I was scrolling through the ingredient list of my favourite L’Occitane hand lotion and I saw that Limonene was listed there and since I wasn’t exactly sure what it was – but figured it had something to do with Lemons – I thought that this would be a “fun” chemical to ease back into my ‘Know Your Ingredients’ series. Just to clarify as I did get a few comments in the past, these series are supposed to very easy to understand and give the basics of what an ingredient is. This is not an indepth science lesson but rather a little recap on the benefits and negative effects of an ingredient so that next time you pick up a product from your local cosmetics counter, you understand what is actually in it.

Is Limonene Safe?

As Limonene sounds a lot like Lemon, it’s not surprising to find that Limonene is actually a chemical found in the peels of citrus fruits . . . like lemons. To get Limonene you have to juice an orange or lemon and press the oil out of the peel. The oil is then separated from any lingering juice and distilled. Once that’s done, what you have left is food grade Limonene. To get Technical Grade Limonene you have to go one stage further by popping the citrus fruit peels into a steam extractor rather than juicing and distilling it. By steaming the peel and waiting for the steam to cool and then collecting the film of oil that floats on top of the condensed water, you can get more of the oil from the peel and that right there is technical grade d-Limonene.

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You can find Limonene in many bath products, shampoos, moisturisers, lipsticks, mascaras etc. on the UK cosmetics and personal hygiene market, so it will be an ingredient you will bump into sooner or later as it is very popular and versatile ingredient. In moisturisers, limonene can be added to help ointments and creams penetrate the skin or used as a fragrance or cleanser.I think that a lot of Brands use Limonene in their products rather than artificial colours/colouring/scents etc. etc. as the Limonene molecule is a bit of a ‘Jack of all trades’ and already provides all of these components PLUS brands can just chuck it into their product and then market the product as being ‘natural’ or ‘organic rather than using a synthetic ingredient that just smells citrusy.
As Limonene is a naturally derived product, it is extremely safe and it shouldn’t irritate your skin unless you happen to have an allergy towards citrus fruits. Personally I think this is a great product to find in a product and I wouldn’t mind if I found it in my products, what do you think? Are you a fan of Limonene now you know what it is?