How does neroli work in skin cleansers?

Neroli is fairly acidic, which means you should dilute it somehow before putting it on your skin. See more pictures of unusual skin care ingredients.
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If you love citrus scents, you'll probably be drawn to products that contain neroli. An essential oil derived from bitter orange blossoms, neroli often ends up in lotions, skin cleansers and other aromatic cosmetics. But before you go dousing yourself in it, you'll want to learn more: Neroli oil smells nice enough, but you have to know how to use it correctly to keep from harming your skin.

One great advantage of using cleansers that contain this essential oil is that neroli has antimicrobial properties -- in other words, it can kill bacteria on your skin [source: Lis-Balchin]. Left untreated, bacteria can often cause acne and other skin irritations. Some people also use neroli as an astringent or toner. Astringents help make your pores appear smaller and break down oil so it comes off your skin more easily. This property may make neroli especially effective on oily, acne-prone skin [source: Bouchez].

Neroli oil also has a pH level of about 4.0, which means that it's a little more acidic than human skin. That makes it acidic enough to be an effective cleanser, but not enough to harm your skin when combined with ingredients that have higher pH levels [source: Catty]. That's why, although you can buy pure neroli oil, it is probably a bad idea to use it undiluted. Because of its acidity (a pH level of 4.0 is about the same as tomato soup), pure neroli oil can irritate your skin, especially the delicate skin around your eyes.

As an ingredient in other products, though, neroli may help improve your complexion without damaging your outer layer of skin. Plus, some aromatherapy experts claim that its tangy, orange-like scent can relieve stress -- of course, there's no scientific proof neroli will work for that purpose. But smelling like citrus probably won't hurt your mood, either.

To learn more about skin care products and techniques, click through the links below.

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  • Lis-Balchin, Maria. "Aromatherapy Science: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals." 2006. (Accessed 9/2/09)
  • Catty, Suzanne. "Hydrosols: The Next Aromatherapy." 2001. (Accessed 9/2/09)
  • Bouchez, Collete. "Oily Skin: Solutions that Work -- No Matter What Your Age." WebMD. (Accessed 9/2/09)