Citrus Essential Oils: A Complete Guide to their Power

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Table Of Contents
  1. What are Citrus Essential Oils?
  2. Phototoxicity
  3. Aromatherapy and Citrus Essential Oils
  4. What’s the difference between citrus essential oils and other essential oils?
  5. Benefits of Citrus Essential Oil & How to Use
  6. Citrus Essential Oils & Their Properties
  7. Commercial Uses of Citrus Essential Oils
  8. Topical Uses of Citrus Essential Oils
  9. Citrus Essential Oils List
  10. Citrus Oil for Skin
  11. Blending Citrus Essential Oils
  12. Storage and Shelf Life
  13. Last Words

There’s SO MUCH that can be said about each group of essential oils. Citrus essential oils are uplifting and will make you feel energised and alive STRAIGHT AWAY. Open a bottle, take the aroma all the way in… and you’ll be so HAPPY you’ll be like:

“I feel energized and uplifted from inhaling the aroma of this essential oil!” The effects are instant. It will blow you away.

And, for this very reason, if I had to pick a favourite group of essential oils by uplifting scent, it would have to be the citrus oils.

Doesn´t everything smell really good when you add a little lemon. Or orange. Or grapefruit? From a cake to a candle, the citrus scents are always simply delightful.

Ok, let’s get started. There’s a lot to cover!

What are Citrus Essential Oils?

Citrus essential oils are very potent; strong and zesty scents. These oils have GREAT potential: they can be used for aromatherapy to help you wake up and feel more energized with their fresh, tangy scent and can be versatile enough to be an essential ingredient in your DIY cleansing products or used diluted in a diffuser for detoxing effects.

INFO: Citrus aromatherapy also has been shown to have positive effects on pain relief.

These “happy oils” can have a variety of benefits from antimicrobial properties to promoting stress relief. They can also be used for reducing acne, dry skin and eczema. Take a look here at my essential oils for oily skin and acne.

NOTE: Not only do these oils have some pretty incredible benefits, they are also very inexpensive.

Citrus essential oils have a character all of their own.

Here are some things you’ll need to take into account when using your oils:


Citrus essential oils are phototoxic (they can enhance the absorption of ultra violet or UV rays), bergamot being the most phototoxic of all citrus essential oils. You should NEVER apply these oils directly to your skin, and they’re especially phototoxic when exposed to sunlight or bright lights. Be very careful, you can get SERIOUSLY burnt with citrus oils.

What About at Night or Later in the Day?

They would have to be very diluted in carrier oils. You’d need about 8 hours to be on the safe side after applying a citrus essential oil diluted with a carrier oil on your skin.

Aromatherapy and Citrus Essential Oils

Aromatherapy is the practice of inhaling the scent of essential oils to affect mood, relaxation, and wellbeing. Citrus aromatherapy is one of the most beneficial ways to get a burst of energy and uplift your mood.

What’s the difference between citrus essential oils and other essential oils?

“Citrus” refers to a group of plants that are closely related. The citrus family includes a vast selection of fruits, including lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits.

The Oil is Found in the Peel

These essential oils are found in the peel of the fruit instead of the seeds, flower petals, roots, leaves or bark as with other oils. During the peeling process, the essential oil is released into the air – it is so strong that the air can be scented with it.

Unmistaklable Zest

The second difference is this scent. When peeling an orange or grating a lemon, you can easily smell the citrus scent which has that familiar “clean”, fresh, tangy, zesty scent. So you can easily see how their natural scent can be VERY strong which may overwhelm other fragrances if not used properly. These types of oils have a sweet, fresh and citrus-like aroma.

Generally Quite Inexpensive

As mentioned above, citrus oils are generally inexpensive, as opposed to other essential oils, which is why they’re really appealing to DIYers or as an ingredient in your homemade cleaning product.

Cold Pressed Instead of Steam Distilled

Finally, citrus essential oils are usually extracted through cold pressing instead of steam distillation. While steam distillation involves heating the oil and passing steam through it, cold pressing uses a machine to crush and squeeze the oil out of the fruit or citrus rinds.

