Can Essential Oils Be Dangerous?

Marketing claims run amok! Packaging promises that lie! Organic? Vegan? Safe? What to believe with your beauty products? I know. I get it. And, more so, because I’m in the industry, I’m a marketer, and well…because I’m just nosy. With double talk coming from manufacturers about how Lavender is a cure-all; with hyper-picky Mommy bloggers demanding research into potential cancer-causing parabens, no one has come out & answered you straight up – are essential &/or botanical oils actually safe?

First off, let’s distinguish the serious art of aromatherapy from fun-and-fruity-scented products for the restless few. Michelle Reynolds, a leading expert in the field of clinical aromatherapy for palliative care and pre/postpartum health, puts it simply: “Medical, or clinical, aromatherapy uses pure, unadulterated essential oils, which are derived from plant material such as herbs, flowers, roots, trees and fruits.” So, yes, essential & botanical oils are used with a healing intent in mind.

Now, on any given day, undoubtedly you've come across those unverified reports flood those ad-flashing blogs to scare the bejeezus out of you – essential oils are toxic! Safety must be kept in mind when used! Did it pass the lethal dose test? Uh, who actually has run one of these and if so, where are the dead rats to prove it? There does seem to be a relative dearth of qualified spokespeople on aromatherapy in cyber space outside the founders of some of your favourite brands. So, rather than have you take my word for it, I turned to the soon-to-be Dr. Nicki Zevola is the founder and editor-in-chief of to give us the science-based scoop. Named one of the top 30 beauty bloggers in the world by since 2009, Nicki is a medical student within the highly ranked University of Pittsburgh B.S./M.D. Medical School Guarantee Program, expecting to graduate in two years. In 2008, she graduated from undergraduate studies as a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honors Society and magna cum laude with degrees in Biological Sciences and Physics/Astronomy, and a minor in Chemistry. Not only does she know about science, but she also takes a cold, hard, scrupulous look at trendy and some not-so-neccessary ingredients & their efficacy on her widely reputable blog. It’s because of her detailed disscetion on retinoids that I first started using them over 3 years ago.

And, she’s also one of the few…actually, the only skin care blogger who discusses the issue of essential oils & their supposed dangers. Quite the contrary. Nicki found:
  • Your favourite essentials will bring some of the highest medicinal attributes.
  • Some varieties, herb tinctures, others have scientifically shown to bring anti-bacterial action. (Journal of Applied Microbiology, 2001).
  • Purity of your blends count. Final face and body oil products should be chemical & preservative-free.
  • Essential oils have shown to help your skincare beauty products penetrate deeply.
For more of her detailed discussion, read here. I’m so appreciative of Nikki’s findings on essences as her work alongside popular derms (who have launched oil-based serums) lend serious credence & recognition to dedicated amateurs like me.

High-profiled punditry does help cut through the clutter of mass marketing, folks.