Citrus Essential Oil

Citrus Essential Oils are extracted from the rinds of lemon, lime, orange and other citrus fruits (Citrus spp). Citrus Essential Oils are common ingredients in a wide range of products, including cosmetics and cleaning products.

Citrus Essential Oils are not commonly used on their own as an acne treatment. However, they are used as an additive in many OTC and Naturopathic acne treatment products. In Naturopathic Medicine, Citrus Essential Oil is often blended with other essential oils for topical use, or is used as an aromatherapy.

Several research studies have demonstrated that Citrus Essential Oils are toxic to many types of bacteria, including acne-causing Propionibacterium acnes bacteria. Citrus Essential Oil is also toxic to many types of fungi and other microbes. Citrus Essential Oil may have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties, but these claims have not been rigorously proven. Citrus Essential Oil also contains many anti-oxidant molecules.

Citrus Essential Oils readily dissolve sebum, and may be helpful for patients with oily skin. However, the removal of natural sebum oils may also be irritating to the skin. Citrus Essential Oils are known skin irritants, particularly at higher concentrations.

Citrus Essential Oil can be produced from the left-over byproducts of juice processing, and are therefore among the most abundant and inexpensive of the essential oils. Citrus Essential Oils are excellent solvents that can be used to dissolve a wide range of substances. Because of their dissolving power, Citrus Essential Oils have been widely used as topical cleansers and disinfectants.

There are many types of citrus fruit and the chemical composition of their essential oils are each a little different. For most Citrus Essential Oils, the primary component is limonene. Limonene is a colorless liquid with a pungent citrus aroma. Limonene is a type of hydrocarbon called a terpene. Pure limonene is combustible and has been investigated for use as a renewable biofuel. Orange essential oils tend to contain higher concentrations of limonene then lemon and lime oils. Citrus Essential Oils also contain low concentrations of pinene, sabinene, myrcene, terpinene and geranial.


Biological activities of Korean Citrus obovoides and Citrus natsudaidai essential oils against acne-inducing bacteria. Kim, et al. 2008.
Chemical composition and biological activities of essential oils extracted from Korean endemic citrus species. Baik, et al. 2008.
Activities of ten essential oils towards Propionibacterium acnes and PC-3, A-549 and MCF-7 cancer cells. Zu, et al. 2010.
In vitro bioactivities of essential oils used for acne control. Lertsatitthanakorn, et al. 2006.
Antimicrobial activity of Turkish Citrus peel oils. Kirbalar, et al. 2009.
Antibacterial and antifungal properties of essential oils. Kalemba, et al. 2003.
Limonene suppresses lipopolysaccharide-induced production of nitric oxide, prostaglandin E2, and pro-inflammatory cytokines in RAW 264.7 macrophages. Yoon, et al. 2010.
Chemical composition and antimicrobial activity of essential oil of Citrus limettioides Tanaka. Vasudeva, et al. 2012.
Study antimicrobial activity of lemon (Citrus lemon L.) peel extract. Dhanavade, et al. 2011.
The Encyclopedia of essential oils: the complete guide to the use of aromatic oils in aromatherapy, herbalism, health, and well being. Lawless. 2013.
Current and potential use of citrus essential oils. Palazzolo, et al. 2013.
Chemical composition of commercial citrus fruit essential oils and evaluation of their antimicrobial activity acting alone or in combined processes. Espina, et al. 2011.
Comprehensive two-dimensional GC for the analysis of citrus essential oils. Mondello, et al. 2005.