Let’s give a round of applause for Mother Nature. In our never-ending quest to find the best natural products to help with our skin care and hair goals, jojoba (pronounced “huh-how-buh”) oil rates pretty close to the top.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
So, what’s jojoba oil good for?
Made by using the nut from the jojoba plant, a perennial that grows in North America, jojoba oil has been touted for its ability to moisturize skin and fight fine lines. In fact, it has antibacterial and antioxidant properties and is full of vitamin E and other essential vitamins and minerals. It can also help soothe a sunburn and double as a makeup remover or cuticle oil. And it can be a great leave-conditioner for your hair.
Is there anything this ingredient can’t do?
Dermatologist Alok Vij, MD, explains what makes jojoba oil such a stellar ingredient and how he recommends using jojoba oil for hair care and skin care.
What is jojoba oil?
Let’s go back to jojoba oil’s roots — literally.
“It’s an oil that comes from an evergreen plant, which has exceptionally long-chain fatty acids,” explains Dr. Vij. “That’s pretty unique in the plant oil or the vegetable oil world. It’s very close in composition to your skin’s normal sebum, or the normal oil secreted by your skin.”
This unique mix of fatty acids include oleic acid (found in olive oil) and arachidonic acid (known for aiding in the growth and repair of muscle tissue).
“Your skin’s oil can be made up of short-chain fatty acids and long-chain fatty acids,” Dr. Vij further explains. “Jojoba oil has such a diverse spectrum of fatty acids, that all those different molecules work in synergy in tandem together to help hold on to water in your skin to prevent water loss.”
Or here’s another way to think about: “Think about short-chain fatty acids as tiny blocks of Legos™ that would do a great job of blocking certain molecules from going through. And then, long-chain fatty acids act as bigger building blocks that are broad and thick and act like a good barrier.”
Skin and hair benefits of jojoba oil
Dr. Vij outlines how to use jojoba oil for skin and hair benefits:
It’s rich in vitamins and minerals
Jojoba oil is made up of vitamin E, vitamin B complex, copper and zinc. And if you’re looking for an anti-inflammatory ingredient, jojoba oil also fits the bill.
“Copper and zinc are two very common elements that are uniquely woven to the proteins that our body uses,” Dr. Vij notes. “Especially when it comes to wound healing or collagen formation, copper and zinc are essential to skin function.”
Jojoba oil has a high amount of antioxidants, which help fight inflammation, free radicals and oxidative stress.
“The elements in jojoba oil are helpful with the normal processes of your skin and have been shown to accelerate healing and combat inflammation,” Dr. Vij adds. “It can also help with eczema, psoriasis and sunburns.”
It’s good for acne-prone skin
As jojoba oil is very close to your skin’s sebum, it can be a good option to help cut down on inflammation.
“When you use jojoba oil on your skin, it’s not going to overhydrate, make your skin too oily or block your pores,” clarifies Dr. Vij. “It can get into your hair follicles or your sebaceous glands and deliver some of those anti-inflammatory molecules deeper down to the pores, which can help to cut down on acne.”
It may improve fine lines
It all comes back to collagen — collagen is one of the important building blocks of our skin. And over time, our collagen production slows down. This can lead to fine lines and wrinkles and a loss of elasticity and hydration that can make you look older.
There are several skin care ingredients like retinoid and vitamin A that can boost collagen production. While jojoba oil can boost collagen, it can also combat fine lines and wrinkles thanks to vitamin E, which can improve elasticity and hydration.
“Scars are typically made up of a different type of collagen that’s stimulated in response to wounds,” says Dr. Vij. “Jojoba oil can increase collagen formation, which is an important building block of skin.”
It can help relieve sunburns
Thanks to vitamin E and antioxidants, it makes sense then that jojoba oil can be a good option to soothe sunburned skin.
“Research shows that jojoba oil can accelerate wound closure. It helps to stimulate collagen synthesis in fibroblast cells and helps with wound healing,” Dr. Vij shares. “And a sunburn is basically just a very superficial wound that’s caused by harmful rays from the sun.”
He adds that you can mix a few drops of jojoba oil into your body lotion and apply after sun exposure to help with healing and recovery.
It can strengthen hair
Is jojoba oil good for hair? If you have weak, brittle or dry hair or notice a lot of split ends, try using jojoba oil for your hair as a leave-in conditioner.
“Those long-chain fatty acids help to hold moisture in your hair, making strands appear thicker, less fine, less brittle,” explains Dr. Vij.
In addition to those long-chain fatty acids, copper and zinc are really important for hair growth and hair synthesis.
“We commonly see in people who have nutritional deficiencies, and especially in people who are postpartum and breastfeeding that they become deficient in zinc,” notes Dr. Vij. “And that’s one thing that can perpetuate or prolong hair shedding or hair thinning after birth.”
It’s a beauty workhorse
Jojoba oil is not only a good moisturizer, but it can also double as a cuticle oil and makeup remover.
“It’s that mix of both short-chain fatty acids, as well as long-chain fatty acids that’s going to help to strip away any oil soluble impurities from your skin when you use it as a makeup remover,” Dr. Vij states.
And why is it a good option for a cuticle oil?
“Jojoba oil works by not only blocking water loss from your skin, but it also helps to grab onto water from the environment and bring it into your skin,” he adds. “It’s both a humectant and emollient.”
Tips for using jojoba oil
You can find skin care and hair products that contain jojoba oil as part of their ingredient list, but you can also use jojoba oil on its own.
“You don’t need to dilute it — it can be used full-strength,” instructs Dr. Vij. “While you can use it as a carrier oil for other oils, it can also be used on its own.”
And the texture of jojoba oil may be a little surprising the first time you use it.
“It’s a little bit closer to the texture of wax — and it’s technically classified as a wax and isn’t necessarily an oil,” he explains. “It’s going to have a thicker feel to it compared to a lot of the cosmetic products that you’re using.”
Because of that, Dr. Vij recommends using jojoba oil at night when it comes to your skin care routine.
“I would use it after other products like toners, serums or other medicated creams,” he says. “Use it as the last layer of moisture.”
Wondering how to use jojoba oil for hair care? Dr. Vij suggests applying the oil directly to your roots and then working it through the rest of your hair, doing your best to keep it off your scalp.
“Many hair oils can sit on the scalp and encourage the growth of bacteria and may spark inflammation,” he further explains. “Try to apply the jojoba oil to the root of your hair and then work it through toward the ends of your hair using a wide-tooth comb”
If you have seborrheic dermatitis or psoriasis, Dr. Vij says jojoba oil should be OK to try.
“But with any inflammatory disease, acne, rosacea, psoriasis or eczema, it’s always important to try new ingredients in small quantities over a limited area of skin before you just slather it on all over,” he cautions.
Possible side effects of jojoba oil
When it comes to using jojoba oil, Dr. Vij says there aren’t many side effects.
“Overall, there’s a very low risk of allergies,” he notes. “The reports of allergies when using jojoba oil are very uncommon. And so overall, it’s pretty safe.”
That said, as Dr. Vij explained earlier, if you have a skin condition, it may be best to do a patch-test first to see how your skin and body reacts. If you’re having an allergic reaction, you may notice hives and itching.
But jojoba oil benefits are vast, so if you’re looking for a natural ingredient that works to address many skin and hair concerns, it may be time to give this powerhouse oil a try.