Bergamot essential oil (citrus bergamia) is one of the most popular essential oils used today due to its effectiveness and wide use of applications in aromatherapy, and skincare products alike, from relieving stress to reducing acne symptoms.
Bergamot is a fragrant citrus fruit that has been used for centuries in aromatherapy because of its refreshing and stimulating scent, but bergamot essential oil can also help to relieve troubled skin conditions when used as an ingredient in natural skincare products.
In this article we will discuss how bergamot essential oil can help with your aromatherapeutic and skincare needs, and some of the most common uses for bergamot oil and how they can benefit both your skin and mood!
Where does bergamot essential oil come from?
Bergamot oil (INCI: Citrus aurantium var. bergamia) is extracted from fruit of the Bergamot tree, which belongs to the Rutaceae (also known as Citrus) family. It is grown predominately in the Reggio di Calabria province of Italy, with small numbers elsewhere in other warm regions like Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.
The Bergamot tree is a flowering plant that can grow up to 15 feet tall with strong branches that produce an abundance of fruits during its growing season. The fruit is green, but can turn colour to a yellowish / orange skin when fully ripened.
How is bergamot essential oil produced?
There are two different types of Bergamot Essential Oil available:
Bergamot Oil Expressed
Bergamot essential oil (expressed) is produced by cold pressing bergamot fruit rinds. The bergamot fruit is harvested when it reaches maturity and then cold pressed by heavy steel plates in an industrial press at a low temperature (cold-pressed) to release, and preserve the quality of the extracted fragrant bergamot oil.
Bergamot Oil FCF / Bergapten Free
The chemical compound in bergamot essential oil (known as bergapten) can be toxic to the skin if applied topically and then exposed to UV sunlight. An alternative production method of steam distillation is used to remove these phototoxic compounds so that Bergamot essential oil FCF (Furocoumarin-free) can be more safely used in topical applications, or blended with a suitable carrier oil such as coconut oil to be applied directly to the skin. More on this later.
What does bergamot Essential oil smell like?
The bergamot oil plant is a member of the citrus fruit family, and its essential oil is extracted from the peel. As you would expect from a citrus fruit the scent is a bright, uplifting, refreshing scent with a green note making it less sweet than Clemantine or Orange essential oils. It is used often in aromatherapy and is regularly used as a perfume in cosmetic personal care products.
Does bergamot smell like Earl Grey?
It sure does! Bergamot is also responsible for giving Earl Grey tea its distinctive flavour, as in 1824 Earl Grey tea is believed to have been created when Bergamot was used to enhance the taste of low quality tea.
What are the benefits of bergamot oil?
Bergamot oil has been used for centuries in aromatherapy because of its refreshing and enticing aroma. Bergamot scent is both refreshing yet also helps to promote a sense of inner calm that may help to relieve stress or tension.
Bergamot oil can also be used to help promote healthy skin and with its antiseptic, antibacterial properties it makes it an ideal oil to help acne prone skins especially when blended and applied topically; it’s thought that Bergamot oils antimicrobial, antiseptic and deodorising qualities make it an effective ingredient in bodycare products to help relive other problems like athletes foot and sweaty feet that can be both sore and irritating.
What is bergamot essential oil used for?
Anxiety and stress
The bergamot scent is a distinctive fragrance that has been used in aromatherapy for centuries to provide uplifting benefits. For some it can help with emotional stressors and headaches when inhaled directly from a tissue or smelling strip, or diffused into the air as an aromatic therapy treatment. It is highly effective in helping to relieve feelings of stress and anxiety, as well as balancing energy levels, as bergamot has been shown to have a calming effect on the mind.
Aromatherapists often use bergamot aromatherapy oil in massage therapy for its analgesic and antispasmodic properties when trying to help ease muscular pain or muscle cramps, by adding a few drops of bergamot to a carrier oil such as jojoba oil to create an uplifting yet deeply relaxing massage oil.
Bergamot essential oil is often used in aromatherapy diffusers due to its popular soothing scent that helps you relax and relieves feelings of anxiety when inhaled. It can be used on its own, or together with other oils as an aromatic blend, by mixing a few drops of bergamot with other complimentary essential oils such as Lavender oil, Rose or Chamomile.
You can also use bergamot essential oil for its rebalancing, relaxing properties by adding it to a dispersant and then mixing with your bath water to help with sleep health rituals. Bergamot can also be used as a natural insect repellent for those who are sensitive or allergic to harsh chemical insecticides and want an all-natural alternative that is effective.
