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Jojoba Oil for Acne

Jojoba oil is the most important oil used in acne treatment.
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The most prominent features of acne are comedones such as blackheads and whiteheads as well as papules, pustules and scaly, red marks on the skin. In severe acne, there are also inflammatory features which may develop into nodules and cysts.

Acne is a common skin condition in young people. It is usually brought on by the hormonal changes experienced at the onset of puberty. Androgens such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone are particularly implicated in the development of acne.

These male hormone and its metabolites change the nature of the sebaceous follicles and cause the clogging of the skin pores by plugs made of dead skin cells, bacteria and sebum.

Increased production of sebum is one of the major causes of acne. Together with excessive production of keratin, the nature of the skin is markedly transformed. These two factors largely determine the severity of acne.

Another major cause of acne is the bacterium, Propionibacterium acnes. This microorganism has different strains some of which are helpful and some of which encourage the development of acne.

Therefore, an effective acne remedy can do any number of the following: kill off the bacteria responsible for acne, normalize the production of sebum and keratin, inhibit the effects of the androgens or reduce the inflammation associated with acne.

Jojoba Oil or Jojoba Wax?

Jojoba oil is obtained from the seeds of jojoba plant (Simmondsia chinensis). Half of the weight of the seed is due to the oil contained in it.

Jojoba oil became popular as a replacement for whale oil when its importation into the US was banned. This oil is colorless and odorless after refining but it is a clear, golden liquid with fatty odor in its pure form.

Jojoba oil is a very stable and has a longer shelf-life than most vegetable oils. The only common oils more stable than jojoba oil are castor oil and coconut oil. Its stability is attributed to its zero triglyceride content.

Therefore, jojoba oil takes longer to go rancid since it is resistant to oxidation when exposed to air. It can also be used in preparing foods although it provides no caloric value and it is not digestible.

Because the melting point of jojoba oil is 10 degrees Celsius, it occurs as a liquid at room temperature. However, it is really a wax. More accurately, jojoba oil is actually a mixture of long chain, monounsaturated, liquid wax esters. Therefore, it is technically not an oil.

Key Properties of Jojoba Oil

Jojoba oil is commonly used in cosmetic products for its unique properties. It has been found to be superior to whale oil in the formulation of skin and hair products. Below are some of the properties that make jojoba oil useful for cosmetic use and acne treatment.

It is similar to human sebum

The composition of jojoba oil closely resembles that of sebum produced by the sebaceous glands of the skin. Both are waxes composed of monounsaturated esters. Therefore, jojoba oil can substitute for human sebum.

It has antioxidant properties

Jojoba oil contains a number of compounds with antioxidant properties and it is able to protect the skin and hair from the harmful effect of reactive free radicals. Some of the antioxidant compounds found in jojoba oil are tocopherols (Vitamin E compounds) which contribute to skin health.

It is an antibacterial agent

Jojoba oil is effective against a wide range of bacteria including Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermis and Propionibacterium acnes. The last two bacteria are known to cause or contribute to the development of acne. The oil is also an effective fungicide and can be used to kill off the fungus, Candida albicans.

It is safe and non-toxic

Jojoba oil is not only non-toxic, it is also non-allergenic.  It does not leave a greasy residue on skins and does not clog pores. Therefore, it does not worsen the symptoms of acnes and does not contribute to the formation of comedones such as blackheads and whiteheads.

Jojoba Oil and Acne

It seems paradoxical that an oil should be used in the treatment of acne since oiliness should compound the clogging of the skin pores. However, jojoba oil is not an oil but rather a wax ester.

Furthermore, it produces a paradoxical effect on skin because of its similarity to sebum. When jojoba oil is used to treat acne, it tricks the skin into assuming the amount of sebum produced is already high. Therefore, a feedback mechanism cuts off the production of more sebum.

As sebum production falls, the symptoms of acne clear off and the skin becomes significantly less oily.

Jojoba oil also provides a deep cleansing action of the skin. It clears clogged pores by pushing out the pus formed from bacteria, dead skin cells and sebum. This is observed as increased popping of comedones at the beginning of acne treatment with jojoba oil.

The soothing effect that jojoba oil leaves on the skin can also help relieve the itchy, inflamed redness caused by acne.

Lastly, jojoba oil acts as an antibacterial agent and is effective against Propionibacterium acnes, the chief bacterium responsible for acne formation. The oil is also effective against fungal infections whose symptoms closely resemble those of acne.

Using Jojoba Oil to Treat Acne

The following steps will help you apply jojoba oil to the skin to get the best benefits in treating acne.

  • Wash the area affected by the acne with a gentle cleanser. This will prepare the skin by clearing clogged pores
  • Allow the excess moisture to dry from your skin before applying jojoba oil. Dip a cotton swab into the jojoba oil and apply to the affected area by dabbing. Do not scrub so that the acne will not get inflamed
  • Repeat 3 times a day and for a few weeks. Do not stop when the comedones break out. This is only the “purging period” during which the oil drives out pus from the skin

Sometimes, jojoba oil is combined with tea tree oil for a more effective treatment. To mix both oils, take 1 teaspoonful of jojoba oil and mix with 5 drops of tea tree oil. Store the mixture in a sealed, glass container in the refrigerator until use.

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