photo: BurgTenderLately I’ve been having this mad love affair with neroli oil. It’s kind of crazy and impractical because the stuff is obscenely expensive….but oh, so worth it!
What the heck is neroli oil, you ask?
It’s an essential oil, extracted from the flower petals of the bitter orange tree. Neroli (Citrus aurantium) is one of the more precious of the essential oils because it takes a veritable boatload of these petals to make just a tiny vial of the essence. (Literally 100 pounds of blossoms to generate just one pound of the oil!)
Have you ever had the pleasure of smelling the flower of a bitter orange tree? Me neither, but I have smelled ‘mock orange’ which also transports me into olfactory ecstasy.
But back to neroli. A while back when going through one of my aromatherapy crazes, I splurged and stocked up on a variety of essential oils that I’d been researching. And I do mean splurge – real essential oils are not cheap. (Well, that’s not exactly true, some of them are surprisingly inexpensive, such as eucalyptus, cedarwood and sweet orange.)
Essential oils made from delicate flower petals tend to be in the costlier range – which his why you must be wary of fakes when shopping for such oils. Many of the ‘essential oils’ you might find in conventional markets are actually synthesized perfume oils. More later about how to tell the difference, and what you can do to save money and still get the ‘real’ essence of the flower.
Anyway, once again I digress. I added neroli to my collection but didn’t find occasion to use it much. Then when I got on my bath-taking binge a couple of months ago, I started playing around with my essential oils, making a few blends and adding them to my bath. My old standbys had always been lavender and/or clary sage (both awesome oils to add to a bath by the way.) But I wanted to branch out a little, get out of my essential oil box so to speak.
Because of my recent big move – away from all that was familiar and comfortable – these last few months have brought up some emotional challenges. I was looking for an oil to use in the bath that would soothe the turmoil and lift my spirits. I pulled out the neroli, took a whiff and felt like I’d arrived in heaven. (But instead of some sort of bearded saint guarding the pearly gates I was embraced in the open arms of a troupe of sisterly goddess types!)
Carefully I added a couple of drops of the precious substance to my bath water. Aaaaah! The soaking experience can only be called sublime. Something about neroli just felt right.
Since then I’ve reached for that little bottle more often than not when I run the bath.
Neroli blossoms, from the bitter orange tree photo: Starzyia
Banish Fear And Stress
According to seasoned herbalists and aromatherapists Mindi Green and Kathi Keville, the key word for neroli is confidence! No wonder I feel so drawn to this scent during this topsy turvy time. Neroli is an aromatic ally in my efforts to build my own self esteem and confidence levels.
In their excellent book Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art, Greene and Keville also list neroli as therapeutic for handling anger, anxiety, fatigue, hypersensitivity, insomnia, nervousness, stress/overwork and irritability!
Who couldn’t use a little help with at least one of those?
Neroli oil will counter mental confusion, depression, fear and emotional shock. If you have to give a presentation, but are petrified of speaking in public, neroli is your friend!
I’d learned of of all these benefits before of course – but the knowledge was buried in my subconscious. As was the memory that the fresh, comforting aroma of neroli inspires courage and happiness.
In addition to soothing the nervous system and introducing feeling of serenity, a drop of this precious oil rubbed into the heart area can open up your heart chakra, and using it in massage or in the bath can gently arouse sexual energy.
Aromatherapy professionals recommend using this oil to people who have difficulty sleeping, especially when the problem is exacerbated by too much time on the computer. (Um, helloo! Sound familiar?)
But neroli oil gives us so much more than a gentle emotional lift!
Softer Smoother Skin With Neroli
This essential oil is used in many natural skincare recipes – for aging skin, and also for normal, dry and combination skin. It stimulates cell growth and regeneration, and it increases blood circulation and skin elasticity. Neroli is a popular ingredient in face washes and toners because it clears dirt and balances the oils in the skin.
Neroli even helps dissolve and lighten stretch marks and scars! It’s specifically used to heal thread vein scars and minimize the appearance of varicose veins. Add 5-8 drops to one ounce of a carrier oil such as jojoba (or even better rosa mesqueta which has its own scar reducing properties) and massage into the affected area.
A few drops added to an eye cream or eye serum helps reduce the broken capillaries that show up as those unattractive circles under the eye. (This is my personal facial bugaboo and I am SOOO happy to discover this solution.)
Check out the recipes below, or add several drops of neroli oil to your favorite cream or lotion to add some serious skin rejuvenation to your moisturizing regime.
Neroli’s skin rejuvenating abilities go beyond mere vanity: this oil acts as an antiseptic on cuts and wounds by clearing the dirt and killing bacteria. Reports say it has the added benefit of providing some instant pain relief when used this way.
Even More Health Benefits
Get some relief from, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea and general stomach upset by adding a drop of neroli oil to a cup of hot tea or water. It can also ease menstrual cramps, nausea and bloating.
