photosensitive oils.


How to Protect Yourself When Using Photosensitive Essential Oils


How Can You Help Yourself & Others Use Photosensitive Essential Oils Safely?

1. Determine if an Essential Oil is Photosensitive

Here are some ways to know if an oil is photosensitive:

  1. Read the bottle label
  2. If you aren’t sure, look up the oil name and brand online to see if it’s photosensitive
  3. Refer to an essential oil guide-book such as Modern Essentials


2. Keep a list of Photosensitive Essential Oils

It’s especially important to pay attention to essential oil blends, as it may not be obvious that it is photosensitive oil (i.e. doesn’t have a citrus scent). doTERRA did a wonderful job of creating a graphic with their individual oils and oil blends which include:

  • AromaTouch
  • Bergamot
  • Citrus Bliss
  • Cumin
  • Breathe/Easy Air
  • Cheer
  • Forgive
  • Motivate
  • On Guard
  • Elevation
  • Grapefruit
  • InTune
  • Kumquat
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Purify
  • Slim & Sassy / Smart & Sassy
  • Sunny Citrus
  • Tangerine
  • Wild Orange
  • Zendocrine


Here’s the image from doTERRA, click on it to view the larger image on Facebook or save this post for later!


Since not everyone uses doTERRA, I went to Young Living’s Facebook page and blog and found a post which lists the following YL oils as popular photosensitive oils (they have noted that this is not an inclusive list):

  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Grapefruit
  • Orange
  • Bergamot
  • Tangerine
  • Peace & Calming
  • Stress Away
  • Citrus Fresh
  • Gentle Baby
  • Joy


3. Educate Others & Use Photosensitive Essential Oils Safely

As a result of these photos, some people may opt to completely avoid using photosensitive oils altogether. This, of course, is their choice to make however there are ways you can safely use your photosensitive oils.

  1. Apply the oil at the end of the day. The general rule is to avoid sun exposure for 12 hours after application.

2. Apply oils to areas that aren’t exposed to the sun. Places like arms, chest & back of your neck are often exposed to the sun in the summer (depending on what you are wearing of course). Personally, I will apply the oils to the bottom of my feet and then wear socks and shoes.

3. Use your oils aromatically. The risks for photosensitive oils apply only to topical use. This means you can still enjoy the benefits of photosensitive oils in the diffuser.

4. Get creative. I am sure there are MANY other ways that you can benefit from these oils without your skin coming into contact with the sun.

5. If you aren’t able to do any of these things, for whatever reason then it would be best to find another oil to use in its place or wait until a day when you can use the oil safely (i.e. staying indoors on a rainy day).

There you have it, some easy tips to help you protect yourself when using photosensitive essential oils. 

If you found this post helpful, please share it with others! 

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