Bergamot oil has a soothing scent, spicy taste, and a wide range of potential uses and possible benefits. It is also a common cosmetic ingredient and a flavor added to Earl Gray tea.

Bergamot oil is extracted from the rinds of citrus fruit (Citrus bergamia) that grow on bergamot orange trees. The bergamot tree likely originated in Southeast Asia.

It first came to prominence and received its name from the town of Bergamo in southern Italy, and it’s currently grown in many parts of the world.

You can purchase bergamot oil online and at certain health stores. To use on your skin, you need to mix the oil with a carrier oil, such as olive oil, and then apply.

However, before using it on a large surface area, remember to test it first on a small patch of skin in order to check for an allergic reaction. If a reaction occurs, do not use any more oil.

You can often find bergamot’s distinctive citrus scent in personal care products such as perfumes, colognes, toiletries, and cosmetics. People also use edible bergamot oil as a food and drink flavoring. It may also have some medicinal value.

Learn more about how to use essential oils.


Bergamot essential oil is well-known for its soothing aromatherapy treatment. Here are a few ways you can use it regularly:

  • Mix 15-30 drops of bergamot essential oil with a carrier oil to use as a body lotion or for massage.
  • Add 2-5 drops of Bergamot essential oil to products such as body wash, shampoo, and facial scrubs.
  • Add bergamot essential oil to scented homemade candles and air fresheners. You can also dab it in vaporizers to distribute its scent in a room or add it to potpourri.
  • Dab it on a bandana or handkerchief for a soothing scent on the go.

According to a 2017 study, using bergamot oil as part of aromatherapy may be helpful as an adjunct therapy for mental health. However, the study notes additional research is still needed to determine the oil’s large-scale effect and safety.


Several compounds in bergamot oil have immunomodulatory, wound-healing activities, and anti-inflammatory properties.

This may make bergamot oil an effective spot treatment for acne or other small wounds on the skin if you do not have sensitive skin. Bergamot may also help improve psoriasis symptoms.

Where do you apply bergamot oil?

To use bergamot oil as a spot treatment for acne or other small skin issues:

  • Apply bergamot oil diluted in carrier oil directly to pimples, cysts, small cuts, and blackheads.
  • Leave on overnight.
  • Mix the diluted oil into water or your favorite cleanser to use as a facial rinse.


Bergamot oil enthusiasts (and people who love soft, lightly scented hair) swear by this essential oil’s ability to soften and tame curls. Anecdotal evidence indicates that bergamot oil may also be soothing to an irritated scalp.

Some evidence also suggests that using the oil on your hair may promote hair growth.

To use, put a few drops in your usual shampoo. You can also mix one to two drops with a tablespoon of carrier oil and massage it into your scalp as an overnight treatment.

Blending with other essential oils

Many other essential oils can provide similar benefits. Try experimenting with the ones you like and mixing them with each other. Some you can try blending with bergamot essential oil include:

  • Lavender oil: Lavender is a classic scent for aromatherapy. It’s often used in skin, hair, and acne products and treatments.
  • Tea tree oil: Touted for its antibacterial properties, tea tree oil may fight acne and soothe skin inflammation.
  • Chamomile oil: Soothing as a tea or on the skin, chamomile may also elevate mood.

To determine the proportion of each oil in your blend, consider that bergamot has a very noticeable scent that may overpower other scents, but this scent doesn’t last long. Other oil scents may be less sharp but will stay longer. These factors can help you determine which oils you want to mix and in what quantities.

Remember that before you try any new oil, you should test out a small amount on a small patch of skin.

If you don’t develop a reaction, it may be safe to use. Also, do not forget to use carrier oil or other dilution to help protect your skin.

Ingestion safety

Although essential oils may have many benefits, they should only be used externally. Ingesting essential oil can cause serious toxicity, which can be life threatening in some cases. Be especially careful to keep any essential oils away from children.

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Research on bergamot oil has uncovered multiple benefits. These include:

Reduces stress

A small 2015 study done on women in Japan found that inhaled bergamot oil mixed with water vapor reduced feelings of anxiety and fatigue.

A study from 2017 supports this and other earlier findings regarding mental health. Researchers suggest you can use it as a part of an adjunct therapy for mental health.

Fights food poisoning

Compounds in bergamot may be effective at destroying bacteria responsible for food-borne illnesses.

Older research has found that bergamot oil may be used to help control food-borne illnesses and may provide a better solution compared to using antibiotics and other additives, especially now that bacteria are increasingly becoming antibiotic-resistant.

A 2016 study also tested the effect of different types of bergamot essential oil against strains of Listeria monocytogenes, the bacteria that causes listeriosis infection. Researchers used listeria samples from different sources, including fish and poultry.

The different formulations of bergamot had weak to strong effects on stopping the growth of the different bacteria samples. Given the variability, researchers concluded that bergamot essential oil’s effectiveness against food bacteria should be estimated.

A 2017 study on herbs and the aspergillus fungus also found that bergamot oil possesses antifungal qualities. The oil’s properties can help inhibit fungal growth. Another in vitro 2022 study also found a similar effect on fungus that can contaminate fruit.

