Of all the citrus oils, sweet orange essential oil is AMAZINGLY MULTIFACETED when formulating with holistic skincare in mind.
Yes, it is fabulous for toning the skin and reducing secretions on the surface, but sweet orange ALSO has the superpower of being able to uplift our mood while simultaneously calming our nervous system so that we can better rest.
Sweet orange essential oil is helpful on the physical front BEYOND the surface of our skin when dealing with things like tight muscles and painful joints.
Keep reading to get tons of background education on sweet orange essential oil and expertly formulated handmade recipes using it to add to your own skincare line!
This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links (at no cost to you). Please read the disclosure for more information.
Sweet Orange Essential Oil Profile
- Latin name: Citrus sinensis
- Botanical family: Rutaceae
- Plant part: Fresh fruit rind
- Countries of origin: Italy, Israel, Brazil, South Africa
- Extraction method: Cold-pressed
- Aroma descriptors: Fresh, fruity, light, citrusy
What is Sweet Orange Essential Oil?
The well-known citrusy scent of orange that most people are familiar with comes from the aromatic cells in the peel (aka rind).
In a method called ‘cold pressing’, oranges are bounced around in a big machine to break up the sacs that hold the aromatic oils.
The oil is then separated from the rest of the orange material, and *poof* orange essential oil is ready to bottle.
Need a visual? Check out the orange essential oil extraction process here (skip to minutes 1:18 – 3:38).
What Gives an Essential Oil its ‘Personality’?
Essential oils are made up of molecules (just like everything!), and most have somewhere around 200 different kinds.
This mix of molecules (or constituents), which varies based on the type of essential oil, is what gives each oil its ‘personality’ (scent, therapeutic properties, thickness, volatility, etc).
Some of these molecules are only in super teeny-tiny trace amounts, as small as 0.01%. Others have significant percentages in a certain constituent, even as high as 93%.
These larger percentages of a certain molecule (each that are characterized by a larger chemical family) are what ‘drive’ the use of an essential oil, meaning how that oil is used and for what reasons: Is it uplifting? Calming? Energizing? Skin-healing? Rubefacient? Anti-inflammatory? Analgesic?
Most Prominent Component in Orange EO
In sweet orange essential oil (Citrus sinensis), the component with the highest percentage is one in the monoterpene chemical family known as limonene (93.2%).
This percentage is very significant* when compared to the other constituents present in sweet orange essential oil.
*The chart above is taken from a GC/MS report for a batch of Citrus sinensis (organic) on July 13, 2020 Lot #: Orange Organic O30109 – however, most orange oil is rich in the same component.
Limonene (Monoterpene Chemical Family)
In vitro research supports that in general, oils in the monoterpene chemical family have the following therapeutic activity:
analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, penetration enhancers, airborne deodorizer and purifier, antiseptic, decongestant, rubefacient
Limonene (a component found in most citrus peels, not just sweet orange!) specifically helps to activate white blood cells and is immune supportive.
What Does This Orange EO Chemistry Even Mean???
No, you don’t need to memorize or even fully understand the chemistry behind sweet orange essential oil to make successful skincare products.
This quick dive-in simply illustrates the science-backed WHY behind using orange essential oil for HOLISTIC skincare.
In the descriptions of monoterpene components above, notice the range of in vitro therapeutic activity:
- analgesic (meaning it can help to numb pain)
- antidepressant (meaning it works to balance some of the natural chemicals in our brains)
- penetration enhancer (meaning it helps to promote skin absorption and decrease barrier resistance)
- anti-inflammatory (meaning it can help alleviate inflammation)
Summary: This breakdown of components shows that sweet orange essential oil has an effect on:
- our skin when used topically
- the actual physiology of our body (the way our body functions)
- how our brains perceive and react to its current state and environment
Safety Notes for Orange Essential Oil
It probably sounds ridiculous that there are ‘safety notes’ with something as innocent as an orange.
However, the most common ‘experience’ with sweet orange is eating the fruit on the inside – and that is very different than the essential oil from the peel.
Essential oils in general are extremely concentrated.
It takes around 150 oranges to make just ONE 15 mL bottle (which holds around 300 drops) of orange essential oil (😮!!!) – anything that has a super increased concentration like this should be handled differently than when in its original form.
First and foremost, no essential oil lasts forever, but citrus oils have super short lives when compared to other essential oils.
Monoterpenes, which is the prominent chemical family of sweet orange, oxidize easily (this means the chemical bonds of the oil are super fragile when exposed to heat, light, and air…when these bonds are broken, the way the oil behaves drastically changes).
Sweet orange essential oil has a shelf life of 1-2 years, and that is assuming the bottle has been tightly sealed, stored in a cold environment, and away from direct sunlight.
