Jojoba Oil

Jojoba oil expressed from the seeds of the jojoba plant is an emollient that helps moisturize the skin, making it more supple. It may also help reduce wrinkles and treat acne.


Grade Level of Evidence
A Multiple double-blind, controlled clinical trials.
B 1 double-blind, controlled clinical trial.
C At least 1 controlled or comparative clinical trial.
D Uncontrolled, observational, animal or in-vitro studies only.
Grade Effect Size of Effect Comments


Acne treatment


A jojoba oil facial mask led to a mean 54% reduction in lesion count after 6 weeks of treatment.


Increased skin elasticity


Increases the suppleness of the skin by 30% or more, with the effect lasting for at least 8 hours.


Increased skin hydration


An emollient that works synergistically with glycerin to provide a long-acting moisturizing effect on the skin.


Wrinkle treatment


May help reduce wrinkles as it Inhibits the reduction in collagen synthesis after UV irradiation, and stimulates collagen production in fibroblasts.




Speeds up wound closure of keratinocytes and fibroblasts in vitro.

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Table of contents:

1. Sources

The jojoba plant is a long-lived, drought-resistant, perennial shrub native to arid and semiarid regions including Southern California, Southern Arizona and Northwestern Mexico.[1][2] Unlike the seeds of other plants which contain predominantly triglycerides,[3] the seeds of the jojoba plant contain over 50% jojoba oil by weight.[1]

Jojoba oil is comprised of liquid wax esters, esters of long-chain alcohols and long-chain fatty acids that function as a seed lipid energy reserve.[3][4]

2. Bioavailability

Due to its low triglyceride content, jojoba oil is highly resistant to oxidation.[1] This gives it an advantage over other plant oils that are used in cosmetics such as sunflower oil and soybean oil, which have limited shelf-life during storage due to their tendency to quickly oxidize.[5] In addition, jojoba oil is rapidly absorbed into the skin mainly via the pores and hair follicles.[6] This is not surprising as the long-chain wax esters of jojoba oil are highly lipophilic, which should aid its permeation though the similarly lipophilic stratum corneum of the skin.[7] It also helps account for why jojoba oil works well as a penetration enhancer.[8]

3. Effects on the skin

Unlike petrolatum and other vegetable oils used as moisturizing ingredients, jojoba oil does not occlude the skin.[9] Rather, it is an emollient that exerts its effects by permeating into the intercellular spaces of the corneal layer and filling in the crevices between corneocytes.[10][11] Tests have shown that a 10% jojoba oil emulsion increases the suppleness of the skin by more than 50% after application, and that the suppleness of the skin remained approximately 30% higher even 8 hours later.[10] Unlike soybean oil, avocado oil, paraffin oil, almond oil and petrolatum however, jojoba oil did not lead to a reduction in transepidermal water loss 30 minutes after application to human skin in vivo, indicating that it does not occlude the skin.[9]

In 2008, a small pilot study revealed that hydrolyzed jojoba esters, a mixture of potassium jojobate, jojoba alcohols and water (known commercially as Floraesters K-20W Jojoba) that result from the saponification of jojoba oil, work in tandem with glycerin to enhance skin moisturization for at least 24 hours. Specifically, 3.75% glycerin with various concentrations of 1.25% hydrolyzed jojoba esters resulted in a 40% reduction in transepidermal water loss (TEWL) 8 hours post-application, which rose to 56% at 24 hours.[12]

Another study that year also found that topical application of a basic preparation containing jojoba oil for 10 days inhibited the UV-induced upregulation of matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1), an enzyme that degrades collagen types I, II and III. This indicates that jojoba oil is effective in blocking the decreased collagen synthesis after UV exposure, and may be useful as an addition to antiaging products.[13] Moreover, it has also been found to stimulate the synthesis of collagen I in fibroblasts.[14]

3.2 Acne treatment

Jojoba oil possesses anti-inflammatory activity, reducing edema, diminishing the level of prostaglandin E2 and inhibiting neutrophil infiltration in a number of experimental models.[15] Because of its chemical similarity to human sebum, it is also thought to form a non-greasy film on the surface of the skin that holds moisture in while controlling the flow of sebum.[16] These may help explain why a clay jojoba oil facial mask demonstrated effectiveness in treating mild acne vulgaris, reducing the median counts of pustules by 49.4%, papules by 57.3%, cysts by 68.6% and comedones by 39.1% after only 6 weeks of treatment.[17]

