Grapefruit Essential Oil Benefits, Uses, & Side Effects

Grapefruits are a regular fixture on many breakfast tables due to their wide range of health benefits. Cold-pressing the peels, however, produces the grapefruit essential oil, which is rich in all the compounds that make the grapefruit special.

The main benefits of grapefruit essential oil are related to its disinfectant, diuretic, and antioxidant properties. It also has mood-lifting and stress-relieving characteristics. The main side effect of the oil is skin irritation—especially if the skin is exposed to sunlight after application.

The rest of this article looks at everything you need to know about the uses and side effects of this oil.

What Is Grapefruit?

Grapefruit is a citrus plant with the scientific name Citrus X paradisi. Its fruit is large, semi-sweet, with red pulp. The plant is an accidental cross between the sweet orange and the pomelo and was first seen in Barbados.

What Is Grapefruit Essential Oil?

Grapefruit essential oil is an extract from the peel of the grapefruit. It is produced via the cold compression technique. The process ensures careful extraction of the main ingredients that provide the essential oil with its beneficial properties.

Chemical Compounds/Makeup, Active Ingredients

The chemical compounds and active ingredients in grapefruit essential oil include limonene, terpineol, neryl acetate, decyl acetate, citronella, linalool, geraniol, myrcene, sabinene, alpha-pinene, and more. It also contains vitamin C. Limonene is; however, the most abundant ingredient making up 74%-97% of the oil.

What Are the Benefits of Grapefruit Essential Oil?

Some of the benefits of grapefruit essential oil are covered below:

Grapefruit Essential Oil is Good for Hair

Massaging your hair with grapefruit essential oil can improve hair-health and encourage hair re-growth. It can also leave the hair shinier more vibrant. Do you need to deodorize your hair? You can spray the hair and scalp with a solution of essential grapefruit oil drops mixed in a few ounces of water.

If the odor is a result of the buildup of dirt, salt and chlorine, you can also use grapefruit essential oil as a cleanser (recipe covered below). You can also use a grapefruit solution to get rid of chemical buildup in hair follicles due to the use of gels, creams, and hairsprays.

Grapefruit essential oil can also help fight dandruff caused by dry scalps, promoting the growth of healthy follicles. The antimicrobial properties of the oil may also fight existing infections and help you keep new ones at bay.

Can Be Useful for Healthy Skin and Face

Grapefruit essential oil has been found to help in the treatment of skin and face conditions such as acne due to its antioxidant and antibacterial properties. This is why various brands of creams and face lotions include citrus-based essential oils like grapefruit in the products they manufacture. Since the product supports bacteria-free skin, it may help when you’re trying to get rid of acne and other similar skin conditions.

A study monitored the antibacterial activity of ten essential oils against the bacteria commonly associated with acne (P. acnes), and their findings showed that grapefruit essential oil has some antibacterial impact on them.

Away from acne, the astringent properties of grapefruit essential oil also mean that it can also help in tightening pores and getting rid of excess oils. The oil’s antioxidant properties can also improve the skin’s regenerative abilities and help it to fight premature aging.

Can Encourage Weight Loss

Although there’s limited research in this area, grapefruit essential can help you to lose some weight.

A study involving rats, however, showed that the scent of grapefruit essential oil helped to reduce food intake in the rats, and also led to the breakdown of fat tissue. A similar study showed that grapefruit essential oil applied directly to the fat cells of rats prevented the formation of fatty tissue.

In humans, there’s some evidence that rubbing essential oil on the body can encourage weight loss. A one six-week study involving postmenopausal women showed that massaging the abdominal area with grapefruit essential oil mixed with other oils led to a decrease in abdominal fat, as well as a decrease in weight circumference. The use of a mix of other oils, however, muddies the result of the study.

Useful in Natural Lip Balm, Lotions and Roll-Ons

The uplifting scent of grapefruit oil means it can be useful in the making of natural personal care products. In lip balms, adding a touch of grapefruit essential oil to the mixture can give the lip balm a warm citrus scent. The same applies in lotions, but with all the added advantages of grapefruit essential oil as we’ve seen on the skin.

The antimicrobial properties of grapefruit essential oils make them perfect for natural deodorant mixes. You won’t just smell good; the compounds in the oil can help prevent bacteria clusters that cause odors from forming.

Supports Healthy Lymphatic System Function

The lymphatic system is one of the body’s main defense systems against bacteria, viruses, metabolic debris, etc. This system getting blocked means stagnation of the lymphatic fluid, and the body loses some of its pathogen-fighting abilities. This leads to a weakened immune system first, but also causes swelling, inflammation in the lymph nodes, and infection.

