Fragrance Synthetic and Natural

No known benefits

Limonene at a glance

  • Monoterpene commonly found in citrus oils
  • Primarily used as a fragrance in cosmetics
  • Oxidizes when exposed to air
  • Can cause skin sensitization

Limonene description

Chemical constituent of many natural fragrant ingredients, notably citrus oils such as lemon (d-limonene) and pine trees or species of the mint family (l-limonene). Topically, limonene can cause sensitivity and is best avoided. Also, because of its penetration-enhancing effects on skin, it’s particularly important to avoid products that contain limonene plus other skin sensitiser like denatured alcohol. Like most volatile fragrance components, limonene also has strong antioxidant benefits and has also been shown to calm skin; however, when exposed to air these highly volatile antioxidant compounds oxidise and become capable of sensitising skin.

Limonene references

  • INCIpedia, Accessed June 2023, Webpage
  • Contact Dermatitis, February 2022, pages 113-119
  • Contact Dermatitis, January 2022, pages 15-24
  • Dermatitis, December 2019, pages 331-335
  • Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, April 2013, pages 17-38

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not rated

We have not yet rated this ingredient because we have not had a chance to review the research on it.