Essential oils safety – topical usage and skin sensitivities

I was reading a post on a Facebook group recently where a lady had an adverse reaction from the Past Tense blend. She had applied it neat to the back of her neck, and the blend left a nasty red rash. Perhaps she didn’t patch test first, which is highly recommended with anything new you apply to your skin, regardless if you have skin sensitivities. However, Past Tense is one of the proprietary blends from doTERRA that is not diluted in Fractionated Coconut Oil. This demonstrates the importance of essential oils safety when applying them topically.

If you’ve been to one of my essential oil classes, you’ll know I always recommend diluting these blends, especially Past Tense. It’s strong! However, others love Past Tense and Clary Calm applied neat. At the end of the day, it’s your personal preference. However, be aware of sensitivities caused by applying essential oil neat to your skin. I would recommend anyone trying these blends for the first time to patch test them in an inconspicuous area, diluted in a carrier oil.

Salubelle (Immortelle in the US), HD Clear, InTune, Past Tense and Clary Calm can all be diluted. The advice I provide to my team is to decanter half of the blend off into an empty roller ball bottle, and top up with carrier oil until they are happy with the dilution ratio.

Safety information about skin sensitivities:
There are two different types of skin reactions that can occur when using essential oils topically. They are quite different and are often initiated by different chemical components in an essential oil.

Skin irritations will sometimes occur in one individual and not in another and this is because the skin of one might be sensitive to a particular component in the essential oil. Skin irritation happens on the first exposure to the irritation, the reaction is rapid and the severity will depend on the concentration of the irritant present. The skin responds with an inflammatory reaction. So when you see an essential oil with the caution that it may be a skin irritant use it with caution on people with sensitive skins.

Skin sensitisation is a type of allergic reaction. The oil may not produce any reaction on the first contact, however once the allergen has penetrated the skin, the body’s immune system reacts to fight off the invader causing a rash on the skin. Sensitisation reactions can also take the form of inflammation, breathlessness, nausea or headache.
Dilute your essential oils prior to use on the skin and use caution with oils that are more likely to cause irritation and sensitisation. Remember that even if you’ve been using one or more essential oils undiluted to date and you haven’t had a problem, that doesn’t guarantee that you won’t develop sensitisation with repeated exposure. Proper dilution is always recommended.

Robert Tisserand says:
Safety guidelines exist to protect those who would likely have an adverse reaction, and in many cases this is a minority. Whether it’s 1%, 5% or 10% of people it’s a minority, meaning that most will not experience that particular adverse reaction. This of course does not mean that a safety guideline is wrong or can be ignored. In recent years, I have come across many reports of adverse skin reactions from aromatherapy enthusiasts applying undiluted essential oils topically. These reactions may not happen for a while – weeks or months in some cases, and maybe never – but if and when they do, they are not pleasant.

Further reading:
Essential oil safety and application
Tisserand – Safety guidelines
Tisserand – New Survey Reveals Dangers of Not Diluting Essential Oils
Aromaweb – Diluting essential oils

Tagged under:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

error: Content is protected!