One of life’s greatest pleasures is soaking up the sun outdoors. If you regularly use essential oils and spend time in the sunshine, you run the risk of irritating or even burning your skin. Some essential oils can cause photosensitivity. Stay sun safe! Find out How to Stay Safe Using Essential Oils in the Sun.
One of my all-time favorite essential oil blends to use is stress away. I keep a roller bottle in my purse or pool bag at all times. If I’m out in public I often pull it out of my bag almost unconsciously and apply it to my wrists and forearms.
I once made the mistake of applying a generous amount of stress away to my forearms and spending some time sitting in the sun at the park. The next day I had a red mark that resembled a sunburn, exactly where I had applied the oil. Lesson learned.
Stress Away contains lime essential oil, which is phototoxic. If you try to avoid citrus oils when in the sun, be sure the essential oil blends you apply are safe in the sunshine.
Which Essential Oils are Photosensitive?
Essential oils that are cold-pressed, like citrus oils, are photosensitive. They contain unique compounds called furanocoumarins that increase UV sensitivity.
Photosensitive essential oils can cause chemically induced skin irritation when the skin is exposed to UV rays, similar to a sunburn. This also applies to tanning beds. The sun and photosensitive essential oils don’t mix!
Here is a list of photosensitive essential oils that you need to avoid when directly in the sun. Avoid sun exposure for at least 12 hours with the following essential oil singles:
- Cinnamon Bark
- Clary Sage
- Jade Lemon
Essential oil blends that contain one or more of the essential oil listed above should also be avoided for at least 12 hours:
- Australian Blue
- Brain Power
- Build your Dream
- Christmas Spirit
- Common Sense
- Deep Relief Roll-on
- Dragon Time
- Dream Catcher
- Egyptian Gold
- Gentle Baby
- Peace & Calming
- Stress Away
*for a full list of photosensitive blends, see the graphic below.
Avoid the sun for 24 hours after using:
- Citrus Fresh
- Live with Passion
Avoid the sun for 48 after applying:
Which Essential Oils are Safe to Use in the Sun?
The majority of photosensitive essential oils come from citrus fruits, making them easy to remember. However, there are other oils that can be phototoxic. Paying close attention to labels is the best way to protect yourself from the sun when using essential oils.
Young Living labels all of their essential oil bottles with usage directions. If an oil may cause photosensitivity, it will be listed there. If the label does not mention photosensitivity, you can assume it is safe to apply and spend time in the sun.
Some popular essential oils that are considered sun-safe include:
- Tea Tree
- Ylang Ylang
How to Stay Safe Using Essential Oils in the Sun
Essential oils are a wonderful addition to daily life, especially in the summertime. There are steps you can take to stay sun-safe when enjoying an essential oil lifestyle:
1. Only use photosensitive essential oils in the evening or at bedtime
Peace & Calming is one of my family’s favorite essential oils to apply at bedtime. Peace & Calming is a photosensitive oil due to the orange and tangerine in the blend, both of which should be avoided in the sun. Although I enjoy using this oil topically, it is also great in a diffuser with no added risk.
2. Follow the directions on the label
It can be hard to memorize every single photosensitive essential oil. If you are new to oils, or just need a reminder, the label on each bottle of oil will guide you.
3. Be mindful of the essential oils you apply each day
Sometimes we hastily apply our favorite essential oils in the morning and go on with our day. In the summer, this can be problematic. Apply oils with intention and purpose when the sun is shining. If you do experience irritation after sun exposure, get relief with this Soothing After Sun Spray.
4. Cover Up
If you decide to use essential oils in the sun, wear clothing over the exposed area. Apply oils to the back or lower chest to be on the safe side. If you regularly add essential oils to your beauty routine, wear a hat, sunscreen, and stay in the shade.