Essential Oils Not Safe for Kids

It is important to understand which essential oils are and are not safe to use on or around children. Their bodies are smaller and still developing making some oils too potent for their bodies.

I have used this list and find it to be one of the better ones out there. It was compiled by a certified aromatherapist using the Aromahead Institute and Essential Oil Safety book by Robert Tisserand. I couldn't have done a better list myself. Here is the full link to her post:

Here is the full list of oils not safe for children as per her post:


For safe oils, use a .5-1% dilution or lower.

(Do not use essential oils for children under 3 months old.)

Bergamot(Citrus bergamia) For older kids, be aware that bergamot essential oil is a phototoxic oil, which means they should just be diffused or only used topically when you can protect the area from the sun or avoid sun exposure after use.

Carrot Seed (Daucus carota)

Cedarwood, Atlas/Virgina (Cedrus atlantica, Cedrus deodora, Juniperus virginiana)

Cinnamon bark(Cinnamomum verum) Never safe topically for any age.

Cinnamon leaf(Cinnamomum verum

Citronella (Cymbopogon nardus

Coriander(Coriandrum sativum)

Cypress(Cupressus sempervires)

Fir needle (Abies sibirica)

Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)

Grapefruit (Citrus paradii) Expressed grapefruit is phototoxic. 

Helichrysum (Helichrysum angustifolium)

Lemon(Citrus limon) Lemon essential oil that is expressed is phototoxic

Mandarin(Citrus reticulata)

Neroli (Citrus aurantium)

Palma Rosa (Cymbopogon martinii)

Petitgrain(Citrus aurantium)

Pinepinus divaricata, pinus resinosa, pinus strobus, pinus sylvestris

Ravensar(Ravensara aromatica)

Rosalina (Melaleuca ericifolia)

Rose Otto(Rosa damascena)

Sandalwood (Santalum spicatum)

Spruce(picea abies, picea glauca, picea mariana, picea ruben)

Sweet Orange(Citrus sinensis)

Tangerine (Citrus reticulata)

Tea Tree(Melaleuca alternifolia)

Essential Oils Not Safe for Kids Under 2 (Diffusion Usually Safe Unless Otherwise Noted)

For safe oils, use a 2-3% dilution or lower.

Most of these are indicated unsafe just for topical application due to the stronger nature of the oil as well as possible skin reactions. Technically they are safe for diffusing unless otherwise noted.  I commented where there’s explicit safety concern for diffusing. However, as a practice I steer clear of them for both topical and diffusing since there are other, gentler oils I can use for the younger kids. If there is a small amount of one of them in a pre-made blend I am diffusing I may still diffuse it, but using a smaller amount. 

Basil (lemon) Ocimum x citriodorum

Basil, Sweet(Ocimum basilicum)

Benzoin(Styrax all varieties)

Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) 

Cassia (Cinnamomum cassia, Cinnamomum aromaticum)

Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)

Clove Bud, Clove Leaf, Clove Stem(Syzygium aromaticum, Eugenia caryophyllata, Eugenia aromatica) 

Copaiba Basalm(Copaifera officinalis)

Garlic(Allium sativum)

Ginger(Zingiber officinale)

Ginger LilyHedychium coronarium

Frankincense(Boswellia carterii)

Hyssop(Hyssopus officinalis (pinocamphone chemptype) – avoid diffusing too)

Jasmine absolute (Jasminum sambac)

Juniper Berry (Juniperus communis)

Lemon Leaf/Lemon Petitgrain(Citrus x limon, Citrus limonum)

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus and all varieties)

Lemon Verbena (see Verbena, Lemon in this section) 

Massoia (Cryptocarya massoy, Cryptocaria massoia, Massoia aromatica) avoid diffusing, too

May Chang(Litsea cubeba, Litsea citrata, Laura cubeba

Melissa/Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Myrtle (honey)(Melaleuca teretifolia)

Myrtle (lemon)/Sweet Verbena Backhousia citriodora

Oakmoss (Evernia prunastri)

Opopanax (commiphora guidottii)

Oregano(all varieties)

Peru Balsam (all varieties)

Saffron (Crocus sativus)

Sage (Wild Mountain) (Hemizygia petiolata)

Savory(Satureia hortensis, Satureia montana)

Styrax(Liquidambar orientalis, Liquidambar styraciflua)

Sweet Marjoram(Marjorana hortensis)

Patchouli(Pogostemon cablin)

Spearmint (Mentha cardiaca, Mentha spicata<span;>)

Tea Leaf/Black Tea(Camellia sinensis, Thea sinensis)

Tea Tree (lemon) (Leptospermum petersonii, Leptospermum citratum, Leptospermum liversidgei)

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris, Thymus Zygis)

Treemoss (Pseudevernia furfuracea)

Tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa)

Turpentine (all varieties)

Verbena, Lemon (Aloysia triphylla, Aloysia citriodora, Lippa citriodora, Lippa triphylla) Lemon Verbena is phototoxic.

Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanoides)

Valerian (valeriana officinalis)

Ylang-Ylang (Cananga odorata)

All the oils listed as not safe for older kids

Essential Oils Not Safe for Kids Under 6 (Diffusion and Topical)

(for safe oils, use 3% dilution or lower)

(for safe oils, use 3% dilution or lower)

Anise/Aniseed (Pimpinella anisum)

Anise (Star) (illicium verum)

Cajuput(Melaleuca cajuputi, Melaleuca leucadendron)

Cardamon (Elettaria cardamomum)

Cornmint (Mentha arvensis, Mentha canadensis)

Fennel (bitter), Fennel (sweet) (Foeniculum vulgare)

Galangal (lesser) (Alpinia officinarum, Languas officinarum)

Ho Leaf/Ravintsara (Cinnamomum camphora (cineole chemotype) 

Laurel Leaf/Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis)

Marjoram (Spanish) (Thymus mastichina)

Myrtle (aniseed) (Backhousia anisata)

Myrtle (red)(Myrtus communis)

Niaouli (cineole chemotype) 

Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans)

Peppermint(you can use a drop or two in the diffuser, but do be careful. I don’t recommend topical use generally but if it’s in a blend at less than .5% dilution it is ok. Personally I just stay away from peppermint for this age range.). 

Rambiazana Helichrysum gymnocephalum

Sage White/Greek (Salvia fruiticosa, Salvia triloba, Sage, Salvia apiana)

Sanna (Hedychium spicatum)

 Saro(Cinnamosma fragrans)

All the oils listed as not safe for older kids

Essential Oils Not Safe for Kids Under 10-12 (Diffusion and Topical)

Birch (sweet)Betula lenta

Chaste TreeVitex agnus castus

Any Eucalyptus (including blobulous Eucalyptus radiata) except Eucalyptus citriodora (This is a pretty conservative approach and it is possible to use these oils highly diluted safely for younger kids but other oils work well for similar purposes so I take the more conservative route. Oils high in 1,8 cineole can be dangerous for young children.)

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Wintergreen (avoid for any kids)

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