Plant Oils in Skin Care - The Dermatology Review

Plant Oils in Skin Care

ARTICLE

10.23.18 AD DISCLOSURE

Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil
Anthemis is a genus of aromatic flowering plants in the family Asteraceae, the daisy family. These herbal plants are natives to Europe, but may also be found in regions of North America and also in Argentina. Common names for Anthemis nobilis include Roman chamomile, Garden chamomile, and Ground Apple. The plant produces white, daisy-like flowers.

In cosmetics and skin care products, Anthemis nobilis flower oil functions as a fragrance ingredient and skin conditioning agent. The oil also provides anti-inflammatory effects, which makes it an ideal ingredient for treating minor skin irritations and sunburn. Anthemis nobilis flower oil may also help reduce symptoms of acne by decreasing inflammation and calming the skin. Research has found that Anthemis nobilis flower oil is not irritating or sensitizing.

Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil
Argania spinosa is the botanical name for the argan tree which is native to Morocco. The flowering tree produces a fruit with a thick, bitter peel surrounding a sweet-smelling but unpleasantly flavored layer of pulp. This surrounds the very hard nut, which contains one (occasionally two or three) small, oil-rich kernels. Extraction yields from 30% to 50% of the oil in the kernels, depending on the extraction method.

Argan oil is a rich source of several beneficial fatty acids, primarily oleic acid and linoleic acid. These fatty acids replenish the skin’s barrier function, which helps to prevent water loss as well as protect the skin from harmful environmental irritants. Furthermore, linoleic acid will reduce inflammation and acne while increasing skin moisturization levels. Oleic acid can improve the skin’s permeability and help other ingredients penetrate the skin more easily. Additionally, argan oil contains tocopherols (vitamin E), phenols, and carotenes, which all have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants protect the skin from free radicals, the unstable molecules that contribute to the formation of premature wrinkles and fine lines on the skin.

Backhousia Citriodora Leaf Oil
Backhousia citriodora, also known as lemon myrtle, is a flowering plant that is endemic to the subtropical rainforests of central and south-eastern Queensland, Australia. The leaves of the lemon myrtle plant are the highest natural source of citral, an aroma compound that is used in cosmetics, perfumes, and skin care products for its citrus scent.

In addition to functioning as a fragrance ingredient, the citral found in Backhousia citriodora leaf oil has been shown to provide strong antimicrobial properties. A study published in Letters in Applied Microbiology found that citral showed appreciable antimicrobial activity against both gram positive and gram negative bacteria, as well as fungi. These antimicrobial properties enable Backhousia citriodora leaf oil to assist in healing skin infections, wounds, and acne. Lastly, Backhousia citriodora leaf oil provides anti-inflammatory effects and also acts as an astringent.

Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Flower Oil
Citrus aurantium amara, also known as the bitter orange, is a citrus tree native to southeast Asia. The fruit of the bitter orange looks very similar to the sweet orange, but the fruit flesh tastes sour while the peel and the skin surrounding the fruit segments have a strong bitter taste. This tree produces white, five-petalled flowers that give off an intense fragrance.

The oil expressed from the bitter orange flowers is called neroli oil, and it is one of the most widely used floral oils in perfumery. Additionally, neroli oil has the ability to regenerate skin cells, which makes it beneficial for treating wrinkles, scars, and stretch marks. It also helps to regulate oil production, making it an excellent ingredient for those with acne. Lastly, neroli oil can improve the skin’s elasticity, which is why this ingredient is often used in anti-aging skin care products. Neroli oil is a non-toxic, non-irritant, non-sensitizing, non-phototoxic substance, but does contain known allergens.

Eucalyptus Globulus (Eucalyptus) Leaf Oil
Eucalyptus globulus, also known as fever tree or gum tree, is an evergreen tree that is one of the most widely cultivated trees native to Australia. The leaves of the Eucalyptus globulus can be steam distilled to extract eucalyptus oil. Eucalyptus oil has a history of wide application, including use as a pharmaceutical, antiseptic, repellent, flavoring, and fragrance.

