Essential oils are very safe and easy to use, but as with anything, you must apply common sense when using them. Therapeutic grade essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts and should be used with reasonable care. Take an assessment of your own health before using any essential oil topically or internally.
Here is a brief rundown of the essential oil safety guidelines.
I recommend downloading this Safety Guidelines Sheet and placing it on your fridge or somewhere handy so that you can refer to it often.
- Never apply oils directly to the eyes or ear canal. Avoid contact with these areas after you apply, handling contact lenses or touching the interior of your nose. The skin around the genital area is also sensitive so take extra care and wash your hands before using the bathroom if you have come in contact with an essential oil.
- Dilute with oil, not water. If you get an essential oil somewhere you did not intend, use a carrier oil or pure vegetable oil to rinse or dilute the area. Using water will increase the discomfort.
- Use a carrier oil with babies, children and those with sensitive skin. When applying oils to babies or children, take extra care to ensure that the oils do not come in contact near their face. It’s best to apply on their feet and cover with socks or rub along their spine).
- “Warm Oils”. Use a carrier oil when applying oils such as cinnamon, thyme, oregano, cassia and clove. These oils can create a warming sensation on the skin and therefore can be mildly irritating to those with sensitive skin.
- Photosensitivity of essential oils. Citrus oils react to natural sunlight, sunlamps or other sources of UV rays resulting in dark pigmentation on the skin. To avoid issues with photosensitive oils, wait a minimum of 6 hours before exposing the area of skin where you applied the essential oil to UV rays.
- Internal use. This is a VERY important safety guideline! Most essential oils on the market should NOT be taken internally (as indicated on the packages), however certified pure oils are labeled as dietary supplements and are safe for internal use (in small quantities). Mild oils may be taken under the tongue or in water, while ‘warm’ oils should be placed in capsules. Many oils can be used in cooking recipes for flavoring and therapeutic benefits.
- Pregnancy & nursing. While oils applied topically at ordinary levels should not be harmful to a developing fetus, please use caution when applying oils during pregnancy. Popular oils that are generally considered safe to use during pregnancy include bergamot, ginger, geranium, lavender, lemon, sandalwood, wild orange and ylang ylang. Consult your healthcare provider if you have other concerns or questions. Additional oils may be helpful during and after delivery. Internal use of peppermint can reduce milk supply in some mothers, so you may want to avoid it prior to delivery or while nursing.
- Critical health conditions. Persons with asthma, epilepsy, high blood pressure or other critical health conditions can benefit from essential oils, however you may want to consult your healthcare professional. In general, those with epilepsy should be cautious to avoid fennel, basil, birch and digestive blends; those with high blood pressure should be cautious or avoid thyme and rosemary.
- A little goes a long way. Essential oils are pure concentrates. One or two drops is considered a dose. Less oil, more often than not, is best. Use a carrier oil to spread the oil over a large surface area.
- Essential oils and bath water. When using undiluted essential oils in bath water, use a dispersing gel (bath gel works) or even bath milk to prevent oil from pooling as a concentrated drop in the water.
- Many oils are flammable. Keep them clear of open flames, sparks or fire hazards.
Try this basic skin test if you have sensitive skin or are prone to allergies.
- Place a small amount of carrier oil (coconut oil or olive oil) followed by a small amount of the essential oil on the inside of your elbow, forearm or wrist.
- After 1 hour check the area for any type of reaction. If you have an irritation then further diluting the oil with a carrier oil will usually make the oil more comfortable.
- Most users will not react to quality, pure oils and they can be safely applied for a direct and powerful effect.
Popular Carrier Oils
- Fractionated Coconut Oil
- Jojoba Oil
- Grape Seed Oil
- Almond Oil
- Olive Oil