Critical compounds in essential oils
Pure essential oils are concentrated aromatic compounds found in the seeds, stems, roots, flowers, and bark of plants, obtained by different procedures – the most common is steam distillation.
Often, however, citrus essential oils are obtained by mechanical pressing. They have an exceptional way to naturally boost your mood, relax the mind and soothe your skin.
Although there is a growing body of evidence that essential oils have antibacterial, antiviral, and insecticidal properties, like any other plant-based substance, they are not to be taken lightly.
Research shows that negative side effects are really rare when using essential oils, of course, with moderate use. But there are some safety precautions to be aware of when using essential oils.
Never apply essential oils to the eyes or surroundings, the ear canal.
To minimize the risks of essential oils being potentially bad for your skin, you need to choose a quality essential oils manufacturer, trust his knowledge and make sure about the origin, composition and method of use.
International Fragrance Association (IFRA) determines which essential oils can be used for dermal application and in what concentration. The guidelines are based on the critical compounds present in the essential oils. The recommended concentration varies depending on the product type (rinse off or leave-on).
4 most critical compounds in essential oils are:
- skin irritants (cinnamon aldehyde in cinnamon bark)
- compounds that can trigger hypersensitivity (16 compounds to be classified as allergens)
- compounds considered abortifacient (pulegone, isopulegone and menthofuran, thujone, apiol)
How to avoid skin irritation and hypersensitivity
Essential oils are highly concentrated. Huge quantities of plant parts are needed for just one small bottle. Pure essential oils tend to have stronger odours and a more potent aroma than diluted essential oils.
The powerful scent of pure essential oils makes them popular as fragrances. Still, the concentrated nature of pure essential oils also means they should be avoided or diluted for most types of aromatherapy. We dedicated an entire blog to the theme where and how aromatherapy can affect us.
That is why bottles of 100 % essential oils have all the warning labels, so we are even more careful when using them. Warning labels are called pictograms.
If essential oils are not diluted, this can cause reactions in sensitive individuals. Irritation appears when a certain substance causes redness, itching or rashes when applied to the skin.
When essential oils are diluted with a vegetable carrier oil, they are safe for children, pregnant and nursing women and anyone with sensitive skin. However, some essential oil blends are not recommended for sensitive skin, children or expectant mothers without consulting a qualified healthcare practitioner.
Our Moodchanger aromatherapy essential oil set is professionally and carefully selected, 100% natural and already diluted and therefore completely skin safe. Our Moodchanger essential oil product line also includes specific oils for very sensitive skin.
There are a few basic areas of the body where you can apply aromatic oil: temples on the side of the head, behind the ears, inner elbows, inner wrists, back of the knees and bottom of the feet.
Moodchanger aromatherapy oil set contains information that can absorb through the skin and transmit positive messages to a brain region involved in controlling emotions.
Take a sensitivity test
So, how you know are essential oils bad for your skin? As a common rule, if the essential oil is used for the first time, a sensitivity test is necessary to perform.
Apply 3 drops of a product with essential oils to the inside of the hand (from elbow to wrist) and leave it on the skin for 12-24 hours.
If redness, swelling, blisters, or any other side effect occurs, it is most likely that you are sensitive or allergic to this essential oil and do not use it. If you are not sure, you can repeat the test.
Avoid use on damaged skin. However, it is also necessary to be aware of phototoxicity.
Avoid phototoxic oils before exposure to sunlight
Phototoxic oils are obtained by mechanical compression, not by a steam distillation process.
Phototoxicity means that essential oils should not be used for at least 12 hours before exposure to sunlight as you may suffer burns. The sun can burn and damage our skin more, and irreparable consequences will remain on it.
Orange is an unusual case, as three different essential oils are obtained from it, each with completely different healing properties: Neroli (not phototoxic), Sweet orange (not phototoxic), Petitgrain – (not phototoxic), Bitter orange (phototoxic).
7 phototoxic essential oils are:
- Bergamot (Citrus Bergamia) – high phototoxicity,
- Lime – cold-pressed (Citrus Aurantifolia) – high phototoxicity,
- Grapefruit – cold-pressed (Citrus Paradisi),
- Lemon – cold-pressed (Citrus Limonum) – high phototoxicity,
- Mandarin leaves – cold-pressed (Citrus Reticulata, Citrus Nobilis),
- Bitter orange – cold-pressed (Citrus Amara),
- Angelica (Angelica Archangelica).