A primary component of eucalyptus leaf oil is eucalyptol, or 1,8-cineole, which accounts for 70 to 90 percent of the contents of this oil. Eucalyptol has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving effects. After topical application, it can help to reduce inflammation, muscle pain, soreness, and swelling. Eucalyptus leaf oil also has antimicrobial and antiseptic properties, which makes it an excellent ingredient for minor skin irritations such as cuts, burns, sores, and insect bites.

Fragaria Ananassa (Strawberry) Seed Oil
Fragaria ananassa is the botanical name for the strawberry, a fruit that is well known for its characteristic aroma, bright red color, juicy texture, and sweetness. The seeds of this fruit are collected as a by-product of the fruit juice and jam manufacturing industry to make strawberry seed oil.

Strawberry seed oil is used in skin care products because of its high concentration of linoleic and alpha-linolenic acids. These fatty acids replenish the skin’s barrier function, which helps to prevent water loss as well as protect the skin from harmful environmental irritants. Furthermore, linoleic acid will reduce inflammation and acne while increasing skin moisturization levels. Strawberries also contain an antioxidant called ellagic acid. Research has found that topical application of ellagic acid keeps skin more youthful by preventing collagen breakdown. Strawberry seed oil absorbs into the skin quickly and leaves a subtle strawberry fragrance on the skin.

Hydrogenated Olive Oil
The olive, known by the botanical name Olea europaea, meaning “European olive”, is a species of small tree in the family Oleaceae. Olive oil is created by the crushing of the ripe fruit (olives) of Olea europaea. The term “hydrogenated olive oil” means that the oil is chemically converted from a liquid to a semi-solid or solid form using a process that involves hydrogen gas under high pressure. Hydrogenation allows an oily liquid to remain in a solid state at room temperature.

Hydrogenated olive oil is used in skin care products because the molecules that make up olive oil are too large to be absorbed by the skin. The hydrogenation process makes the fatty molecules small enough to be permeable by the skin. Once absorbed, hydrogenated olive oil can impart several benefits due to its rich supply of antioxidants and fatty acids.

Jojoba Oil
The jojoba plant, with the botanical name Simmondsia chinensis, is a perennial evergreen desert shrub indigenous to southern Arizona, southern California, and northwestern Mexico. Jojoba is grown commercially to produce jojoba oil, a liquid wax ester extracted from its seed. The oil is mostly comprised of long-chain fatty acid esters (97%), but also contains small amounts of vitamins, minerals, triglycerides, phospholipids, and tocopherols.

Jojoba oil is widely used in skin care products because of its ability to moisturize the skin, reduce acne, and combat signs of aging. After topical application, jojoba oil has the ability to “trick” the skin into thinking it’s producing enough oil, which helps balance oil production. This is because jojoba oil mimics the skin’s natural sebum more closely than any other oil. Balancing oil production can help to reduce the signs of aging since the body naturally produces less sebum over time. Additionally, balancing oil production is helpful for those on the other end of the spectrum that produce too much oil, which can cause breakouts. Lastly, jojoba oil is an emollient, which means it moisturizes the skin and prevents dry, scaly and rough patches.

Juniperus Virginiana (Cedarwood) Oil
Juniperus virginiana, also known as the Eastern red cedar, is a species of juniper native to eastern North America. Oil can be distilled from the wood, twigs, and leaves, resulting in what is known as cedarwood oil. The main components of cedarwood oil are alpha-cedrene, beta-cedrene, cedrol, sesquiterpenes, thujopsene, and widdrol.

Cedarwood oil is used in skin care products because it provides several benefits. For instance, it is a natural antiseptic, which means it can prevent the development and growth of harmful microorganisms that can negatively affect skin health. Furthermore, cedarwood oil can be used to prevent and treat acne thanks to its antiseptic activity. Cedarwood oil can also reduce inflammation and help calm skin irritations, which is why it is often used to alleviate symptoms of eczema.

Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil
Lavandula angustifolia is the botanical name for lavender, a flowering plant in the family Lamiaceae, native to the Mediterranean. Lavender is popular for its colorful flowers, its fragrance, and its ability to survive with low water consumption.

In skin care products, lavender oil offers numerous benefits due to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties. These properties make lavender oil an excellent choice for soothing and healing skin that’s irritated or reddened from the sun, insect bites, or bacteria. The antioxidant activity provided by lavender oil helps protect the skin from free radicals, the unstable molecules that contribute to the formation of premature wrinkles and fine lines on the skin.

Lavandula Hybrida Oil
Lavandula hybrida, also known as lavandin, is a class of hybrids of L. angustifolia and L. latifolia. The lavandins are widely cultivated for commercial use, since their flowers tend to be bigger than those of English lavender and the plants tend to be easier to harvest. The smell of Lavandula hybrida is medicinal and not nearly as sweet as pure lavender.

Lavandula hybrida oil is used in skin care products because of its antioxidant properties. Antioxidants protect the skin from free radicals, the unstable molecules that contribute to the formation of premature wrinkles and fine lines on the skin. Additionally, research has found that Lavandula hybrida oil may provide astringent properties. Astringents cause a constricting and drying effect when applied to the skin. They work by cross-linking with proteins in the skin known as keratins, creating an invisible film that can temporarily degrease skin, tighten and tone skin, and minimize the appearance of enlarged pores.

Lemongrass Oil
Cymbopogon is a genus of about 55 species of tropical island plants in the grass family, more commonly known as lemongrass. Lemongrass is used as a medicinal herb in India and it is common in Asian cuisine. It is a rich source of essential vitamins, such as vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, folate and vitamin C. In skin care products, lemongrass oil provides several benefits, such as anti-inflammatory activity, antioxidant effects, and healing properties. It is also a natural astringent that can help tighten and tone the skin, as well as degrease oily skin. Lastly, lemongrass oil has antifungal properties and may be used as a preservative.

Macadamia Integrifolia Seed Oil
Macadamia integrifolia is a flowering tree in the family Proteaceae, native to Queensland in Australia. The tree produces a hard, woody fruit that contains one or two seeds. A non-volatile oil can be expressed from the nut meat of the macadamia fruit. Macadamia seeds contain over 75% of their weight as oil. The oil is a triglyceride oil and contains primarily monounsaturated fats up to 80 to 84%.

Macadamia seed oil is a lightweight oil that is well absorbed by the skin without feeling greasy. The high content of fatty acids found in macadamia seed oil enables this ingredient to nourish and hydrate the skin by replenishing the skin’s barrier. A strong, intact skin barrier prevents water loss and keeps harmful environmental irritants out of the skin. The result is smooth, moisturized, healthy skin. These fatty acids also have anti-inflammatory properties, which is ideal for treating dry or irritated skin.

Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil
Mentha piperita, also known as peppermint, is a hybrid mint, a cross between watermint and spearmint. The leaves of the peppermint plant are processed for the essential oil to produce flavorings mainly for chewing gum and toothpaste.

Peppermint oil can also be used in skin care products. Upon topical application, peppermint oil provides a cool, soothing effect. Peppermint oil can also help balance the skin’s oil secretion, therefore preventing acne. Lastly, peppermint oil has a high concentration of natural pesticides, mainly pulegone and menthone, and is known to repel some pest insects, including mosquitoes.

Commiphora myrrha (Myrrh) Oil
Commiphora myrrha is a spiny tree in the Burseraceae family. It is one of the primary trees used in the production of myrrh, a resin made from dried tree sap. It is believed that Ancient Egyptians used myrrh to prevent aging and maintain healthy skin.

In skin care products, myrrh oil is used to soothe dry, chapped, or cracked skin and promote the growth of healthy skin. It can also be used as a fragrance. Myrrh oil has antioxidant properties, which helps the skin combat free radicals, the unstable molecules that contribute to the formation of premature wrinkles and fine lines on the skin. Lastly, a 2010 research study determined that topical application of myrrh oil helped elevate white blood cells around skin wounds, which lead to faster healing.

