Limonene – what it is, what it contains, where it is applied

The content of the article

Often on the shelves of the store you can find cosmetics, household chemicals, insecticides with citrus odors. This effect is achieved due to a special ingredient – d-limonene. The substance is a clear liquid extracted from the peel of citrus fruits. Due to its positive properties, it is widely used in industrial production. Although classifying it as a carcinogenic and allergic means remains controversial. Learn all about limonene – what is it, is it healthy or harmful, where is it used.

Substance limonene

E. Wagner in 1895 established the structural structure of limonene, a hydrocarbon belonging to the group of terpenes, 1-methyl-4-isopropenylcyclohexene-1. This colorless substance exists in the form of two active isomers: a racemic mixture and enantiomers. Allocate D-limonene (with a citrus smell) and L-limonene (with a smell of needles). Other names for this substance: terpene carbon, lemon extract, terpene.

Where is contained

Answering the question: limonene – what is it, you should consider how this substance is extracted and where it is contained. D-limonen is a citrus fruit component responsible for smell. Its concentration is especially high in the peel (lemon, orange, lime, grapefruit), in juice with pulp and up to 90%. In addition, terpene is contained in turpentine from pine resin (up to 5%) and oils:

  • celery up to 60%;
  • caraway seeds up to 40%;
  • essential (neroli, bergamot, fennel);

Lemon extract can be obtained by natural (centrifugation and fractional steam distillation) and synthetic methods (from geraniol). The result is a clear, viscous liquid with a pronounced lemon odor. The substance is water-insoluble, but in good contact with ethanol..

Bergamot essential oil

Where applicable

Terpene hydrocarbon is used as an aromatic fragrance in perfumes, cosmetics, detergents, cleaning products, hygiene products, and medicines. Included in shampoos, balms, solvents. The substance has a degreasing property, therefore it is used in nail polish removers, to remove grease from metal before staining. Limonene is a worthy substitute for toxic oil products, solvents such as toluene, acetone, methyl, benzene. Home care products based on it have a pleasant smell, biodegradable, environmentally friendly..

In Russia, a patent is reserved for the use of a complex of oils containing d-limonene in the production of alcoholic beverages. As a result, alcoholic beverages have a tonic effect and do not contain the smell of “fumes”. Pharmacologists also did not disregard terpen, which can reduce the hepatotoxicity of drugs such as phenacetin, paracetamol, caffeine. For medicinal purposes, this substance is also used as:

  • grinding;
  • bath;
  • ingestion;
  • spraying.

Hand bath

Limonene in cosmetics

Due to the fact that limonene perfectly dissolves fats, terpene carbon acts as an alternative to unsafe alcohols in the manufacture of cosmetic products. Lemon extract extends the shelf life of drugs due to its antibacterial properties, and also gives them light coniferous or citrus aromas, acts as a repellent.

Beneficial features

The concentration of lemon extract in cosmetics is insignificant (no more than 0.01%), therefore, it is listed last in the list of ingredients. Terpene carbon has multifaceted properties:

the effect


Where is contained


removal of excess fat from the skin

cream, tonic, lotion, shampoo


disinfects staphylococci, streptococci, meningococci, tuberculosis bacilli; struggling with mold.

home care products


gives a pleasant smell

fresheners, deodorants


Repels insects and small pests

means of protection against midges, mosquitoes, moths.

What cosmetics is found

Limonene is used in many fields, especially in the manufacture of cosmetic products, perfumes, and cleaning products. The substance gives a pleasant smell and aftertaste. Products containing terpene are recommended to be stored in a cool, dry place. These include:

Type of product

Limonene function in cosmetics

shower gel




Eau de Toilette


air conditioning

refreshes, gives a pleasant smell


disinfects, cleanses excess fat


activates oxidative and regenerative processes, brightens the skin


A dietary supplement based on orange peel oil is d-limonene from Jarrow Formulas. The drug stimulates the detoxification of enzymes in the liver and increases immunity. The drug is taken daily during or after meals, 1 capsule. If at the same time there is an upset stomach, it is better to refuse from dietary supplement. You can buy D-Limonene in specialized departments, pharmacies and online stores. The price range for 60 capsules in Moscow and St. Petersburg is from 760-2000 rubles. When you buy multiple packages, you can save on cost.

Orange Peel Oil

Limonene harm

The carcinogenicity of limonene is a moot point. On the one hand, the effect of this substance is associated with the occurrence of malignant formations of the reproductive organs and mammary gland. On the other hand, terpene carbon, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), is not classified as a carcinogen. Its effect is the same as from daily use of coffee. The positive effects of lemon concentrate on various tumors are currently being studied..

There is no definite answer to the subject of allergenicity of a substance either. Limonene can cause irritation of the mucous membranes and skin, but studies have shown that the number of these side effects is no more than that of other fragrances. People prone to allergies should use lemon scent products with caution..

When reacting with ozone, every second molecule mutates in terpene carbon. This leads to the formation of formaldehyde, which can trigger the development of asthma, breathing problems. The constant use of cosmetics containing limonene leads to irritation, chronic inflammation on the skin, and a violation of collagen synthesis.

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