What is Phototoxicty?

 

Phototoxicity can occur when certain essential oil constituents, particularly furanocoumarins (FCs), react when exposed to Ultraviolet UVA light. Premature aging, inflammation, blistering and reddening/burning of the skin are all common.

Not all cold pressed citrus essential oils are phototoxic, and steam distilled citrus essential oils are apparently not phototoxic. "The FCs are relatively non-volatile molecules and are generally found in expressed (cold-pressed) citrus fruit oils, but not in distilled citrus fruit oils." [Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young, Essential Oil Safety (Second Edition. United Kingdom: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2014), 85.]

 

essential oils that are phototoxic

  • 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

 

essential oils that may be phototoxic

  • Clementine (Cold Pressed)

  • Combava Fruit

  • Skimmia

  • Angelica Root Absolute

  • Angelica Root CO2

  • Celery Leaf

  • Celery Seed Absolute

  • Cumin Seed Absolute

  • Cumin Seed CO2

  • Khella

  • Lovage Leaf

  • Parsnip

 

 

Citrus Oils That Are Not Considered Phototoxic

  • Bergamot FCF (FCF Has the Bergaptene/Furanocoumarins Removed)

  • Bergamot (Steam Distilled)

  • Blood Orange (Cold Pressed or Steam Distilled)

  • Lemon (Steam Distilled)

  • Lime (Steam Distilled)

  • Mandarin (Cold Pressed or Steam Distilled)

  • Sweet Orange (Cold Pressed or Steam Distilled)

  • Petitgrain

  • Satsuma (Cold Pressed or Steam Distilled)

  • Tangelo (Cold Pressed or Steam Distilled)

  • Tangerine (Cold Pressed or Steam Distilled)

  • Yuzu Oil (Cold Pressed or Steam Distilled)

Source for the Above Bulleted Lists: Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young, Essential Oil Safety (Second Edition. United Kingdom: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2014), 85, 87, 370-371.

 

 

Usage Recommendations Per Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young

"There is generally no phototoxic risk if the oils are used in a product that is either not applied to the body or is washed off the skin, such as shampoo, bath preparation or soap. However, essential oils can adhere to the skin if used in a sauna or steam inhalation. There is no risk if the skin to which the oils are applied is covered in such a way as to prevent UV rays from reaching them."

"We recommend that skin treated with phototoxic oils at levels higher than those maximum use levels, should not be exposed to UV light for 12-18 hours."

 

[Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young, Essential Oil Safety (Second Edition. United Kingdom: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2014), 88.]

Recommended IFRA Maximum Usage Levels can be found on page 86 of Essential Oil Safety or can be found directly through IFRA: http://www.ifraorg.org/en-us/standards-library/s/phototoxicity

 

 

 

 

 

 





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