Have you ever peeled an orange and noticed the aromatic spray that exudes from the peel? This is its essential oil!
Bright, cheerful, and clarifying, citrus essential oils are most often cold pressed from the peels, though you can get a few that are steam distilled for safe use in direct sunlight.
Their penetrating aroma is uplifting and energizing, especially during the darker colder months of the year and are the perfect companions for those who suffer from depression.
Generally regarded as top notes, citrus essential oils make for the perfect addition to round out homemade perfume and have the ability to brighten deep and earthy blends.
All in all, citrus essential oils are a must have for every essential oil enthusiast!
Citrus Essential Oils – Nature’s Sunshine in a Bottle
Before we dive in, it’s super important to note that most citrus essential oils are phototoxic – meaning they react to direct sunlight and can cause some pretty serious burns and irritation to the skin.
The best way to avoid this is to either refrain from using cold-pressed citrus oils, only use them on fully clothed areas of the body or use the steam distilled equivalents.
For quick reference, here is a list of phototoxic citrus essential oils with their risk ratings:
• Bergamot – high
• Lime – high
• Bitter orange – high
• Kaffir lime – high
• Grapefruit – medium
• Lemon – medium
• Sweet orange – medium (some say this is not a phototoxic EO, but I still recommend caution)
• Tangerine – medium
• Mandarin – mild
Non-Phototoxic Citrus Essential Oils:
• Blood orange essential oil
• FCF (furocoumarin free) Bergamot essential oil
• Neroli essential oil (absolute)
• Petitgrain essential oil
• Satsuma essential oil
• Steam distilled lemon essential oil
• Steam distilled lime essential oil
• Steam distilled sweet orange essential oil
• Tangelo essential oil
• Yuzu essential oil
For more on phototoxic essential oils (it’s not just the citrus family!), please refer to my article on the topic here.
Also, if you’re eager to dive into using cirtus oils, you may want to check out this citrus EO set. It’s amazing and has 6 of the most popular citrus EOs 🙂
The Properties and Benefits of Different Citrus Essential Oils
Citrus essential oils, like conifer needles, are composed primarily of monoterpenes, limonene, and pinene. They are highly regarded for their bright mood enhancing abilities, mentally clarifying nature and cleansing properties.
Here is a list of not only the citrus fruit oils but also those distilled from the leaf and flower.
Bergamot Essential Oil (Citrus bergamia)
It is said that Christopher Columbus was the first to bring bergamot to Bergamo in Northern Italy from the Canary Islands. It is one of the more expensive citrus essential oils, but for good reason!
Its cooling and refreshing scent has a green and slightly bitter note with a wonderfully floral undertone that is both fresh and uplifting in nature. Its scent is finished off with juicy citrusy notes that are reminiscent of the fruit’s peel and is especially uplifting for the mind and spirit yet calming to the senses.
Bergamot essential oil is particularly prized for its use in perfumery and for flavoring the fabled Earl Grey Tea but has also been used medicinally for agitation, depression, anxiety, intestinal parasites, insomnia, viral infections like cold sores, and for hormonal balance.
You can get FCF bergamot essential oil here.
Bitter Orange Essential Oil (Citrus aurantium)
Bitter orange essential oil is interesting indeed! Its aroma is a cross between sweet orange and the bitterness of grapefruit with fresh, bright, tart overtones and a somewhat green undertone. The scent is described as being dry but with a lasting sweetness that makes it stand out in comparison to other citrus oils. For this reason, it pairs magnificently with floral essential oils.
Many bitter orange essential oils are of the amara variety which is a hybrid of the pumelo and mandarin.
Bitter orange essential oil is primarily used for treating digestive complaints like gas and bloating, insomnia, depression, and weight loss. It is known to be antiseptic, antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory.
You can get bitter orange essential oil here.
Blood Orange Essential Oil (Citrus sinensis)
Blood orange essential oil is delightfully sweet, fresh, and tart in scent and has a much richer, more intense, and sweeter aroma than sweet orange.
This essential oil can be used in much the same way as sweet orange and is especially good for uplifting the spirits, stimulating energy, easing nervous tension, and promoting a happy mood.
