Jojoba oil is a liquid wax extracted from the nut of an indigenous American shrub that goes by the scientific name Simmondsia chinensis, a misnomer as the plant has nothing to do with China. The shrubby tree still grows wild in the United States, mainly in the arid regions of the Southwestern states.
The Jojoba nut has been used by the Native American tribes from time immemorial, its common name coming from ‘Hohowi’, the O’odham name for the nut. They used a paste of the nut for skin and hair care, and the whole nuts as survival food in emergencies.
Wildlife also have their fill of both the leaves and the nuts which also go by common names like deer nut, goat nut, pignut etc., but the wax that constitutes nearly 50% of the nut is generally indigestible. It passes unchanged through the digestive tract of mammals, including humans, making this edible oil an effective laxative.
Jojoba oil is unique in that, unlike most other vegetable oils, it closely resembles sebum, a waxy substance produced by our skin glands, so it can act as a natural skin conditioner. It has nearly replaced animal fats in the manufacture of skin lotions and creams. As a matter of fact, this oil rode into popularity on the back of the opposition to whale oil which was the traditional base of many cosmetic preparations earlier.
Jojoba oil has a slight nutty smell and clear golden color in the raw form, but the refined oil is completely odorless, negating the need for any perfuming agents when used for cosmetic and healing purposes. At the same time, it is a good carrier oil for several essential oils.
Since the Jojoba wax has a very low melting point, it practically remains in the liquid state all the time, and can be used directly without dilution. Also, being a wax, it does not have as much of a greasy feel as oils.
Soaps and most other skin cleaning agents strip the skin of the sebum that skin glands produce to lubricate the skin and protect it from drying out. Every time we wash our face and hands, even with plain water, we’re removing a protective layer of sebum along with dust and grime. The cold and dry air in winter and air-conditioned interiors dry out our skin at a faster rate than our skin glands replenish the oil supply.
Dehydrated skin is vulnerable to irritants that cause dermatitis and germs that are constantly looking for entry points into the skin. Keeping your skin hydrated by locking in the moisture and protecting it from the drying effects of the environment constitute basic skin care.
Being a waxy substance, Jojoba oil can seal in the moisture and create an effective barrier to external elements. It is so structurally close to the secretion of the sebaceous glands in the skin that it is readily accepted and tolerated.
You can rub a few drops of Jojoba oil between your palms and apply it on the face and other exposed parts whenever you venture out and after washing your face every time. For a deeper moisturizing effect, warm up a spoonful of Jojoba oil and massage it in after washing the face at bedtime and leave it on overnight. Pure Jojoba oil is fully absorbed into the skin, leaving it feeling soft and smooth.
To control oily skin
Oily skin is the result of overactive sebaceous glands in the skin, found more often on the face and the scalp. Oily skin can quickly gather dust from the environment and make frequent washing necessary. Not only does it look unsightly and make you feel uncomfortable, it can be the starting point of many skin problems such as seborrheic dermatitis, acne, and dandruff.
If you’re troubled by oily scalp or trying hard to mask your shiny forehead and nose under layers of makeup, rubbing in Jojoba oil on the affected parts will give wonderful results. It is counterintuitive to use this oil, or any oil for that matter, on oily skin, but surprisingly Jojoba oil can help reduce oiliness. This is by modulating the sebum production.
When the skin remains well hydrated by the protective layer of the liquid wax, the sebaceous glands respond to it by down regulating sebum production. Jojoba oil has an anti-inflammatory effect that can counter seborrheic dermatitis too. Be sure to use pure oil, since additives can produce the opposite effect
For acne control
Acne is a common adolescent problem resulting from the increased sebaceous gland activity during this phase due to the hormonal changes associated with puberty. However, the problem can persist well into adulthood in many cases.
Excess sebum production is just the starting point of the problem. Acne develops when the hair follicles get blocked by the accumulation of sebum, keratin and other cell debris that form a comedone that may first appear as a whitehead or blackhead. It is often complicated by bacterial infections, particularly by Propionibacterium, as well as inflammatory reactions of the skin.
