Practice Safe Essential Oil Use

SAFETY & GUIDELINES- Practice Safe Oil Use

Safety involves a state of being free from risk or occurrence of injury, harm, or danger. Individuals who practice aromatherapy need to be aware of the safety issues involved with using essential oils in order to avoid potential adverse effects. The informed use of essential oils may create occasional irritation or minor discomfort, but it is extremely unlikely to create serious injury or lasting physical problems, particularly when basic guidelines are followed.

Factors that influence the safety of essential oils include

1. Quality of essential oil being utilized: Adulterated essential oils increase the likelihood of an adverse response and hence the need for pure, authentic, and genuine essential oils is of the utmost importance. 

2. Chemical composition of the oil: Essential oils rich in aldehydes (e.g., citronellal, citral) and phenols (e.g., cinnamic aldehyde, eugenol) may cause skin reactions. Essential oils rich in these constituents should always be diluted prior to application to the skin. According to Schnaubelt, “diluting such oils so that the resulting solution becomes non-irritant, may require diluting them to concentrations much lower than in normal circumstances. Another option is to blend such irritant oils asymmetrically with other essential oils, which mitigate their irritant effects.”3

3. Method of application: Essential oils may be applied on the skin (dermal application), inhaled, diffused or taken internally. Each of these methods have safety issues which need to be considered. The potential safety concerns with dermal application will be discussed below. With regard to inhalation, inhalation, from a safety standpoint, presents a very low level of risk to most people. Even in a relatively small closed room, and assuming 100% evaporation, the concentration of any essential oil (or component thereof) is unlikely to reach a dangerous level, either from aromatherapy massage, or from essential oil vaporization.

4. Dosage/dilution to be applied: Most aromatherapy oil based blends will be between 1 and 5 percent dilutions, which typically does not represent a safety concern. As one increases dilution, potential dermal (skin) reactions may take place depending on the individual essential oil, the area in which the oil is applied, and other factors related to the client’s own sensitivity levels. Any excessive usage of essential oils may cause irritation or other undesired effects due to their lipophilic nature.5

5. Integrity of skin: Damaged, diseased, or inflamed skin is often more permeable to essential oils and may be more sensitive to dermal reactions. It is potentially dangerous to put undiluted essential oils on to damaged, diseased or inflamed skin. Under these circumstances the skin condition may be worsened, and larger amounts of oil than normal will be absorbed. Sensitization reactions are also more likely to occur.6

6. Age of client: Infants, toddlers, and young children are more sensitive to the potency of essential oils and safe dilutions include .5 – 2.5% depending on condition. Also, some essential oils should simply be avoided for this population, e.g. Birch or Wintergreen, which are both rich in methyl salicylate and Peppermint. Elderly clients may have more skin sensitivities so a reduced concentration/dilution may be indicated.

I strongly recommend Young Living essential oils, which  are cultivated to be as pure and potent as possible. Please, carefully read individual label instructions and the following guidelines to ensure safe use of essential oils.

  • When using essential oils for the first time, it is always best to do a skin test to make sure there are no sensitivities (e.g., on the underside of the forearm). If any redness or skin irritation should occur, simply dilute the area with ANY carrier oil such as coconut oil, olive oil, jojoba oil, or Young Living’s V-6 to dilute the area. The bottom of the feet is one of the safest, most effective places to use essential oils.
  • Essential oils are oil-soluble, not water-soluble. If an oil gets in your eye or burns your skin a little, DO NOT use water to remove the oil. That will only drive it in deeper. Use a carrier oil to dilute the area.
  • Some oils are photosensitive oils which means they should not be exposed to direct sunlight. It can lead to a rash or darker pigmentation on the skin. Some photosensitive oils include Angelica, Bergamot, Dill, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lime, Orange, Tangerine, Citrus Fresh, Clarity, Joy, Juva Cleanse, Peace & Calming, Slique Essence, Transformation, and White Angelica.
  • Some oils are considered “hot” oils which means they can irritate your skin when applied. These oils are Cinnamon Bark, Clove, Lemongrass, Oregano, Peppermint, Thieves, Thyme. Please dilute these with a carrier oil.
  • Keep bottles of essential oils tightly closed and store them in a cool location away from light, especially sunlight.  You do not want the sunlight to lower the frequency or compromise the potency. If stored properly, essential oils will maintain their potency for many years.
  • Keep essential oils out of reach of children and animals. Treat them as you would any product for therapeutic use.
  • Dilute oils for infants and small children.
  • Consult your health care provider if you are on blood thinner medication.
  • Persons with Epilepsy, a history or seizures, with high blood pressure, or any serious medical condition, please consult their health care professional before using some essential oils such as Basil, Fennel, Hyssop, Idaho Tansy, Rosemary, Sage and Thyme.
  • Do not drop essential oils directly into your ear canal.
  • Do not drop essential oils directly in your eye. If you have contact lenses, be sure that your hands are washed in case there is any essential oil residue on your fingers.
  • Do not add essential oils to plastic or Styrofoam cups. I made an “oops” when I added lemon to my Dunkin Donuts tea. The oil dissolved the petrochemicals of the Styrofoam cup. Always use glass or stainless steel.
  • When adding oils to your bath, mix a few drops of essential oils with Epsom salt or a bath and shower gel base and add it to the running water so the oil does not float to the top.
  • Before taking GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe by the FDA) essential oils internally, always dilute with an oil soluble liquid like honey, olive oil or soy milk.
  • Pregnant or nursing women should consult their health care professional before using essential oils containing elements with hormone-like activity, such as Clary Sage, Deep Relief roll-on, Fennel, Idaho Tansy, Juniper,Pan Away, Sage, Wild Tansy, and Wintergreen. See below.
  • Your body may have a reaction to a massage oil or essential oil. If you experience a rash, your body may be detoxifying so please drink lots of water. You can take a break from the oil and resume in a few days. You can also use a carrier oil to help the sensitive areas. Think about the personal-care products you are using on your skin. The ingredients may contain synthetic ingredients and chemicals which is why the oils are reacting.
  • If a given essential oil is used daily for about 3 weeks, allow one week of rest before continuing use.