“Most essential oils are distilled with a combination of water and steam, but oils from citrus peels are cold expressed to preserve all of the aromatic botanical goodness that they posses. This process involves puncturing the skins of either the whole fruit or just the fruit peel and pressing the essential oil out. With this process, a little bit of juice is also extracted, which is then separated from the essential oil.”

Benefits of Citrus Essential Oil & How to Use

The citrus essential oils have many health benefits that can be used in fragrances for cosmetics and for aromatherapy treatments. They are also widely used in perfumes, soaps, and other kinds of cosmetics products to add their unique fragrance and also used in some industries as flavoring agents or even as disinfectants.

There are many benefits that come with the use of citrus essential oil. The two main ones are:
· A natural antimicrobial
· Mood enhancers (who hasn’t felt uplifted and energised after a shower with a citrus scented soap, or after using an orange scented candle?)

Some others include:
· An effective insect repellent
· A natural deodorant for your body
· A natural antiseptic
· Used as food flavouring (I don’t recommend you do this at home)
· Antioxidants: great for skin and cellular health
· Astringent: helps with oily skin, dry skin, and blemishes
· Detox: anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties
· Stress relievers (citrus oils have been proven for the treatment of stress)

Citrus Essential Oil Antimicrobial Properties

Citrus essential oils are a powerful source of antimicrobial activity. They are particularly effective against germs and infections because they are antiseptics that kill harmful bacteria, viruses and microorganisms.

You can use citrus essential oils as a natural disinfectant by adding 30 drops of lemon or orange essential oil into half a cup of water in a spray bottle. Shake well before each use to mix it up well. They oil will separate after a while.

You can create your own all natural cleaning products using essential oils like a spray with orange or lemon essential oil, vinegar and water.

Ease Anxiety and Irritability (natural mood enhancer)

Citrus essential oils are known to have “happy” effects by uplifting your mood and supporting positive feelings naturally. The ‘sweeter’ ones like orange can help you feel relaxed and calm when you are anxious or irritated. Aromatherapy is also known to reduce stress levels and relieve tension. The ambient odour of orange in a dental office reduces anxiety and improves mood in female patients:

You can diffuse the citrus essential oils in the air by adding a few drops in a diffuser and letting it circulate throughout your household. Grapefruit will lift you and make you feel energized while sweet orange will help you relax.

Clean Sticky Surfaces

You can easily clean off sticky and grimy surfaces because citrus essential oils are effective against the most common forms of surface contaminants such as grease, oil, grime, gum and dust.

If you want to clean the windows or mirrors of your house, spray some lemon or orange essential oil mixed with water (30 drops essential oil to half a cup of water) into a paper towel and rub the surface of your window or mirror with the paper towel.

Fantastic Air Freshener

You can also use it as an air freshener by adding lemon or orange essential oil in a spray bottle and spraying the room, or even your car. The fresh citrus smell will go long ways to eliminate unwanted odors.

The citrus essential oils can also be used to clean your carpets, drapes or any kind of fabrics that need to be disinfected.

For a lemon and grapefruit room scent spray mix 2 tbsp Vodka, 2tbsp mineral water, 10 drops lime essential oil, 5 drops lemon essential oil, 5 drops mandarin essential oil and 10 drops grapefruit essential oil. Mix the vodka and essential oils in a bowl first and then add the water. Transfer into a sterilised bottle with an atomizer. It will keep for about 4-6 months. Before using shake well and atomize into the room.

You can also add the essential oil mix into your diffuser or oil burner to enjoy a wonderfully citrus scent.

Citrus Essential Oils & Their Properties

Here is a brief summary of the key properties of individual citrus essential oils that should help you to decide which oil to use on your skin or hair.

Boosts Mood and Energy

Citrus essential oils are also known to increase your mood, lift your mood and provide you with a burst of energy. They are especially helpful after a bad night’s sleep as they can help you get up in the morning and take some initiative for the day.
omega-3 essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals (especially folate) have been shown to have antidepressant benefits:

Helpful to Skin

The ingredient of citrus essential oils also provides various other benefits for the skin. It is effective against fungal infections, acne and even eczema. The antioxidants in the citrus essential oils could help eliminate the free radicals from your skin to prevent premature ageing, inflammation and wrinkles.

