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At this point, there's no shortage of skin-care oils out there, and they're found in all kinds of products. But here's the thing: Not all oils are created equal, particularly as it pertains to those you're slathering all over your face. And while every facial oil has its own unique set of benefits (see: How to Find the Perfect Face Oil for Your Skin) there's one that takes the cake when it comes to doing good things specifically for the skin on your face—jojoba oil.
Here's everything you need to know about this skin-care superstar (and FYI, it's pronounced 'ho-ho-ba.')
It's Actually Not an Oil
OK, yes, that's a little confusing we know, but stay with us here. Without getting into an overly complicated chemistry lesson, other oils—including many used in skin care such as coconut, avocado, and grapeseed—are triglycerides. Jojoba "oil" is actually a wax ester. Why does this matter? One, it's notably lighter and less greasy, which is part of the reason why it's so good for your skin (more on that in a minute). It's also more stable; while other oils can quickly go rancid, jojoba oil (we'll keep calling it oil to keep things simple), has an extra long shelf-life.
It's the Closest Thing to Your Skin's Natural Oil
So what is a wax ester anyway? Well, they're a main component of the sebum (oil) your skin naturally produces, which makes jojoba oil the closest thing out there to your skin's own oil. The technical term for this is 'biomimetic,' meaning it acts and functions like the sebum already in your skin.
"The wonderful thing about jojoba oil is that it balances the oil in the skin, rather than adding oil to it," explains Jennifer T. Haley, M.D., a dermatologist practicing in Scottsdale, AZ and Park City, UT. "This makes it beneficial for all skin types since it won't clog pores or cause acne. It adds moisture where it's needed, but can also help reduce excess oil production." (Related: These 7 Products Will Fade Your Acne Scars In Record Time)
It's Great to Use If Your Skin Is Sensitive
Not only is it a good pick for acne-prone skin, but it's also a top choice for anyone whose skin is easily irritated, too. Not only do you get those anti-inflammatory benefits, but, "jojoba oil is considered hypoallergenic, which means we don't really see many people who react poorly to it," points out Dr. Haley. "Most reactions stem from some kind of additives in the oil, so if you purchase 100 percent organic jojoba oil, chances are you won't have a problem."
It Does More Than Just Hydrate
Like any oil, it's great for moisturization (without any greasy after-feel). But the benefits don't stop there. Jojoba oil comes from the nut-like seeds of the jojoba plant, native to Arizona, and Native Americans have been using it as far back as the 1400s for its wound healing properties. "It's loaded with antioxidants and vitamin E, which can help reduce inflammation and enhance wound healing," says Dr. Haley. "It also has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties." It also pulls double-duty as a great makeup remover and is even safe to use around your eyes. (Related: The Best Makeup Removers That Actually Work and Leave No Greasy Residue)
You Can Use It In Your Hair, Too
Jojoba oil works just as well on hair as it does on skin. Dr. Haley suggests adding a few drops into your conditioner or working it through the ends of damp hair. It can also serve as an effective dandruff treatment, she says. "Apply it to your scalp overnight, then wash off in the morning to help lift off unwanted scaly skin." (Related: How to Actually Use Coconut Oil for Better Hair)
It Plays Nicely with Other Ingredients
Take a look at any of the beauty products in your stash and odds are good that you'll see something that contains jojoba oil (it may also be listed as 'simmondsia chinensis', its botanical name). It interacts well with other skin-care ingredients, has that extended shelf-life, and can be processed differently to be used in any number of different types of products. In oil form, it's often added to creams and serums. In a more solid wax form, it can be used in mascara and lipstick. It can even be turned into jojoba beads, excellent (and commonly-used) exfoliants that gently buff off dead skin cells, without having the negative environmental impact that synthetic microbeads do.
Ready to work jojoba oil into your daily beauty routine? Start with any (or all) of these five products.
1. Desert Essence Organic Jojoba Oil
Purists will appreciate this straight-up version of 100 percent organic jojoba oil, which can be used any number of ways. (Buy It, $14, jet.com)
2. Ogee Jojoba Glow Face Oil
Apply one dropper of this oil all over your face, twice daily. It moisturizes, replenishes damaged skin, and enhances radiance, thanks to a base of organic jojoba oil, paired with five essential floral oils. (
3. One Love Organics Skin Savior Multi-Tasking Wonder Balm
Use a scoop of this jojoba and coconut oil rich balm to take off makeup, hydrate dry spots from head to toe, and/or mix it with any mineral powder foundation to create a creamy makeup-skincare treatment hybrid. (Buy It, $49, dermstore.com)
4. The Jojoba Company Jojoba Lip Balm
Jojoba is the star of the show in this vegan formula; coupled with other natural oils and waxes, it makes for an intensely hydrating balm that will soothe even the most chapped and dry lips. (Buy It, $10, thejojobacompany.com.au)
5. Cantu Tea Tree & Jojoba Hair & Scalp Oil
Use some of this conditioning oil as a hydrator for your scalp, or work throughout the lengths of either wet or dry hair to add back moisture and shine. (Buy It, $11, target.com)