List of Phototoxic Essential Oils & #DIY Natural Sunscreen

Summer is in full swing, and for those that love to spend time outdoors it’s always a good idea to wear sunblock. But why not be earth friendly at the same time?

We have enough toxins and plastics in our oceans to cause major damage, so don’t add to the problem by using sunscreens with dangerous chemicals.

I love making  all natural products so I know exactly what’s in them, and what better way to take care of yourself (and/or family/friends) then by using an all natural sunscreen. I found a great recipe (found below list of phototoxic essential oils ).  Recipe is from Green Boot Girl. Thanks!

Be sure that if you add essential oils to your sunscreen stay away from using any of the phototoxic essential oils.

Not all citrus are phototoxic..

Robert Tisserand says,

Essential oils of verbena, tagetes, rue, mandarin leaf, bergamot fruit, lime fruit, bitter orange fruit, lemon fruit, grapefruit, cumin seeds and angelica root. Not tea tree, not patchouli, not celery, not cedarwood, not mandarin fruit, not tangerine fruit, not yuzu fruit, not bergamot FCF, and not parsley.

Essential oils with a high furanocoumarin content are photosensitizing, though a few photosensitizing oils have no furanocoumarins. Coumarin the molecule is not photosensitizing. It is found in several absolutes and in tiny amounts in one or two oils. Furanocoumarin molecules a made up of a furanoid ring attached to a coumarin molecule, which has two rings, so they are 3-ringed molecules.

Clementine oil has not been tested for phototoxicity.

here is a link to some helpful info on the NAHA website from Tony Burfield:

Phototoxic Essential oils (may cause sun sensitivity)

  • Angelica
  • Angelica root
  • *Bergamot oil
  • Cassia
  • Cumin
  • Dill
  • Fig leaf
  • Grapefruit
  • Ginger
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Lovage
  • Bitter orange
  • Rue
  • Tagetes
  • Verbena (or lemon verbena)

* Unless it is bergaptene-free oil – sold as Bergamot FCF.

When using essential oils you should keep in mind that some of them are photo-toxic. If you apply them to the skin, and it gets exposed to sunlight within 24 hours, the symptoms of dermatitis may develop.


Expressed citrus oils are considered to be photosensitizers. The furocoumarin bergaptene, or 5 methoxypsoralen known as 5-MOP, is the phototoxic constituent of citrus oils like bergamot or other citrus oils. The phototoxic effect is neutralized when the furocoumarin content is 0.0075%.

Phototoxic oils

bergamot, Citrus aurantium var. bergamia
cold pressed lime, Citrus medica
cold pressed bitter orange, Citrus aurantium var. amara
angelica, Angelica archangelica

Mild photosensitizers

Cold pressed grapefruit, Citrus paradisi
cold pressed or distilled lemon, Citrus limon, Lippia citridora
distilled lime, Citrus medica
cold pressed sweet orange, Citrus sinensis
cold pressed tangerine, Citrus reticulata blanco

Other oils that may cause phototoxicity

cedarwood, Cedrus atlanticum
cinnamon bark, Cinnamomum zeylanicum
clary sage, Salvia sclarea
elecampane, Inula helenium
ginger, Zingiber officinalis
lovage, Levisticum officinale
opoponax, Commiphora erythraea
patchouli, Pogostemon patchouli

As you can see, the phototoxic oils themselves are not causing any reaction when applied to the skin without exposure to ultraviolet light.  Make sure that the essential oils are safe for you and that you  dilute the essential oils properly.


Phototoxic Essential Oils & #DIY Natural Sunscreen

Sources: – offers a large selection of 1,750+ natural ingredients used in skin care, hair care, cosmeceutical applications, massage, aromatherapy, spa products and herbal preparations. FNWL also offers a large selection of packaging supplies, bath accessories, natural body scrubs, books and equipment.


I love this recipe! Thanks Green Boot Girl~! 🙂

Homemade Sunscreen

We live and Florida and love the beach.  We’ll be going to Honeymoon Island once a week when summer is finally here.


Just a few pictures to help you understand why. :0)

It is beautiful and the boys love playing in the water and sand.  If we are not at the beach, you can find us at the pool.  There is a great pool right by us and we go often.  I guess Florida is known for its outdoor recreation. We take advantage of it.

