Bergamot Essential Oil Benefits And Uses: Berg It On!

A bunch of bergamot fruit

There’s quite a good chance that you’ve never heard of or encountered bergamot oil before. I for one, only found out about it quite recently. If you do have some experience with it, you’ll know it by it’s high end citrus-smell and light spiciness. If you’ve ever tasted it before, well the only way to describe it is that it’s less sour than a lemon, but has almost the same taste as a grapefruit – a bitter body followed by a slightly sweet aftertaste.

However, if you’ve ever had Earl Grey tea then you’ve technically had a small taste of bergamot oil as it’s traditionally used to add flavor and body to the tea. I started doing some research into this delicious smelling oil and was quite surprised with what I came up with. Read on to find out more!

What Is Bergamot Essential Oil? Where Does It Come From?

Sliced bergamot orange

Bergamot Essential Oil

Bergamot essential oil is produced from the rinds (or skin) of the bergamot orange. It is the same size as a normal orange, but has a similar color to that of a lemon and is also referred to as a ‘sour orange’. The bergamot orange is currently cultivated in 3 places in the world namely Southern France, Southern Turkey and Southern Italy. However, Côte d’Ivoire and South Africa also cultivate a small percentage of the total global production.

The oil is generally produced through a process called steam distillation. On average it takes roughly 8 and a half oranges to produce 1 ml of essential oil. You might have read about steam distillation in my earlier stories, but if you haven’t I’ll briefly explain it.

The rinds of the orange are separated from the fruit and placed in a glass vial. Water is heated in a separate vial to produce steam. The steam moves through a series of glass tubes and fills the vial containing the organic matter (rinds). Through the evaporation process, the essential nutrients of the rinds are removed and then passed through another glass tube (once the pressure builds up in the vial) to the condensation chamber where the vapour gathers and cools.

Once the vapor cools, it forms droplets that collect at the base of the vial – this is the essential oil. Because of the fact that bergamot generally requires a large amount of rinds as a base (the ratio is 8 fruits: 1 ml), the oil is often blended with other essential oils such as rosewood or bergamot mint in order to increase the volume.

Uses For Bergamot Essential Oil

Girl looking into steamed mirror

Inhaling Bergamot Oil

Generally, bergamot oil is used as a fragrance in perfumes, skin lotions and shampoos. The sweet, citrus odor adds a high end scent when blended with carrier oils and is used in aromatherapy. The smell of bergamot reduces stress and anxiety when inhaled – this is most effective through steam therapy. In order to utilize the oil for steam therapy simply heat up a pot of water until boiling point. Then add 4-6 drops of the bergamot essential oil to the water.

Put your face over the water and cover your head with a towel to form a tent. Make sure your face is about 10 inches from the water to avoid steam burns. Close your eyes and breath in through your nose for 1 and a half minutes at a time. You’ll be feeling calm and relaxed in no time. The oil can also be used in your burner or a vaporizer (if you have one) to give your home a pleasant fragrance and a calming atmosphere. I’ve used bergamot as a fragrance in my home and really loved it – I’m sure you’ll enjoy the smell.

Bergamot oil can also be added to flavor cooking dishes. It goes particularly well with salads, poultry and fish dishes,  and even in your baking too. Be sure to dilute it with a carrier oil or water (3:1 bergamot drop) and use it in small amounts! There are so many uses for the oil in your home!

Benefits of Bergamot Essential Oil For Hair

Girl with long red hair

Bergamot Essential Oil For Hair

Bergamot is an amazing essential oil with many benefits for your hair. It is able to treat a wide variety of issues that are commonly treated with costly chemical products or shampoos that can have a negative effect on certain hair types. The rich concentration of limonene and linalool found in bergamot oil promote hair growth and nourish tresses from the inside out. Bergamot acts as a stimulant, so when it’s massaged into your scalp it will thin out the blood cells and improve circulation. This means that more nutrients are delivered to the cells in your scalp which stimulates hair growth. Because more nutrients are absorbed into hair follicles from the root up, it will lead to stronger, healthier hair.

By treating the scalp with antibacterial agents like those found in bergamot essential oil you effectively remove the source of the infection, as well as the symptoms that come with an inflamed scalp. These infections are commonly related to conditions such as dandruff and dry, itchy scalps. The oil also acts as a fantastic conditioner/moisturizer. It treats dry and damaged hair generally caused by sun overexposure or dry heatwaves. The oil will keep your hair nourished, smooth and smelling great for a long time. It will also add a nice sheen to your hair, leaving it shinier and more lively.

Benefits of Bergamot Essential Oil For Skin

Bergamot is good for your skin for a number of reasons and a variety of purposes. However, it’s important for me to stress that there are a few cautions to consider before applying the oil to skin in any amount. Firstly, the oil should not be used to treat children under the age of 6.

Secondly, be sure to stay out of direct sunlight after applying the oil as one of its main ingredients (‘bergapten’) becomes poisonous when exposed to direct sunlight or UV rays. Finally, as a general rule of thumb, you should always mix the oil with a carrier oil (such as almond, lemongrass or bergamot mint) as a way of lessening the direct effects of the essential oil should something go wrong i.e. an allergic reaction etc.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way – I want to stress that bergamot is generally very safe to use. It is a very healthy substitute for most chemical products and has many benefits for your skin. Bergamot acts as a natural antiseptic as well as an antimicrobial agent. Try applying it to any skin irritations such as rashes, wounds and eczema. It has analgesic qualities too, which means it can be utilized for minor pain relief.

One of the vital features of bergamot essential oil is the fact that it’s a cicatrisant. This allows it helps scars and wounds heal quicker which makes it effective as a toner and acne treatment. It will help unclog your pores, remove excess sebum oil, nourish skin and speed up recovery. Again, as a rule of thumb, always you bergamot in small amounts or blended with other oils.

Are There Side Effects To Using Bergamot Essential Oil?

As I mentioned earlier, bergamot oil is generally safe to use and shouldn’t cause you any problems – so long as you use it correctly. There are however, a few side-effects I feel I should note. Firstly, it’s important to patch test and dilute bergamot oil with a separate carrier oil or water (3:1 bergamot drop).

Some skin types can have a bad reaction to the oil. Irritations like blisters, rashes or general redness occurs if too much is used or if it is not diluted properly. Secondly, always be sure to keep the bottle in a dark container and out of direct sunlight.

Also be sure to stay out of direct sunlight after you’ve applied the oil to your skin. Only enter direct sunlight once the oil has completely been absorbed into the skin (usually an hour after the initial application). The oil can become poisonous when left in direct contact with sunlight and can cause pigmentation lightening.

Finally, consuming too much bergamot oil orally (or with your Earl Grey Tea for instance) on a regular basis can lead to a potassium deficiency. This can cause cramps and muscle spasms. Again, the oil is generally very safe for use so long as you stick to the correct dosages and don’t over do it. Like everything in life, too much of a good thing can be bad – so everything in balance.

While you’re here at Maple Holistics, be sure to check out our features covering Orange and Eucalyptus Essential Oil!


I only found out about bergamot oil roughly 2 months ago and after using it with a tea recipe I fell in love with it. The smell is lasting and really calming and it’s great for your immune system. When I started researching the oil (I always research something before I use it), I was a bit alarmed when I read about the many side-effects.

However, I’ve always been careful and sparing with it – and haven’t had any problems so far. I’d highly recommend it for anyone who has experience with essential oils. Even those who are new to the essential oil world should give this stuff a try – just be sure to do your research first!