What Is Evening Primrose Oil?
Oenothera biennis or as it is more commonly known as evening primrose oil is an ingredient used in skincare and cosmetic products to help moisturise the skin and may help to reduce inflammation, irritation and support the treatment of acne.
Evening primrose is a flowering plant that is native to North America. Indigenous groups have been using this plant as a medicinal crop for hundreds of years, treating ailments such as bruises, hemorrhoids, digestive problems, and sore throats. Evening primrose seed extract is currently used in skin care products due to its high content of gamma-linoleic acid.
The gamma-linoleic acid in evening primrose seed extract is thought to help skin conditions such as acne and eczema by reducing inflammation.
Evening Primrose Oil
the good: Evening primrose oil when used topically may help to moisturize the skin, reduce inflammation and support the treatment of acne.
the not so good: Most of the research into the benefits of evening primrose oil has focused on a dietary supplement form of the oil. There is somewhat limited research as to its benefits to the skin when used topically.
Who is it for? All skin types except those that have an identified allergy to it.
Synergetic ingredients: Works well with most ingredients.
Keep an eye on: Keep an eye out for more research into this interesting ingredient.
What Are The Benefits Of Evening Primrose Oil For Your Skin?
Evening primrose oil contains a number of fatty acids such as stearic acid and linoleic acid which help to strengthen the skin’s natural barrier.
The fatty acids present in evening primrose oil may help to restore the skin’s natural barrier function.
The skin barrier refers to the top layers of skin, natural oils or sebum, ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids. The barrier helps to protect the skin from bacteria, allergens and fungi as well as prevent water loss to the air. The skin’s natural barrier is a vital part of maintaining skin health.
In 2005, a randomized, double‐blind, placebo‐controlled study evaluated the effects of this evening primrose oil on skin moisture, transepidermal water loss or TEWL, redness, firmness, elasticity, fatigue resistance, and roughness.
The study found that the gamma-linoleic acid in evening primrose seed extract is an essential fatty acid for the skin that helps support the skin’s optimal structure and function.
Essential fatty acids and omegas can be hard to get from a balanced diet alone. This is why supplementation or topical application of evening primrose oil may be beneficial to improving the appearance of the skin and may even help to support the treatment of eczema.
Evening primrose oil contains high amounts of gamma-linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid. When your body breaks down gamma-linoleic acid it creates a compound called dihomo-gamma-linoleic acid which has shown evidence to suggest that it may help to reduce inflammation.
It is important to note that the studies which have looked at these benefits have focused on evening primrose oil as a supplement rather than its benefits in a skincare context.
Evening primrose oil may be an effective way to support the treatment of acne, pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads. It prevents the skin becoming dry which can actually exacerbate acne and pimples. It also may help to mitigate the side effects of other acne treatments and medications.
Evening primrose oil has a low-comedogenicity score which means that it is unlikely to clog pores or contribute to pimples.
Evening primrose oil is often touted as being a great supplement and topical treatment for hormonal acne. HOwever, there is little clinical evidence to support these claims.
It is important to note that evening primrose oil for acne is often recommended as a supplement, not as a topical product. It can also worsen acne in some cases as its ability to suppress inflammation may make some types of acne worse.
Can You Use Evening Primrose Oil Directly On Your Skin?
Yes, unlike essential oils evening primrose oil doesn’t need to be diluted before appling it to your skin. However, some products will include other ingredients that help to supplement the benefits of evening primrose oil.
Is Evening Primrose Oil Comedogenic?
Evening primrose oil is considered to be a low-comedgenic oil. This means that it is unlikely to clog pores or exacerbate acne and blemishes.
Is Evening Primrose Oil Vegan?
Evening primrose oil is a vegan ingredient. It is derived frin the seed and flowers of the evening primrose plant.
If you are looking for a vegan product it is always best to ensure that the other ingredients in the formulation are vegan and that the brand is cruelty-free.
Is Evening Primrose Oil Safe?
Evening primrose oil has been evaluated by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel is a group responsible for evaluating the safety and efficacy of skincare and cosmetic ingredients.
In their review of the available data, the Expert Panel concluded that evening primrose oil is safe for its current uses and in its currently used concentrations.
What Are The Other Uses Of Evening Primrose Oil?
Evening primrose oil is mainly used as a dietary supplement outside of its skincare benefits. It has shown promise in diebetic neuropathy, rheumatoid arthritis, hormonal issues in women, understanding the effect of allergies, eczema, breast cancer and even attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder or ADHD.
Chung BY, Park SY, Jung MJ, Kim HO, Park CW. Effect of Evening Primrose Oil on Korean Patients With Mild Atopic Dermatitis: A Randomized, Double-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Study. Ann Dermatol. 2018;30(4):409-416.
Timoszuk M, Bielawska K, Skrzydlewska E. Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) Biological Activity Dependent on Chemical Composition. Antioxidants (Basel). 2018;7(8):108. Published 2018 Aug 14.2172.
Simon, D., Eng, P.A., Borelli, S. et al. Gamma-Linolenic Acid Levels Correlate with Clinical Efficacy of Evening Primrose Oil in Patients with Atopic Dermatitis. Adv Ther 31, 180–188 (2014).
Senapati S, Banerjee S, Gangopadhyay DN. Evening primrose oil is effective in atopic dermatitis: A randomized placebo-controlled trial. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2008;74:447-452.