LEMON Peel Oil and Uses

By Jeanne Rose

Showing a photo of Lemon peel oil and the fruit
Lemon Peel Oil and Fruit • Photo by JeanneRose 2-25-21

Synopsis ~ LEMON PEEL OIL and juice contains limonene, citral, and some floral linalool, which gives Lemon Peel its appealing fresh fragrance and the terpenes its tartness. Itis one of the most valuable essential oils and is used in food, perfumery, skincare for oily skin, and for many medicinal purposes.

Common Name/Latin binomial ~ Citrus x limon (L.) Osb or Lemon tree or Lemon oil. There are strict rules on naming and citrus has been examined and analyzed for parentage for quite some time. Citrus taxonomy is confusing and often inconsistent. They are all named with common names,  scientific names called Latin binomials based on Latin grammar and not necessarily with Latinized words.

Family ~ Rutaceae

Other Names and background ~ There are at least 25 varieties of the Lemon and it often uses the name Citrus limon as well as several old and new names. Some varieties are Bearss, Eureka, Lisbon, Meyer, and Verna Lemon.

Farmers Market photo of two types of Lemon
2 kinds of Lemon • Eureka and MeyerSF Farmers Market – 2019

Countries of Origin ~ Lemon oil is obtained from several countries and Prima Fleur #0086 is from the USA. The tree was native to SE Asia, mainly India.

Endangered ~ Not currently.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PLANT HABITAT AND GROWTH ~ Lemon trees are cold- sensitive. Grow in warmth or full sun or the south side of a house. They need well-drained soil, slightly acidic. They can be grown from seed or cuttings.  When I lived in Florida, our citrus tree had many varieties layered upon one trunk and we had oranges, lemons,  and grapefruits from one tree. The fragrance of the blossoms was delightful.

PORTION OF PLANT USED IN EXTRACTION AND YIELDS ~ Lemon peel is either cold-pressed or steam-distilled. Various methods have various yields.

            Yield ~ 0.6-0.8% from the cold expression of the fresh fruit peel.   


Colorcolorless to pale yellow for steam-distilled oil and yellow when  cold-pressed (#086)
Intensity of Odor2-3 for cold-expressed and 1 for steam-distilled (on a scale of 1-10)
Tastebitter and sour
Tenacity in a BlendLemon peel adds freshness but needs fixatives to hold it in a scent or blend
Organoleptics of Lemon Peel Oil from PrimaFleur Botanicals

Chemistry and Components ~ The varieties of Lemon often have the same parentage but have different physiologic forms or formae often based on terroir (such as Mandarin in Italy and Tangerine from Tangiers) or scent chemistry such as limonene which has a chiral difference — both a left-turning molecule, (S) for sinistral with the sour smell of Lemon or Bitter Orange and a right-turning molecule, ® for right hand or clockwise or dextral, the sweet smell of Oranges. This is the reason we all as lovers of essential oils and aromatherapy need to learn some chemistry along with good taxonomy.

Interesting/Science/Historical ~ There is a study that confirms that the composition of Lemon essential oil undergoes cyclic variations lasting one year1. And that Lemon fruit on the same tree may both smell differently from each other but also have different chemistry.

Two bottles of Lemon oil plus a yellow paperweight and a perfect yellow Lemon.
Lemon Oil and Lemon fruit – Photo by JeanneRose 2-2021



Lemon peel constitutes a main valuable source of essential oil that is used in foods and for medicinal purpose. It is used by application in skincare, ingested in medicines and used in blends by inhalation.

APPLICATION AND SKINCARE ~ DO NOT APPLY COLD-PRESSED LEMON OIL TO SKIN PRIOR TO SUN EXPOSURE. It may cause photosensitivity. This means it could cause serious skin damage when exposed to the sun such as redness, itching, burns, blisters, and permanent skin discoloration. Steam-distilled Lemon oil does not contain the plant substance (furanocoumarin) that causes photosensitivity.

 Application ~  The essential oil when applied externally is an antibiotic, antiseptic, astringent, insect repellant, and wound healer. Apply  as an astringent antiseptic on some infections, acne, a cleanser for oily skin, on skin sores, small, infected wounds or insect bites.

            Skincare ~ Lemon peel oil can be used in skincare treatments to balance the pH of the skin, by counteracting acidity on its surface and it acts as a very mild natural bleach or lightener on the skin. It can be used to brighten dull skin color and to calm redness, as well as quell the irritation of inflamed skin. Prima Fleur carries several kinds of Lemon peel oil, organically grown and cold-pressed as well as cultivated and cold-pressed.

The conclusion of one scientific study showed that the scavenging action of lemon essential oil could have a practical application for treating human skin against oxidative damage.2

Ingestion: The Lemon peel essential oil should not be taken internally.  The chemistry and scent of essential oil is different than the chemistry and scent of the juice of the Lemon.
Inhalation: Inhale the crisp cheery scent of Lemon oil as a mildly calming  antidepressant due to the cheery scent, or as a mild stimulant, antiseptic, fever-reducer, and depurative for its purifying and detoxifying effects.