And guess what? It’s even an ally for various menopausal symptoms. Time for that bath!
This essential oil got its funny name from a 17th century princess, Anne Marie Orsini, the princess of Nerola and duchess of Bracciano. She used the fragrance of bitter orange as perfume during her baths and to scent her fancy gloves. She must have been a real trendsetter because apparently she was singlehandley responsible for making neroli oil quite fashionable among the elites of the era.
The essential oil of petitgrain is neroli’s ‘other side of the tracks’ cousin. It’s got the same Latin name because it’s actually just a different part of the same plant. Petitgrain essential oil is made with the unripe fruit, leaves and stems of the bitter orange tree.
The fragrance has some similarities, but it is much sharper and harsher. I don’t find it to have the gentle, spiritually uplifting feel of neroli. However, it is much, much, MUCH cheaper!
This oil also has some significant therapeutic properties on its own. Notably it is an antidepressant and it also stimulates self-confidence. Additionally, it can enhance awareness and perception, helping to reestablish trust. The fresh, woody aroma of petitgrain can be stabilizing and reassuring.
A great way to stretch your neroli oil is to combine it with petitgrain. A mixture of the two results in a fragrant blend because their aromas meld beautifully. And the benefits of the two oils also integrate well. This blend is ideal for people who feel sad and lack confidence. Try using equal parts of each.
Many companies, such as Aura Cacia, sell less expensive versions of neroli oil. The price goes down because the precious oil is ‘extended’ by adding a natural carrier oil, usually jojoba. Since neroli is so potent, these dilutions still smell just as heavenly, but are far easier on the budget. You actually get a full .5 oz vial for around $18 or so. (True essential oil of neroli retails for upward of $35 for just 2 ml, less than 1/8 oz.)
How To Use Neroli Oil
You can (very carefully) dispense the oil neat, drop by drop into a bathtub or a cup of hot water or tea. (Most brands are sold with a plastic dropper tip dispenser.) Or, make it last a bit longer by making your own dilution. A 2% dilution is 10-12 drops of essential oil to one ounce of carrier oil.
You can use almost any oil for a carrier, but some favorites are jojoba, almond, grapeseed and apricot. Use a 2 or 3% dilution to make a bath oil, but you only need about 1% for massage oil. You can also combine neroli with other oils for various body care and therapeutic formulations.
Confidence Boosting Spritzer
This aromatic spritz will also reduce stress levels, keep it on hand before that big presentation!
20 drops neroli essential oil
20 drops petitgrain essential oil
8 fluid oz. distilled water
Combine essential oils with distilled water in a glass bottle with a spray atomizer attachment. Shake well , close your eyes and lightly mist your face as often as desired.
Stress Busting Body & Massage Oil
8 drops neroli essential oil
8 drops lavender essential oil
4 drops orange essential oil
4 drops petitgrain essential oil
4 fluid oz. almond oil
Mix essential oils into almond oil and pour into bottle. Use on specific areas, or for a full body massage.
Radiance Facial Toner
This is especially awesome for delicate or couperose skin. But it will rejuvenate aging skin and benefit all skin types
½ cup aloe vera juice
¼ cup rosewater or orange blossom hydrosol
¼ teaspoon glycerin
1 drop neroli essential oil
1 drop rose essential oil
Combine all ingredients in an 8 oz bottle. Apply with cotton balls or use a spritzer top to mist the skin. Be sure to shake well before using.
Where Do You Find Neroli Oil?
Can you make you own? Unfortunately not. It’s difficult to make any type of essential oil because of the complicated and expensive distillation equipment – and getting your hands on enough bitter orange blossoms would be a difficult proposition indeed.
So alas, you will have to dig into your wallet if you want some neroli. And when you do buy it, you want to be sure you have the real thing and the best. That’s why I recommend purchasing specific brands that disclose Latin names and are known to sell unadulterated products.
Labels such as Simplers, Primavera and Oshadhi all indicate high quality essential oils. Aura Cacia makes a “Neroli Precious” that has is already mixed with jojoba oil in perfect proportions. It smells like the real thing, just lasts a lot longer. If you go this route, don’t mix it further with more carrier oil though.
Although petitgrain oil has its own therapeutic uses as mentioned above, it is unfortunately also used to adulterate neroli oil. So the bottle will say ‘neroli’ but what you are getting is a blend – you want to know this and it’s unethical for companies not to disclose. Plain old inexpensive orange oil is also used as an adulterant, it comes from the more plentiful flowers of the sweet orange tree.
If you are able to purchase neroli oil in person, use your sniffer. The nose always knows. Neroli oil that is adulterated with petitgrain will have a slightly bitter-woody nuance – totally different than the more sweet and delicate aroma of pure neroli. If you are buying your essential oils online, be sure you purchase from one of the reputable companies.
Your turn! Have I inspired you to check out this awesome essential oil and start your own love affair? Or have you used neroli before – and if so, for what? Let’s discuss!