Orange Extract In Cosmetics

  • Saba Amber BSc, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

Brief overview of orange fruit extract

Orange extract is a highly concentrated liquid form obtained from the peel or zest of orange fruit. Orange flavouring is a mix of natural and artificial ingredients whereas orange extract is considered as a more concentrated and natural product being it free from any mix with any other ingredients.

Valencia oranges, navel oranges, and blood oranges are best suited to obtain orange extract as these varieties come with thick peel and a higher concentration of essential oils.

This article will help you understand the role of orange fruit extract in various cosmetic products that are available in the market to achieve healthy radiant and glowing skin and hair. Once you understand the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, exfoliative, skin repairing and skin brightening properties of the orange fruit extract you will be better equipped to make informed choices about the selection of a cosmetic product suitable for your particular needs.

How orange extract is prepared

Orange extract is typically obtained from the peels or zest of ripe oranges when they are at their peak of flavour and aroma.

Extraction methods:

1. Cold Pressing:  In this method, the essential oils and compounds are extracted by mechanical (hydraulic or screw) pressing of orange peels without any application of heat.

2. Steam Distillation: Here steam is passed through the chopped peels which releases essential oils and then the resultant mixture of steam oil is further condensed to separate the essential oil from the water.

3. Solvent Extraction: Solvents, such as ethanol, methanol and hexane are used for extraction of essential oils and other components from the orange peel. The solvent is then evaporated to obtain the desired extract.

Chemical composition and properties

Orange peel raw composition 1
Portion:  Portion selection:             100 g                                                

Total lipid (fat)0.2g
Carbohydrate, by difference25g
Fiber, total dietary10.6g
Calcium, Ca161mg
Iron, Fe0.8mg
Magnesium, Mg22mg
Phosphorus, P21mg
Potassium, K212mg
Sodium, Na3mg
Zinc, Zn0.25mg
Copper, Cu0.092mg
Selenium, Se1µg
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid136mg
Pantothenic acid0.49mg
Vitamin B-60.176mg
Folate, total30µg
Folic acid0µg
Folate, food30µg
Folate, DFE30µg
Vitamin B-120µg
Vitamin B-12, added0µg
Vitamin A, RAE21µg
Vitamin A, IU420IU
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)0.25mg
Vitamin E, added0mg
Fatty acids, total saturated0.024g
SFA 4:00g
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated0.036g
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated0.04g

Contents of Orange fruit extract

  1. Vitamin C: Oranges are rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that plays a crucial role in brightening the skin. As per the above table, 100 gm of raw orange peel contains about 136 mg of Vit. C.
  2. Flavonoids: Flavonoids which are phenolic compounds have been identified in orange peel extracts. 3
  3. Polyphenols: Polyphenols found in orange fruit extract have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and protective effects on the skin.
  4. Essential oils: In orange fruit extract the main component is d-limonene (73.9–97%); and a discrete percentage of linalool, geraniol and nerol are also found.2
  5. Carotenoids: Carotenoids found in orange extract act as antioxidants, fight against UV damage and maintain healthy complexion.
  6. Citric Acid: Citric acid which is natural alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) acts as an exfoliant.

Orange fruit extract benefits for skin


Oranges contain Vit. C, Flavonoids, and carotenoids all of which contribute to the antioxidant activity of orange fruit extract. Antioxidants help to protect the body's cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause oxidative stress, and damage cells and DNA, leading to premature ageing and chronic diseases.

    a. Free radical scavenger: Vitamin C stabilizes the free radicals by donating electrons to free radicals, thus acting as a free radical scavenger and preventing damage.

    b. Prevents oxidative stress:  applying vitamin C topically can help protect the skin from oxidative damage due to sun exposure, pollution, ageing5 and other environmental factors.

    c. Skin brightening effect: orange fruit extract reduces the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation and helps to bring skin glow.


    Astringents are substances that cause the contraction or tightening of skin tissues and pores. The citric acid in orange fruit contributes to the astringent actions of orange extract by

      a.     Pore Tightening: Astringents constrict the skin around pores, so the appearance of enlarged pores is minimized. This creates a smoother and more refined complexion. The tightening effect of astringents can contribute to a temporary firming of the skin.

      b.     Oil Control: Astringents can be effective in controlling excess oil production in the skin. They help reduce shine and create a matte appearance.

      c.     Acne Management: by helping to prevent clogged pores and controlling sebum production it helps to manage acne problems better.


      Orange essential oil contains compounds like limonene and citral. These compounds can help inhibit the growth of certain microorganisms, including bacteria and fungi thus showing antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. This also makes it useful for preserving some cosmetic and skin care products by preventing the growth of spoilage-causing microbes.


        Orange fruit extract also has exfoliant properties.4 natural alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) present in orange fruit extract particularly citric acid act as exfoliants

          1. Skin Brightening: Exfoliation with orange fruit extract removes the outermost layer of dull, dead skin cells, fading dark spots and improves overall skin tone.
          2. Removal of Dead Skin Cells: Bonds between dead skin cells on the skin's surface are broken down with the help of AHAs like citric acid. This facilitates dead skin removal, leaving the skin smoother and more radiant.
          3. Enhanced Absorption: Exfoliated skin absorbs skincare products, such as serums and moisturizers better, making them more effective.
          4. Smooth texture: Regular exfoliation with orange fruit extract can contribute to a smoother skin texture and a more youthful appearance.
          5. Reduced Clogged Pores: Exfoliation can help prevent clogged pores and reduce the occurrence of blackheads and whiteheads.

          Wound Healing:

          Vitamin C aids in wound healing and tissue repair. It promotes the healing of cuts and bruises by helping the body form new connective tissue.