You can get blood orange essential oil here.
Grapefruit Essential Oil – PINK (Citrus paradisi)
Pink grapefruit essential comes to us from the cross between a pumelo and sweet orange. Its scent, which is almost entirely attributed to a few trace components, is bright, fresh, tart, and slightly bitter.
Grapefruit essential oil is known to be a metabolic stimulant, antiseptic, detoxifying, diuretic, fat-dissolving, cleansing for the kidneys, lymphatic, and antidepressant. It is commonly used for weight loss, reducing fluid retention, liver support, as a treatment for cellulite, and for easing anxiety.
The scent alone is known for boosting immunity and inducing relaxation by easing tension from daily stress and an overstimulated nervous system.
For these reasons, grapefruit essential oil is immensely popular!
There is some research that suggests it may have protective properties against abnormal cell growth.
Grapefruit essential oil makes for an excellent addition to homemade cleaning products.
You can get pink grapefruit essential oil here.
Kaffir Lime Essential Oil (Citrus hystrix)
Hailing from Thailand, kaffir lime essential oil is distilled from the leaves of the kaffir lime tree. It has a radiant, sparkling, and uplifting aroma that has a strong green undertone and sweet citrusy overtone.
Also known as Combava Petitgrain, Makrut Lime, or Thai Bergamot, kaffir lime essential oil has antibacterial, antidepressant, antiseptic, antiviral, and insect repelling properties. Some have noted kaffir lime essential oil to be an excellent anti-acne treatment, yet great caution must be used since it is phototoxic.
Its bright aroma is stimulating for a tired and cloudy mind and helps ease stress and nervous tension.
Lemon Essential Oil (Citrus x limon)
Lemon is probably one of the first essential oils used when starting out with essential oils. It is the ultimate epitome of citrus with its super intense, bright, and zesty aroma. The scent is so cheerful in fact, that you would be hard-pressed to feel sad or angry while sniffing it.
Lemon essential oil is also incredibly clarifying for the mind and is said to greatly sharpen focus. This makes it a great companion for students or for when you need a mental pick-me-up and will also help invigorate the senses and uplift the emotions.
Its gentle and calming effect on the nervous system helps relieve stress and tension.
Medicinally, lime essential oil is used to increase white blood cells, improve memory, improve circulation, kill parasites, shrink varicose veins, reduce wrinkles, and combat acne.
Lemon essential oil is another favorite when it comes to cleaning your home and freshening the air.
Lime Essential Oil (Citrus aurantifolia)
There’s no doubt when sniffing lime essential oil, there’s none other with its extremely aromatic, rich, fruity, sweet yet tart aroma reminiscent of fresh lime peels.
Lime essential oil is especially good for supporting and strengthening the respiratory and immune systems, easing rheumatic discomfort, as an antibacterial, and for decongesting a stagnant lymphatic system.
Lime is also an excellent stress reliever when used before meals as a way to induce a parasympathetic state for stress-free eating.
Its ability to cleanse and purify make it a great addition to homemade cleaning recipes as its scent is strong piercing.
Lime EO is incredibly phototoxic, so do not use it on exposed skin when in direct sunlight or you will burn.
Mandarin Essential Oil (Citrus reticulata)
Mandarin essential oil comes in three different forms – red, yellow, and green, each of which represents the color of the peel at the time of extraction.
Green mandarin essential oil is pressed from the unripe green fruits and has a wonderfully tangy aroma with bitter and slightly neroli-like undertones. It is most often used for sleep complaints.
Yellow mandarin essential oil is cold-pressed from the partially ripened fruits and has a light, tart, zesty aroma with sweet lemon-like top notes.
Red mandarin essential oil is cold-pressed from the fully ripened fruits and is the sweetest smelling of the three. The scent is smooth, sweet, tart, and fresh with a slightly floral undertone that is appealing and gentle to the senses.
Red mandarin essential oil is the most common form you will find.
