Citrus and the Sunshine

Citrus and the Sunshineby Mary Howard RN

Photosensitivity and Essential Oils

When certain essential oils, mostly the citrus oils are exposed to untraviolet light (UVA) they cause inflammation, blistering, reddening and burning to the skin. (1)

Distilled essential oils do not have this side effect. Cold pressed essential oils or Expressed essential oils can be photosensitive to the skin. doTERRA’s citrus essential oils are expressed (cold pressed) so we do need to be careful.

Now the question is how careful? for how long after application?

It is recommended not to use the citrus oils to areas of the skin that will have extended, direct exposure to sunlight within 12 hrs. (1) You can have reactions to sunshine up to 36 hrs after the essential oils have been applied (2)

It is fine to use citrus oil in shampoos. Also if you wash your skin before sun exposure you should be fine.

Some oils are more likely to cause photosensitity that others. For example in a base lotion of 30 ml (2 Tablespoons):

So going from this chart it looks like Grapfruit and lemon would be the safest citrus to use in lotions and skin products. The more you dilute the safer they are. I did not see Wild Orange in any of the charts. Bitter Orange would be comparable to our doTERRA Petitgrain and is extracted from the Leaf of the orange tree.

I hope you have found something in the article that is helpful to you. As is true in many things – All things in moderation…


  1. AromaWeb
  2. Using Oils Safely
  3. Moon Haven

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