Palmarosa Essential Oil: The Rose and Lemongrass Combo You Didn’t Know You Needed

The delightful palmarosa essential oil could be your skin's new favorite oil.
Palmarosa Essential Oil: The Rose and Lemongrass Combo You Didn’t Know You Needed

There are thousands of essential oils on the market made from a wide range of flowers, roots, and trees. A less known subsection of essential oils are made from tall, green grasses. The most commonly recognized grassy essential oil is lemongrass. Its cousin—palmarosa oil—blends the characteristics of lemongrass and rose in one delightfully fragrant essential oil. It offers health benefits that include balancing emotions and improving the appearance of skin. Take a look at the characteristics of palmarosa oil and how you can use it to your benefit.

What Is Palmarosa Essential Oil?

Palmarosa essential oil is derived from the palmarosa plant known by the botanical name Cymbopogon martinii. There are two main varieties of palmarosa oil: Sofia and Motia. Sofia is the most common and derives its moniker from its scientific name Cymbopogon martinii var Sofia.

Palmarosa is a grass belonging to the plant family Cymbopogon, which includes lemongrass. The palmarosa plant is native to India and Indochina Today, it is cultivated in many countries across the globe including Ethiopia and Australia. Palmarosa oil is also commonly called palm rose essential oil, Indian geranium, rosha, and gingergrass.

The oil is extracted from the grassy plant parts of the palmarosa plant using an extraction method known as steam distillation. The grass is harvested by hand before flowering. The grass is then subjected to a combination of high heat and water, which releases the essential oils.


The main chemical compound in palmarosa oil is geraniol. The geraniol content gives palmarosa essential oil its sweet, rose-like scent. The fragrance of palmarosa oil is also compared to that of geranium oil. The delicate aroma makes this oil a popular ingredient in soaps and cosmetics. Palmarosa essential oils blend well with bergamot essential oil, lavender essential oil, and lime essential oil. The sweet fragrance of palm rose oil also pairs well with woodsy scents such as tea tree oil, ylang ylang oil, and sandalwood oil.

The two types of palmarosa oil can have different scent profiles. Sofia oils tend to be slightly more floral and rose-like. Motia oils offer a slightly lemony or citrus aroma that is mildly spicy.

Health Benefits of Palmarosa Essential Oil

Indian doctors used palmarosa oil to treat infections and fevers. This oil is also found in Indian Ayurvedic medicine thanks to its antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Modern medicine has been slow to research palmarosa oil health benefits, preferring to focus on essential oil powerhouses such as tea tree and eucalyptus. However, there are still some documented benefits and a variety of ways to use this oil for health.

1. Support Skin Health

Palmarosa oil is found in many skin care products and cosmetics due to its moisturizing nature. Palm rose oil helps treat skin diseases such as psoriasis and eczema due to anti-inflammatory properties. The oil soothes irritated skin, helping to reduce redness. Palmarosa oil is also a natural moisturizer, helping to treat patches of dry skin associated with psoriasis.

This oil has been shown to regulate oil production in the top layer of skin, helping to reduce acne breakouts. The skin produces sebum—natural oil—to lubricate skin. Some people produce too much sebum, resulting in acne and other skin conditions. Palmarosa works on a cellular level to inhibit the production of oil. This makes palm rose oil a good choice for people with oily skin.

A study published in the Korean Journal of Aesthetic and Cosmetology analyzed the use of palmarosa oil in treating acne. The study consisted of 21 individuals who had been diagnosed with progressive acne. Participants applied palmarosa oil to their faces twice per day for 8 weeks. Results showed the palmarosa oil reduced the amount of oil on skin and shrank pores. The participants also had lower counts of microorganisms and bacteria that can clog pores and lead to acne.

How to Use: Moisturizer

Add 1 drop of palmarosa oil into your current skin care serum or moisturizer. Alternatively, combine 3 drops palmarosa oil with 3 drops of jojoba oil or avocado oil and apply directly to face before bedtime. The moisturizing properties of this oil with help to reduce fine lines and soothe dry skin while you get your beauty rest.

Palmarosa Essential Oil: leaf bundle

2. Therapeutic Properties

Palmarosa oil features a sweet scent that is relaxing and uplifting. This oil has been used in Ayurveda to balance emotions. The grounding scent of this oil helps to relieve feelings of stress and anxiety. The gentle misty and lemony scent of palmarosa can also be comforting. Palmarosa has a slight cooling effect that can help reduce tension. Its crisp finishing note makes it a popular choice for perfumes and fragrant bath salts.