          Orange fruit extract can provide hydration to the skin to some extent

          Collagen production:

          The vitamin C in oranges promotes collagen production. For skin elasticity and firmness, collagen is essential, contributing to a smoother and more youthful complexion.


          Orange extract has anti-inflammatory properties which can reduce redness and skin irritations.

          Natural Preservative:

          Although not as effective as synthetic preservatives, orange extract can be used as a natural preservative due to its antimicrobial and antioxidant components.


          Orange extract has a natural scent of oranges which is fresh, and citrusy, associated with feelings of freshness and positivity. So, it can be used in perfumes, skincare, haircare, candles, and household cleaners to impart a clean and revitalizing feeling.

          Orange fruit extract benefits for Hair

          1. Hair Growth: collagen production is supported by vitamin C in orange extract, Collagen is a vital component of hair growth and strength. So, products containing orange extract help to stimulate hair follicles and promote hair growth.
          2. Scalp Health: Orange extract has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that help to maintain a healthy scalp.
          3. Dandruff Control: Dandruff and scalp irritation can be reduced with the help of the antimicrobial and antibacterial properties of orange extract
          4. Shine and Luster: Vitamin C and other nutrients in orange extract add shine lustre and a clean citrusy fragrance to your hair,

          Common cosmetic products incorporating orange fruit extract

           Facial skincare

          1. Serums: Orange extract concentrations in face serums typically range from 1% to 5%.They provide a range of benefits for the skin due to their antioxidant, skin brightening, exfoliative, anti-inflammatory and hydrating effects. The vitamin C-rich orange extract in these serums protects the skin from free radical damage, reduces dark spots, maintains skin elasticity and thus promotes a smoother complexion and even skin tone.
          2. Moisturizers: Orange extract can be found at concentrations of 1% to 3% in moisturizers. It hydrates and nourishes the skin along with the benefits of antioxidant activity. They can help maintain skin moisture and improve skin texture leading to a healthy vibrant complexion.
          3. Cleansers: Cleansers have generally lower concentrations, around 0.5% to 1%, of orange fruit extract. The natural citrus properties help remove impurities and provide a rejuvenating cleansing effect. They prepare the skin for further skincare steps.

          Body care

          1. Body Lotions: Along with invigorating citrus fragrance orange extract lotions provide hydration, antioxidant protection, promote skin brightening, and support collagen production for a more youthful appearance.
          2. Body scrub: Exfoliants with orange extract improve skin texture by removing dead skin cells and improving skin texture. They smoothen the skin and brighten the complexion.

          Hair care

          1. Shampoos: The natural citrus properties leave the hair smelling fresh by removing the impurities. Orange extract is typically found at concentrations of 1% to 2%.
          2. Conditioners: Conditioners with orange fruit extract provide hair with hydration and nourishment with the bonus of an invigorating citrus fragrance and other natural benefits.  
          3. Hair serum: The concentration of orange extract in serum may range from 1% to 3%. They help in making hair soft, smooth and refreshed.

          Aromatherapy and fragrances:

          Aromatherapy oil: Orange extract can be used at higher concentrations, typically ranging from 3% to 10%, in aromatherapy and fragrance applications

          Considerations and precautions

          Potential sensitivity and allergies

          1. Skin Irritation: Those with sensitive skin may experience redness, itching, burning sensation and skin irritation
          2. Allergic Reactions: Although rare these can cause hives, swelling, or rashes.
          3. Photosensitivity: orange extract can make skin more sensitive to UV radiation so it’s advisable to use sunscreen when using orange extract products

          Patch testing recommendations

          Perform a patch test by applying a small amount of the product containing orange extract to a small area of skin. Wait 24-48 hours to check for any adverse reactions before applying it to a larger area to minimize the risk of sensitivity or allergy.

          Avoid overuse

           It’s important to use exfoliating products containing orange fruit extract in moderation and according to instructions because over-exfoliation can lead to irritation of skin and sensitivity.

          Consultation with dermatologist

          consult a dermatologist or allergist before using products containing orange extract If you have concerns or a history of allergies,


          Orange fruit extract is obtained from the peel of orange fruit by various extraction methods. Being an excellent source of vitamin C, flavonoids, and carotenoids, it gives an excellent combined antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, exfoliative and hydration effect when used in a variety of cosmetic products aimed at improving skin and hair health. The antioxidant properties of orange fruit extract prevent the oxidative stress caused by free radicals, sun exposure, pollution and ageing.

          Its astringent properties help tighten pores and control excess oil, making it suitable for oily or acne-prone skin. Its natural exfoliating effect, attributed to citric acid, promotes the removal of dead skin cells which leads to smoother texture and brighter complexion of skin. Besides this due to the support it provides in collagen production, it also promotes healthy hair growth.

          Its antimicrobial activities are helpful in preservative applications. Beyond its skincare benefits, orange fruit extract's fresh natural and invigorating citrus fragrance is a popular choice for enhancing the sensory experience of aromatherapy products. Overall, orange fruit extract is valued for its versatility and ability to contribute to the overall health of skin and hair through various cosmetic formulations.


          This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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          Vaishali S Gunjal

          M.Sc. Pharmaceutical Medicine, Maharashtra University of Health Sciences

          Vaishali is a Pharmaceutical Medicine Professional currently working as a medical writer based in Leeds, UK. She has been working in the medical field for over a decade advising healthcare professionals and consumers on the proper use, benefits, and potential risks associated with pharmaceutical products used for treatment or prevention of various health conditions.

          She developed a strong interest in the safe and effective use of medicines while playing a pivotal role in providing accurate and timely medical information in Pharmacovigilance- Medical Information and Regulatory roles for several years in various pharmaceutical organisations.

          Through her medical writing, she aims to empower individuals with accurate health information, promote awareness, and foster informed decision-making regarding health-related issues.

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