Although known as an oil, jojoba oil is actually a liquid wax that comes from the bean/nut of the jojoba plant or Simmondsia Chinensis in latin. This shrub can grow to around 3 metres tall and is native to the United States and Mexico. Those in the know have been utilising the beautifying properties of jojoba for hundreds of years, however its mainstream popularity is a lot more recent. Jojoba oil started to gain attention in the late 1960’s when people were looking for a replacement for sperm whale oil, which back then was a prized commodity. Sperm oil was used in many industries including cars, margarine (urgh), soap and lots of beauty and skincare products (urgh). It was used so much that whales became (and still are) an endangered species. Like jojoba oil, sperm oil is also a liquid wax and the two are very similar in structure, both working very well in skincare – luckily people cottoned onto the fact that whale oil is just not acceptable in skincare, or anywhere really apart from the whale!! The United States banned whaling in 1972 and there was an international ban in 1986 although certain countries – namely Japan, Norway and Iceland still do it 🙁
So with sperm oil shunned, jojoba oil came into the limelight in the early 1970’s and took the crown as queen of oils, although technically a wax. Jojoba oil lacks the triglycerides (fats) of an oil which actually makes it more stable and thus gives it a good shelf life; a low melting point explains its liquid form. It contains long chain fatty acids which are also fats, but with different structures and properties. The composition of jojoba oil is in fact very similar to that of our skin’s sebum, making it very compatible for us to use topically; our skin recognises it and knows what to do with it. Jojoba oil can help with a variety of skin conditions; it can hydrate and lock in moisture and can also balance an oily skin. Overactive sebum production can slow down because skin processes and utilises the jojoba so therefore doesn’t need to produce excess sebum.
Jojoba is packed full of other very skin friendly properties too, it is very rich in vitamin E – a feeder and a protector for the skin. It is also high in vitamins B1, B2, B6 and zinc which are all amazing for skin health. It is antibacterial too so another reason why it is great for oily or acne prone blemished skin. Try it as a cleanser – it is very effective at dissolving dirt and grime thus clearing out pores. A win win oil really. It also makes a great hair oil, so a multi-tasker.
These credentials will of course vary according to where the plant is grown and quality of soil etc. Choose organic for optimum quality; cold-pressed is even better as no heat will have been used therefore preserving more nutrients. Raw, unprocessed jojoba oil has a light golden colour with a slightly nutty smell. Anything that is clear with no scent has been processed so can lack potency.
The fact jojoba oil is so close to our natural sebum means that it is absorbed readily into the skin taking its goodness with it. It doesn’t leave an oily residue either, but does help form a protective barrier. This therefore makes it a perfect lip balm ingredient. Thank you liquid wax 🙂
Jojoba oil also ticks all the boxes in the sustainability camp. It requires less water than many other crops, and although now grown commercially, it isn’t destructive to the land. The process of extracting the oil is non-polluting with minimal waste. Definitely one for the good books.
What do you think of jojoba oil – is it part of your beauty routine?