How to Use: Aromatherapy and Bath Oil

Add 4 drops of palmarosa oil to a diffuser and diffuse for 30 to 60 minutes. You can also place 1 or 2 drops directly on your palm with carrier oil. Cup your hands beneath your nose and mouth and inhale deeply. Enhance the relaxing effects of palmarosa oil by adding 1 drop of lavender oil to your diffuser or hand oil blend.

Relax in the bathtub with a palmarosa essential oil blend. Combine 2 drops each of palmarosa oil, rosehip oil, and chamomile oil. Add to running bath water. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes, inhaling the aromas.

3. Prevents Infection

Palmarosa oil boasts antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties to fight off infections. Research shows this oil may have the ability to eliminate certain types of yeast infections as well as E. coli.

A study published in Phytochemistry examined the antimicrobial powers of palmarosa oil on yeast known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Scientists found that a small .1% concentration of palmarosa oil was able to inhibit the growth of these yeast cells entirely. These results are attributed to the high geraniol content in palmarosa oil.

A second study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences examined the use of palmarosa extract in fighting both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. Researchers used lavender oil, palmarosa oil, primrose oil, and tuberose oil in the study. Results showed palmarosa oil was the most effective in eliminating bacteria.

How to Use: Inhalation and Household Cleaner

Palmarosa essential oil can be diffused to remove harmful bacteria and microbes from the air. Simply add 5 drops of the oil to a diffuser and run for at least 30 minutes. Diffuse the fragrance frequently if someone in your household is sick to prevent the spread of bacteria.

You can also make your own homemade household cleaner using palmarosa oil. Combine 8 drops each of lavender oil, eucalyptus oil, and rosewood oil in a large spray bottle. Add 10 drops each of lemon oil and palmarosa oil. Fill the container with distilled water or white vinegar. Shake well and spray down any hard surfaces such as countertops.

A DIY essential oils dish soap can also help prevent the spread of germs and bacteria. In a large soap dispenser, combine 1 cup of liquid castile soap with 1 tablespoon of distilled water. Add in 15 drops each of lavender oil, palmarosa oil and eucalyptus oil. Shake well and wash hands as normal.

Side Effects of Palmarosa Essential Oil

Palmarosa essential oil is considered safe when used according to recommended guidelines. There are no specific side effects associated with this essential oil. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when using all essential oils.

Skin Irritation

Essential oils can cause skin irritation in some individuals. This oil is gentle for use on all skin types, but may cause skin rash. Always combine essential oils with carrier oil such as coconut oil when applying topically. Conduct a small patch test before applying the oil in larger quantities. People who are allergic to palmarosa grass should avoid using this oil. Always use high quality, pure essential oils to avoid side effects from chemicals and other contaminants.

Oral Use

The Food and Drug Administration lists some varieties of palmarosa essential oil as ‘generally recognized as safe’ for human consumption. Essential oils should only be consumed orally under the supervision of an essential oils expert. Remember that essential oils are high concentrations of plant compounds and should be used sparingly.

Pregnancy and Child Use

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult a physician before using any essential oils including palmarosa oil. Children under 6 years of age may be more sensitive to side effects of essential oils than adults. Never use essential oils on children under 2 years old. Consult a pediatrician before using on older kids.

Stop and Smell the Palmarosa

Palmarosa essential oil is a sweet oil that exemplifies the phrase “stop and smell the roses.” Its therapeutic properties help you unwind after a long, stressful day and can balance emotions during times of heightened feelings. The oil can be grounding and uplifting, helping to center your mind and improve mood. Palmarosa oil is also a powerful skin agent, helping to renew and rejuvenate skin. Its antibacterial properties help keep your home smelling sweet and free of harmful bacteria. Scent your life with geranium-like palmarosa essential oil.

Comments (1)

  • […] Pumpkin oil contains antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and vitamins that make it the perfect addition to an aromatherapy massage or a culinary dish. The essential oil is a particularly good source of omega 6 fatty acids and linoleic acid. It also contains large amounts of vitamin A and vitamin E, which may be beneficial for immunity, skin, and hair. The oil is widely produced in Europe, particularly in Austria. Pumpkin seed oil offers a nutty and slightly sweet aroma and pairs well with carrot seed oil, ginger oil, and palmarosa oil. […]

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