Olea europaea (Olive) Oil Unsaponifiables
The olive, known by the botanical name Olea europaea, meaning “European olive”, is a species of small tree in the family Oleaceae. Olive oil is created by the crushing of the ripe fruit (olives) of Olea europaea. An unsaponifiable oil is the portion of a plant oil that is not broken down when the oil’s fatty acids are refined for use in cosmetic products.

Olive oil unsaponifiables are easily absorbed by the skin. The unsaponifiable portion of olive oil contains phytosterols and squalane, which are both very beneficial to the skin. Phytosterols are similar to cholesterol and benefit the skin by replenishing its lipid barrier while also providing soothing effects. The squalane in olive oil unsaponifiables is important because it replenishes squalene, the human body’s own version of squalane. Over time, the amount of squalene the body can make and retain in the skin decreases. This decline in squalene production starts in our 20’s, which can leave skin looking and feeling dry. Therefore, topical application of squalane helps to replenish the skin’s barrier, keeping it soft, supple, and moisturized.

Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil
Oryza sativa is the plant species most commonly referred to in English as rice. Bran is the hard outer layer of the grain, often produced as a by-product of milling in the production of refined grains (i.e. white flour, white rice, etc.) Oil can be extracted from the bran, resulting in rice bran oil.

Rice bran oil is used in skin care products due to its high concentration of fatty acids, primarily oleic acid (38.4%), linoleic acid (34.4%), and palmitic acid (21.5%). Fatty acids are beneficial to the skin because they help to restore the skin’s barrier. The skin’s barrier is composed of flattened dead skin cells held together by a mixture of lipids. Without these essential lipids, the barrier is weakened. A weak or damaged barrier causes the skin to lose water and may allow harmful things like irritants or bacteria to enter the skin. Therefore, by replenishing the barrier with ingredients like rice bran oil, skin will be moisturized and protected.

Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil
Pelargonium graveolens, also known as rose geranium, is a flowering plant that produces pale pink to almost white flowers that have a pleasant aroma. For this reason, Pelargonium graveolens flower oil is often used as a fragrance ingredient in perfumes, cosmetics, and skin care products. It is considered a less expensive alternative to other rose oils, and is often used in aromatherapy formulas as well.

Pelargonium graveolens flower oil also possesses antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which enables it to help treat a variety of skin conditions, including acne, eczema, and aging skin. Pelargonium graveolens flower oil is considered non-toxic, non-irritant and generally non-sensitizing.

Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil
Persea gratissima is a flowering tree that produces a fruit known as an avocado. Botanically, an avocado is considered to be a large berry that contains a single large seed known as a “pit” or a “stone”. In order to create avocado oil for use in skin care products, the avocado flesh is first dried to remove as much water as possible. Then, the oil is extracted with solvents at elevated temperatures. After extraction, the oil is usually refined, bleached, and deodorized, resulting in an odorless yellow oil that can be used in skin care products.

In skin care products, avocado oil is valued for its regenerative and moisturizing properties. It contains a high amount of monounsaturated fats, which help to replenish the skin’s barrier function. A strong, intact skin barrier prevents water loss and keeps harmful environmental irritants out of the skin. The result is smooth, moisturized, healthy skin. Avocado oil is also rich in vitamin E, a lipid soluble antioxidant that protects the skin from free radical damage and strengthens the skin barrier. Lastly, avocado oil has the ability to enhance the absorption of carotenoids and other nutrients.

Prunus Domestica Seed Oil
Prunus domestica is a flowering deciduous tree that produces a fruit known as a plum. Like all Prunus fruits, the plum contains a single large seed. Oil can be extracted from the seed and used in skin care products as Prunus domestica seed oil.

Prunus domestica seed oil is a rich oil that provides a non-greasy and silky skin feel that is absorbed quickly by skin. It has a delicate fruit/almond-like aroma. The oil is able to replenish the skin’s barrier function due to its high concentration of oleic acid. A strong, intact skin barrier prevents water loss and keeps harmful environmental irritants out of the skin. The result is smooth, moisturized, healthy skin. Prunus domestica seed oil also contains phytosterols. Phytosterols are similar to cholesterol and benefit the skin by replenishing its lipid barrier while also providing soothing effects.

