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Citrus Circuit

Citrus. Although the peak season for many of these fruits is winter, they are often associated with summer. They are bright, sweet, and sour, making delicious juices and refreshing lemonades. And their essential oils, cold-pressed from their rinds, are uplifting and energizing. All citrus essential oils have terpenes as primary constituents, a fact which is responsible for the uplifting fragrance influence.  

However, the various oils vary in scent and in percent composition. So, what are these differences? Which oil should you choose? What, even, are your options?

As it turns out, there is more to the citrus world than lemons and oranges. Essentique carries six different essential oils from the citrus family: Citrus bergamia (bergamot), Citrus paradisi (grapefruit), Citrus limon (lemon), Citrus reticulata blanco (mandarine green), Citrus sinensis (sweet orange), and Citrus aurantium (bitter orange). 

Let’s start with bergamot. Bergamot contains 30-45% limonene, 28% linalyl acetate, and 15-20% linalol. It has a dry citrus aroma that is bitter and slightly sour with slight floral top notes. The first whiff is quite tart, but the aroma soon settles into something that smells remarkably like Earl Grey tea. This fragrance relieves anxiety and lifts the mood. 

Grapefruit essential oil contains up to 95% limonene. Its fresh tangy scent is incredibly similar to the scent of a fresh grapefruit, but less bitter, and is refreshing and uplifting.

On to lemon. Lemon contains up to 76% limonene, 12% gamma-terpinene, and 16% beta-pinene. Its scent is slightly sugary and strongly sour, just like a fresh lemon. Its fragrance, in addition to being uplifting, is invigorating and clarifying, making it excellent for improving focus and concentration.

Mandarine green contains up to 75% limonene and 22% gamma-terpinene. It is a light, fruity citrus that is neither too sweet nor too sour. Its fragrance is appeasing and gentle, and promotes happiness.

Sweet orange is the orange that most of us are familiar with. It contains up to 95% limonene, and has a bright and sugary scent with no sour notes. Its fragrance is uplifting and antidepressant. 

Bitter orange also contains up to 94% limonene, but has a much drier scent than sweet orange. It has bitter top notes complemented by a faintly sweet base. 

Citrus essential oils are excellent both on their own and in blends for diffusion throughout a room. In fragrance blends, citrus often forms the bright top note. Be careful, however, when applying them to your skin, as most of them are phototoxic. With the exception of mandarine green, citrus essential oils react poorly to ultraviolet light, which can lead to inflammation, blistering, reddening, or burning of the skin. 

By Gabrielle Candes

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