November 06, 2019

How citrus essential oils boost mood, productivity, and health

We already know that citrus essential oils can give a zingy and energizing boost to your beauty routine – but did you know that they can also boost your mood?

Essential oils are potent, concentrated liquids derived from plants. They are extracted through steam distillation or, in the case of citrus essential oils, are extracted by cold pressing citrus peels. They can be used as part of an aromatherapy or DIY spa routine, and are ultra beneficial for your mood and mind when activated in a diffuser.

Often, citrus oils are a key ingredient in mood boosting oil blends, which is why they’re referred to as “happy” oils by aromatherapy experts. When inhaled, these sweet-yet-tangy elixirs can uplift one’s mood and even offer the user an energy jump-start.

Different combinations of pink grapefruit, lemon, orange, and bergamot can have different benefits, and can be mixed and matched for different scent profiles. Here are our top tips for using citrus essential oils for an uplifting sensory experience!

Citrus grove

What Makes Citrus a “Happy” Oil?

OK, so how can an essential oil boost your mood? Studies have shown that the aromatic molecules present in citrus oils cross the blood-brain barrier when inhaled, having a direct impact on areas of the brain that control feelings of anxiety and depression.

The nerve cells in the nose detect a smell – of sweet and lively bergamot for example – and send a message through the olfactory nerve to the brain. The brain receives this scent message through an area of the brain called the limbic system, a section of the brain directly related to emotional wellbeing, pain and pleasure.

The limbic system is also tied up with memory and emotional responses, so aromatherapy can be a tool to trigger calming memories or positive emotional responses. Because of this, citrus aromatherapy is a powerful tool for treating depression.


Specific Citrus Benefits

Each citrus oil has its own set of mood-related benefits. For instance, lemon, lime, bergamot, pink grapefruit, and orange essential oils are all instant pick-me-ups with a variety of benefits.

The collective family of citrus oils boasts a range of subtle scent differences, but each can be clearly identified by its aroma. Orange and bergamot are slightly sweeter; grapefruit has a floral and bitter aroma; lemon is lively and bracing. Whichever citrus essential oil you choose for your diffuser, you’ll notice that family and friends might be quite good at distinguishing which citrus it is!


One standout oil for treating emotional wellbeing is bergamot oil, a particularly powerful citrus oil acknowledged for its uplifting effects.

A 2014 study with 58 patients did a test where every patient was massaged with a bergamot oil blend every day. Compared to the control group, who were not treated with bergamot daily, the group who received aromatherapy hand massages reported less stress and depression. Other studies looking at the anti-anxiety potential of bergamot had similarly promising results.


Lemon oil is a natural antibacterial and stimulant, so diffusing it into the air has a naturally purifying and refreshing effect. What’s even more interesting is that lemon oil is also a powerful antioxidant, which means it can strengthen the immune system. Its clean, crisp scent can also boost productivity and energize the mind.

Pink Grapefruit

Pink grapefruit essential oil, when inhaled, can be effective at staving off symptoms of the common cold, such as congestion and swollen nasal passages. The floral, bitter aroma of this citrus oil is bright and uplifting, making it a great room spray oil for at-home spa treatments.


Orange has a major chemical component of limonene, which has been shown to reduce anxiety by lowering the heart rate. Because of this, orange used topically or inhaled can be a highly effective therapy for physiological symptoms of anxiety.

Bitter Orange

Bitter orange essential oil smells more pleasant than one would think. Distinguished for its tart, fresh aroma, bitter orange is known for energizing the body whilst also alleviating anxiety. However, this essential oil may cause some photosensitivity when exposed to UV rays, so if you incorporate this ingredient in your skin care, keep it within your nightly regimen.

Citrus essential oil

4 Ways to Use Citrus Essential Oil for Mood

There are a few basic application methods for using citrus oil to boost your mood. We’ve broken down the four most popular methods here:

With a Carrier Oil

The simplest method is to blend with a light carrier oil, then apply a few drops to the insides of your wrists for an all-day aromatic boost. Our favorite carrier oils are: coconut oil, argan oil, and vitamin E oil.

In a Bottle

Alternately, you can use citrus essential oil to make your very own D.I.Y. facial spray. To do this, add a few drops of citrus essential oil to a hydrosol, purified water, or witch hazel in a spray bottle. Use this mixture as an all-day refresher for keeping makeup set and your complexion dewy. Additionally, mixing your citrus essential oil with a flower hydrosol, like rose or lavender, makes a great room spray!


For a more intense skin care experience, you can even enjoy a mini-sauna from the comfort of your own home! Place a few drops in a steaming bowl of heated water and rest your head over the bowl. This will open your pores and your nasal passages, and allow for absorption of the oil molecules into your deep epidermal layers.

In a Diffuser

You can also try pouring an oil blend in your home or office essential oil diffuser, to lift the atmosphere in any room. When diffused through an office or workspace, citrus oils can boost creativity, productivity, and a sense of wellbeing.

Recommended Citrus Essential Oil Blends

Aromatherapy for Better Focus

  • 2 drops sweet orange essential oil

  • 2 drops peppermint essential oil

For De-Stressing and Energizing

  • 2 drops bergamot essential oil

  • 2 drops frankincense essential oil

  • 2 drops lime essential oil

Aromatherapy for a Happy Morning

  • 2 drops rosemary essential oil

  • 2 drops peppermint essential oil

  • 2 drops lemon essential oil

Ultimately, citrus essential oil is a potent class of oils with the potential to alleviate stress and up your happy brain function. They’re a helpful piece of the puzzle when it comes to taking a holistic approach to both mental and physical health.

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