Updated: Apr 16
Jojoba oil. What is it and why do I love it so much that I named my business after it?
A few years back, in the midst of my day-spa career, I was introduced to an ingredient called jojoba oil and educated on its many benefits and uses for the skin. After a short two weeks of testing it out on my own skin, the results were transformative. I used to look tired and had deeper wrinkles around my eyes and very expressive lines on my forehead that I wasn't super fond of. Simply adding jojoba oil to my daily routine changed all that for me. My deep wrinkles have all but faded, fine lines are nearly invisible, my rosacea is calmer, and my friends now comment on my glowing, youthful complexion.
Immediately after discovering my newfound love of jojoba oil, every one of my mature clients left my treatment room with the recommendation to go out and buy a bottle of unrefined, organic jojoba oil and add it to their routine as soon as possible. The ones who listened were rewarded with a younger, plumper, healthier complexion. Even my acne-prone clients found that adding jojoba either diminished their acne altogether or got it to a place where it could be more easily conquered. Lives were being changed and it became clear to me that I wanted to stray from the more traditional skincare methods and focus on clean beauty with a less-is-more approach. I eventually stepped back from working in a setting where I was using and selling products that I didn’t vibe with, and decided to start Wild Hazel.
Jojoba oil comes from a woody evergreen shrub, native to North and Central American deserts, and bears these adorable little fruit pods that contain seeds where golden waxy oil is cold-pressed from. These seeds and oil have a long history of use in folklore for internal and external medicine, skin and body care, and even use in food and beverages. In modern days it is widely used by the pharmaceutical and beauty industries in topical applications. Here are the reasons why it’s so highly touted.
One of jojoba oil’s greatest advantages is how stable it is due to its unique chemical structure of being made up of straight-chain esters, compared to other oils that are comprised of branches of triglycerides that tend to degrade easier. Jojoba can remain shelf stable for years if appropriately stored in a closed bottle, away from high heat, light, and oxygen. The importance of ingredient stability cannot be stressed enough. Unstable ingredients oxidize quickly and can cause what are known as free radical damage and oxidative stress to the skin, leading to accelerated aging and skin disorders.
A little science on oxidation
Oxidation happens with the loss of an electron in a molecule, atom, or ion due to external forces, such as light, heat, oxygen, cigarette smoke, UV rays, and pollution. This reaction turns that molecule, atom, or ion into a free radical, which starts a chain reaction of creating more free radicals, and in turn starts causing damage to cells. When we use unstable ingredients, they react with our skin, causing oxidative stress (damage caused by oxidation), which ages us faster. It does this by degrading our collagen and elastin, which causes wrinkles and sagging, allowing age spots to form, and can even result in inflammatory conditions and skin cancer. The best analogy, to give you a picture of oxidative stress, is an apple slice. Right after it’s cut, it’s crisp and fresh, but it doesn’t take long for the exposure to oxygen to start degrading the cells, turning it brown and soft. Unstable skincare ingredients will have the same effect on your skin as oxygen does to the apple. Unstable ingredients can start degrading inside their bottles, but that reaction speeds up as soon as we dispense them, exposing them to light, oxygen, and the warmth from our skin and the sun.
Here are some great practices for preventing and combating free radical damage:
Use products before their expiration date. If you’re not sure of the date, contact the company and they should be able to tell you when your item is due to expire.
Do a little research on the oils in your skincare products and your foods. Vegetable oils with high levels of polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) are some of the worst offenders and are highly oxidative. Using these oils topically as well as consuming them in excess can cause inflammation and oxidative stress to the skin and the body. There are even recent studies showing that excessive consumption of unstable vegetable oils, especially the oils in fried foods, is linked to age spots forming on the skin.
You may have been told to eat your fruits and vegetables because they contain antioxidants that slow and repair the effects of aging. The reason for this is that antioxidants carry extra electrons. When they happen upon a free radical, one of those molecules, atoms, or ions missing an electron, they’ll give up one of theirs to start the restoration process. The less free radicals you have, the slower your skin ages. So, increasing your daily consumption of high antioxidant foods like vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices, and healthy oils will increase the number of antioxidants available to donate electrons and your skin (and body) will benefit.
Jojoba is safe for use on all skin types and all ages because it’s considered to be ‘skin identical’, which means it’s comprised of compounds almost identical to the natural oils and waxes our skin creates to keep itself hydrated and protected. Sebum, our skin’s natural oil, is made up of fatty acids, cholesterol, oils, and liquid waxes – jojoba oil is 98% liquid wax with some fatty acids and a few other compounds. When you apply it to your skin, it blends seamlessly with your sebum and goes to work hydrating your cells and adding to the protective barrier that prevents infection, damage, and loss of moisture. Additionally, because jojoba is skin-identical, it has a very low comedogenic rating, meaning it doesn’t clog pores.
