What Is It?

Citral is a component of lemongrass oil and the oils of verbena, lemon myrtle, lemon and orange. In cosmetics and personal care products, Citral is used in the formulation of many types of products including aftershave lotions, bath products, moisturizers, perfumes and colognes, skin care products and suntan products.

Why Is It Used?

Citral functions as a fragrance ingredient and a flavoring agent.

Scientific Facts

Citral, also called lemarome, is a naturally occurring lemon-scented component of the oil of a number of plants including lemongrass, lemon myrtle, lemon and orange trees. It can also be produced synthetically.

Safety Information

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) includes Citral in its list of substances considered Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) as a synthetic flavoring substance. The safety of Citral has been evaluated by the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials Expert Panel (REXPAN). Based on this evaluation, an International Fragrance Association (IFRA) Standard has been established. The IFRA Standard restricts the use of Citral in fragrances because of potential sensitization.

Link to the IFRA Standards:

The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) defers review of individual fragrance ingredients to the IFRA program unless the ingredient has significant uses other than as a fragrance. In this case, the ingredient may be assessed by both the CIR Expert Panel and REXPAN.

Link to FDA Code of Federal Regulations for Citral:…

The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) established an Acceptable Daily Intake of up to 0.5 mg/kg body weight Citral when used as a flavoring agent.

Link to the JECFA safety evaluation of Citral:

The Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association Expert Panel has reviewed the safety of Citral and determined that it is Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) for use as a flavoring substance. In Europe, Citral is included on the list of “allergenic” substances. The European Cosmetics Regulation requires manufacturers of cosmetics and personal care products to indicate the presence of certain “allergenic” substances in the list of ingredients if they are present above certain levels in the product (see Annex III). The presence of Citral must be indicated in the list of ingredients when its concentration exceeds: 0.001% in leave-on the skin products 0.01% in products that are rinsed off the skin.

Link to the EU Cosmetic Regulation:

More information about the safety of fragrances.

More Scientific Information

Citral is a mixture of geranial and neral isomers. Geranial has a strong lemon odor while neral has a less intense, sweeter lemon odor.


Find out more about the regulation of Food Additives by the Food and Drug Administration

Food Ingredients and Packaging:

Food Contact Substances:

Substances Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS):

Link to the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials:

Search the FDA Code of Federal Regulations

EU Cosmetics Inventory