Bergamot essential oil is considered to be the most phototoxic oil. Numerous studies have confirmed that phototoxicity is caused by furanocoumarin (bergapten) found in the essential oil obtained by mechanical compression.
Bergamot oil, therefore, produced dark pigmentation and reddening of the skin after direct exposure to UV sunlight. Dark circles on the skin, however, can remain for many years. This skin condition is called bergapten dermatitis. Bergamot essential oil (where it says bergapten free) can be used safely and without worries in the summer.
It is important to know how the essential oil is obtained, as citrus essential oils obtained by steam distillation are not considered phototoxic.
Which essential oils compounds are more likely to cause allergic reactions?
An allergic reaction is that the immune system responds to a particular substance. Once this reaction occurs, an allergy will occur with each contact with the substance.
Between 1 and 3 % of people is thought to have allergic reactions to natural fragrances.
All essential oils contain some naturally occurring allergens. Since 2003, the list of allergens in the EU has 26 fragrances, 16 of which are present in essential oils.
The most common allergen is the compound limonene (d-limonene), which is found in as many as 211 essential oils, especially in citrus essential oils.
The list of allergens is always stated in the ingredients list (INCI) on the product label.
24 of the most common essential oil allergens:
Methyl Heptine Carbonate
Experiencing an anaphylactic reaction to essential oils is rare but still possible, in this case it is necessary to seek medical help.
Most allergy reactions to essential oils are mild and can be treated at home.
- If you applied the essential oil topically, thoroughly wash the affected skin with gentle soap and cool water.
- If you get the essential oil in your eyes, flush your eyes with cool water and seek medical advice.
How safe are aromatherapy oils for pregnancy and birth?
Pleasant odours have a beneficial effect on the central nervous and hormonal systems – balance is established in the body. If our psyche is in balance, our body will also be healthier.
Massages, baths and wraps that we perform during pregnancy connect us with the baby. And if the mother is relaxed and content during pregnancy, baby will also be satisfied.
7 safest essential oils in pregnancy:
- Bergamot (Citrus Bergamia)- (bergapten free! version)
- Mandarin (Citrus Reticulata)
- Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia)
- Nutmeg (Salvia Sclarea)
- Rose (Rosa Damascena)
- Benzoin (Styrax Tonkinensis)
- Pelargonium (Pelargonium Graveolens)
Which essential oils to avoid during pregnancy?
• Anise (Seed Or Star) (Pimpinella Anisum),
• Birch (Betula Lenta),
• Basil (Ocimum Basilicum),
• Buchu, Camphor (Cinnamomum Camphora),
• Sea Buckthorn (Hyssopus Officinalis),
• Pennyroyal (Mentha Pulegium),
• Carrot Seed,
• Sweet Fennel,
• Spanish Lavender (Lavandula Stoechas),
• Real Wormwood (Artemisia Absinthium),
• Common Wormwood (Artemisia Vulgaris),
• Tarragon (Artemisia Dracunculus),
• Parsley (Seed, Leaf),
• Petroselinum Sativum,
• Tanacetum Vulgare,
• Thuja Occidentalis,
• Gaultheria Procumbens.
To summarize some warnings when choosing essential oils
Essential oils in their natural form are the best that nature has to offer. Essential oils and hydrolats are very popular in natural cosmetics due to their many healing properties, and I adore them myself!
How do you know, are essential oils bad for your skin? We must be aware that natural does not mean completely safe to use, so we must be careful and economical when using essential oils.
If you have very sensitive skin, do a skin patch test to check for any irritation. If your skin gets irritated, rinse the affected area with vegetable oil or full-fat milk.
Aromatherapy massage should not be done directly over bruises, unhealed wounds, fractures, skin rashes, inflamed or weak skin.
Do not use essential oils near the eyes or mouth, nor should you use them before going out in the sun or to a tanning booth.
Pregnant women in the first trimester should avoid certain essential oil products and treatments. Also, children under the age of five should not use it because they can be very sensitive to the essential oils.
With our aromatherapy essential oils, we made sure to include all important information on the label. Plus, they are deluded and therefore the chances of having an allergic reaction to them is almost none, if you choose a sensitive skin line. Check our products and feel free to contact us for any further information you might need.