If an oxidized sweet orange oil (one that is used past its shelf life or has been improperly stored) is used in a recipe, it could lead to skin irritation or skin sensitization, which you would never want for you or your customers.
Some citrus essential oils are phototoxic, which means that when the oil is used on the skin and then exposed to sunlight, a severe reaction could occur in the form of blistering, sunburn, or other painful irritations.
Not all orange essential oils carry the same chemical properties. Just as in our conversation about using lavender essential oil for holistic skincare, you have to know the type of oil you’re purchasing in order to use it correctly and safely.
Sweet orange essential oil (Citrus sinensis) is NOT phototoxic, but bitter orange essential oil (Citrus aurantium) IS phototoxic. Make SURE you are reading the provided botanical name on the website listing and/or bottle before purchasing.
A Case for Organic:
Citrus fruits tend to be heavily sprayed with pesticides (over 90%, actually).
Since most citruses essential oils are cold pressed, the chemicals (specifically fungicides imazalil and thiabendazole) are found in pretty significant amounts in the final bottle of oil when not organic.
As a general rule, purchase the organic version of citrus essential oils, even if you don’t normally have an organic line.
Cold-pressed sweet orange essential oil is considered nontoxic, but it MUST be used at proper dilution rates.
When using sweet orange on the skin for daily use, you must stick to a 1-2% dilution to avoid skin irritation (the number of drops per ounce is outlined in the chart below).
Simply add the appropriate number of drops of essential oil to a carrier oil (such as jojoba or sweet almond oil) and/or a thick (melted) butter such as shea butter or cocoa butter with the help of a stove.
Using Sweet Orange Essential Oil when Pregnant or Nursing
Sweet orange essential oil can be used during pregnancy or nursing, but the basic essential oil safety during these times should still be followed:
- Avoid essential oils during the first trimester.
- During second and third trimesters, pregnancy-safe essential oils may be used for support at a 1% dilution.
- Avoid using essential oils on a daily basis while pregnant.
- Use essential oils under the guidance of an aromatherapist or midwife.
Using Sweet Orange Essential Oil on Children
Likewise, sweet orange essential oil can be used on/around children, but the following safety parameters with all essential oils should be followed:
- No essential oils applied to skin for children under the age of 5 years old. (Using a hydrosol on the skin is a safe option to use on babies and kids in this age range.)
- Keep to a 1% dilution for topical use on children 5-12 years old.
- Gentle essential oils can be diffused around babies and younger children in ten-minute increments (use half the amount of drops in the diffuser than used with adults).
Grab a FREE copy of this essential oil dilution chart here: Skin Care Maker’s Reference Pack
Overview of Holistic Skincare
Now that you’re full of background information, let’s get to the actual skincare part!
When something is ‘holistic’ it means all of the parts (of a whole) are intimately interconnected.
In ‘holistic health’, you consider the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors rather than just the immediate symptom at hand.
When applying this approach to SKINCARE, you’re not just going to hand over a moisturizing facial serum to combat dry skin patches.
From the view of a holistic skincare entrepreneur, you’ll also want to make sure that your customer is also:
- Hydrating throughout the day
- Getting enough sleep
- Managing stress appropriately
- Eating healthfully, exercising regularly, etc.
- Addressing any physical pain or discomfort
All of these factors (and more) contribute to skin health – no amount of skin care product can ‘fix’ skin that hasn’t been cared for LONG TERM with a mindful lifestyle.
Sweet Orange Essential Oil and Holistic Skincare
As briefly discussed at the beginning of this post, sweet orange essential oil is incredibly multifaceted and could be the poster child of holistic skincare.
It helps multiple layers of our skin in different ways, it helps keep us calm and stress-free, and it can even play a huge part of pain management strategies – an amazing, well-rounded gift from nature.
Managing Mental Wellness with Sweet Orange Essential Oil:
Tending to mental health is a huge factor in a person’s overall wellness and life experience.
It also comes around full-circle as a large variable in the appearance of skin.
Sweet orange essential oil is a relaxing oil known to be an anxiolytic (reduces anxiety), while simultaneously bringing us feelings of joy, vigor, and light.
It is also known to be an effective sedative that helps to calm the nervous system, allowing us deeper peace and deeper sleep.
This deep, restorative sleep increases cell regeneration as well as the ability to face challenges throughout the day with more positivity and creativity.
The two uplifting, emotionally balancing recipes below are fabulous ways to reap the benefits of sweet orange essential oil:
Sunshine Diffuser Recipe:
- 5 drops of Grapefruit essential oil (Citrus paradisi)
- 5 drops of Sweet Orange essential oil (Citrus sinensis)
- 2 drops of lime essential oil (Citrus x aurantifolia)
- 1 drop of neroli essential oil (Citrus aurantium var. amara)
*If you want to make a 5 mL stock bottle to sell, just multiply each drop count by 8.