It’s also safe for all skin types because it’s hypoallergenic. Reactions are very rare, but have occurred, so a patch test is recommended for anyone who suspects they might have had a reaction from using jojoba oil. Buying an unrefined and organic product from a reputable retailer is recommended to get the highest quality oil possible and will give you the best results.
Balancing and Cleansing
Jojoba balances out oil production and cleanses the skin. If your skin is on the oily side, the use of skin-identical jojoba oil sends signals to your glands that it doesn’t need to send additional sebum to the surface. If your skin is on the drier side, jojoba oil, as a humectant, draws extra moisture to the surface of your skin, keeping it hydrated. It also cleanses skin by liquifying and drawing out any oil and wax that are trapping dirt build-up in your pores. This alone makes it a perfect alternative to a traditional facial cleanser, which contain surfactants that can actually get lodged in your pores, creating a buildup that can lead to acne. If you want to know more about oil cleansing, you can read our post here.
Vitamins and minerals
Jojoba is rich in health promoting vitamins such as E and B. Not only do these vitamins combat free radical damage, they each have their own qualities that lend to healthier, younger looking skin. Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, strengthens capillary walls, adds moisture and elasticity, is highly anti-inflammatory, and speeds up cell regeneration. It contains a complex of B vitamins shown to reduce inflammation, lessen the effects of hyperpigmentation, and reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles. A noteworthy B vitamin contained within is B5, also known as pantothenic acid, delays the appearance of early aging, speeds wound healing, and fights off bacteria and infection. Jojoba also contains a myriad of minerals that promote healthy skin, like silica - a powerhouse in skincare, it stimulates fibroblasts which releases collagen; Copper, also a known collagen promoter, treats hyperpigmentation, and heals scarring. Iodine is a proven antibacterial that treats and prevents infection. And, zinc, a mineral that is rapidly gaining popularity in the skincare world due to its powerful anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to encourage healing in stubborn disorders like dermatitis and eczema.
Jojoba’s highly anti-inflammatory properties work wonders for acneic skin as well as other skin disorders such as rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis. It calms flare-ups and irritation on the surface of your skin, soothing acne and calming redness. Putting oil on your face might seem counter-intuitive for acne-prone skin, and it may take time to figure out how much to use for your particular skin type, but once you do, the results are only going to result in a healthier, clearer complexion.
Antibacterial, Antimicrobial, & Anti-fungal
What also makes jojoba oil particularly useful for skin challenged with acne and other pathogenic disorders is that it’s antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anti-fungal and will start eliminating external pathogens as soon as it’s applied. It goes after acne bacteria under the skin after it’s had a chance to absorb, diminishing breakouts. I’ve had remarkable success with my acneic clients by using jojoba as a stand-alone treatment. Hormonal acne still benefits from jojoba oil, however you'll want to do a deep dive on what's going on behind the scenes to fully understand and be able to address what's causing it. Visit our post dedicated to hormonal acne here.
How to use jojoba oil
The three most popular ways to use jojoba oil in your daily beauty routine are as a moisturizer, a cleanser, and as a makeup remover.
You can simply replace your morning or evening moisturizer with jojoba oil or add a few drop to your daily moisturizer. Things to consider are how much to apply and do you want to use it in the morning, evening, or both? Starting out, it might take a week or two to figure out how much you want to apply and how much you want to leave on your skin for daytime use. If you use it in the morning, you will surely benefit from the anti-inflammatory properties that will calm puffy, tired skin. If you wear foundation, you may want to use jojoba as your evening moisturizer. For people with bangs, I recommend pulling them back to apply jojoba, let it absorb for at least 5 minutes, and then patting the excess oil off of your forehead before letting your bangs down so you don’t grease up your hair (personal experience here).
As an oil cleanser, it works relatively the same as a traditional cleanser. Use damp hands or a damp cloth to apply jojoba to your skin, massaging it in, and then rinsing or wiping impurities and excess oil away. You can repeat as needed then reapply more as a moisturizer, or leave it as-is.
As a makeup remover, follow the directions for oil cleansing and repeat until all makeup has been removed.
Safe from head to toe
Jojoba is safe enough to use from head to toe and can also be used as a body oil, massage oil, scalp oil, and a hair protectant. If you’re challenged with an itchy, flaky scalp, jojoba’s anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties may alleviate these symptoms and the minerals promote healthy growth. For use on your tresses, a few drops are all you need to coat the ends and keep them protected from moisture loss. Jojoba is known as a sealing oil and doesn’t absorb very well into hair strands, so we recommend using argan oil based product, like our Perfect Hair Elixir, for adding hydration.
So, now you know why Wild Hazel is jojoba-obsessed and why it continues to be a staple ingredient for our product formulations. If you’ve used jojoba oil or it’s a part of your daily routine, we would love to hear about your experience in the comments below. Positive, not so positive, different ways you’ve used it – all comments are welcome.