by Sara Crow, L.Ac.
Some things are best accomplished under the night sky. Here we learn how solar and lunar forces unite to create harmony in skin care and essential oils.
Some categories of essential oils, such as the citrus oils*, markedly embody solar energy. Extracted from peels and fruit of citrus trees growing in sunny Mediterranean climates, they are often referred to as “distilled sunshine.” Their bright, sunny disposition lends perfectly to uplift a downtrodden heart and mind. This type of concentrated botanical sunlight is also highly purifying, excelling in lemony fresh natural cleaning products and atmospheric refinement when used in an aromatherapy diffuser. Like the sun, they uplift, awaken and energize.
Paradoxically, many citrus oils are incompatible with the sun! Many essential oils that fall into the category of citrus oils have a propensity to be phototoxic. When applied to the skin in a high enough concentration, and exposed to the sun, they increase the absorption of UV light and can cause serious burns. The skin has a natural protective layer that works to moderate the absorption of UV light, keeping it out of harm’s way. However, when citrus oils are added to the equation, an unnatural increase in the absorption of UV light occurs, and we can be burned rapidly and severely.
Here’s where we learn how lunar and solar forces unite to solve this problem! By applying diluted citrus essential oils ONLY AT NIGHT, it eliminates the negative consequences resulting from citrus + sunlight. Most importantly, completely avoiding the use of the more problematic citrus oils on the skin (especially undiluted) and going out in the sun greatly reduces risk. If you are using an essential oil product that contains citrus oil, such as your favorite natural perfume, we urge you to use it only where the shine doesn’t shine!
We can also prevent chronic low-grade damage to the skin by avoiding using citrus oils in a low dilution in body care products, such a body lotion. Ultimately, the choice is yours regarding risk and use – we are merely offering information regarding the behavior of this class of essential oils, the precautions, and steps to keep your skin lovely and safe.
* Neroli is NOT categorized as a citrus oil. It is a flower essential oil from a citrus tree. Totally safe in skin care day or night.