The ingredients used in the formulation of skincare products are often of natural origin, and sometimes synthetic. Citral, an ingredient quite prevalent in skincare and perfumes, is one such example. Despite its fragrant and scent-enhancing properties, its use is governed by certain regulations.
What is "Citral" and what is its utility?
- What is the origin of citral?
- What is the utility of citral in skincare within cosmetology?
- What are the restrictions regarding the use of citral?
What is the origin of citral?
Citral, also known as lemonal, is one of the 26 allergens regulated in the field of cosmetology in Europe. It is a fragrance agent found in significant quantities in lemongrass oil, but also in essential oils of orange, lemon, and verbena.
Upon exposure to air and due to the effect of skin cell metabolism, geraniol oxidises to produce aldehydes, which are geranial or citral A, and neral or citral B. These two trans and cis isomers combine to form citral. In cosmetology, citral is listed among the aromas and fragrance agents.
The essential oil derived from verbena leaves is composed of 22% citral and 27% geraniol, whereas the essential oil from lemongrass contains 16% citral and 19% geraniol.
What is the utility of citral in skincare within cosmetology?
Citral is particularly valued in the field of cosmetology and perfumery for its distinct lemon scent. This ingredient owes its strong lemon aroma reputation to geranial. Neral, on the other hand, is quite mild. Besides providing a lemony note in perfumes or treatments such as creams, masks or others, citral is also used to enrich lemon oil. Moreover, this ingredient is adopted in the synthesis process of vitamin A, ionone and methylionone.
It is crucial to distinguish between a fragrance agent and a flavouring agent. The fragrance agent is used during the initial stage of perfume formulation to create a specific scent from the preparation of raw materials. It can also be adopted to mask an unpleasant odour.
The flavouring agent, on the other hand, is a substance added to enhance, modify or improve the natural aroma of the skincare product.
What are the restrictions regarding the use of citral?
As previously announced, citral is one of the 26 allergens regulated in Europe. Consequently, its use in the field of cosmetology or otherwise is subject to certain restrictions. Generally, some fragrant or flavouring agents incorporated into formulas are responsible for allergies among users. Therefore, to avoid any risk of accident when using the care product or related to the fragrance, it is imperative to include the allergen in the list of INCI ingredients listed on the label as soon as its quantity exceeds 0.01% in rinse-off care products and 0.001% in leave-on care products. If the dose does not exceed these thresholds, the fragrant agents are indicated under the terms "fragrance", "perfume" or "aroma", without further detail. A care product containing an allergen does not