Nothing says “refreshing” quite like the uplifting, energizing scent of a freshly cut lemon.
This mighty citrus fruit isn’t just an excellent source of vitamin C. It’s also a natural mood lifter, potent detoxifier, and rejuvenating clean skincare ingredient.
When it comes to your skin, lemons are most powerful in the form of lemon oil derived from the peel of the fruit. This bright oil works deep within the pores of your skin and can be added to numerous skincare products to enhance their power.
Here’s more about the background on lemon peel oil and the many roles it plays in natural skincare.
What is Lemon Peel Oil?
Lemon oil is made from the concentrated essential oils found in the peels of lemons. It goes by several names, including “lemon essential oil”, “lemon peel oil”, and simply “lemon oil”.
Most often, citrus essential oils are extracted through a method known as cold-pressing. The exact process varies slightly but involves a mechanical device that pricks or punctures the rind of the fruit. Once the essential oil sacs in the peel are ruptured, the fruit is sprayed with water or pressed to release the juice.
The final step before bottling is separating the essential oil from the liquid.
Lemon oil can also be extracted from the peels through steam distillation. However, cold-pressing is the preferred method, since it doesn’t use heat and keeps most of the beneficial plant compounds from the peel intact.
Most people don’t realize this, but the peels of citrus fruits are far more rich in compounds than the inner fruit. At least 21 different components have been identified in lemon peel oil with limonene being the dominant compound.
Just a tiny amount of the oil has very powerful effects.
The Bright History of Lemon Oil
Both lemons and lemon oil have a long history of use for skincare and holistic wellness.
Lemons, of course, were once used to prevent scurvy in British sailors because of their vitamin C content. The juice has also become a popular addition to DIY skincare creations because it helps to brighten and tone skin, although it can be a little harsh due to its acid content.
Lemon essential oil has its own history that likely dates back a few thousand years.
Perhaps most notably, the oil has been a staple in Ayurvedic medicine for quite a long time. It has detoxifying properties and is used for a range of health issues, particularly those related to digestion.
Because of its invigorating fragrance, lemon peel oil has also held a firm place in both perfumery and aromatherapy. It’s particularly valued for aiding mental exhaustion, improving concentration, and combating stress.
The skincare benefits of lemon oil are even now being documented by research studies, and so far the results are impressive.
Top Benefits of Lemon Oil for Skin
Cleansing & Clarifying
Lemon essential oil makes a great ingredient in a cleansing formula. It has natural astringent properties, which means it goes deep into pores to help counteract excess sebum and clarify your skin. Astringents also help to tone your skin, minimizing the appearance of pores.
Another benefit of lemon oil for cleansing is the natural antimicrobial properties it possesses.
Studies have shown that it has activity against several strains of bacteria that may cause common skin issues. This means it may help to keep your skin’s natural microbiome in balance while it “deep cleans” and tones pores.
Brightens Dull Skin & May Fade Hyperpigmentation
Not only does lemon peel oil have a bright and refreshing scent, it also helps to brighten and rejuvenate dull or lifeless skin. Much of this is due to its astringent properties, which have a mild exfoliation-like effect that helps loosen dead skin cells so they can be cleansed away.
There’s also reason to believe that lemon oil may help to fade the appearance of hyperpigmentation.
Hyperpigmentation refers to an excessive amount of melanin in the skin that forms a spot darker than your normal skin tone. It frequently occurs as the result of overexposure to sunlight but can also appear after an inflammatory skin disorder, like acne.
Conclusive research into whether lemon oil can decrease hyperpigmentation is still lacking for the simple reason that studies have yet to be conducted. However, it does have a documented brightening effect, and some research suggests that limonene, the main compound in lemon essential oil, can lighten skin.
For the most effect, look for a product that pairs lemon oil with a powerful vitamin C ingredient like amla extract. Vitamin C is one of the best known ingredients to diminish dark spots and other types of hyperpigmentation.
Protects Skin Cells with Antioxidant Power
Antioxidants are some of the best protective compounds for your skin. They help to neutralize free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage skin cells and tissues. This type of damage speeds up the aging process in your skin and can make it look older than it should.
While your skin has its own natural network of antioxidants, they need to be replenished to keep up with the steady stream of free radicals. This antioxidant power helps prevent signs of aging caused by free radical damage.
Although lemon oil doesn’t contain vitamin C (a powerful antioxidant) like the fruit does, it has shown good antioxidant activity in studies. In fact, some research documents a natural antioxidant in lemon peel oil that may have unique anti-aging properties for skin.