Jojoba oil works in several ways to counteract acne formation. First, it acts as a deep cleanser. Being a liquid, it can penetrate deep into the hair follicle; it can dissolve the sebum deposits and help dislodge the comedone, thus clearing out the blockage.
Secondly, Jojoba oil has antibacterial properties that help control bacterial growth in the hair follicle. It acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, soothing the irritated skin. When used regularly, Jojoba oil can control acne. The Vitamins A and E in the oil also may have a role in this. Jojoba oil can very well be a safer, all-American alternative to the Australian Tea Tree oil which is known to have some toxic effects at higher concentrations.
For chapped lips
Jojoba oil can take the place of your regular lip balm which probably has a petroleum jelly base. The waxy oil can form a barrier that effectively locks the moisture in and keeps the lips soft and supple. Although dabbing on a drop of Jojoba oil can protect your lips from the drying effects of cold and wind, you can make your own easy-to-carry, lip balm by mixing it with pure beeswax.
You need equal quantities of Jojoba oil and pure beeswax. To make a small quantity, melt 2 teaspoons of beeswax over a double boiler and add 2 teaspoons of Jojoba oil. Mix well and take it off the heat. You can add natural flavors by mixing in a few drops of peppermint or rose essential oil. Allow to cool in a small glass container. If you want to keep it completely vegan, you can mix 1 teaspoon of Jojoba oil with 2 teaspoons of coconut oil, which keeps it in a semisolid form at temperatures lower than 750F
For dry cuticles
Cuticles are very tender and prone to drying up, especially if you use nail polish removers all too often. Cuticles play an important role in protecting the nail beds underneath from infections, so it pays to keep them in good condition. When your cuticles look dry and torn, Jojoba oil can come to your aid. It is as good as any cuticle oil you can find, if not better.
Jojoba oil contains vitamin E, and also has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties to boot. Rub one or two drops into the cuticle area after bath. Once a week, give a thorough cuticle treatment by soaking the nails in warm water for 5-10 minutes before applying the oil. This facilitates better absorption.
For cracked feet and dry hands
Our hands and feet are among the most hard-working body parts. But the palms of the hand and the soles of the feet do not have the sebaceous glands that keep the skin elsewhere in the body soft and supple. Dry weather can take its toll on these extremities and dry them out. Cracked feet are common in winter and also in hot summer months. Aging, diabetes, and thyroid disorders predispose people to dry hands and feet. Frequent washing with soap and other chemical cleaners, especially during the flu season, also results in dry hands.
Applying Jojoba oil to the hands and feet can make them soft and smooth. To get the maximum moisturizing effect, soak the hands and feet in warm water for 5 to 10 minutes and dry them with a towel before massaging in the oil. It will form a thin waxy layer that keeps the moisture in and gives a smooth feel to the skin. If there are hardened areas, you can gently rub them down with a pumice stone before drying the feet. Regular application can prevent bacterial infections developing in the cracks and help heal them gradually.
For eczema and psoriasis
Eczema is an allergic reaction of the skin to various irritants, including commonly used dyes and the chemicals contained in soaps. Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes buildups of dead cells on the skin, causing scaling and inflammation. Both conditions are characterized by dry, itchy patches that are prone to secondary bacterial and fungal infections. Jojoba oil has been found to be effective in giving considerable relief to people with these conditions.
Jojoba oil acts as moisturizer, relieving itching and dryness. It also forms a protective layer over the skin, forming a barrier to external irritants, which can be an advantage in the case of eczema. The skin inflammation is reduced by the anti-inflammatory property of the oil.
It can also reduce the risk of secondary infections by preventing the entry of germs through the inflamed and cracked skin, besides offering extra protection with its antibacterial and antifungal properties. And last, but not the least, the oil is rich in antioxidants that may help modify the immune system.