Grapefruit essential oil is one of the oils known for their positive effects on the lymphatic system. They are massaged into the lymphatic areas to relieve stagnancy. The oil’s diuretic properties also help the body to get rid of lymphatic waste through the urinary tract.

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Limonene in Grapefruit Essential Oil Improves Glutathione Levels in the Body

Glutathione is an important antioxidant in the body that helps in the fight against free radicals. Free radicals can damage the cells in your body, so too much of them is definitely bad for your overall health. This is why a low level of glutathione in the body is bad news.

The limonene in grapefruit essential oil, however, has the ability to encourage glutathione formation when the oil is used topically, encouraging better cellular health.

Grapefruit Essential Oil Has a Very Low Comedogenic Rating

Oils with high comedogenic ratings such as cottonseed or wheat germ oil will most likely clog the spores on your skin when the oil is applied topically, leading to breakouts. Grapefruit essential oils have a very low comedogenic rating, which makes them safe to apply on the face for most people.

It Supports Healthy Blood Pressure Levels

A study showed that inhaling citrus and lavender essential oils were able to lower blood pressure and stress levels. Another study using only grapefruit essential oils, but conducted on rats, had similar results. The researchers concluded that limonene, the major compound in the oil, played a role in the findings of the study.

Although there’s no conclusive research on whether grapefruit essential oil can lower high blood pressure in humans, the above studies are pointers that can’t be ignored.

It is an Anti-Cellulite Oil

The anti-inflammatory and proteolytic enzymes in grapefruit essential oil, such as limonene and bromelain, may break down cellulite and help prevent the formation of new fat cells. They do this by inhibiting the formation of fat cells below the skin.

Grapefruit essential oil used in aromatherapy sessions may also improve circulation and water retention in the skin—both factors that can help reduce cellulite.

Can Be Used on the Stomach to Help Get Rid of Fat

As we’ve seen earlier, grapefruit essential oil can play an important role when it comes to breaking down body fat and encouraging weight loss in other ways.

Rubbing grapefruit essential oil on the stomach may, therefore, help reduce the fat and reduce your waist circumference. It achieves this mainly by reducing the appetite, as shown in this study.

We also mentioned this study, where the participants saw some results after they combined grapefruit essential oil and other oils to fight belly fat. So, if you are looking for an essential oil that can help you lose stomach fat, grapefruit essential oil should be high on the list.

Has Antifungal Properties

A recent study involving a number of citrus essential oils showed that they all have antifungal properties with grapefruit essential oil especially proving effective against molds like P. verrucosum and P. chrysogenum.

Can Be Used in Baths

You can enjoy all the benefits of grapefruit essential oils on the skin and body by adding it to baths. Inhaling the oil in steam will also have the same results. However, experts advise combining it with other carrier oils like sweet almond, avocado, and jojoba for a better experience in the bath.

Has Emotional Uses, Including Lifting Your Mood

Studies have shown that aromatherapy can prove useful when it comes to balancing mood and relieving anxiety. There’s no verifiable research on how grapefruit essential oil specifically helps in this regard, but there are studies on other citrus essential oils that have the same active compounds as grapefruit oil. The studies found out that the limonene in these oils have calming effects and can reduce anxiety.

It’s Antibacterial and Antimicrobial Properties Can Kill Germs

Several studies like this one and this one have shown that grapefruit essential oil has antimicrobial effects on a range of bacteria like Escherichia coli, Enterococcus faecalis and Staphylococcus aureus. Another study that compared a few essentials found grapefruit oil like the one that is most effective against MRSA bacteria, which are resistant to known antibiotics.

May Help Fight Yeast Infection

Research has also shown that grapefruit essential oil may be effective in fighting yeast infections caused by Candida albicans, especially in people with weaker immune systems.

Grapefruit Essential Oil DIY Recipes for Various Uses

As we’ve already seen above, you can use grapefruit essential oils in many ways. Fortunately, creating recipes for various use cases with this oil is super easy. This section will cover various such cases and how you can make the grapefruit essential oil solution you need on your own.

Homemade Grapefruit Essential Oil Hair Mask

A hair mask made with this essential oil can revitalize your hair and give some bounce.

To create a hair mask with grapefruit essential oil, mix equal parts of the oil with lemon, sage, and orange juice. Stir the solution thoroughly and apply it to your hair. Be sure to get it on your scalp properly to cleanse it deeply. Leave the mix sitting for at least half an hour before washing it off.