May Help with Acne & Other Skin Issues
One of the potential skin benefits of lemon oil is to help with acne and other inflammatory skin issues.
As mentioned earlier, lemon peel oil has shown antimicrobial effects against several strains of bacteria. This includes Propionibacterium acnes, the bacteria that can cause acne breakouts.
The astringent properties of lemon oil also help to manage oily skin and unclog pores— both of which can further help acne-prone skin. And of course, the brightening effects of the oil are helpful post-breakout to fade the appearance of leftover red spots.
In addition, the same research on the antimicrobial effects of lemon essential oil also documents its effects against Staphylococcus aureus (the cause of staph infections) and other skin pathogens that contribute to athlete’s foot and other skin conditions. It may also be beneficial for rosacea.
While more research still needs to be done, lemon oil clearly has a lot of potential for aiding a number of common skin problems.
Delivers Natural Fragrance to Skincare
Lemon essential oil is prized for its uplifting fragrance and can be used to naturally scent skincare products.
This is more important than it may seem at first glance because synthetic fragrance is one of the worst toxins in skincare. The word “fragrance” on the label of any product means it could contain a number of chemicals, including carcinogens, skin irritants, and endocrine disruptors.
By imparting a 100% natural fragrance, lemon oil can be used to formulate truly clean skincare products that aren’t toxic to your health.
Though lemon peel oil contains numerous compounds also found in fresh lemons, it doesn’t have the acidity that lemon juice has. This makes it less harsh on your skin (when used correctly) than many DIY skincare recipes that contain fresh lemon juice.
To give you a clearer idea…
The citric acid in lemon juice is what makes it sour and gives it some skin-boosting properties. For example, its acidic nature has an exfoliating effect that helps to get rid of dead skin cells and brightens skin.
Unfortunately, the acid in lemon juice can also irritate skin, particularly if you use it frequently. Redness, peeling, and irritation are all possible side effects, especially for those with sensitive skin.
By using lemon oil instead, you skip the acidity but still get many skin benefits.
May Put You in a Better Mood
Enjoying the fragrance of lemon oil in skincare products may have the added bonus of improving your mood.
Essential oils are frequently used in aromatherapy for mental and emotional support because they have tiny molecules that interact with the ’emotional center’ of your brain (the limbic system).
Lemon oil is no exception and has particularly demonstrated an anti-stress effect in studies. Researchers have commented on its “antidepressant-like effect,” and it may help to ease anxiety.
Apply it somewhere you can inhale its scent and enjoy an uplifted feeling!
Cautions & Tips for Using Lemon Oil
There are undoubtedly many significant benefits of lemon oil for skin. However, there are a few precautions for using this essential oil, particularly if you want to add it to DIY skincare.
Like any other essential oil, lemon peel oil is very concentrated and powerful. This means that using too much of it on your skin may cause irritation. Certain people are also sensitive to the limonene found in lemon oil and may have an allergic reaction.
Something else to keep in mind is that the compounds in lemon oil can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. If you apply it to an exposed area of skin before going out in the sun, your skin may burn more easily.
The best way to approach using this rejuvenating oil is to first always dilute it before applying to your skin. Do a patch test before using it on a large area of skin to make sure you don’t have any reaction to it. Particularly if you use the oil straight from the bottle, apply it at night so you don’t have to worry about sun sensitivity.
When formulated in small amounts into skincare products, lemon oil is much less likely to cause irritation or sun sensitivity than when used in larger amounts in DIY creations. You may wish to utilize it this way to keep your skin happy.
Look for the organic version of lemon oil to avoid harmful chemicals, and make sure it’s paired with other natural ingredients.
Lemon Oil for Clean, Refreshed Skin
If you want to get the clarifying power of lemon oil in a gentle skin formula, look into the Pur-Radiance Facial Cleanser from Purity Woods.
This cleanser is formulated with pure botanical ingredients, including organic lemon peel oil, that both cleanse and nourish your skin. It won’t strip natural oils from your skin or dry it out like other cleansers do and contains powerful ingredients, like maple leaf extract, that fight signs of aging even while they cleanse.
Importantly, the entire formula is also USDA Certified Organic. That means no toxins, GMOs, or artificial ingredients to harm your skin or health.
Learn more about the Pur-Radiance Facial Cleanser here, and enjoy the rejuvenating effects of lemon oil for your skin!