Bergamot: Discovering the essential oil jackpot

By Athena Desai

Finding a new essential oil to add to your beauty regimen is like finding a new bestie. And when I had a chance encounter with bergamot this winter, I quickly discovered I’d hit the jackpot. Bergamot has so many amazing attributes and benefits, it’s hard to know where to start. But let’s focus on its healing properties for our sometimes-needy-but-always-beloved skin.

Bergamot oil comes from a kind of citrus fruit that’s a cross between an orange and a lemon. As you’ll find with other citrus essential oils, it smells amazing, and it makes your skin extremely photosensitive. I say that upfront because I think you’ll be really excited about using it, and you should know to leave at least 12 hours between using it and any exposure to the sun.

And here are the top reasons why you’ll be stoked to have bergamot in your life:

1) It evens out skin tone. It does this by making sure skin pigments are evenly distributed – which goes hand in hand with its ability to fade and heal scars. This is very useful if you’ve had intense acne, but even if you haven’t, tone tends to decrease with age and it’s one of the reasons why we tend to wear makeup such as foundation or BB cream. The more you can address tone through natural means, the happier your skin will be and the better it will look with little to no makeup. Huge bonus.

2) It is antiseptic, antifungal, and antibacterial. It can heal acne wounds as discussed above but it can also heal things like eczema, ulcers, cracked skin, and itching. One nice way to combine these superpowers with bergamot’s tone-evening benefit is to make a simple DIY Toner.

3) It is very calming. Bergamot reduces stress, relieves anxiety, and brings on calm and joy. All of this is amazing news for your skin, which is vulnerable to stress just like any of your other organs. You can reap this benefit through your skin or through a diffuser, and it’s not to be underestimated as a bonus.

And that’s just the beginning! If you want to learn more about bergamot’s myriad uses, here are some good sources online. You’ll see how sensible and fun it is to keep essential oils as your friends and companions.

Athena Desai is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist in Cambridge, MA. She does facial rejuvenation acupuncture and gives consults on how diet, lifestyle changes and essential oils can illuminate your skin. You can email her at to find out more.