The Health Benefits of Jojoba

This popular plant oil is commonly used to treat skin problems

Jojoba oils, wax, and body butter

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

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 traditional medicines, jojoba contains essential fatty acids thought to offer certain benefits when applied to the skin.

Today, jojoba is used in numerous commercial skincare, personal care, and cosmetic products. It 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 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.

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.

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. The following is a look at 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 (inflamed 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 in the mask may have contributed to the results. Clay minerals are often cited for their acne-reducing properties.

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 this benefit 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.

Skin Care

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 symptoms.

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.

Jojoba's anti-inflammatory and emollient properties are also thought to restore skin barrier function and, in turn, slow skin aging (including the onset of wrinkles), according to a 2018 review of studies in the International Journal of Molecular Science.

With that said, despite what some manufacturers claim, jojoba cannot "reverse" the skin aging process. It can, however, soften wrinkles and fine lines by dehydrating the skin and locking in moisture.

Hair Care

Jojoba is used in many hair care products, including shampoos and conditioners. Its wax-like properties are thought to be beneficial to hair hydration, which not only increases sheen but reduces breakage.

According to a 2014 study from the African Journal of Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicine, jojoba has among the highest overall moisture and crude fat content of all plant-based oils.

While these properties translate to improved hair quality, they don't appear to reduce dandruff as some might claim. Pure glycerin oil and olive oil are far better at achieving dandruff control, according to a 2020 review in the International Journal of Analytic Chemistry.

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.

Jojoba

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Selection, Preparation, and Storage

Jojoba can be found in a wide range of 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 you shop for jojoba oil:

  • Most naturopathic doctors and herbalists 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 sold in anything other than dark amber or blue glass bottles. Jojoba oil is easily degraded by sunlight, and clear/light-colored glass allows light to reach the oil more easily.
  • Buy it in small quantities. 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-priced brands have been known to be diluted with mineral oil or isopropyl alcohol, both of which can cause skin irritation. Check product labels.

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

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

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.

Other Questions

Can I make my own jojoba oil?
Yes. You can make your own jojoba oil from jojoba seeds. These can be hard to obtain from anything but mature plants, but they can be found at gardening centers or purchased online.

You need to use dried seeds, which are dark brown in color, rather than fresh green seeds. You will also need to get a seed press, which you can purchase online for as little as $15. The device works by screwing a lever that slowly crushes the seeds to extract the oil.

To make jojoba oil:

  1. Crush the dried seeds in the seed press, following the manufacturer's instructions.
  2. Allow the extracted liquid to rest in a glass. You will notice that a cloudy level (the wax) will form atop a clear layer (the oil).
  3. Carefully skim off the jojoba wax, which you can use to make a skin balm.
  4. Pour the oil into a glass container with an airtight lid, being careful to leave behind any seed pellets that will have sedimented to the bottom of the collection glass.
  5. Store in dry, cool place away from light (like a cabinet).

Jojoba oil and wax thought to have a shelf life of around three years.

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Article Sources
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