They’re effective as an anti-inflammatory and because of their antimicrobial activity they’re perfect if you’re suffering from acne, eczema or rosacea.

Be careful when using citrus essential oils on your skin because of phototoxicity. Use it with caution and in low dilutions only and at night time.

Removes Toxins

Aromatherapy can be a great way to help you deal with toxic substances since the citrus essential oils can help eliminate toxins from your body through the skin.

To do so, add a few drops of lemon or orange essential oil into half a cup of water in a spray bottle and shake it well. Then, spray the mixture onto your skin and rub it gently for about 10 minutes. Wash it off with cold water afterwards. Remember to use it at night time.

Support Respiratory Health

The citrus essential oils also have antimicrobial properties which can be helpful for respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and asthma.

Pour hot water over a bowl and add 10 to 20 drops of a mix of citrus essential oils. Then, position your head over the bowl so that you inhale the vapours. Remove your head from the bowl when you feel a slight discomfort because of the heat. Do this twice a day (morning and night). Careful not to get burnt!


Citrus essential oils can be used in many different forms. At home, you can add some drops of lemon or orange essential oils in a spray bottle and use it to freshen the air. In the workplace, you will find that citrus essential oils are effective against mites and pests like mosquitoes, flies and even cockroaches.

You can also diffuse lemon or orange essential oil in your car or home office desk to create a refreshing scent for people who need to concentrate on their work.

Commercial Uses of Citrus Essential Oils

There are many ways that citrus essential oils can be used in industries. In food and beverages, they can be used as flavouring agents.

Citrus oils can also be used in the perfume industry where they are commonly added to perfumes to add its citrusy flair.

In cleaning, essential oils can be added to the laundry water to increase the efficiency and quality of laundry. A few drops of citrus oils will help in eliminating bed bugs, mites and fungus from your clothes and bed linen.

They can also be used as a natural antiseptic in cleaning tools because they are effective against mold, bacteria and fungus.

Topical Uses of Citrus Essential Oils

Citrus essential oils have antimicrobial properties which means that they can help you wipe out certain kinds of bacteria and fungus infections on the skin. Lemon and orange essential oils are also effective against eczema, acne, psoriasis and even dandruffs. They can also be used to treat wounds as they are effective against wounds from burns and even sores from cuts.

Citrus Essential Oils List

There are various types of citrus essential oils on the market. They all have different scents and benefits. Some of them are good mood boosters while others can help with mental clarity or provide relief from stress.

Below is a list of some common citrus essential oils for you to explore. We’ll look at each citrus essential oil individually – as a general rule of thumb, it can be said that lemon and grapefruit essential oils are considered to be two of the strongest antimicrobial essential oils; grapefruit, lime and lemon are considered to be energising and great for concentration (also good for mental alertness in the diffuser). Tangerine, orange and clementine are considered to be more relaxing (zesty, tangy are good for alertness and have an uplifting effect while the sweeter citrus essential oils are good for relaxing).

Caution: Avoid taking grapefruit essential oil internally. It can be toxic. If you have a known allergy to this essential oil do not use it. Avoid using it too close to your eyes as it can irritate them. Use in well-ventilated areas as this is a highly concentrated form of citrus essential oil. Please use caution when using any oils topically since they are so concentrated and potent.

NOTE: Buying Organic Oils
Try to always buy organic, as well as the purest form of citrus essential oils available. These oils are extracted from the rinds of the fruits, so no pesticides or insecticides should be used in their growing process!

Organic grapefruit essential oil

Grapefruit has an energising and stimulating effect on mind and body. It has a wonderful uplifting feel and works well as part of a room spray ingredient or massage oil blend to boost circulation. It also aids detoxification and can reduce water retention. I use it on some of my DIY skincare products for combination or oily skin type.

