Borage Seed Oil Helps Calm Inflamed Skin—Here's How

bottles of oil with dropper

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Finding the right oil for your skincare routine can feel like an actual job sometimes. Dramatic? Yes. True? Yes. There are what feels like a-million-and-one variations, each with different benefits and properties, and understanding what your skin can tolerate can be overwhelming at times. Borage seed oil, for example, is found in many face oils and serums.

But what exactly does it do? Enter: the experts. We polled two dermatologists, Mara Weinstein, MD, FAAD, and Jayne Bird, MD, FAAD, to talk about borage seed oil in skincare and the benefits for inflammatory-prone skin. 

Borage Seed Oil

Type of ingredient: Antioxidant

Main benefits: Has hydrating, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant properties, and improves health of the skin barrier by improving wound healing and reducing skin infections 

Who should use it: Borage seed oil is best for dry skin and inflammatory skin conditions including eczema, acne, rosacea, and seborrheic dermatitis. 

How often can you use it: Borage seed oil is typically used once or twice daily. 

Works well with: Borage seed oil combines well with carrier oils when the carrier oil is applied first. 

Don't use with: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can inactivate borage seed oil.

What Is Borage Seed Oil?

Borage seed oil is derived from the seeds of the Borago officinalis, or in simpler terms, a Mediterranean native plant. The entire plant can be used for medical purposes, but the oil is specifically derived from the seeds, explains Bird, hence its namesake. The oil, an antioxidant and hydrator, is often found in moisturizers, Weinstein tells us. “Borage seed oil provides fatty acids necessary for the skin,” she explains. “More specifically, it blocks formation of leukotrienes and increases the production of ceramide 1.” 

Borage seed oil must be diluted with a carrier oil, like almond, jojoba, or olive oils, before applying to the skin. Like any new product, patch testing is recommended before applying to larger portions of the skin. “Borage see oil should be kept closed in a bottle and kept in a dry place away from light,” adds Bird.

Benefits of Borage Seed Oil for Skin

“Borage seed oil, which has a high linolenic acid concentration, serves as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant ingredient in skincare products,” says Bird. “Linolenic acid, which is an omega-6 fatty acid, helps promote a healthy skin barrier by replenishing the lipids in the stratum corneum, thus increasing hydration of the skin.”

  • Promotes health of the skin barrier: Borage seed oil reduces water loss through replenishing the lipid content of the epidermis, says Bird.
  • Has anti-inflammatory properties: Borage seed oil shows promise with inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, acne, rosacea, and seborrheic dermatitis, explains Bird.
  • Promotes improved wound healing: Bird says that by improving the health of the skin barrier, borage seed oil also reduces the risk of skin infections. 
  • Hydration: Borage seed oil is very hydrating to the skin, Weinstein tells us, and therefore is often found in facial moisturizers, serums, and oils. 

How to Use It

Borage seed oil for the skin is often found in everyday skincare products, and can be incorporated into both morning and nighttime routines, according to Weinstein. 

“As a moisturizer, it can be applied to clean, dry skin, usually after any prescription topicals (such as retinoids and steroids) are applied,” Bird further explains. “If it is being applied as an oil, it can be applied directly onto dry, clean skin. It should be applied after any water-based products and before a heavy moisturizer. The face can also be washed with products containing borage oil.”

The Best Products With Borage Seed Oil

NeoCurtis Bio Cream

bottle of bio cream
NeoCurtis Bio Cream $60
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Bird recommends this facial moisturizer, going so far as to say that it’s “probably her favorite.” She explains it’s good for both anti-aging as well as acne- and rosacea-prone skin. This multifunctional cream is formulated to smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, soothe the skin, and restore moisture.

Paula's Choice Omega Complex Moisturizer

bottle of paula's choice omega+ complex moisturizer
Paula's Choice Omega Complex Moisturizer $35
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This Paula’s Choice favorite is another go-to for Bird. With passionfruit and guava extract to soothe stressed skin, this moisturizer naturally restores dehydrated skin. The blend of superfood omega fatty acids, replenishing ceramides, and antioxidants brings a natural glow.

Glo Refresh Facial Polish

Glo Skin Beauty Refresh Facial Polish
Glo Refresh Facial Polish $34
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Bird shares this light exfoliating facial wash as another favorite. This polish is formulated to awaken tired skin while working to clear pores and remove dead skin cells for a smoother-looking complexion. The product also provides soothing and nourishing benefits to keep skin happy.

The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Borage Seed Oil

the ordinary cold-pressed borage seed oil
The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Borage Seed Oil $4.20
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At a price point you can't beat, Weinstein recommends this borage seed oil. This formulation contains 100% pure borage seed oil that is sustainably sourced, organic, and cold-pressed. The nourishing oil is designed to help soothe dry skin and maintain healthy skin, and is suited particularly well for dry and/or irritated skin conditions. 

Herbivore Lapis Blue Tansy Face Oil

Lapis Blue Tansy Face Oil - For Oily & Acne-Prone Skin
Herbivore Lapis Blue Tansy Face Oil $72
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Kristina Collins, MD, FAAD, recommends this facial oil for people with an oily or more acne-prone skin type. This oil holds a component called azulene, which is known to soothe dry or irritated skin, reduce the appearance of redness, and leave the skin feeling more balanced. 

Tata Harper Beautifying Face Oil

Tata Harper Beautifying Face Oil
Tata Harper Beautifying Face Oil $105
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Collins also suggests this face oil containing borage seed oil, formulated to improve radiance and revitalize the look of the skin. This oil is best for dry, dull, or uneven skin in need of essential nutrients. 

Grown Alchemist Antioxidant Facial Oil

Grown Alchemist Antioxidant+ Facial Oil
Grown Alchemist Antioxidant Facial Oil $65
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A potent certified organic facial serum was formulated using a synergistic blend of antioxidants and nutrients, Collins recommends this face oil, which noticeably improves skin’s elasticity, reduces the appearance of fine lines, and protects against the signs of aging. 

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