Neroli Oil Does A Lot More Than Smell Great: 8 Potential Skin, Hair & Health Benefits
Neroli, extracted from the flowers of the bitter orange, is often found in skin and hair care products, and it's a popular essential oil in perfumery due to its coveted scent.
But neroli offers more than just a floral, citrusy, almost spicy aroma: The oil has antimicrobial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties that can be beneficial when applied topically. Plus, inhaling the scent may be helpful for easing stress, anxiety, and even symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopause. Intrigued yet? Here's what to know.
Benefits for skin:
It might reduce the appearance of acne.
Although more research is needed, a 2012 laboratory study published in the Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences looked at the chemical composition of neroli oil.
The study found that—thanks to neroli's limonene and other compounds—the oil went to work against bacteria, yeast, and fungi, making it a potentially potent pimple-fighter and bump-battler.
"This oil works to reduce the appearance of your acne overnight with its antifungal and antimicrobial properties," says Daniel Lanzer, M.B., FACD, an Australian dermatologist.
It'll help you get that glow.
In a review of the biological activities of citrus oils published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, researchers said neroli is a "strong antioxidant."
"With high antioxidants and cell regeneration properties," Lanzer explains, "neroli oil can produce an amazing overall glow. Try diluting two to six drops in a carrier oil, such as coconut or avocado oil, and lightly dab directly over the skin morning or night."
Benefits for hair:
It might reduce itchiness and flakiness.
For the same reasons that neroli oil can be cleansing for the face, it may also benefit your noggin.
A recent study published in Nature that looked at human scalp samples suggests that balancing bacteria can help control dandruff, making neroli's antimicrobial and antifungal properties potentially helpful for fighting a flaky, dry, or itchy head.
To try it, add a few drops of neroli to your favorite detangler or other leave-in hair product. You'll enjoy the lovely scent, and your strands will appreciate the extra attention.
It might calm stress and anxiety.
Neroli oil, when used as aromatherapy, may have a calming effect. In a 2008 study published in the Journal of Complementary Medicine, researchers found that gerbils had reduced anxiety when performing tasks after inhaling neroli.
Another study on humans found that smelling a blend of neroli, lavender, ylang-ylang, and marjoram reduced blood pressure for a small group of individuals with hypertension.
It seems to ease menopause symptoms.
A randomized controlled trial published in Evidenced-Based Complementary Alternative Medicine looked at 63 healthy postmenopausal women.
Those who inhaled neroli oil had reduced stress, lowered blood pressure, and increased sexual desire. The researchers reported that neroli may help improve endocrine system function.
It seems to ease PMS symptoms.
In a double-blind clinical trial published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, researchers looked at 62 university students over the course of a year. The students who inhaled neroli oil saw improvement in their PMS symptoms, such as pain, bloating, indigestion, and depression.
It might help with general pain and inflammation.
Although more research is needed on how neroli oil can be used to help interrupt pain signals and inflammatory processes, researchers found through an animal study published in the Journal of Natural Medicine that the ingredient does exhibit these benefits.
Its smell is super calming.
"Neroli essential oil has been used in aromatherapy for a very long time due to its amazing mental and physical health benefits," explains Amber O’Brien, M.D., a physician with Mango Clinic in Miami. "It [has] a refreshing and comforting fragrance."
You can carry a bottle of neroli around for an on-the-go mood boost or add the oil to your diffuser to make your home smell heavenly.
Potential side effects & risks.
Some citrus oils are phototoxic, meaning when they are exposed to sun, they can cause a burn on your skin. Neroli oil, however, is not one of them.
That being said, it does still require a few precautions when used topically. "I wouldn’t recommend applying it directly to the skin to avoid aggravation," Lanzer says. (This guide to carrier oils walks you through how to safely use oils on the skin.)
"Do a patch test on your skin to test if you have a citrus allergy before using," he adds.
As always, use caution when diffusing EOs around children, pets, or anyone with respiratory issues, such as allergies or asthma.
Neroli essential oil blends.
Neroli pairs well with other essential oils for different aromatherapy effects. Here are a few oils to pair it with depending on your mood.
Start by putting in equal amounts of each oil into a diffuser or dark amber bottle. Feel free to add more of a certain oil to increase its scent prominence in your blend. If you're preparing your blend in a bottle, store it in a dry, dark place to help it maintain its potency.
A chill-out blend:
Blend neroli with equal parts lavender, ylang-ylang, and marjoram to soothe away stress. One small study published in Evidence-Based Complementary Alternative Medicine found that this combination lowered blood pressure and cortisol levels.
A blend to get you in the mood:
Floral neroli and rose blend well with woodsy sandalwood to leave you feeling sensual.
A calming blend to clear your head:
Neroli is such a calming scent that it can be too mellow at times. Pair it with brighter geranium and grapefruit notes to keep you collected and cool.
The bottom line.
Neroli's promising skin- and hair-boosting benefits, along with its ability to ease stress and even tamp down anxiety, make it a great EO to have in your arsenal. Plus, it simply smells so great that you might just want to use it as your signature scent.
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Jennifer Chesak is a freelance medical journalist with bylines in several national publications, including Washington Post, Healthline, Prevention, Greatist, Runner’s World, and more. Her coverage focuses on chronic health issues, fitness, nutrition, women’s medical rights, and the scientific evidence around health and wellness trends. She earned her Master of Science in journalism from Northwestern’s Medill School. In addition to reporting, she also serves as a freelance manuscript editor and medical fact-checker. She teaches copyediting and media studies at Belmont University and several writing courses through the Porch Writers’ Collective in Nashville, and she is the managing editor for the literary magazine Shift.