Rose Essential Oil (Rosa Damascena)
Rosa damascena, also known as the damask rose, is a rose hybrid derived from Rosa gallica and Rosa moschata. This species of rose is well known for its fine fragrance and is commercially harvested for rose oil.

In 2010, Chinese researchers published a study revealing that rose essential oil demonstrated one of the strongest bactericidal activities compared to 10 other oils. They also found that just after five minutes of a 0.25% dilution, Propionibacterium acnes (the bacteria responsible for acne) was completely destroyed by rose essential oil. Additionally, research has found that rose essential oil can protect the skin from the damaging effects of sun exposure by absorbing UV rays. Lastly, rose essential oil is rich in flavonoids that provide antioxidant activity.

Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil
Rosmarinus officinalis, also known as rosemary, is a woody, perennial herb that is native to the Mediterranean region. It produces white, pink, purple, or blue flowers. Rosemary oil is extracted from the leaves of this plant and has a woody, evergreen-like scent that is invigorating and purifying.

In skin care products, rosemary leaf oil is used for balancing oil production. It can help to clear excess oil and dirt from pores without causing dryness. Rosemary leaf oil is also rich in antioxidants like carnosic acid and rosmarinic acid. These antioxidants protect the skin from free radicals, the unstable molecules that contribute to the formation of premature wrinkles and fine lines on the skin.

Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil
Sesamum indicum is a flowering plant that is cultivated for its edible sesame seeds, which grow in pods or “buns”. Sesame has one of the highest oil contents of any seed. Sesame seed oil is one of the most common cooking oils used around the world because of its rich, nutty flavor.

Sesame seed oil is composed of several beneficial fatty acids, including and linoleic acid and oleic acid. These fatty acids replenish the skin’s lipid barrier, which prevents water loss and keeps harmful environmental irritants out of the skin. The result is smooth, moisturized, healthy skin. Sesame seed oil also provides antioxidant activity and protects the skin from free radicals, the unstable molecules that contribute to the formation of premature wrinkles and fine lines on the skin.

Soybean (Glycine soja) Oil Unsaponifiables
Glycine soja, or wild soybean, is an annual plant in the legume family. Soybean oil is a vegetable oil extracted from the seeds of Glycine soja. Soybean oil unsaponifiables is the portion of the plant oil that is not broken down when the oil’s fatty acids are refined for use in cosmetic products. Soybean oil unsaponifiables is rich in phytosterols. Phytosterols are similar to cholesterol and benefit the skin by replenishing its lipid barrier while also providing soothing effects. Additionally, through their disc-shaped molecular structure, phytosterols encourage the formation of film on the skin. This film helps to prevent the absorption of toxic substances and ensure an adequate level of skin moisturization by reducing transepidermal water loss.

Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil
Triticum vulgare, also known as common wheat or bread wheat, is a cultivated wheat species that makes up about 95% of all produced wheat. In skin care products, there are two different parts of the wheat seed that are used: the bran and the germ. The germ is the part of the seed that will sprout and grow, whereas the bran is the outer layer of the seed.

Wheat germ oil is a concentrated source of several essential nutrients, such as vitamin E, folic acid, phosphorous, thiamin, zinc, and magnesium, as well as essential fatty acids and fatty alcohols. All of these nutrients, especially the fatty acids and vitamin E, work to strengthen the skin’s barrier function. A strong, intact skin barrier prevents water loss and keeps harmful environmental irritants out of the skin. The result is smooth, moisturized, healthy skin. Furthermore, vitamin E is a potent lipid soluble antioxidant that protects the skin from free radicals, the unstable molecules that contribute to the formation of premature wrinkles and fine lines on the skin.

