Botany: A tropical or subtropical cultivated evergreen rutaceous tree of the genus Citrus, which often grows to more than 10 m high; it is considered to be a relatively recent hybrid of C. Maxima and C. Sinensis. It has leathery evergreen leaves and large, juicy edible fruits having leathery aromatic rinds.

It is cultivated in USA (California, Florida and Texas), the West Indies (Jamaica and Dominican Republic), Nigeria, Brazil, Israel and the Mediterranean (e.g. Portugal). The part used is the fresh peel of the fruit from which grapefruit oil is produced by cold expression.

Products: expressed grapefruit oil, cold-pressed grapefruit oil, and shaddock oil.


Like all citrus oils, grapefruit oil is a source of alpha hydroxy acids (citric acid), antioxidants, fragrant essential oils (grapefruit essential oil contains a-pinene, sabinene, myrcene, limonene, geraniol, linalool, citronellal, decyl acetate, neryl acetate and terpinen-4-ol) and useful astringents. It belongs to oils with the most significant scents and it is widely used in cosmetics and aromatherapy. It is also used in air freshener preparations.

It is astringent with important vitamin properties that improve superficial microcirculation, tones the venous and lymphatic systems, and ensures better tissue drainage. Traditionally said to balance cellular exchanges. Grapefruit oil is a good facial toner; it has cooling, refreshing and stimulating effect on lifeless skin. It is an emollient; it hydrates the skin and gives velvety feel. It has antibacterial and antibiotic effects. It is a great help in the care of oily skin and skin with acne, mostly due to α-hydroxy acids (AHA) used as chemical peels. AHAs have a profound effect on keratinization; formation of a new stratum corneum. It appears that AHAs modulate this formation through diminished cellular cohesion between corneocytes at the lowest levels of the stratum corneum. AHAs with greater bioavailability appear to have deeper dermal effects. Citric acid, on topical application to photo-damaged skin, has been shown to produce increased amounts of mucopolysaccharides and collagen and increased skin thickness without detectable inflammation.

Grapefruit oil can handle swelling and rheumatic pain. When inhaled, grapefruit oil is an antidepressant and helps relieve anxiety. It can be effective treating symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and menopause.

The seeds have been used to produce a natural preservative (naringin).


Dermatological studies have indicated grapefruit oil to be non-irritating, non-sensitising and non-phototoxic to humans. However, certain bergaptens present in grapefruit oils are known to be phototoxic and allergenic to some individuals.

Precaution: do not use during individual intolerance to Ylang-ylang; use diluted, prevent eye contact, and keep out of reach of children. During pregnancy use with caution.


Body care