Wheat Germ Oil, botanically known as Triticum vulgare, is an amber, brownish, to amber, pale yellow, depending upon whether or not it is refined. If it is unrefined it will posses a heavily nutty scent and taste, but that is not as pronounced if it is a refined oil. This oil is cold pressed, and extracted from the germ of the wheat kernel, which, incidentally, only makes up 2 1/2% (by weight) of the kernel. The germ of a any cereal is the reproductive part, the one that germinates and grows into a plant, so it is the embryo of the seed. The oil in the wheat germ is what nourishes the plant embryo as it develops into a full grown plant.
This oil is suitable for food or cosmetic use, but only for those without wheat or gluten allergies. It is an unrefined oil, and naturally contains high amounts of vitamins A, D, and E. It also contains vitamins B1, 2, 3, 6 and even vitamin F. It is also rich in essential fatty acids, (over 96%) proteins and minerals. Because of its richness, and because of the resulting regenerative and anti-oxidant properties, wheat germ oil is another wonderful addition to your cooking and your skin-care products.
On the skin, wheat germ oil serves as an emollient and natural moisturizing factor. Natural moisturizing factors mimic the function of healthy skin. They provide lubrication to the skin's surface, while they prevent the evaporation of moisture from the skin. Wheat germ oil also helps to stabilize the skin's inter-cellular structure, which prevents any surface irritation from going deeper into the skin. It also helps to keep bacteria out of the skin and bolsters the skin's immune and healing systems. In fact, a product called the Invisible Glove only lists three active ingredients, and one of those is wheat germ oil (benzoin extract and vegetable oil are the other two ingredients). The Invisible Glove is used to protect skin against chafing, irritation and dryness, and to protect hands from solvents and detergents. Nurses, outdoor workers, military personnel and bartenders, according to the product information sheet, use it as a barrier cream, applying it like a lotion before work.
As previously discussed, essential fatty acids are needed for our overall heath, and the health of our organs (skin is the largest organ we have). They are not produced by our body, so we must get them from dietary sources. Wheat germ oil is a simple, great dietary source. It can be taken alone, drizzled on top of salads, vegetables, pasta, pesto, or many other meals, just don't heat it or you will destroy all the great properties you are trying to get!
The essential fatty acids in the wheat germ oil will provide for health of the cardiovascular, immune, nervous, and reproductive systems, as well as the general health and maintenance of cells and bodily functions. It is, though, the vitamin E present in the Wheat Germ Oil that promotes skin cell formation, and is wonderful for nourishing and rejuvenating dry, mature, dehydrated, sunburned, and damaged skin, as well as, reducing scars and stretch marks. It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects, which may be beneficial medicinally as well as in your cosmetics. In addition to those already mentioned, wheat germ oil has been shown to be effective for the treatment of; cracked skin, eczema, psoriasis, tired and overexerted muscles, poor blood circulation, high cholesterol levels, and poor lymphatic function.
Generally speaking, wheat germ oil has a shelf life of anywhere from 6 months to 18 months, depending upon how its stored, and whether or not it is refined.
Because of its high vitamin E content, which is a natural antioxidant that helps to prevent rancidity, this oil is often added to other carriers to help extend their shelf life, but on its own, wheat germ oil, especially the unrefined oil, is very sensitive and will degrade quickly when it is exposed to extremes. This means that any fluctuation in temperature, light, or oxidization (which means exposure to oxygen/air) will adversely affect this oil, therefore it is better to keep it refrigerated. Many manufacturers prevent rancidity by storing the wheat germ oil in vacuum sealed glass containers because the glass prevents oxygen from passing through it like plastic containers. So storing your oil in a dark, glass bottle, with as little air space as possible, may be the best storage technique. However, some of the refined wheat germ oil I have come across now appears to have stabilizing additives, so you will need to double-check the recommendations of your oil's manufacturer.
Remember, a good quality wheat germ oil will be viscous (thick) and fairly deep in color. The unrefined oil will also have a very noticeable taste and odor. For these reasons you will need to consider its usage amounts in your formulas. While it has great skin benefits, it is not really practicable to have a 100% wheat germ oil massage oil. But, I think that you will find that an incorporation rate of 10-15% will provide all the awesome benefits of this oil in a manageable consistency. It is recommended that you use it between 5-15% in lotions and creams, 5-10% in balms, 5-8% in hair conditioners, and 5-10% or one ounce ppo in bar soap recipes. While some of the good stuff won't survive the heat of saponification, many believe that some of it will. Given the cost of this oil though, you may wish to save it for your other cosmetic formulations. :)
One more thing about wheat germ oil, it is also a great dietary supplement for your pets! It promotes a lustrous coat, as well as healthy skin. You can simply mix a few drops of it in with the pet food. Studies have shown that dry skin and dandruff are greatly reduced in pets, and this includes livestock. Some even claim that it has helped with their animal's dry, cracked skin, eczema, and psoriasis.