  • Helps wight loss and combats cellulite: massage into skin diluted with carrier oil (2 tablespoons carrier oil, 7 drops organic grapefruit essential oil – use only in the evening). It will also help boost metabolism and circulation and also help with water retention.
  • Good for oily or combination skin: Being astringent and a little antiseptic this essential oil is perfect for oily skin. Good for those with acne and/or open pores. It will help tighten your skin. (1 drop essential oil with your evening cream – remember to never use it during the day time).
  • Tired?: It can help relax, de-stress and uplift your mind after a long day of work and activities, this essential oil is a must-have for your relaxing oils kit. Add a 4-5 drops to your diffuser and enjoy.
  • Eases muscle and joint pain: Add 6 drops to 2 tablespoons carrier oil (almond, olive, grapeseed) and massage affected area. It can also help with headaches.
  • Zesty air freshner: Add 15-20 drops to a spray bottle that’s filled with 3 tbsp high quality vodka and 3tbsp water. Great for the office, car or anywhere you need fresh air and a nice aroma.

Organic Lemon essential oil

Lemon is recognized for its powerful antibacterial and antioxidant properties. It is known for its purifying, uplifting, and refreshing scent. Lemon essential oil tends to promote a happy mood when diffused in the air. When inhaled, it is often used to help treat depression and anxiety while also being helpful in boosting concentration and mental alertness. A great natural deodorizer, also acting as antiseptic.

  • Reduces varicose veins: This oil helps boost circulation. Add 10 drops to 2 tbsp almond oil for a great massage blend.
  • Cleanses oil-prone skin: Use only at night, add 1 drop to your evening cream.
  • Apply on verrucas and warts: You can apply neat on verrucas and warts, or use in a compress for skin eruptions as well as boils. Dilute 6 drops in almond oil, add to water to use as a compress.
  • Reduces cellulite: This oil helps reduce cellulite and fluid retention. Add 10 drops to 2 tablespoons of almond or grapeseed oil and massage the area.
  • Gives you a “happy” feel: Lemon essential oil tends to promote a happy mood when diffused in the air. When inhaled, it is often used to help treat depression and anxiety while also being helpful in boosting concentration and mental alertness.
  • Combats obesity: Can be used to help combat obesity.

Organic Bergamot oil

I am totally hooked to Early Grey tea. It uses bergamot as one of the main ingredients and the scent is just perfect for me. Bergamot essential oil can have a balancing effect on your mind and body. It is good for itchy or dry skin and can be soothing as well as cooling. Bergamot is known for its uplifting and stimulating properties and can enhance a sense of wellbeing.

  • Balances oily and combination skin: – It can improve skin tone, calms dry skin, itchy skin, can help
  • Helps reduce the appearance of scars – With natural healing properties can help reduce the appearance of scars over time. Add 3 drops bergamot essential oil to 2 tablespoons almond or grape seed oil and massage area.. Don’t use on face.
  • Cooling and relaxing: – Add 3 drops bergamot essential oil to 2 tablespoons almond or grape seed oil and massage your feet before you go to bed for a calm, relaxed sleep.
  • Cools fever: – With a cooling action, it can help with fever. Use in a compress by adding 3 drops to cold water and then add to the compress. Apply directly to the skin.
  • For cold sores, herpes and pimples: – Being a great antiseptic with antibacterial and antiviral properties, you can dilute it in almond or grape seed oil and dab over pimples, cold sores and herpes.
  • Antidepressant: – Eases anxiety and acts as antidepressant because it balances your mood. It is perfect to use in a diffuser during the night time as it can help you relax and get a good night’s sleep.

Organic Lime Essential Oil

Lime is considered to be an energizing essential oil. It has many health benefits from supporting proper digestion and promoting a healthy immune system. Lime can also help promote a sense of calm, and relieve mental exhaustion. Lime also has antibacterial properties that are helpful in treating various skin conditions, like acne and other skin infections. Lime has a fresh, pleasant scent and blends well with many other essential oils.

Organic Mandarin Essential Oil

Mandarin has a strong citrus smell. When diffused it helps relieve stress, anxiety and depression. Mandarin essential oil can also help with mental clarity and concentration, which makes it a great addition to the work environment.

Organic Tangerine Essential Oil

Tangerine essential oil is uplifting, relaxing and refreshing. This essential oil is used to promote both physical and mental well-being. It relaxes the muscles and enhances circulation, making it great for use in beauty products for hair and scalp. A little goes a long way with this highly concentrated essential oil; do not use more than 10% of this essential oil at any one time.