Blending for Purpose ~ Lemon peel oil blends very nicely with Bergamot  as a top note in blends and perfumery and then with most florals and woods to complete the blend.

______Diffuse/Diffusion ~ Lemon oil is a good addition to many other oils in your diffusor. It is uplifting, refreshing, and invigorating. For a quiet clear mind, add Rosemary to the Lemon, add sweet Basil or Spearmint to Lemon oil to uplift the spirit, and for a quiet calmness add Lemon oil to Vetivert.

Ritual/Emotional/Energetic Use: Lemon oil is used by inhalation for general fatigue and depression or physical exhaustion. 

 Culinary/Ingestion ~ Drink  Lemon Juice do not use Lemon oil in water. Tiny amounts of Lemon oil can be used as a flavorant in foods.

Herbal ~ Lemon peel, dried or fresh, can be used in baths, facial steaming herbs, most potpourris and herbal mixtures; it is used as decoction for normal to oily hair or in infused vinegar to use as a hair and skin rinse. Diluted Lemon juice can also be used directly on the hair and skin and it acts to reduce the alkalinity of shampoo and to rid the hair of dandruff and the skin of minor irritations.

Lemon and Cucumber Mask
Mash some Cucumber in a mortar, add some Lemon juice, and
Enough Almond meal to make a paste. Apply to face or knees or elbows.
This is mildly astringent and yet soothing.3.
You can also make this mask with Lemon Hydrosol

Hydrosol ~ I have used Lemon Hydrosol from several companies; they were distilled from whole fruit and rind and were each perfect in their own way. The hydrosol is wonderful for slightly oily skin and very soothing and a refreshing tonic for the skin.

Key Use ~ I like to call Lemon oil “the Oil of slimming” as it is effective in blends for this purpose.

2 bottles of Lemon oil showing color difference in different oils from the fruit peel.
Lemon oil

References ~

1.On the genuineness of citrus essential oils. Part X. Research on the composition of essential oils produced from Sicilian lemons using ‘pelatrice’ and ‘sfumatrice’ extractors during the entire 1983/84 production season. A. Cotroneo et al.  March 1986. https://doi.org/10.1002/ffj.2730010206

2.Antioxidative action of citrus limonum essential Oil on Skin. Bertuzzi, et al., https://www.researchgate.net/publication/233850718_Antioxidative_Action_of_Citrus_limonum_Essential_Oil_on_Skin

3.Rose, Jeanne • The Herbal Body Book • Frog Books, 2000. http://www.jeannerose.net/books.html

This work is sponsored and supported by Prima Fleur Botanicals.



PATCH TEST:  If applying a new essential oil to your skin always perform a patch test to the inner arm (after you have diluted the EO in a vegetable carrier oil). —Wash an area of your forearm about the size of a quarter and dry carefully. Apply a diluted drop (1 drop EO + 1 drop carrier) to the area. Then apply a loose Band-Aid and wait 24 hours. If there is no reaction, then go ahead and use the oil in your formulas. —The Aromatherapy Book, Applications & Inhalations, p. 64

HYDROSOL — PLEASE NOTE: A true hydrosol should be specifically distilled for the hydrosol, not as a co-product or even a by-product of essential oil distillation. The plant’s cellular water has many components most are lost under pressurized short steam runs for essential oil, or by using dried material. We recommend that the producers specifically distill for a product by using plant material that is fresh.
DO NOT INGEST ESSENTIAL OILS: Although some oils are important flavoring oils in the flavor industry and thus ingested in very small amounts in many foods, especially meats and sausages, it is not a good idea to use them yourself either in capsules or in honey to take internally.
SAFETY PRECAUTIONS: Do not apply the essential oil neat, especially to the underarms or delicate parts of the body. Most oils are probably not to be used on babies, children or pregnant women. Many aromatherapist suggest that there are some oils not be used at all. However, as with many plants, essential oil chemistry is subject to change depending on species, chemotype, and terroir.
CONTRAINDICATIONS: Be moderate in your use of any essential oil. A little goes a long way. Remember to choose the herbal use over the essential oil use normally; an herb tea is milder than the essential oil. There are always contraindications for the excessive use of some plants and for their essential oils in both perfumery and aromatherapy.

Moderation in All Things.
Be moderate in your use of essential oils as they are just not sustainable for the environment.
Be selective and more moderate in your usage.
Use the herb first as tea or the infusion. —JeanneRose 2014

DISCLAIMER:  This work is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for accurate diagnosis and treatment by a qualified health care professional. Dosages are often not given, as that is a matter between you and your health care provider. The author is neither a chemist nor a medical doctor.  The content herein is the product of research and personal and practical experience. Institute of Aromatic & Herbal Studies – Jeanne Rose©

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