Medicinally, mandarin essential oil is a light antispasmodic, a digestive tonic, antifungal, and stimulating to the gallbladder. It is often used to treat digestive discomfort, fluid retention, insomnia, anxiety, intestinal problems, congested oily skin, and stretch marks.
You can get mandarin essential oil here.
Neroli Absolute (Citrus sinensis or Citrus aurantium var. amara)
Neroli is an absolute extracted from the flowers of sweet orange. Its powerful yet delicate scent is laced with citrusy and green top notes that truly give you the epitome of citrus blossoms.
It is considered to be the perfect oil to use when stress has taken its toll and you need a break from life’s hussle as it’s one of the most comforting essential oils when facing nervous tension, grief, or mental exhaustion.
Medicinally, neroli is antiparasitic, a digestive tonic, antidepressant, and lowers blood pressure. It is often used for treating anxiety, depression, hysteria, insomnia, and various skin conditions like scars, stretch marks, varicose veins, and wrinkles.
Neroli absolute is one of the best essential oils to use for depression and anxiety because it is able to help stabilize emotions and dispel feelings of hopelessness, lack of confidence, and general negativity.
You can get neroli absolute here.
Petitgrain Essential Oil (Citrus sinensis)
Like neroli absolute and kaffir lime essential oil, petitgrain essential oil isn’t distilled from the fruit peels of citrus trees. In fact, it’s distilled from twigs and leaves of the bitter orange tree.
This fresh, green, woodsy, peppery, and lightly floral essential oil has dry notes and sweet undertones which makes it popular for perfumery.
Medicinally, petitgrain essential oil is antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, relaxant, and restores nerve equilibrium. It is most often used for treating insomnia, anxiety, and muscle spasms. It is also a great oil to use for oily skin types.
The scent itself is uplifting and helps hone concentration by reducing mental fatigue and improving memory. It is especially useful for times when emotions are running rampant and you need a sense of control. This is due to its high linalyl acetate content which is known to stabilize the nervous system and relieve stress.
You can get petitgrain essential oil here.
Sweet Orange Essential Oil (Citrus sinensis)
Perhaps one of the most widely used essential oils, sweet orange essential oil is sweet, tangy, and the epitome of a freshly wedged orange.
Hardly anyone I know can sniff this oil and not have a smile on their face! Its uplifting and calming scent is used to help treat symptoms of depression and general feelings of sadness and apathy.
Medicinally, sweet orange essential oil is relaxant, anticoagulant, and a circulatory stimulant. It has also been studied as a protectant against abnormal cell growth.
Sweet orange essential oil is also great to use for oily skin types.
You can get sweet orange oil here.
Tangerine Essential Oil (Citrus reticulata)
Tangerine essential oil has a wonderfully bright, fresh, tangy, and almost sparkly aroma and is often used in perfumery to impart an effervescent, joyful, and luminous effect in fragrances.
Medicinally, tangerine essential oil is relaxant, antispasmodic, a digestive aid, and a circulatory stimulant. It has dehydrating qualities which can also be helpful water retention. However, if you have dehydrated skin, it is advised to avoid its use in your skincare routine.
Tangerine essential oil is often used for weight loss, nausea, anxiety, insomnia, irritability, liver support, digestive support, and for killing parasites.
Its aroma is emotionally uplifting and is known to help alleviate symptoms of depression and induce feelings of happiness and calm.
Tangerine essential oil is also an excellent addition to homemade cleaning products as it easily cuts through grease.
You can get tangerine essential oil here.
Yuzu Essential Oil (Citrus junos)
Yuzu is currently my favorite citrus essential oil as it has a unique super-strong citrusy aroma with balsamic, sweet, and slightly floral characteristics. It is considered to be the pumelo of China and has a thick peel with lots of pith that not only smells amazing but tastes delicious as well. In fact, the peels are often infused into honey in order to make a tasty tea called Citron Tea.
This essential oil is a popular cold and flu remedy that can be diffused in a sickroom to help ward off germs. Its scent is incredibly uplifting and is a potent ally to have on hand for treating the symptoms of depression and worry.
You can get yuzu essential oil here.
What have been your favorite citrus essential oils? Please share them in the comments below!
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