This may be particularly helpful in protecting foods from going bad from fungal growth, which may also help reduce the use of artificial preservatives. That said, bergamot oil does not dissolve easily in water and can degrade easily, which may be a roadblock to its use in this area.

Lowers cholesterol

Numerous studies have found that bergamot oil may be able to reduce cholesterol, according to a 2019 review of studies.

A 2016 review of human and animal studies also indicated that flavonoids found in bergamot could help reduce lipid levels. However, the study indicated that the exact mechanism driving this result needs to be clarified.

A 2018 animal study also affirmed this finding. It also found that the polyphenols in bergamot had an anti-inflammatory effect in the livers of rats recovering from nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Reduces pain and inflammation

Linalool and carvacrol are compounds found in bergamot oil. A 2017 review of studies analyzed the effects of multiple essential oil compounds on pain response and other conditions in humans and animals.

It found that both linalool and carvacrol had analgesic, anticonvulsant, and anti-inflammatory capabilities when used in a variety of methods that included applying it on the skin.

The review also indicated that the potential toxicological effects of essential oils in humans require further study. Another 2020 study conducted on rats confirmed similar findings.

Learn about other natural pain relievers.

That said, it is unclear from these research studies how bergamot oil can be used to achieve these benefits in people or whether this is safe.

There are some risks to consider before using bergamot oil.

Allergic reaction

Bergamot essential oil can be irritating to the skin in some people, especially when it is not diluted with carrier oil. Essential oils, including bergamot oil, can sometimes cause allergic dermatitis.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction or sensitivity to bergamot oil may include:

  • redness
  • hives
  • burning sensation
  • blisters
  • pain

If you also experience symptoms like difficulty breathing, swollen lips or tongue, or nausea and vomiting, you may be experiencing anaphylaxis, a life threatening reaction. A person near you should call 911 or take you to the emergency room immediately.


Anaphylaxis is a severe reaction to a trigger, such as an allergy, and is potentially life threatening.

Symptoms can come on quickly and include:

  • feeling faint or lightheaded
  • difficulty breathing or wheezing
  • rapid heartbeat
  • confusion
  • anxiety
  • clammy skin
  • collapsing or losing consciousness
  • hives
  • swelling
  • stomach pain, nausea, or vomiting

If you or someone around you develops these symptoms, you should:

  1. Check to see whether they have an epinephrine pen. If they do, read and follow the instructions to dispense the medication.
  2. Dial 911 (or a local emergency number).
  3. Lay them down. If they have vomited, lay them on their side.
  4. Stay with them until emergency services arrive.

It is possible for someone to need more than one injection with an epinephrine pen. If symptoms do not begin to clear after 5 minutes, give a second injection if one is available.

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To make sure you’re not allergic to bergamot oil, you’ll want to test it on your skin. Rub a dime-sized area of your forearm with the oil diluted in carrier oil. Make a solution at twice the concentration that you plan to use.

For example, if you want to use a solution of 3% bergamot oil in a carrier oil, make a small sample of 6% for this patch test. If you don’t see any allergic reaction within 24 hours, it should be safe to use.


According to the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), bergamot oil is safe during pregnancy.

However, you may need to use a lower concentration. It is a good idea to consult with your doctor before doing any aromatherapy during pregnancy.

Learn more about essential oils and pregnancy.

Exposure to sunlight

Never leave bergamot oil on your skin during the day or in sunlight, even if it is diluted in a carrier oil or a skin care product. Certain compounds in the oil can cause photosensitivity, which can lead to an allergic skin reaction.

If you are concerned about your skin’s sensitivity to sunlight, look for a bergapten-free version of bergamot oil. This is especially important if you are also taking medications that may increase your sensitivity to sunlight, such as certain antibiotics, for example.


You should never swallow bergamot oil, which can be poisonous. In addition, even inhaling or using the essential oil topically can interfere with certain medications.

Essential oils are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which means you don’t always know whether you’re using pure oil or it contains other hidden ingredients.

It’s important to check for bergamot oil’s interactions with other medications before using. One way to do this is to speak with a pharmacist or doctor about medications you’re taking that might interfere with essential oils.

Does bergamot oil make you sleepy?

When used as in aromatherapy, it may help reduce anxiety, which could promote better sleep. You may find that using it as an aroma therapy before bed may help you fall asleep more easily.

Why is bergamot essential oil expensive?

Pure bergamot oil can be costly. This is likely due to the lengthy process of producing even small amounts of oil. This is also a reason why you should be careful to avoid cheaper, low quality products that may be mixed with other ingredients.

Does bergamot oil repel mosquitoes?

Bergamot’s scent may act as a natural insect repellent. According to research, this effect is more moderate than some other essential oils. That said, to use, you can mix a few drops with water and place them in a clean misting bottle. You can then apply the spray to your clothing or some areas of your skin to help prevent mosquitoes or other insects.

Bergamot essential oil has a nice citrus scent and may already be an ingredient in the cosmetic products you use. It’s also available as an essential oil to add to your collection.

Research points to bergamot essential oil’s ability to reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol levels, and increase positive mood.

However, when using the oil, please make sure to dilute it with carrier oil or water. It can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions in some people. It can also cause photosensitivity and should not be left on sun-exposed skin. You should also never swallow bergamot or any other essential oil.