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Q&A: Are vaporized essential oils a fire hazard?


Marianne asks:
A perennial question – if essential oils are diffused in a room and someone lights a candle or a cigarette, is this a fire risk? If not, why not? At a famous Oncology hospital in the U.K. essential oil diffusers are not used for this reason – in case a spark from any electrical equipment (including pulling out a plug from the wall) gets in touch with any diffused oil! But you could say the same, if essential oils are used for massage, creams and compresses, the scent is […]

By |September 8th, 2011|Q & A, Safety|4 Comments

Lavender oil – skin savior or skin irritant?


Dit artikel is ook beschikbaar in het Nederlands!


A question came up recently on TheBeautyBrains forum: Lavender oil in cosmetics – does it cause skin cell death, and is that a problem? This was in response to the description of “lavender extract and oil” on Paula Begoun’s Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary. Paula is known for her belief that fragrances, natural or synthetic, have no place in cosmetic products. Here are some random examples from her website: “Cedarwood oil: there is evidence that cedarwood oil is allergenic and can cause […]

Q&A: is cedarwood oil safe in pregnancy?

Nancy B. writes

Hello Robert,
I met you at the AIA conference in Denver, CO 4 years ago.
I follow your blog and have subscribed to your posts and comments. You are such a wealth of knowledge and I love the way to combine research and common sense.

I have a question about juniperus ashei. My company is called Touch of Earth. I have several products in the marketplace, including an insect repellent called Bugz Be Gone. I am thinking of adding about 1.5% Texas Cedarwood to the formula. The reason for this is […]

By |August 18th, 2011|Q & A, Safety|Comments Off on Q&A: is cedarwood oil safe in pregnancy?

Q&A: spilled essential oils discolor skin

Q&AJoanne L. writes:
Hi Robert, I was wondering if you have any thoughts on the following – a short course student of mine works in an essential oil / fragrance suppliers. Recently she poured an unspecified amount of Lemon Scented Myrtle oil over her leg into her shoe which she continued to wear for a number of hours until the end of the day. Her foot and leg turned an orangey red for over a week until she went on holiday and swam in the pool. The same student also spilled lemongrass […]

By |August 11th, 2011|Q & A, Safety|3 Comments

Lavender oil and pregnancy

Pregnancy oil (iStock)A Google search for “Avoid high doses of lavender oil during pregnancy because it is a uterine stimulant” produces 1,110,000 hits, though none of these will tell you how much constitutes a “high dose”. (Yes, I checked every single one.) Other Google search results about lavender in pregnancy include:

Lavender oil uterine stimulant” – 31,900 hits.

Lavender oil emmenagogue” – 31,200 hits.

Lavender should be avoided first trimester” – 241,000 hits.

Clearly there is some concern about the safety of lavender oil during pregnancy, although there are also a number […]

By |July 22nd, 2011|Myth-busting, Safety|40 Comments

Negative bias

Safety legislation does not always accord with current knowledge on safety, for the simple reason that new scientific data are always being published. Guidelines are periodically made more stringent, but they are almost never loosened, even when new information suggests that this would make sense. Regulators don’t like to admit that they were wrong, and this is especially true of the European Union. In the United States, although the FDA has few regulations that directly restrict cosmetic ingredients, most manufacturers, especially the larger ones, follow both IFRA guidelines and EU regulations. Taken together, these result in some extremely stringent […]

By |June 21st, 2011|Legislation, Rants, Safety|19 Comments

Cats and essential oil safety

myrtle copy Myrtle

I recently helped Vicki Rae Thorne with an article about cats and essential oil safety. You can find the article here, and it appears in the July 2011 edition of Animal Wellness Magazine. Vicki canvassed many opinions, and it’s an excellent piece, though I will say that I am not quite as concerned as it might appear. It’s true that cats are missing an enzyme (glucuronyl transferase) that humans do possess, and which is important in the metabolism of many essential oil constituents. […]

By |June 14th, 2011|Safety|60 Comments

Personal Care Truth

Why I am one of the “experts” at Personal Care Truth.

We human beings have a strong emotional attachment to our beliefs, and our actions are not always logical. Take, for example, the green movement. Are you a “green consumer”? I like to think that I am. Do you want products that are organic/fair trade/do not harm the environment/come from sustainable sources etc? In holding such beliefs, it’s all too easy to demonize synthetic ingredients.

When we hear that sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES) contains 1,4-dioxane, and that 1,4-dioxane is a probable carcinogen, in a strange way this is comforting, […]

By |March 8th, 2011|Safety|7 Comments

Can essential oils raise blood pressure?

Blood pressureThe status quo, the widely believed “wisdom” of the day, is always difficult to change, however illogical or wrong it may be. Blood letting had been widely used for 1,500 years before physicians figured out that it was not, after all, the ideal go-to therapy for all ills. In that context, 36 years is not a long time, but that’s how long the aromatherapy community has been under the illusion that oils of rosemary, hyssop, sage and thyme should not be used for people with high blood pressure.

In 1964, […]

By |August 31st, 2010|Myth-busting, Safety|33 Comments

Is clary sage oil estrogenic?

According to Franchomme & Pénöel (1990), clary sage oil is estrogen-like, due to its content of sclareol, which is said to be structurally similar to human estrogens. The sclareol content of clary sage oil is given as 1.6-7.0%. In gas chromatographic analyses of clary sage oil, a sclareol content of 0.1-0.4% is typical. However sclareol concentrations tend to be underestimated due to the very low volatility of the molecule, so 1.6-7.0% is probably reasonable. Clary sage absolute is a solid material, and contains about 70% sclareol, which is also solid.

Some of the more common Internet comments about the hormonal effects […]

By |April 25th, 2010|Myth-busting, Safety|20 Comments
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