Citrus (Hesperidia) Essential Oils & their properties

Hercules in the Garden of Hesperides. Red figured hydria from Attica, ca 410 BC, British Museum. 
In his Eleventh Labor, Hercules traveled a lot, he crossed the Ocean and reached the Northern Edge of the World to find the secret Garden of Hesperides.  His mission was to steal the Golden Apples that were kept in there. The Golden Apples belonged to Zeus, king of Gods and were guarded by Hesperides, nymphs, daughters of Night, and by Ladon a scary snake-like, hundred headed dragon.

Nowadays, these Golden Apples of Hesperides (Hesperidia=Citrus fruits) are kept in our kitchen and each one of them has a precious beauty secret: Vitamin C or ascorbic acid.
Vitamin C protects the skin, contributes in the collagen production, it is highly anti- oxidant and fights against free radicals which are responsible for skin aging. Vitamin C promotes skin elasticity and has also whitening properties. It is a real source of youth and beauty! Apart from vitamin C, citrus fruits contain folic acid, one of B vitamins, minerals ans also substances such as flavonoids and carotenoids.

Citrus essential oils are extracted from citrus  blossoms, leaves and fruits; they affect our mood and revitalize our body.

Bergamot essential oil (Citrus bergamia)
Bergamot has a wonderful refreshing and uplifting aroma, it supports the immune system and fights depression and anxiety. It is used to fight skin diseases such as eczema and acne and helps to balance oily skin.

Grapefruit essential oil (Citrus paradisi)
Grapefruit oil scent is clean, refreshing and uplifting, it soothes anger and depression. This essential oil is a must have to fight against cellulite and water  retention; it also balances oily hair & skin and is a skin toner.

Lemon essential oil (Citrus limonum)
Lemon essential oil exudes cleanliness and freshness, it removes unpleasant odors, its is rejuvenating and stimulates concentration. It has antibacterial, astringent, & antiseptic properties, supports the immune system, it is beneficial for oily hair & skin, it fights against skin infections, acne, blemishes and cellulite. 

Lime essential oil (Citrus aurantifolia) 
Lime has a totally fresh aroma and carries all healing properties of lemon essential oil. It's men's favorite scent.

Orange essential oil (Citrus sinensis)  
Sweet orange has a well loved aroma which is refreshing and invigorating; it relieves from stress and anxiety. Orange has antidepressant properties, it soothes the nerves and fights against insomnia. It is an antiseptic and bacteriostatic essential oil which brightens the skin.

Neroli essential oil (Citrus aurantium) 
Neroli essential oil is deriving from bitter orange tree blossoms.Its name is credited to Anne Marie Orsini, wife of Flavio Orsini, Prince of Neroli (Italy). It was late 17th century when Princess Orsini launched it as a trendy fragrance by using it to perfume her gloves and bath. It is considered as one of the best anti-depressants and aphrodisiacs. It has astringent and bacteriostatic properties, it balances skin and hair by regulating sebum secretion and it regenerates skin cells. Neroli scent is honey sweet, spicy with flowery notes.

Petitgrain essential oil (Citrus aurantium)  
Τhe Essential Oil of Petitgrain is extracted from the fresh leaves and young tender twigs of bitter orange tree through steam distillation. It has antispasmodic,antidepressant properties.This oil has a very good reputation as a nerve tonic, it is used to treat hypertension and insomnia and is considered as the ideal deodorant.

Mandarin essential oil (Citrus nobilis).
Mandarin oil is antiseptic, antispasmodic, digestive, hepatic, nervous relaxant, sedative  and tonic. It relieves from stress, support liver's functions, purifies blood, protects from infections and promotes growth of new cells and tissues. 


  • Citrus essential oils can be photosensitive – direct exposure to sunlight within 12 hours after use could cause dermatitis. They should not be used before or during sun exposure.
  • Bergamot essential oil should not be used by pregnant women and children.
  • Lemon essential oil is a potent astringent and antiseptic; it should be used with caution.
  • Essential oils should always be used diluted in oils or creams.
  • Before using drastic substances such as essential oils please consult a professional health care provider or a pharmacist.
-Guy Roulier, “Les Huiles essentielles pour votre santé”, Dangles
-Colleen K. Dodt, “The Essential Oils Book: Creating Personal Blends for Mind & Body ”, Storey Publishing

This article was originally posted in August, 2006