The Health Benefits of Jojoba

This popular plant oil is commonly used to treat skin problems

Close up of Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis)

Anna Yu / Getty Images

Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) is a shrub that grows in arid regions of the southwestern United States, northern Mexico, and some parts of Africa. Its acorn-shaped seeds are rich in oil and liquid wax, which are said to possess healing properties. Long used in folk medicine, jojoba contains essential fatty acids thought to offer certain benefits when used applied to the skin.

Jojoba is today used in numerous commercial products, including moisturizers, cosmetics, and shampoos. Jojoba is also commonly used as a carrier oil in aromatherapy. While considered safe for external use, jojoba may cause a skin allergy in some.

Also Known As

  • Coffeeberry
  • Deer nut
  • Goat nut
  • Gray box bush
  • Pignut
  • Quinine nut
  • Wild hazel

Health Benefits

Jojoba has been used for centuries in Native American cultures, where it is typically ground into a butter-like salve to heal and condition the skin. The waxy oils were also used to condition animal hides, while the seeds were eaten to aid in childbirth or treat colds.

Jojoba oil and wax both have emollient properties, meaning they can soften and soothe the skin. They do so by trapping moisture on the outermost layer of skin, called the stratum corneum. This helps hydrate skin cells called corneocytes, relieving dryness, flaking, and itching.

In alternative medicine, jojoba is touted as a natural remedy for a number of common conditions, including:

Some of these claims are better supported by research than others. Here is some of the current evidence supporting the use of jojoba for skin health:

Acne

Jojoba oil may aid in the treatment of acne, according to a 2012 study published in the journal Research in Complementary Medicine. For this study, 194 people with different types of acne were recruited and asked to apply a facial mask containing clay and jojoba oil two to three times per week.

After six weeks, an overall 54% reduction in acne was achieved, while the number of papules (bumps), pustules (pus-filled bumps), and comedones (blackheads or whiteheads) were decreased by 44%, 60%, and 60%, respectively.

Despite the positive findings, it is unclear how much the clay mask may have contributed to the results.

Wound Healing

There is less evidence to support the claim that jojoba can speed wound healing compared to leaving the wound alone. Although jojoba is known to exert antibacterial properties, due in large part to high concentrations of vitamin E, most of the evidence supporting the claim is either anecdotal or limited to test-tube studies.

One such study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology reported that jojoba wax stimulated the synthesis of collagen in human skin cells. Moreover, the wax, when applied to scratched tissue samples, accelerated the repair of keratinocytes (a type of skin cell) and fibroblasts (a type of cell that produces collagen).

As promising as the findings seem, these mechanisms only represent a portion of what is needed to heal wounds, including stretch marks and scars.

Eczema and Psoriasis

Eczema and psoriasis are two skin disorders characterized by the appearance of dry, flaking, itchy skin. While the causes of the diseases vary, they are both defined by persistent inflammation. Tempering this inflammation is key to relieving the symptoms of these common yet distressing conditions.

Jojoba is believed by many to do just that. The seeds contain compounds known as aliphatic alcohols and acids that exert potent anti-inflammatory effects. Test-tube studies have shown that the chemicals can decrease inflammatory compounds (including tumor necrosis factor) while decreasing the production of nitric oxide that aids in the formation of lesions.

With that said, it is unlikely that the topical application of jojoba can stem the overactive immune response that drives the diseases. Instead, it may provide topical relief, more because of its emollient properties than its anti-inflammatory effects.

Possible Side Effects

Jojoba oil and wax are considered safe for topical use. However, some people may experience an allergic reaction after using jojoba. If a rash, itching, or skin redness develops, discontinue use immediately. Severe allergic reactions to jojoba, including anaphylaxis, are considered rare.

Jojoba is intended for external use only and should never be taken by mouth. Doing so can cause severe symptoms, including stomach pain, diarrhea, body aches, restlessness, dry eyes, and extreme thirst.

Selection, Preparation, and Storage

Jojoba can be found in a wide range of cosmetic and skincare products, including makeup, shampoo, lip balm, and hand, face, and body lotions. You can also find refined and unrefined jojoba oil from any number of online retailers and aromatherapy shops. Here are some tips that can help:

  • Most naturopaths will recommend that you buy only unrefined, organic, cold-pressed virgin jojoba oil. Unrefined jojoba oil will be clear with a bright golden color and have a mild nutty scent.
  • Avoid oils that are not sold in dark amber or blue glass bottles. Jojoba oil is easily degraded by sunlight. While a one-liter plastic jug of jojoba may seem like a good bargain, it is more likely to be low-grade.
  • Don't let price alone guide your buying decision. Even some high-price brands have been known to be diluted with mineral oil or isopropyl alcohol, both of which can cause skin irritation.

When reading the product label, don't mistake "pure" for "organic." The term "pure" simply means there are no added ingredients.

Jojoba oil has a surprisingly long shelf life (up to five years). It is resistant to high temperatures and can be safely stored at room temperature. If the wax esters have been removed, it can even be kept in the refrigerator for a longer shelf life.

Jojoba plants can be purchased in certain parts of the United States, where they are appreciated as much for their ornamental value as their therapeutic properties.

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Article Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Al-Obaidi JR, Halabi MF, AlKhalifah NF, et al. A review on plant importance, biotechnological aspects, and cultivation challenges of jojoba plant. Biol Res. 2017;50:25. doi:10.1186/s40659-017-0131-x.

  2. Pazyar N, Yaghoobi R. The Potential Anti-Psoriatic Effects of Jojoba Extract. J Dermatol Res. 2016;1(1):14-15.

  3. Minckler MR, Fisher J, Bowers R, Amini R. Unusual etiology of gastrointestinal symptoms: the case of jojoba butter. Open Access Emerg Med. 2017;9:27-9. doi:10.2147/OAEM.S127273.

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