In addition to having a funny name, jojoba oil (pronounced “ho-ho-bah”) is pretty awesome. Unlike other exotic oils like argan, coconut, and olive, jojoba oil is actually a wax with a chemical composition mimics your skin’s sebum more closely than any other oil. For more about the science behind this awesome product, read on:
Understanding Oils and Your Skin
Right now, skin care oils are all the rage. You will hear even very esteemed skin care experts who work for brands now claiming that “everyone” can benefit from a skin care oil, despite decades of research demonstrating that skin care oils can be pore-clogging, acne-causing, and even inflammatory to susceptible individuals.
New skin care oils are actually not that different from old skin care oils, either; you can’t change the composition of an oil, and most companies do not dilute oils down well, either. All skin care oils are naturally comprised of a blend of mostly fatty acids and some squalane, meaning a product with 100% jojoba oil had the same chemical composition in 1974 as it does today.
Some skin care oils are more beneficial for your skin than others. It is the length of the carbon chain and the composition of the fatty acids — saturated (contains only single-bonded carbon atoms) or unsaturated (contains double-bonded carbon atoms) — that makes them have entirely different chemical properties. For example, olive oil is made up of about 15% saturated and 85% unsaturated fatty acids. Coconut oil, on the other hand, is made up of the inverse: about 85% saturated and 15% unsaturated fatty acids. Understanding this, know that there are certain oils better for dry skin than others:
- Those with dry skin will not benefit much, if at all, from oils like almond, apricot, avocado, castor, and olive. These are best for those with normal skin types. This is because these oils are occlusive agents that trap only existing moisture into the skin. If you don’t have much moisture in your skin to begin with, these won’t help much.
- Those with dry skin are better suited to oils like palm, coconut, pequi, and argan. These oils contain fatty acids with more medium-to-long chain hydrocarbons. As a result, they function as emollients, which increase the amount of moisture skin is capable of holding while binding to water and oils within the skin.
Keep in mind, however, that applying too much of any oil makes them solely occlusive – so you’re just trapping moisture in, not allowing your skin to add any, even with its increased capacity to hold moisture.
Where Jojoba Fits In
Because jojoba is so similar to our skin’s natural oil, it is thought that jojoba oil can “trick” the skin into thinking it’s producing enough oil, which helps balance oil production [Source: Acne.org]. “Jojoba oil is rich in natural fats that mimic those in the outer layer of the skin,” explains Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. “This means it can help the skin retain moisture and heal itself.” (source)
Scientific research confirms this. One study shows that use of jojoba oil shows modest swelling, indicative of moisture retention, in the stratum corneum (uppermost layer of skin) after use (Journal of Dermatological Science, 2008). Jojoba oil can also help to increase the penetration of other ingredients into the skin, something that may be useful for anti-acne treatments, such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or retinoids (Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society, 1984).
This means that jojoba oil is good for those with oily and acne-prone skin in small amounts. Just remember what I said above: Applying too much of any oil is not a good thing. Think a dime-size amount for the entire face.
What are the Best Products with Jojoba Oil?
Best for Dry Skin: Jojoba 100% Natural Ultimate Jojoba ($39.95, Stpwellness.com)
This formulation contains jojoba oil, plus white tea, argan oil, and coenzyme Q10. Of the two Jojoba Company products, this one is significantly heavier compared to the other. The formulation is high-quality and has a medium-to-thick texture, which glides evenly along the skin. It takes about 10-20 seconds to absorb after application, and leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth. You can tell something is on your skin, but it is not tacky.
It also leaves a nice subtle light-reflective texture on the skin, kind-of like models and actresses often have in photographs. I enjoy applying it to my body, as it is a bit too heavy for my facial skin. I wish it was a little less scented (it smells a lot like a bouquet of lilacs), but I still enjoy that slight “modelistic” sheen it gives to my legs and arms. Considering that jojoba does not increase photosensitivity and is quite stable in the presence of UV light (Seventh International Conference on Jojoba and Its Uses), I am using it under a broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen on my body, and liking the results.
Best for Normal to Oily Skin: Jojoba Company Australian Golden Jojoba Oil ($19.95 for 1 fl.oz., $29.95 for 2.9 fl.oz., Stpwellness.com)
This formulation contains only 100% jojoba oil. Of the two Jojoba Company products, this one is much lighter. The formulation is high-quality and has a thin to very thin texture, which glides without tugging onto the skin. It takes about 5-10 seconds to absorb after application, and leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth. It also leaves a nice subtle light-reflective texture on the skin, but less so than with the other product.
I apply this to my face nightly after using our retinol. It is not as scented as the other product, and the smell of pure jojoba reminds me of a faint floral, nearly tropical, scent. It leaves my skin feeling soft and supple.
Bonus points: The skin under your eyes does not have as many oil glands as the rest of the face. I do not have particularly sensitive skin under my eyes, nor am I prone to puffiness in this region. For that reason, I have been applying Jojoba Company Golden Jojoba Oil under my eyes, and I find that I really like the results. It mimics your skin’s natural sebum and reflects the light ever-so-slightly. Still, this tip is not for everyone. Try it if you wish, but use caution!
You have to love jojoba oil. My favorite source for these products is the Jojoba Company, and I absolutely love their Jojoba Company Australian Golden Jojoba Oil for my face, and their Jojoba 100% Natural Ultimate Jojoba Youth Potion for my body.
Editor’s Note: I just found out from the Jojoba Company that they recommend the converse; that is, their Jojoba Company Australian Golden Jojoba Oil for the face, and their Jojoba 100% Natural Ultimate Jojoba Youth Potion for the body. After hearing this, I re-evaluated, and think it depends on your personal preference and skin type:
- For dry skin or aging concerns, use Jojoba 100% Natural Ultimate Jojoba Youth Potion nightly after a retinoid or AHA treatment.
- For normal to oily skin with little to no aging concerns, use Jojoba Company Australian Golden Jojoba Oil.
- Both are acceptable as body treatments. If you prefer no scent, choose Jojoba Company Australian Golden Jojoba Oil.
Thoughts on this post? Let me know in comments!