This mask can also work as a solution for fighting dandruff that has formed due to scalp dryness.

Grapefruit Essential Oil Hair Cleanser

If your hair is dirty and loaded with byproducts of inorganic hair materials, such as chlorine and salt, you can use this grapefruit essential oil cleanser recipe. The ingredients include the following:

  • Half-cup of club soda
  • Two drops of grapefruit essential oil
  • Two drops of sage oil
  • Quarter-cup of grapefruit juice
  • Quarter-cup of orange juice
  • Quarter-cup of lemon juice
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Add these ingredients in a spray bottle and then spray the mixture on your wet hair. Comb the hair with the solution still in it, and let it stay for ten minutes. Wash the hair off using your conditioner and shampoo. You can repeat this every three weeks for dry and damaged hair.

Grapefruit Essential Oil Hair Straightener

Are you tired of having your hair tangled up in small bunches? You can create a homemade hair straightener using grapefruit essential oil. To create the mix, you need:

  • Half a liter of water
  • 3-4 drops of grapefruit essential oil
  • Two drops of glycerin
  • One teaspoon of aloe vera gel

Spray the mixture on your hair before you wash the hair to remove all the tangles and make your hair easier to comb.

Using Grapefruit Essential Oil in Weight Loss Massage

We talked about how grapefruit essential oil can be useful for anyone looking to reduce their waistline. You can get this benefit by massaging the oil into your skin, especially around the parts of the body where you are struggling with some fat. To create the massage solution, here are the ingredients you need:

  • 40 drops of grapefruit essential oil
  • 10 drops of ylang ylang
  • 1 oz Fractionated Coconut Oil
  • 30 drops of lemon
  • 30 drops of geranium

Mix them together to get the perfect grapefruit massage oil you need to speed up your weight loss efforts. You can either use the mix for your private massage sessions at home or take it along when next you are going to the spa.

If you are looking to get rid of cellulite, you only need three drops of grapefruit essential oil mixed in a tablespoon of coconut oil. Rub it around the cellulite for 5-10 minutes daily until you start to see results.

Face and Skin Scrub

Grapefruit essential oil may be beneficial when you are treating your skin conditions like acne. To create the scrub you need. Get a small mason jar and add half a cup of sea salt, half a cup of jojoba oil, and 20 drops of grapefruit essential oil. Blend it all together, and you have your facial scrub.

You can also use the scrub on your body for heat rashes or other such conditions. For stronger skin issues like eczema, or in situations where the scrub doesn’t yield any results after a couple of weeks, you should see a dermatologist.

Making a Face Toner

Is your face excessively oily? You can make a face toner using grapefruit essential oil. The ingredients you need are two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, five drops of grapefruit essential oil, and one cup of distilled water.

Shake the mixture properly and apply it to your face using a ball of cotton. You should start to see results after a few days.

Using Grapefruit Essential Oil for a Stress Relieving Bath

As we discussed above, one of the main benefits of grapefruit essential oil is that it can relieve stress and lift your mood. What better way to achieve this than via a hot bath? The ingredients you need for your bath are ten drops of sweet orange oil, 15 drops of grapefruit oil, and half a cup of Epsom salt. Add the mix to your bath water to enjoy a reinvigorating dip.

Other Directions for Everyday Use of Grapefruit Essential Oil

  • Create an all-purpose cleaner by adding 6-7 drops to a quart of distilled water in a spray bottle. Store the bottle away from heat and shake it properly before use.
  • Add 2-3 drops of the oil in your diffuser to keep the air in your home feeling fresh.
  • To use the oil as an inhibitor for sugar cravings or other addictions, pour some of it in a small bottle and inhale it when you feel the cravings or urge kicking in.
  • To treat a swollen ankle, mix 2-3 drops of grapefruit essential oil in one tablespoon of carrier oils like coconut oil and massage your ankles with the mixture.

How to Dilute Grapefruit Essential Oil in Water

To dilute grapefruit essential oil in water, you need to consider the use case to ensure you get a solution that retains all the benefits. A good base for measurement is three drops for every standard glass of water.

What Oils Can Grapefruit Essential Oil Blend With?

Grapefruit essential oil can blend with a range of other oils, including ylang ylang, rosewood, rosemary, peppermint, lavender, geranium, cypress, frankincense, cedarwood, bergamot, chamomile, basil and more.

Can Grapefruit Essential Oil Be Used in Laundry?