I have one son that is very tan, and one son is that is fair skinned.  I am right there with my fair skinned son, even though we tan easily… we have to be careful.  We mainly use natural sunscreen from the health food store.  Many of the ingredients in regular sunscreen contain toxic chemicals and endocrine disrupting chemicals.  These ingredients are especially  bad for children and women during child-bearing years.  Some sunscreens actually raise your chances of getting skin cancer.   There are some good options out there, but be careful even natural sunscreens can have sketchy ingredients.  Always read the LABELS.  If you want to read more in details about the risks and benefits check out this article.

Since making my homemade facial cream,  I have really wanted to try my own sunscreen formula.  Many of the ingredients are the same which makes it easy.  My boys are always in the sun, so it was a no-brainer.  Experiment time!!! I love this part.

Another way to help build and strengthen the skin and keep from burning~ take fermented cod- liver oil regularly.

I found the sunscreen formula here and changed it a little.

You can also find awesome ingredients at From Nature with Love;


  • 1/2 cup grape seed oil (coconut or olive)
  • 5 tsp zinc oxide (available online or in stores~make sure it is pure zinc oxide.  For those concerned about contaminants or nano-particles, I bought this version and it has larger particles)
  • 1 Tbsp Beeswax (I buy mine from here)
  • 2 Tbsp Natural Aloe Vera Gel (I buy mine from here) Not the kind with alcohol or propylene glycol.
  • 1/8 cup distilled water
  • 1 tsp Rosehip essential oil (optional~ use any for scent, just not citrus bc it is phototoxic) Check out why rosehip oil is so great for the skin.

Bulk organic herbs, spices and essential oils. Sin
How to Make It

Heat Oil and beeswax on double boiler (or in a mason jar sitting in a pan of low boiling water) until just melted.

Remove from heat, and add essential oils.

Put into bowl that will not be used for food, and add zinc oxide powder, set aside.

In small pan, heat water and aloe vera until just warm.

Add the water/aloe mixture slowly while whisking vigorously or use an immersion blender.

(Note here- I tried whisking vigorously and it did not work very well.  I will be buying the immersion blender on amazon before I try this again.  You can always just strain the extra liquid off or add more beeswax)

Add any additional essential oils or fragrances (except citrus)

I left mine sit in the refrigerator for a few minutes to set.  Mine was a little watery (hence the immersion blender).  I think that really fluff’s it more.

On my skin ~ nice consistency and texture.  It rubs right in, but you can make it thicker (more beeswax less water) or thinner (more water).

Extra Notes:

~this sunscreen is not completely waterproof and will need to be reapplied after swimming or sweating

~make sure not to inhale the zinc oxide powder (use a mask if necessary)

~this recipe has a SPF of about 20, adding more zinc will increase the SPF

~add more beeswax to make thicker sunscreen, less to make smooth sunscreen- adding about 3x the amount of beeswax and removing the water/tea will make a “sunscreen bar” that rubs on like stick deodorant

~vanilla extract is great for fragrance (but I like adding some of those essential oils I mentioned earlier in the post)

~if you store in the fridge, it will be thicker

~remove the Zinc Oxide and this makes a great lotion

We are heading to the beach tomorrow.  I am excited to have our “real” sunscreen.  Enjoy the sun this summer.  Make your own sunscreen and take lots of Vitamin D!

~Green Boot Girl

link to Green Boot Girl’s post about Homemade Sunscreen.

9 thoughts on “List of Phototoxic Essential Oils & #DIY Natural Sunscreen

  1. Penny

    I did hear that rosehip might be slightly phototoxic … not sure how backed up this claim is though i saw it in various websites and sources to let you know. i also commented on this in the homemade antiwrinkle site b/w…

    1. Thanks much for your comment!!!
      About the rosehip/UV concern, I read that the antioxidants in rosehip seed oil and other vitamin A-rich plant oils protect your skin from the damaging effects of UV radiation; rather, synthetic forms like retinyl palmitate are what can cause photosensitivity. That said, layering SPF or just using those oils at night wouldn’t hurt either.

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