In the Know: AromaWorks
Are essential oils safe to use on pregnant clients?
The use of essential oils in pregnancy has previously been a controversial topic, but products containing 100% pure essential oils are often much safer than people believe and can be suitable for daily use.
The percentage of essential oil to carrier oil in a cosmetic product should be no higher than 1.5% to be classed as safe for daily use in pregnancy.
When essential oils are applied to the skin, they are absorbed through the hair follicles into the bloodstream; therefore it is imperative for the essential oil blends to be safe for mother and baby.
Certain essential oils such as German chamomile, lavender and ylang ylang, are great during pregnancy, as they help calm and relax the mother. Essential oils such as anise, fennel, mugwort, myrrh and sage should, however, be avoided during pregnancy as they could trigger a miscarriage or induce premature labour.
According to Robert Tisserand's Essential Oil Safety Second Edition from 2014, around 300 essential oils are commonly traded in the world market. Roughly 20% of these are used in the food industry, 20% in the pharmaceutical industry and the remaining 60% in the fragrance industry – for use in household products, cosmetics and of course aromatherapy. Tisserand suggests that out of these 300 variants, there are 48 essential oils that should not be used in pregnancy.
Therapists can be assured that many of the more commonly used essential oils, such as eucalyptus, frankincense, geranium, mandarin and neroli, are deemed safe to use – provided the client’s pregnancy is going well and there are no underlying medical conditions. The oils must also always be diluted in water for use in the bath or in a vaporiser, or with a natural carrier oil for topical use.
If a therapist wishes to create a tailored blend of oils for a pregnant client they should always refer to a reputable academic book such as Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals by Robert Tisserand, or Valerie Ann Worwood's The Fragrant Pharmacy. Worwood does, for example, recommend various blends to treat pregnancy concerns, including morning sickness, indigestion, and cramp. Only, however, after the first trimester.
It is essential for therapists treating pregnant clients to be fully trained in using appropriate essential oils, and be confident in positioning the client to provide an enjoyable experience that is safe for both mother and baby.
Nikki Lewin is the product specialist and head trainer for natural home fragrance and skincare company AromaWorks. She joined the team in June 2014, has created AromaWorks’ training material and is responsible for training all the brand’s accounts. Lewin has also analysed the ingredients used in all the company’s products, since joining the brand.