Zingiber Cassumunar Root Oil
Zingiber cassumunar, also known as plai, is a species of plant in the ginger family that produces rhizomes, a type of root system that sends out roots and shoots from its nodes. The rhizome is used medicinally in massage and even in food in Thailand. Studies have found that plai oil exhibits antimicrobial activity against a wide range of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, dermatophytes, and yeasts. Plai oil can also relieve pain, inflammation, and swelling when applied topically.

Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil
Limnanthes alba, also known as meadowfoam, is a species of flowering plant native to California and Oregon, where it grows in grassy wet habitats. Meadowfoam seed oil is produced from the fruit of this plant, which contains 20 to 30% oil. Meadowfoam seed oil is one of the most stable vegetable oils known and can extend the shelf life of other oils. Meadowfoam seed oil contains over 98% long-chain fatty acids and can keep other oils from oxidizing and going rancid even when exposed to heat, light and/or air.

In skin care products, meadowfoam seed oil can help to balance oil production because it closely resembles human sebum. It has a medium to light skin feel that absorbs very quickly without feeling greasy. It can form a protective film on the surface of skin that locks in moisture and delivers nutrients to the skin. Meadowfoam seed oil is often used in anti-aging skin care products due to its nourishing, high antioxidant composition.

Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil
Native to Australia, Macadamia ternifolia is one of the four species of trees from the genus Macadamia. The tree produces a hard, woody fruit that contains one or two seeds. A non-volatile oil can be expressed from the nut meat of the macadamia fruit. Macadamia seeds contain over 75% of their weight as oil. The oil is a triglyceride oil and contains primarily monounsaturated fats up to 80 to 84%.

Macadamia ternifolia seed oil is a lightweight oil that is absorbed quickly by the skin without feeling greasy. The high content of oleic acid found in macadamia ternifolia seed oil is very moisturising, regenerating, and softening on the skin. The linoleic acid enables this ingredient to nourish and hydrate the skin by replenishing the skin’s barrier. A strong, intact skin barrier helps to prevent water loss and keeps harmful environmental irritants out of the skin. The result is smooth, moisturized, healthy skin. These fatty acids also have anti-inflammatory properties, which is ideal for treating dry or irritated skin.

Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil
Vitis vinifera, the common grape vine, is a plant species native to the Mediterranean region. There are currently between 5,000 and 10,000 varieties of Vitis vinifera grapes, however, only a few are of commercial significance for wine and grape production. Grape seed oil is pressed from the seeds of grapes.

Grape seed oil is lightweight, stable, and moisturizing, which is why it is used in a variety of cosmetics and skin care products. It has a high affinity with the structure of skin cells, and therefore is absorbed easily without leaving a greasy feeling on the skin. This property also enables the oil to deliver other active ingredient deeper into the skin. Grape seed oil is a rich source of vitamin E, containing about twice as much as olive oil. Vitamin E is a lipid soluble antioxidant that protects the skin from free radicals. Lastly, the linoleic acid found in grape seed oil is thought to reduce inflammation and help oily skin by unclogging pores.

Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil
Translated from Latin, Prunus amygdalus dulcis means “sweet almond”. While typically grouped with other tree nuts, an almond is actually a drupe, a fruit with an outer hull encasing a shell with the seed inside. The oil is extracted from ripe seed kernels that have been dried and crushed through a cold pressing process.

Sweet almond oil contains many beneficial fats, including 32% monounsaturated oleic acid (an omega-9 fatty acid), 13% linoleic acid (a polyunsaturated omega-6 essential fatty acid), and 10% saturated fatty acid (mainly as palmitic acid). These healthy fats help to maintain skin hydration by keeping the skin barrier intact. A strong skin barrier reduces symptoms such as dryness and itchiness, and leaves the skin healthy and glowing. Sweet almond oil is also rich in vitamin E, a lipid soluble antioxidant. Antioxidants protect the skin from free radicals, the unstable molecules that contribute to the formation of premature wrinkles and fine lines on the skin. Additionally, when vitamin E is delivered to your skin through the sebaceous (oil) glands, it provides a protective barrier and helps to reduce transepidermal water loss.

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