Natural Skin Care: Jojoba Oil

Jojoba (pronounced ho-HO-ba) is a botanical or plant-based oil that is obtained from the seeds of the jojoba plant Simmondsia chinensis. Jojoba is a woody shrub native to the semi-arid desert regions of Arizona, California, Mexico, Argentina, and Israel.

In the United States, Native Americans were the first to use jojoba for skin care. Jojoba is obtained by heating the seeds, which then secrete an oily substance. Jojoba wax or oil makes up approximately 50% of the seed's dry weight. The seeds contain a toxic substance and should not be ingested; however, the oil itself is non-toxic making it safe to apply to the skin or use in cooking.

Chemically speaking, jojoba is not an oil but a wax that is liquid at room temperature, similar to olive or almond oil. If you place any of these oils in the refrigerator they will harden into a semi-solid state. Jojoba is lighter than olive oil and is more stable than many other oils including olive, almond, and flax seed. It does not turn rancid with exposure to air and does not need to be refrigerated the way almond oil does.

The chemistry of jojoba oil is quite similar to that of the natural oils or sebum produced by our skin, which is one of the reasons it is easily absorbed into the skin. Prior to the demise of whale hunting, spermaceti, a wax (oil) obtained from Sperm whales was used as an ingredient in cosmetics and skin care products. Jojoba rocketed into the spotlight in the 1970s, when it was discovered to be the botanical equivalent of spermaceti.

Jojoba is used as an ingredient in moisturizers, lotions, shampoos, as well as lipstick and other cosmetics. 100% pure jojoba oil is also excellent to use alone as a moisturizer for dry skin because it is non-greasy, easily absorbed, forms a barrier on the skin to protect it, and it does not clog pores. It helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles caused by sun damage through its moisturizing properties, but unfortunately it is not a miracle cure.

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