Citrus oil is widely used to provide uplifting aromas in body care, diffusers, and spas all over the world. Extra bonus? When used topically and correctly, citrus oils can benefit your skin too. They flaunt extra powerful degreasing properties, which is why you’ll see (and smell) citrus essential oil in numerous household cleaners on the market. In addition to degreasing nearly any surface, citrus oil also contains bacteria fighting and antiseptic properties that work wonders in organic skin care. These oils aren’t just great for cleaning products and skin care. We’re enveloping ourselves in the sweet, aromatic world of citrus essential oil to discover the many reasons why it’s been so popular for centuries.
How Is Citrus Essential Oil Extracted?
Citrus oil is found in the leathery, intensely aromatic peel of citrus fruit. Imagine you’re peeling a plump, vibrant orange: you begin tearing the peel away from the flesh of the fruit. Notice that fine mist being expelled into the air? It’s not the juice from the fruit you’re seeing, but in fact the oil from the peel itself. One way to extract citrus essential oil is to cold press it from the peels. Depending on the size and type of the citrus fruit, the amount of oil yielded from the peel can vary. Here’s some perspective: the peels of roughly 50 lemons would have to be pressed in order to produce only 15 milliliters of lemon essential oil!
Another method of extraction is steam distillation. During this process, the desired plant material is placed inside a still, which is similar to a giant teapot. As they sit on a grate within the still, the plants are then sealed inside and flushed by water or steam to break down and remove their volatile constituents - the organic content of the plant that’s able to convert into vapor.
This vapor rises upward through a spout, which connects to a separate condenser. This condenser then cools the vapor until it converts to liquid form, which is then collected in a receptacle below. So how is the steam (water) separated from the vapor to retrieve the pure aromatic oil? Since oil and water don’t mix, they naturally separate. After a time, any oil content in water will alway rise to the surface. This oil that rises to the top of the liquid is then siphoned off and collected for use as a pure essential oil.
How to Benefit From Citrus Oil:
The easiest way to breathe in the beneficial scent of citrus oil is to buy yourself a bottle, open it, and simply inhale the aroma. But since this isn’t the cutest method of getting your essential oil benefits, nor the most convenient, diffusers are a great secondary option. Electric essential oil diffusers are fairly easy to come by, come in all shapes and sizes, and are fairly cost effective. They emit a stream of heavenly scented vapor into the air, and can purify or de-stress any space.
Another option is the slightly more cost effective, old school diffusers: a tiny dish filled with water, with one or two drops of citrus essential oil added. Underneath the dish you’ll place a tealight candle or even a light bulb, to produce just enough heat to create a vapor and make any room smell like an orange grove.
For a milder approach, soak a few drops of citrus oil into a cotton ball. Place the cotton ball nearby wherever you’ll be sitting or relaxing. It won’t be enough to fill the whole room, but it will be enough for you to enjoy. A great option in a shared space!
When applied to skin, citrus oils can have degreasing and astringent properties, as well as skin brightening properties. They can help to cleanse, tone, moisturize, and balance oil. For example: lemon essential oil has antiseptic, astringent, and detoxifying properties that are great for oily or acnegenic skin types.
You can also enjoy the benefits of citrus oil in organic skin care. All of our products contain bergamot, one of our favorite citrus essential oils. This ingredient provides a soothing, woodsy scent, and acts as part of the natural preservative system. Instead of damaging, skin-stripping chemicals, we choose to use essential oils that have antibacterial properties.
Our Nopal Cactus Cleanser also features a bright citrus superstar: yuzu! This incredible citrus (a Japanese lemon) contains a potent dosage of antioxidants, and is high in glow-boosting vitamin C. Its beauty benefits include brightening the skin, fighting signs of aging, and helping to combat dry skin. Regular, topical use of yuzu citrus can lead to improved eczema and psoriasis conditions - meaning less itching and irritation. The nutrients in yuzu can also help to fight sun damage and aging, which is crucial for those who expose their skin to daily environmental or sun exposure.
Some citrus oils are even prepped and ready to go in the form of roll on perfumes, but are often diluted. Be cautious when applying pure, undiluted citrus oil directly onto skin, as they can cause burning or skin irritation.
Besides having anti-inflammatory effects for skin, citrus oils like sweet orange, bergamot, and orange essential oils are great for relieving stress, anxiety, and agitation. Neroli and grapefruit are helpful in battling fatigue, while issues with insomnia can be quelled with neroli, bergamot, lemon, mandarin, or sweet orange essential oils.
Citrus essential oils tend to have an uplifting and fresh scent, making them perfect for showers, baths, or spa sessions. As mentioned above, a great option for spreading this delightful citrus scent throughout your house is with a diffuser. It’s a great alternative to products containing synthetic fragrance ingredients.
Aromatherapy is often used during massage because essential oils promote further relaxation and stress reduction. Try a facial firming massage with a citrus oil of your choice, or a Restorative Facial Oil.
Precautions for Using Citrus Oil
If you know your facts, by now you’ll be wondering about the effects of phototoxicity of citrus oil in skin care. Some citrus oils contain organic chemical compounds called furanocoumarins, which can cause light sensitivity and phototoxicity. Using skin care products that contain citrus essential oils can cause the skin to be sensitive to sunlight. If the skin is exposed to UV rays while the citrus essential oils are being worn, it can cause skin to burn, blister, swell (edema), and potentially increase the risk of cancer. Considering the possible adverse effects of bergamot essential oil, we chose to take preventative measures that would still allow us to utilize this citrus oil’s wondrous benefits.
If you’ve never seen a bergamot (often called the bergamot orange), you’re not alone. Bergamot isn’t as common as navel, valencia, or mandarin. You’ll be surprised to learn that the color of this “orange” ranges from green to yellow, and its shape is somewhere between a round lemon or lime. Its peel has a bumpier texture than both limes and oranges, while its fragrance is slightly bitter and very citrusy, with a lightly spicy undertone. Bergamot is often combined with other essential oils to make different diffuser blends, since it goes well with other scents like sandalwood, vetiver, and jasmine. Bergamot is also a popular staple in some well known tea blends. Did you know that when bergamot oil is added to pure black tea, the result is Earl Grey?
The Good News: Bergaptene-Free Bergamot
Now before writing off citrus essential oils for fear of going outside, it’s time for us to share that there are citrus oils that are safe to use in the sun. Although furanocoumarins are present in cold pressed versions, the molecules are not volatile and remain behind during the steam distillation process. Steam-distilled bergamot essential oil is furanocoumarin or bergaptene-free, and that’s exactly the kind we use in our organic skin care. No one wants to sacrifice high performing skin care to get their daily dose of Vitamin D.
Feeling inspired to use citrus oil in your beauty routine? Pick up an organic facial cleanser packed with refreshing bergamot, orange, and yuzu extract. The great news is that you can find bergamot oil in all of our organic skin care products, so make your pick, and freshen up your beauty routine with the heavenly scent of citrus oil.