As well as being used in aromatherapy, Bergamot oil is an excellent ingredient of choice when used in cosmetic formulation. Its bright, green, citrus scent adds an uplifting aroma to products, while the natural therapeutic properties of bergamot make it a real asset when it comes to skin health benefits.
Bergamot oil is an effective natural remedy for many skin problems making it an excellent choice for skincare formulations especially those that target teenage acne, as it can help reduce the bacteria on the skin by fighting against skin inflammation and breakouts with its antimicrobial benefits. Bergamot oil also has astringent properties which helps to tighten pores and reduce excess sebum production, making bergamot a perfect ingredient for those with oily skin.
It has been shown that bergamot especially when blended with other essential oils such as lavender and chamomile may help to calm the appearance of redness and inflammation associated with many skin problems such as eczema, some types of dermatitis or psoriasis, due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. This makes Bergamot an ingredient of consideration when formulating any natural skincare product to help balance troubled skin.
Other uses of Bergamot
Bergamot essential oil is a key ingredient in the original Eau de Cologne created at the beginning of the 18th century. It is still widely used as a key ingredient in the perfumery industry with many popular perfume houses still creating bergamot-based fragrances and colognes. It is also a popular choice to be included in general off the shelf cosmetic skin and hair care formulations to give that pleasant not too sweet, bergamot-orange fragrance.
Bergamot hydrosol is a byproduct of the steam distillation process. Essential oils that are in the rind of the bergamot orange are carried within the water vapour the condensation chamber. The essential oils are then removed from the water leaving a distillate know as Bergamot Hydrosol, which is used in various aromatherapy applications such as prescription cream emulsions and it can also be used in a facial toner or mist.
Tips on using bergamot essential oil
- As with all essential oils Bergamot oil is heat sensitive, so when adding to your skincare formulations remember to add it to the cooling stage (below 40C) when making your product.
- Many people find Bergamot aroma refreshing while others may find it too penetrating or reminiscent of commercial eau de cologne. If you are one of those in need of the benefits of Bergamot but would prefer a milder citrus scent, try adding other essential oils to your diffuser blend such as orange, red mandarin or lavender to create a softer or more herbaceous fragrance profile.
- Bergamot essential oil blends well with other citrus oils, such as lemon or lime. It also goes well with grounding scents like Patchouli or Vetivert giving these sometimes lingering oils a lighter edge.
- For an uplifting refreshing aroma blend Bergamot with essential oils such as Yuzu, Petitgrain and Neroli.
- Bergamot also mixes well with lavender and frankincense to create an aromatherapy blend to help those feeling anxious.
General safety information when using bergamot essential oil
There are some side effects which may occur from using bergamot oil, so some care should be taken when using them:
- Plant essential oil is highly concentrated; they should be used sparingly, in small quantities, usually mixed with another ingredient(s) to make the blend less intense. Although some multi-layered retailers will apply essential oils directly onto the skin, as aromatherapists we advise that it be diluted with a carrier oil, or lotion / ointment for topical use.
- Bergamot essential oil contains Bergapten (Furocoumarin) which can cause irritation to the skin when exposed to direct sunlight. Make sure to choose Bergamot essential oil that is bergapten / FCF (Furocoumarin-free) which can then be blended with a suitable carrier oil or into your cream formulation for any topical application.
- A small patch test is recommended before use on sensitive areas of the body such as your face. Avoid use around the eye area.
- As with other essential oils, if you are pregnant, epileptic, or have any other medical condition of concern, you should consult with a qualified aromatherapist before using any essential oils.
- For the avoidance of doubt, we recommend that essential oils not be taken orally.
Bergamot essential oil is an intriguing, light, refreshing citrus scent that blends well with many other oils used in aromatherapy. It also has many skin benefits for those who want to use bergamot as a cosmetic ingredient in their skincare formulations. Bergamot essential oil can be used to help soothe and balance sensitive skins that are easily irritated or prone to conditions such as acne, eczema or psoriasis.
As with all aromatherapy oils, it is always better to seek professional advice from a qualified practitioner should you be unsure how to safely use these oils, whether in an aromatherapy or cosmetic skincare formulation.
So what will you do with your new knowledge of bergamot essential oil? Will you be using it when formulating your own cosmetic formulas? Will you add it to your next aromatherapy treatment?
Let us know! We can help by providing more information on how to incorporate these into your formulations or provide some guidance if needed.