You can use grapefruit essential oil while doing the laundry because it can help whiten and brighten dirty clothes. Some people use it by rubbing it directly on caked-on stains that have refused to wash off before as it can soften the stain and make it easier to wash. Other people use it as a general sanitizer for dirty clothes by pouring a few spoons in water.

The antimicrobial properties of the oil mean it can get rid of germs in clothes.

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Can Grapefruit Essential Oil Be Used in Cleaning?

You can use grapefruit essential oil to clean floors, counters, sinks, bathroom surfaces, etc. Apart from the fact that the strong scent is refreshing, the antimicrobial properties of the oil make it effective for ridding surfaces of germs. Add a few drops into a spray container to use when cleaning or add some spoons to the water.

For oily surfaces, mix the oil in the water with the cleaning agent.

Can You Use Grapefruit Essential Oil in Diffuser?

Diffusing grapefruit essential oil is one of the best ways to get into the body without causing harm. Add 2-3 drops per 100ml of water in the diffuser to fill the room with its mood-lifting scent. Some people have noted that having grapefruit essential oil in the air when reading or working can be soothing and focus-enhancing.

For a stronger citrus mix, you should consider adding Juniper Berry and Wild Orange essential oils to the diffuser.

Can You Use Grapefruit Essential Oil in Cooking?

Essential oils like this one are mostly meant for topical use in aromatherapy. It is not safe for ingesting and can be fatal in large doses. Spreading the oil on the food, as you would with olive oil or frying or cooking with it, is, therefore, not a good idea.

Can Grapefruit Essential Oil Be Used in Candle Making?

Just like with the diffuser, burning candles that contain grapefruit essential oils can leave a room feeling fresh. It is a safer alternative to synthetic fragrances.

Can You Use Grapefruit Essential Oil on Pets (Dogs, Cats, etc.)?

Topically applying grapefruit essential oil on your pets may not have the effects you had in mind. Some pets may be more sensitive to the oil compared to humans. The same applies when you have the oil in a diffuser or use it in cleaning.

The best way to gauge the effect on your pets is to pay attention to how they react with the oil in the air. Are they uncomfortable? If you applied it topically, you should watch for obvious signs of irritation.

The Side Effects and Toxicity of Grapefruit Essential Oil

Most people can safely inhale grapefruit essential oil or use it in topical applications during aromatherapy and massages. However, there are a few side effects of the oil to keep in mind.

  • Applying the oil directly to the skin without blending it with carrier oils like jojoba or sweet almond oil can lead to skin irritation. Aromatherapy experts always blend essential oil with carrier oils before using them, and you should do the same too.
  • Even when the oil has been properly diluted in water or with carrier oils, there is still a chance of allergic reactions occurring. This is why you should get a skin patch test first before you start using grapefruit essential oil.
  • Although topical application of grapefruit essential oil is encouraged, you need to ensure you don’t use it excessively. The excess oil will get absorbed into your body through the skin and can end up triggering any of the dangerous effects of ingesting the oil.
  • Applying citrus related essential oils like grapefruit oil before going under the sun can cause photosensitivity and burning—increasing the risk of skin cancer. This is why it’s best to apply the oil late in the evenings or during the day when you don’t intend to go outdoors.
  • Grapefruit essential oil might cause adverse reactions in pregnant women and children. You should consult a healthcare provider first to go over any potential safety concerns.

How to Store Your Grapefruit Essential Oil

To ensure your grapefruit essential oil remains potent for as long as you have it, you need to store the container properly. Proper storage goes beyond protecting the bottle from falling off the shelf. You need to ensure the oil won’t go through oxidation, which will make it lose most of the vitamins, antioxidants, and other compounds that make it useful.

The three main things that can cause oxidation and reduce the shelf life of your oil are heat, oxygen, and light.

When storing your oil, you should focus on keeping it safe from these factors. Store the bottles in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and certainly away from other sources of light and heat—such as your bathroom. The fridge is an ideal place to put the oil for long-term storage.

When you have to open a bottle, act quickly to limit the amount of oxygen going into the bottle. Once the bottle is opened, use it up as quickly as possible.


Grapefruit essential oil has a wide range of benefits which may touch on weight loss, stress relief, and skincare. It also has antifungal and antibacterial properties, which make it useful as a cleaning agent and as a solution for certain skin conditions.

However, you need to exercise caution when using it as it can cause some adverse effects when used excessively, especially without properly blending it with carrier oils. Finally, some literature online suggests adding the oil to water and drinking it to enjoy benefits like killing ulcer-causing bacteria, but there’s no evidence backing this assertion.

Healthcare professionals also advise against ingesting most essential oils.