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Ingredients 101: Jojoba oil



Natural or synthetic?



Jojoba butter, hydrogenated jojoba oil, jojoba esters, hydrolyzed jojoba esters, isomerized jojoba oil, jojoba alcohol, synthetic jojoba oil

Best for?

Achieving smooth, hydrated skin for dry skin types; overall conditioning for normal and sensitive skin types; treating acne and regulating moisture balance for oily skin types – simply skin-softening in a non-greasy way. Other common uses include: hair conditioning, scalp treatment, makeup removal, massage oil, body lotion, relieving sunburns, soothing after-shave stings, and treating chapped lips.

The story

The evergreen jojoba plant is native to Sonoran and Mojave deserts in Arizona, California, and northern Mexico. Known for its effective moisturizing properties for centuries, its golden liquid extract has been used in a wide variety of personal care products. Jojoba oil also happens to be a natural emollient, the moisturizing substance that works by forming an ultra-thin velvety layer on top of skin cells to trap water, lock hydration, and prevent those upper skin layers from drying or forming wrinkles. For this reason, it’s also often used in anti-aging products.

The science

The oil of simmondsia chinensis isn’t actually an oil per se, as it’s composed of more than 97% waxy (non-fatty) esters – not the triglycerides (saturated fats) found in other traditional vegetable oils. Unlike triglycerides, which can be quickly converted into energy, the role of jojoba esters in nature primarily involves moisture control, photo-protection, and general emolliency. These straight, long-chain acids and alcohols are so high in their molecular weight, they’re far less easily oxidized and readily hydrolyzed as storage fats are. This super stable chemistry, and the fact that it’s odorless (fragrance-free), make jojoba esters a cosmetic heavyweight, as it’s often added to other oils to extend shelf life. When applied on skin, jojoba’s molecular weightiness also prevents the esters from penetrating so deep that they start circulating throughout the bloodstream, although being unsaturated, the liquid wax absorbs rapidly into the intercellular spaces of the skin and remain there to support the healing and moisturizing functions of the sebum.

Its unique waxy composition makes jojoba oil the closest “oil” of all to that of the natural human sebum, which is composed of up to 30% waxy esters. Thus, jojoba wax (and its naturally-occuring vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants) is readily miscible with sebum, thereby increasing skin elasticity by 37% within just 30 minutes of application1. The most cited nutritive qualities of jojoba include its tocopherols, or better known as vitamin E, phytosterols (the cholesterols of nature), which also boost skin metabolism and enhance skin integrity, and ferulic acid, the skin’s BFF when it comes to UV protection. Consistently applying jojoba oil allows skin cells to mimic the optimal moisture levels of the emollient, increasing the skin’s water-binding capacity over time as well as enhancing the flexibility and suppleness of the skin.


There are rare reports2 of mild to moderate contact dermatitis when applied on skin, but because of its similar chemistry to the human sebum, your skin normally won’t overdo it. It’s also often advised not to ingest jojoba oil orally due to its potential toxicity.

Is it safe?

Generally safe34, as jojoba oil is highly stable compared to other vegetable oils, although castor oil and coconut oil are still higher in terms of oxidative stability. This means it won’t go rancid as quickly as other oils do when exposed to oxygen. Also, studies concluded no form of degradation even when jojoba oil is kept in extreme temperatures, making it an ideal mainstay for your long-term skincare regimen.




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  1. The Wonders of Jojoba [Household and Personal Products Industry] []
  2. Contact dermatitis from jojoba oil and myristyl lactacte/maleated soybean oil. [Contact Dermatitis] []
  3. Final Report of the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel: Safety Assessment of Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Wax, Hydrogenated Jojoba Oil, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Isomerized Jojoba Oil, Jojoba Esters, Simmondsia Chinensis Butter, Jojoba Alcohol, and Synthetic Jojoba Oil [Cosmetic Ingredient Review] []
  4. 5 Final Reports on the Safety Assessment of Jojoba Oil and Jojoba Wax [International journal of Toxicology] []
  5. See the complete ingredients of this product on my Japan beauty buys post. []
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