Bergamot essential oil is cold-pressed from the outer rind of a citrus fruit that is indigenous to the Canary Islands. Currently, most of the bergamot for essential oil production is grown in Italy, in areas around Calabria and Sicily. It is thought to be a cross of some type of orange; its pear-shaped fruits are characterized by a green, lumpy rind, and is harvested between December and February. Not to be confused with bergamot pears, or red bergamot, which is an herbaceous perennial responsible for bee balm, and Oswego tea. It takes approximately 1,000 peels to produce 30 ounces of essential oil, which results in a clear, yellow-green liquid with a spicy, subtle, sweet, slightly floral, lemony scent with a medium-strength top fragrance note. The primary chemical constituent in bergamot essential oil is linalyl acetate, geraniol, myrcene, nerol, neryl acetate, a-terpineol, and geraniol acetate, with linalool, d-limonene, and bergamotine, and bergaptene in lesser concentrations. These latter substances, classified as furocoumarines, are often found in proprietary suntan lotions, as they stimulate melanin production in the skin which in turn encourages over-pigmentation. This can be dangerous, however, as this action can increase the risk of melanoma and other skin cancers.
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