Updated: Sep 30, 2020
Are Essential Oils Dangerous?
Essential oils have been used for medical purposes, skincare and aromatherapy for absolutely ages, however, recently, they seem to be a topic surrounded by much debate as to whether they are safe to use topically. Just go onto YouTube and watch your favourite skincare ‘guru’ bash essential oils and any product that incorporates them.
Should you use essential oils in your skincare?
Essential oils have so many beneficial, therapeutic properties, with scientific research papers to back up the claims.
The answer is, it’s up to you. Everyone has different skin types and irritations. Essential oils can be very safe when used appropriately. Make sure you do your research if you are using them at home by yourself. Here in Europe, we have the strictest guidelines in place for skincare products. A general rule of thumb is that these oils cannot be approved if more than 1% is used in a product (in many cases). Oils such as Rose Absolute won’t even be approved if used over 0.02% for safety reasons. That’s tiny! So actually, it’s really not all that bad, if you just consider some of these things:
DO's and DONT's
1). NEVER use essential oils neat on the skin!
That means that they should never be applied undiluted. Essential oils should be diluted in another carrier oil, think sweet almond or apricot kernel. Using essential oils undiluted is asking for trouble!
2). Do NOT add drops directly into your bath
Yikes, who’s guilty of doing this all of the time? The Tisserand Institute (aka the Godfathers of essential oil knowledge and safety) advise not doing this as oil does not disperse into water, it floats on top and sticks to your skin, possibly leading to irritation. It is annoying, but just save yourself the hassle and buy a specially formulated bath oil for happier skin.
3). ALWAYS do a patch test
If you have sensitive or compromised skin issues like eczema, proceed with caution, as there could be a possibility of irritation. Patch tests are always recommended.
4). SEEK professional advice first
If you are pregnant, or looking to use something that contains essential oils on children, please get approval first from a medical practitioner who knows what they’re talking about. Again, due to the fantastic regulations in Europe, products should state if it is unsafe for pregnant women and young children. According to the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy, there are quite a few oils that are safe during pregnancy when diluted efficiently. Essential oils that you want to avoid while pregnant, in labour or breastfeeding include; aniseed, basil, hyssop, pennyroyal, tansy and there are a handful more that you should avoid. Most others are fine.
5). Be AWARE
Prolonged use of the same essential oils could result in a skin sensitivity in the long run. Less is more.