Organic Sweet Orange Essential Oil

Sweet orange essential oil has a strong sweet citrus scent. Like other citrus oils, this essential oil can also promote well-being and happiness. Sweet orange also has antibacterial properties that help fight infections.

Organic Petitgrain Essential Oil

Petitgrain essential oil has a very strong sweet citrus scent with hints of sweetness. Petitgrain means “small grains” in French, so you can see that its scent is very strong. Petitgrain essential oil makes a wonderful gift for yourself or someone else you like. This essential oil can help promote feelings of happiness as well as good health.

Citrus Oil for Skin

Packed with Vitamin C, these oils are great for all types of skin. They have natural anti-inflammatory, anti-acne, and anti-bacterial properties that help fight wrinkles and boost elasticity.

Blood orange essential oil is high in antioxidants which protects skin from the damages the sun can cause. Lemon essential oil has lots of Vitamin C which help to fight wrinkles, delays the appearance of age spots and brighten the tone. Sweet orange essential oil has antibacterial properties which can help fight acne. Bergamot essential oil is fantastic for dry skin and actually suitable for all skin types. Pink grapefruit essential oil has powerful antibacterial effects and is rich in Vitamin A, encouraging cell production. Yuzu essential oil restores pH levels and has anti-inflammatory properties.

These oils do have a place in skincare and can be found in many cosmetic products. You can also buy them on their own, and blend with other essential and carrier oils for different effects (I do very regularly). There are many ways to use them as you see fit, including making your own skincare products (which I also make regularly).

The oils listed above can help fight and prevent bad skin days. Citrus oils can also help to improve your skin tone and texture which is reason enough to add them to any skincare routine.

Blending Citrus Essential Oils

Most citrus oils are very strong and should be used sparingly in blends. When you purchase citrus oils, they will have a presence up front, and may be too invasive for your blend. There are a few things you can do to help with that.

1: Choose a carrier oil that is high in vitamin E ; such as jojoba, apricot seed or virgin coconut oil. Vitamin E helps to neutralize the harshness of the essential oil.

2: Use a water or alcohol base instead of a carrier oil. Citrus oils do not mix well with oil, and can turn rancid quickly.

3: Use a citrus oil that is blended with other essential oils as part of your blend (such as in the Sensual Indulgence set).

4: Don’t overuse the citrus oil, less is more.

Storage and Shelf Life

Organic citrus essential oils should be stored in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight. It is recommended that you use citrus oil within one year of purchase although some people say they only have a 6 months shelf-life. These oils usually have a shorter life than other essential oils and may lose their scent up to fifty percent after six months.

When storing an essential oil in a dark glass bottle, make sure your bottle is UV-protective. This will ensure that the light will not degrade your oil and make it less effective. To make them last a bit longer, you can store in the refrigerator.

In regards to the oils I mention throughout this post, they are all certified pure and organic by either the USDA (USDA Certified Organic) or the EU (EU Certified Organic). You may choose to store them away from direct sunlight, as long as they are still in a cool place and out of the reach of children.

 ##Where to Buy Citrus Essential Oils
There are many places that you can purchase essential oils. I personally buy all of my essential oils from trusted suppliers and I make sure that they are organic when possible.

Some of my favorite brands are here in Europe and might not be that easy to find. I’ve done a lot of digging over the years and it’s worth spending time looking for suppliers you’re happy with! I am learning to make my own oils (will keep you posted on this!) but in the meantime I recommend you do your research and learn to find suppliers you can trust. 

Amazon, Ebay and the internet in general are great places to find citrus essential oils. There are many different brands out there and they will vary in price, quality and authenticity. Health stores, pharmacies, spas and salons also stock citrus essential oils. Again, you’d want to make sure the oils are pure and organic here as well.

Last Words

Citrus essential oils are so much fun to work with, especially in homemade products. I love using them in skincare creams and lotions. Before you use citrus oils though, I suggest you do a skin test first.

As you can see, there are many benefits to using essential oils – both for your own health, and for the health of your family. I hope that you found some of these facts helpful, and that you consider adding essential oils to your daily routine. You’re bound to notice a positive difference!

Let me know how you liked this article. Please leave your comments below.

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