Essential oils are overall very safe. There are, however, exceptions to this and some that should be avoided with certain health concerns and with children. But did you know that there are photosensitive essential oils that everyone should avoid at times?

Photosensitive Essential Oils

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Photosensitive Essential Oils

Essential oils are a way of life for me! I incorporate them into just about everything I do.

Skin care – check!

Morning liver cleanse – check!

Purify my drinking water – check!

Purify the air in my home – check!

Bath time – check!

Times of illness – check!

You get the idea;) The list could go on and on! lol

But there are times when you need to stop and think, should I be using this oil right now? There are even essential oils that are dangerous for certain health conditions.

And, there are actually essential oils that are safe for everyone that can also be dangerous for everyone!

Yep, you read that right! It’s true!

There are certain essential oils that are considered gentle oils, but are also considered photosensitive.

What does photosensitive mean?

Photosensitivity is the amount to which an object reacts upon receiving sunlight.

There are certain essential oils that basically absorb ultraviolet light. If they are applied to the skin prior to sun exposure or tanning in a tanning bed, they will cause the skin to absorb more ultraviolet light than your skin usually would.

This can cause serious skin damage, such as: severe burns, blistering, even permanent skin discoloration.

Definitely something you want to avoid!

I personally have had a slight photosensitive response before. Fortunately the oil blend that I applied only contained a small amount of photosensitive oils and I applied it far enough in advance that it just caused more noticeable skin discoloration and not actual burning!

Unfortunately it was an oil I applied around my ankles, so I had ankles that were much darker than the rest of me for a while! Lesson learned;)

How to Avoid Having A Photosensitive Reaction

The safest way to avoid severe burns from the use of photosensitive essential oils is to make sure you do not apply a photosensitive oil to your skin that will be exposed before venturing out into the sun or before tanning.

And yes, this doesn’t just apply to going to the beach or pool, but to tanning in a tanning bed as well!

I would recommend waiting approximately 9 – 12 hours before venturing out into the sun after applying a photosensitive essential oil.

Also be sure to check all of you skin care products to make sure they do not contain photosensitive essential oils.

I have a wonderful skin softening foot oil that I created and apply before bed at night. However it contains photosensitive oils in it, so I only apply it at bedtime and not during the day. I live in Florida so sandals are a staple here, I want smooth, soft feet, but not burned feet;)

Which Essential Oils Are Photosensitive?

Now that we know what photosensitivity is and how to avoid it, what are the essential oils that cause it?

This will be very simple to remember, as it is a whole essential oil family.

Citrus essential oils are the photosensitive essential oils you want to avoid.

This includes all citrus such as:






Red Mandarin

There might be a citrus oil out there that doesn’t cause a photosensitive reaction, but I personally recommend playing it safe and avoiding all citrus before UV exposure.

If there is a citrus oil that is not listed above that you find in essential oil form, I would avoid it as well before venturing into the sun.

So there you have it, the safe essential oils that can actually be dangerous!

The key is to just be aware. Before you apply an oil, be aware of what it does and how it can affect your body. Knowledge is power!