Teaching Tuesdays - Exotic Oils Cont.- Jojoba Oil

We are continuing with exotic oils, and today is all about jojoba oil, botanically known as Simmondsia chinensis, which is not really an oil at all, but a wax. Pronounced ho-ho-ba, this oil has been used  for centuries. Nicknamed Goat Nut, the jojoba is a member if the box family of shrubs, and can grow to be seven feet tall. It is a deep golden color, and has a mild scent. It is suspected that the Native American Indians of our Southwest not only used the extracted  oil from the seeds of the [desert] jojoba shrub for wound treatments and hair and skin moisturizers, but as a food source as well.

The jojoba shrub grows in desert like, arid climates throughout the world, although it is native to North America. Its seeds are crushed to extract the odorless, hypo-allergenic, stable, natural oil that we call jojoba. Jojoba actually is used to refer to both the plant and the extract. The oil from the seeds is unique, in that it is not really an oil, but rather a pure liquid ester.  The difference between an oil and an ester is small, yet quite large when speaking of properties. Vegetable oils have several alcohol groups on their molecules, and some have forked molecules, which will eventually oxidize, becoming rancid. Jojoba though, has only one alcohol group, and it is a straight chain molecule, therefore it isn't subject to oxidizing, and, in fact it is an anti-oxidant, so it will not turn rancid. It can, however, be affected adversely by sunlight, so it needs to be kept in brown glass bottles, in the dark, or in closed metal cans.

Sebaceous glands are microscopic glands in the skin which secrete sebum, an oily, waxy matter, which lubricates the skin and the hair of mammals, keeping them soft and moistIn humans, these glands are primarily found on the face and the scalp, but are present, to some degree, throughout the skin, except for that on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. 

Jojoba oil is unique for a couple of reasons. First of all, jojoba oil is chemically almost identical to spermaceti (sperm) oil, the pure ester found in the head of the sperm whale. Up until it became restricted, this oil was prized, and frequently used in high temperature lubrication, cosmetics and as car transmission lubricants. Jojoba makes the perfect substitution for this oil, and, as such, effectively helps to save the whales. 

Secondly, jojoba oil closely matches the molecular structure of human sebum, therefore it can easily and quickly penetrate the skin and the scalp, without leaving an oily residue. Additionally, as it mimics the actions of human sebum, it softens, lubricates, and protects the skin and scalp in much the same way that our natural sebum does. Its soothing properties are known to stop many skin issues and to offer protection from premature wrinkling of the skin, as well as premature aging caused by exposure to ultra violet radiation. It is a non-occlusive oil, sinking into the skin and hair follicles, offering extra moisturization. It is considered an excellent emollient, but it is called a "dry emollient", meaning that it should not be used at rates greater than 25% in skin or hair care, as it may feel too dry at a higher level. Because it will not evaporate like a water-soluble moisturizers, jojoba oil will provide moisturizing all day long.  Because of its closeness to the skins' sebum, it makes an excellent oil for treating conditions like psoriasis and acne, and is good for all skin types, especially sensitive and oily skin. It helps to unclog the skins' pores, remove embedded grime, and it also restores and conditions hair. 

When used directly on the face for routine care, you should use amounts lower than 10 drops. Higher amounts, those over 10 drops, can lend a shine to the skin. With this in mind, you may want to be more conservative with it during the day, say 6 drops at a time, which should actually balance oil production and reduce shine at the same time. Then, at night, before bed, you can apply a higher rate for better, deeper moisturizing, without worrying about shine.

Most manufacturers say that jojoba oil has a two-three year shelf life, but this can be well surpassed if it is stored out of sunlight. It does not become rancid 
or loose its antioxidants, even after long periods of storage. It can, however,  become cloudy and solidify as the temperature drops. But this is a normal process that occurs because of the hardening of the fats and waxes, and it will become stable when it gets to be room temperature, or close to it. 

*Check the References tab at the top of the page for the bibliography and references for this post.

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