An electric diffuser is a device that breaks down essential oils and disperses them into the air so that the oils are inhaled in a safe concentration.
Diffusers come in many sizes, shapes, and colors – this is just one example of many:
Peaceful Nighttime Body Oil Recipe:
- 4 oz of Jojoba oil (or other preferred carrier oil)
- 12 drops Neroli essential oil (Citrus aurantium var. amara)
- 12 drops Sweet Orange essential oil (Citrus sinensis)
- 4 drops Frankincense essential oil (Boswellia carterii)
- 4 drops Bergamot essential oil (Citrus bergamia)
- 4 drops Ylang Ylang essential oil (Cananga odorata var. genuina)
*For use as an after-shower moisturizer or relaxing evening massage oil.
Combine all ingredients into an amber-colored container. Storing your body oil in colors that block UV light help to reduce oxidation.
Glass is the most eco-friendly and chemical-free choice; however, that can get pretty pricey to purchase and ship, so you may want to consider a BPA-free plastic bottle like this one (depending on your target market and branding, of course).
Managing Muscle/Physical Pain with Sweet Orange Essential Oil:
Physical pain is a surprisingly significant player in skin care, as it can limit the processes our body needs for our immune systems to work properly.
When the average person is in pain, they tend to not breathe as deeply (which decreases oxygen intake, slowing down cell repair), not sleep as soundly (restorative sleep is also needed for cell repair), and not be able to provide the body with normal movement and exercise that is needed optimal functioning.
Sweet orange essential oil has therapeutic properties that make it useful for pain and inflammation (thank you, d-limonene!).
The two formulas below help to manage common discomforts NATURALLY with the assistance of sweet orange and other analgesic essential oils:
Joint Oil Recipe
- 1 oz trauma oil*
- 5 drops of Lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia)
- 3 drops of German Chamomile essential oil (Matricaria recutita)
- 2 drops of Black Pepper essential oil (Piper nigrum)
- 2 drops of Helichrysum essential oil (Helichrysum italicum)
- 2 drops of Juniper Berry essenitial oil (Juniperus communis)
- 2 drops of Sweet Orange essential oil (Citrus sinensis)
*Note that this recipe is at a 3% dilution, which is not meant for everyday use. Use topically only as needed.
Tension Massage Oil Recipe
- 4 oz carrier*
- 16 drops Cedarwood essential oil (Juniperus virginiana)
- 12 drops Sweet Orange essential oil (Citrus sinensis)
- 8 drops Grapefruit essential oil (Citrus paradisi)
- 8 drops Jasmine Absolute (Jasminum grandiflorum)
- 4 drop Neroli essential oil (Citrus aurantium var. amara)
*This massage oil is at a 2% dilution, suitable for daily use.
*Jojoba oil contains myristic acid (an anti-inflammatory agent) making it an excellent carrier for muscle, tendon, and ligament injury blends.
Learn more about other carrier oil benefits here to see what is best for your target market and end formulation goal.
Orange Essential Oil and Topical Skincare
Outside of using it for mental wellness and tending to physical pain, sweet orange is one of the top 27 best essential oils for topical skin care recipes.
Since sweet orange is a smaller molecule with high amounts of d-Limonene, it penetrates quickly and is a fabulous astringent, helping to tone the skin and reduce secretions.
Sweet orange essential oil is also helpful for inflammation, and blends well with other skin-loving oils such as lavender, patchouli, and sandalwood.
When experimenting on your own, remember to keep to a 1-2% dilution with fresh batches well within the appropriate shelf life limits.
Need expertly formulated recipes for your shop? The Natural Skin Care Recipe Ebook includes 50 retail-ready formulations for your handmade skincare line, several of which include orange EO.
Sweet Orange essential oil is included in the following recipes:
- Oily Skin Facial Serum
- Peaceful Laundry Powder
- Aphrodite’s Kiss Organic Lip Balm
- Autumn Spice Lip Balm
- Orange Ginger Lip Balm
- Sweet Dreams Lip Balm
The Natural Skin Care Recipe (e)Book
The Best Place to Buy Sweet Orange Essential Oil
As a certified aromatherapist, Plant Therapy is my go-to essential oil distributor.
You can buy orangic sweet orange essential oil in 10, 30, and 100 mL sizes, as well as bulk sizes if you’re a high-volume maker.
Plant Therapy also carries tons of pre-made orange essential oil products if you’re not ready to make your own yet.
All my best to you, fellow maker, as you begin using sweet orange essential oil for holistic skincare – starting to blend with a lens of total body and mind wellness is a gamechanger.
I look forward to hearing how this approach strengthens your DIY skin care journey!