Did you know that jojoba oil is not actually an oil, but a liquid wax pressed from the jojoba seed? Our Organic Jojoba Oil is wonderful because it closely mimics the natural composition of sebum in human skin, making it a no-brainer for use in skincare (although we love it in haircare too!). We’re fascinated with the jojoba plant - we'll take you through the history of jojoba, tell you about the plant itself, review its composition, and teach you how we like to use it. You’ll be a jojoba expert in no time!
Jojoba oil is a recent skincare discovery
Jojoba oil seems ubiquitous today but its use in cosmetics actually wasn’t fully commercialized until the 1960s. Valerie’s mentor was the first cosmetic chemist to use jojoba oil in a commercial product - it’s hard to imagine just a generation ago it wasn’t widely available for use!
Jojoba oil - while relatively new to us in our beauty products - has been used by Native Americans for centuries. Some tribes used jojoba oil topically for wound healing, while others used it to treat stomach aches and pains. Of course, jojoba oil has incredible renown today as a topical for beautification. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, jojoba oil’s chemical properties were widely studied to understand what gives it its healing properties.
It was discovered that jojoba oil is actually a liquid wax, and has a near-identical composition to human sebum - the natural oils that your skin produces - as well as a nearly identical composition to sperm whale oil. The popularity of jojoba oil rapidly rose in the 1970s as activists pushed to abandon sperm whale killing for its blubber, as jojoba oil is a nearly-identical replacement. Jojoba oil has so many incredible properties for skin moisturization and health, and it’s also incredibly versatile in your cosmetic formulations.
Where does it come from?
Jojoba oil comes from the jojoba shrub. It is small and wiry in stature, however, it’s very different from other shrubs in that it doesn’t have a short lifespan. It actually has the lifespan of a large tree, living between 100 - 200 years. Native to the Sonoran desert in Arizona, all the way down through Baja California, it grows naturally in well-drained and coarse desert soils. There are small genetic differences between plants by geography as moisture levels and the heat of summer vary slightly, but they’re pretty similar otherwise.
It’s no secret the desert is a tough place to live. Jojoba can tolerate the harsh desert sun and withstand the extreme temperatures of hot and cold within a single day that one experiences in the desert. Jojoba thrives best in the winter when any precipitation goes deep into the soil and the temperature is more moderate. This is why jojoba oil is known as a desert adaptogen.
The jojoba seed is very generous - one seed can yield 45-50% oil by weight. That means if a seed weighs 10 grams, 4.5 - 5 grams of oil can be extracted from it. Jojoba was historically wild-harvested, so many factors played into how much oil could be extracted for use. This made collection of the seeds and commercialization of the oil challenging. A more efficient, sustainable method was needed to meet growing interest and demand. Research of jojoba cultivation and farming started in the late 1950s, which explains why it only became commercially available for use in formulas in the 1960s. Jojoba oil today is obtained through farming on marginal land, allowing more consistent oil yield - we don’t have to worry about finding the shrubs in the wild, seasons or natural blight. Additionally, marginal land is land that isn’t suitable for food agriculture or housing. If it can grow in the desert, why take up precious space?
Jojoba oil is not an oil
That’s right - it is a liquid, but not a liquid oil. It’s a liquid wax. Plant oils are primarily triglycerides with free fatty acids, sterols, vitamins and other compounds. Jojoba oil doesn’t contain triglycerides, but rather esters of varying carbon fatty acid lengths. Oleic acid is the most predominant.
Jojoba oil has a significant Vitamin E content in the form of tocopherols. Vitamin E is important in oils because it’s an antioxidant, and protects the oil from becoming rancid. Since jojoba oil has a high quantity of naturally-occurring tocopherols (specifically, gamma-tocopherol), it makes jojoba oil very stable!
One of the smaller components of jojoba oil are sterols. Sterols are important topically on skin because they help maintain the skin barrier by helping the skin retain moisture. They also have anti-inflammatory properties. Jojoba oil also contains a small concentration of flavonoids, primarily quercetin.
Why use it in skincare?
Jojoba oil is incredibly versatile in skincare. Because it has a similar composition to human sebum, it doesn’t leave skin feeling greasy or oily. It’s also non-occlusive with an excellent non-comedogenic ranking of 2. It’s friendly for both people with dry skin and acne. Jojoba oil works well as an emollient, leaving an excellent skin feel behind.
Jojoba oil has been clinically studied to reduce transepidermal water loss and improve moisturization of the outermost layer of skin, the stratum corneum. This miracle oil has also been linked to be beneficial in eczema management,
Since jojoba oil is a liquid wax with really long carbon chains, it can also provide structure or hardness to balm or stick formulas when used in conjunction with butters. A good experiment is to take a balm recipe and swap out 2-3% of a liquid oil for jojoba oil. Does the hardness change?
You can also use Organic Jojoba Oil neat and pure - this means you can use it straight up! My favorite thing to use jojoba oil for is a nightly Gua Sha routine. Jojoba oil has the perfect glide!
Can you use jojoba oil in hair care?
Yes! This is actually one of our favorite product types to use it in! Jojoba oil has many hair benefits, including:
- Lubricates hair to reduce breakage
- Leaves hair feeling soft and supple
- Makes hair glossy and shiny
We like to use 2-10% Organic Jojoba Oil in our hair care formulations. Don’t formulate your own hair products but still want the powers of Organic Jojoba Oil? No problem - keep a dropper bottle in the shower and add a squirt on top of your conditioner in the palm of your hand. Mix it together and apply. Let it soak a few extra minutes on your hair. It’s wonderful!
What do we love most about our Organic Jojoba Oil?
We know where it comes from! Our Organic Jojoba Oil is sourced from Arizona, where the 100% hydroelectric-powered farm not only grows the trees, but they process the seeds as well. Everything is traceable through one place.