Other Safety Considerations


NAHA will be adopting similar guidelines a the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists. Here are their guidelines. For more information about IFPA, please see here.

The use of essential oils during pregnancy is a controversial topic and one that is yet to be fully understood. The main concern during pregnancy appears to be the risk of essential oil constituents crossing over into the placenta. According to Tisserand and Balacs, crossing the placenta does not necessarily mean that there is a risk of toxicity to the fetus; this will depend on the toxicity and the plasma concentration of the compound. It is probable that essential oil metabolites cross the placenta due to the intimate (but not direct) contact between maternal and embryonic or fetal blood. 

The use of essential oils in pregnancy is a contentious subject, especially during the vital first 3-month period. It is extremely unlikely that a nightly bath containing a few drops of essential oils will cause any problems for the unborn child.  There are no records of abnormal fetuses or aborted fetuses due to the ‘normal’ use of essential oils, either by inhalation or topical application.”

A common myth in aromatherapy is that massage oils containing essential oils such as Clary sage, rose or even rosemary can cause a miscarriage and hence should be avoided throughout pregnancy. Once againg, her are no recorded cases of miscarriage or birth defect resulting from aromatherapy massage using therapeutic applications of any essential oil.

Toxicity during pregnancy is almost exclusively due to pregnant women taking large, toxic doses of essential oils, notably pennyroyal (rich in the ketone, pulegone, which is metabolized to the highly toxic furan epoxide, menthofuron) and parsley seed (rich in the dimethyl ether, apiol) in an attempt to abort the fetus.

Due to the lack of clear information regarding the toxicity of essential oils during pregnancy, it would be best to adhere to general safety guidelines. According to Tisserand and Balacs, the following essential oils should not be used during pregnancy: wormwood, rue, oak moss, Lavandula stoechas, camphor, parsley seed, sage, and hyssop.

Essential oils that appear to be safe include cardamon, German and Roman chamomile, frankincense, geranium, ginger, neroli, patchouli, petitgrain, rosewood, rose, sandalwood, and other nontoxic essential oils. It would also be prudent to avoid the internal or undiluted application of essential oils throughout pregnancy.

*Source: Safety -NAHA, National association for Holistic Aromatherapy


Young Living Products that contain nuts or nut-derived ingredients are below. The majority of Young Living essential oils are nut free. The products that contain nuts or nut-derived ingredients are these listed below. The few oil blends on the list are because they are in a base of almond oil. Most bottles of essential oils are really just that…an oil or a blend of oils, no other base. This list is courtesy of Young Living as of September 2016.

3 Wise Men™
Boswellia Wrinkle Cream™
Cel-Lite Massage Oil™
Cinnamint Lip Balm™
Dragon Time Massage Oil™
Genesis Hand & Body Lotion™
Grapefruit Lip Balm™
Into the Future™
KidScents® Lotion
KidScents® Tender Tush
Lavender Lip Balm™
Lavender Volume Shampoo™
Oola Field™
Ortho Ease® Massage Oil
Ortho Sport® Massage Oil
Present Time™
Relaxation Massage Oil™
Sensation Hand & Body Lotion™
Sensation Massage Oil™
Slique Bars™
V-6 Advanced Vegetable Oil Complex™
White Angelica™
Wolfberry Eye Cream™
Wolfberry Crisp™
YL Oola Grow™

Valor and coconut oil
Valor™ is not listed above in the products that contain nuts or nut-derived ingredients, though it does contain coconut oil.  Young Living does not currently have a comprehensive list of products containing coconut oil.  It is believed that coconut does not appear to affect most people who suffer from a nut allergy.  The coconut is a member of the palm family and only distantly related to the tree nut.  If you have any sort of allergy to coconuts or coconut oil, please read the ingredient label in detail on any Young Living products that are of interest to you.

If you read all of those bullet points, you deserve a high five! *high five here* You can look for more essential oil safety information at The Aromatherapy Trade Council educates health care practitioners and the general public alike on safe and responsible use of essential oils. If you find yourself in an emergency caused by essential oils, please do the following:

Eyes: If any essential oil accidentally makes it to the eye area, rinse with a fatty oil and then flush the eye with cool water.

Burning skin: If dermal irritation occurs after applying an essential oil apply a carrier oil to dilute further. Rinse off with a mild soap and water
While essential oil emergencies are rare, we do want to ensure your safety. Thank you so much for joining in! If you have any additional questions that you’d like to ask, please feel free to contact our customer service department.

This is my obligatory disclaimer: The information on this website is based upon my research and personal use of Young Living Essential Oils. I am not a doctor. Products and techniques mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease and they have not been evaluated by the FDA. My blog may contain some affiliate links to help support the continued education from this blog. Read the full disclosure/disclaimer here


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