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Phototoxic Essential Oils

Phototoxic Essential Oils

When I first began to learn about phototoxicity, it was like a !! Red Alert !! 

It made complete sense to my husband (who grew up in Mexico) and tells with me that in hot sunny Mexico, where citrus fruits are a main staple in the Mexican diet, they never EVER ate these fruits under the sun and when they were eaten, your hands must be washed thoroughly before going out anywhere.

So what is Phototoxicity❓And what does it have to do with 🍋 Citrus Fruits and the ☀️ Sun❓

Phototoxicity, also known as photosensitization, is when certain components (natural chemicals found in essential oils) called furocoumarins react when they are exposed to sun or ultraviolet light. Some of the common reactions to the skin are inflammation, severe redness/sunburn, in some cases blistering, and skin discoloration.

Sounds pretty scary huh? This topic is not to be taken lightly, but rest assured that under correct safety guidelines all essential oils can be used in the right place and at the right time.

So let’s start with a list of essential oils sourced from our most reliable source “Essential Oils Safety” by Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young:

🌱 Angelica Root Essential Oil
🌱 Bergamot (Cold Pressed)
🌱 Bitter Orange (Cold Pressed)
🌱 Cumin
🌱 Fig Leaf Absolute
🌱 Grapefruit (Cold Pressed)
🌱 Lemon (Cold Pressed)
🌱 Lime (Cold Pressed)
🌱 Mandarin Leaf
🌱 Opopanax
🌱 Rue
🌱 Tagetes

As you can see above, it is not only the citrus group of essential oils that contain furocoumarins, but citrus are most commonly available and utilized in skincare formulas around the globe today. So let’s get things straight, you will notice in the list above that all the citrus oils state in brackets (Cold Pressed) which means that depending on the method of extraction the citrus oil can be hazardous, but in fact when steam distilled these essential oils are safe to use in the sun. Some peeps who feel this is a lot to remember and learn will keep it on the safe side and completely avoid utilizing these oils when there may be sun exposure.

But how can we still use this group of therapeutic and uplifting essential oils while avoiding phototoxicty?

There is knowingly no phototoxic risk when the oils are diffused or washed off the skin (as in a soap bar) 🛁 👍🏻 You may have noticed, here at Cascadia we do have a number of soaps available which contain uplifting citrus aromas. There is also no risk if the oils are applied to skin which will be covered in a thicker fabric that provides adequate protection from the sun aka ultraviolet light. But keep in mind within 12-18 hours of applying the oils, they will have the ability to cause a reaction when exposed to ultraviolet light in that period of time.

The great news 👉🏻 There is a safe dilution guideline for this group of essential oils, so that they can be still applied to the skin in sun exposure. For further reading, I highly recommend “Essential Oils Safety” by Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young.

Wrapping things up..

Please see below Cascadia’s short list of products that are diluted within the safe dilution guidelines, but do contain the essential oils from the list above: 

Jouvence Body & Foot Butter ~ Bergamot (Cold Pressed) & Lime (Cold Pressed) 
Body Fragrance Jouvence ~ Bergamot (Cold Pressed) & Lime (Cold Pressed)
Body Fragrance Pachamama ~ Grapefruit (Cold Pressed)
Body Fragrance Innocence ~ Bergamot (Cold Pressed)