Not all skincare oils are created equal, and not every oil can work for every skin type. That being said, jojoba oil comes close. From hydration to acne benefits, this lightweight oil works on every skin type and can be used with almost every product on your vanity. Beyond its versatility, jojoba oil is relatively inexpensive, so the ingredient is accessible to a wider audience.
But don't just take our word for it. We interviewed two dermatologists about the benefits of jojoba oil and how to incorporate it into your skincare routine.
Type of Ingredient: Emollient
Main Benefits: Hydrates the skin, balances natural oil production, delivers antioxidant protection, has anti-inflammatory effects, may have some antibacterial properties, and can also help reduce acne.
Who Should Use It: Everyone can use jojoba oil, but it's an especially good choice for those with dry skin or those who are prone to acne or redness, says Nussbaum.
How Often Can You Use It: It's safe to use daily and even multiple times per day.
Works Well With: Jojoba oil can be combined with many other ingredients—it's a staple in many cosmetic formulations—and is often combined with other emollients, oils, and/or moisturizing ingredients such as shea butter, ceramides, beeswax, and hyaluronic acid.
Don't Use With: There are currently no ingredients known to have any kind of negative interaction with jojoba oil.
What Is Jojoba Oil?
"Jojoba oil is a natural oil produced from the seed of the Chinensis plant, a drought-resistant shrub native to southern Arizona, California, and Mexico," explains Chang. (Oh, and FYI it's pronounced ho-ho-ba), While its prominence in beauty products is a relatively recent phenomenon, it's been used for centuries; Native Americans used it as far back as the 1400s for its wound-healing properties (more on those in a minute). Here's where things got a little confusing, though—jojoba oil isn't technically an oil. (Say what?) It's actually a wax ester that, from a chemistry perspective, has a different makeup than other oils. While everyone calls it an oil—and we'll continue to do so to keep things simple—the fact that it's a wax ester is a large part of what makes it so unique. Wax esters are the main component in human sebum, which means that "jojoba oil mimics natural sebum, conditioning, and sealing moisture in the skin, without clogging pores or exacerbating acne," says Chang. Translation: Jojoba oil is as close to your skin's natural oil as possible. This is also why it can help balance out oil production and feels so lightweight and non-greasy.
The other upside of this oil not being an actual oil? "It's more stable and has a longer shelf-life than most oils," points out Nussbaum. Couple that with the fact that it plays so nicely with most other ingredients, and it's no surprise that it can be found in a wide array of skincare, haircare, and makeup products. Even the jojoba beads that are a popular (and much more environmentally-friendly alternative to synthetic microbeads) found in exfoliators are derived from, you guessed it, jojoba oil.
Benefits of Jojoba Oil for Skin
No matter in what form or formula jojoba oil comes in, the long list of benefits it delivers remains the same.
Keeps Skin Hydrated
As is the case with other oils, jojoba oil is a great emollient, softening and smoothing your complexion. And when it's combined with occlusive ingredients, such as beeswax, it also helps protect the skin barrier, reducing trans-epidermal water loss and sealing in moisture, notes Nussbaum. At the same time, because it does act so similarly to our skin's oil, it helps balance out those levels, useful for anyone dealing with either too much or too little natural oil.
Offers Antioxidant Protection
"Jojoba oil is rich in flavonoids and vitamin E, a potent antioxidant that defends the skin against oxidative damage, which contributes to signs of aging," says Chang. While she adds that more studies are needed to confirm its direct anti-aging benefits, it's still a good option to use at any age, to help both protect and brighten the skin.
Dealing with eczema, rosacea, or a generally sensitive complexion? Jojoba oil is a saving grace for reducing redness and keeping skin calm and comfortable, says Nussbaum. Along with the vitamin E found in the oil, it's also a good source of B-complex vitamins, she adds. These vitamins, along with the anti-inflammatory effects, make them useful for wound healing, which is why Native Americans originally started using jojoba oil all those years ago.
For acne-prone skin, jojoba oil takes the cake. First and foremost, it's non-comedogenic and won't clog pores, an imperative quality to search for if you have oily skin but still want to use an oil. Two, you're reaping all those anti-inflammatory benefits (as well as possible antibacterial properties, though more research needs to be done), both of which can help knock out breakouts. And finally, there's the fact that it can balance out your skin's natural oil production. "Since an over-production of sebum can often cause breakouts, using jojoba oil has been shown to ease acne," explains Nussbaum. Though it is an acne-friendly oil, it's important to note prescriptions or over-the-counter treatments may also be required to throughly treat your acne.
Meet the Expert
- Marnie Nussbaum, MD, is a dermatologist based in New York City.
- Y. Claire Chang, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City.
Side Effects of Jojoba Oil
Generally speaking, there are no real drawbacks to this particular ingredient. Jojoba oil is generally well-tolerated with a low risk of irritation, Chang tells us. In rare instances, it can cause a rash or reaction, which is usually indicative of an actual allergy, Nussbaum points out. If you want to be extra cautious, you can try any new product out on a small test area before applying it all over your face.
How to Use Jojoba Oil
You can use jojoba oil for many purposes. Opt for 100 percent pure jojoba oil to use as a moisturizer, or look for it in a lotion, cream, or serum. Worth noting: It works great as a hair hydrator, too, ideal for sealing dry ends, as well as a treatment for soothing chapped lips.
What does jojoba oil do for skin?
Jojoba oil hydrates, softens, and smoothes the skin while balancing natural oil production. It delivers antioxidant protection and can help reduce acne.
How do you use jojoba oil on skin?
Opt for 100 percent pure jojoba oil to use as a moisturizer, or look for it in a lotion, cream, or serum.
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Pazyar N, Yaghoobi R, Ghassemi MR, Kazerouni A, Rafeie E, Jamshydian N. Jojoba in dermatology: a succinct review. G Ital Dermatol Venereol. 2013;148(6):687-691.