3.3 Healing

Jojoba oil accelerates wound closure of both human keratinocytes and human dermal fibroblasts in vitro via a Ca(2+) dependent mechanism as well as stimulates collagen I synthesis in fibroblasts, suggesting that it may be used to treat wounds in clinical settings.[14]

3.4 Other uses

Since the global ban on whale hunting, jojoba oil has been the main natural source of wax esters for commercial applications.[4][18] One of its advantages is that it provides a smoother touch to to the skin when mixed into cosmetics compared to alternatives like squalene, olive oil and lanolin.[19] It is used as a base for ointments, creams and other personal care products,[4][20] and often as a carrier oil for specialty fragrances.[7][21]

In addition, jojoba oil has been converted into light absorbing substances and skin photoprotectors by hydroxylation and further esterification with carboxylic acids or amino acids bearing UV-absorbing moieties, or by transesterification with alcohols bearing UV-absorbing groups. The esterified compounds have reduced skin permeability, allowing them to remain confined to the upper stratum corneum where the sunscreen molecule acts.[22][23]

Jojoba oil can also be used as a conditioning agent. When added to straightening emulsions used to treat Afro-ethnic hair, it helped to diminish protein loss, protecting the hair thread and improving its resistance to breakage.[24]

4. Side Effects

Overall, jojoba oil is considered a safe cosmetic ingredient. A lip balm containing 20% jojoba oil was not toxic to rats when administrated as a 5 g/kg oral dose via gavage, and was only minimally irritating when applied to the backs of rabbits. 100% jojoba oil did not lead to significant reactions when applied to the shaved skin of guinea pigs either. The skin irritation potential of jojoba oil has also been tested multiple times in studies of human patients, and found to cause positive reactions such as erythema in only a very small proportion of patients who may be hyperallergenic. Jojoba oil has also been shown to be non-comedogenic, non-phototoxic and non-photoallergenic.[25][26][27][28]

Scientific References

  1. Pazyar N, et. al. Jojoba in dermatology: a succinct review. G Ital Dermatol Venereol. (2013)
  2. Llorente BE, Apóstolo NM. In vitro propagation of jojoba. Methods Mol Biol. (2013)
  3. Metz JG, et. al. Purification of a jojoba embryo fatty acyl-coenzyme A reductase and expression of its cDNA in high erucic acid rapeseed. Plant Physiol. (2000)
  4. Kalscheuer R, et. al. Neutral lipid biosynthesis in engineered Escherichia coli: jojoba oil-like wax esters and fatty acid butyl esters. Appl Environ Microbiol. (2006)
  5. Alander J, Andersson AC, Lindström C. Cosmetic emollients with high stability against photo-oxidation. Lipid Technology. (2006)
  6. McClatchey KD, Ferrell WJ, Pierson CL. Percutaneous Absorption of Jojoba Oil. Proceedings from the Fourth International Conference on Jojoba and Its Uses. (1980)
  7. Mbah CJ. Studies on the lipophilicity of vehicles (or co-vehicles) and botanical oils used in cosmetic products. Pharmazie. (2007)
  8. Wang LH, Wang CC, Kuo SC. Vehicle and enhancer effects on human skin penetration of aminophylline from cream formulations: evaluation in vivo. J Cosmet Sci. (2007)
  9. Patzelt A, et. al. In vivo investigations on the penetration of various oils and their influence on the skin barrier. Skin Res Technol. (2012)
  10. Christensen MS, Packman EW. Skin Surface Softening Effects of Jojoba and Its Derivatives. Proceedings from the Seventh International Conference on Jojoba and Its Uses. (1988)
  11. Nolan K, Marmur E. Moisturizers: reality and the skin benefits. Dermatol Ther. (2012)
  12. Meyer J, et. al. Evaluation of additive effects of hydrolyzed jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) esters and glycerol: a preliminary study. J Cosmet Dermatol. (2008)
  13. Grether-Beck S, et. al. Topical application of vitamins, phytosterols and ceramides. Protection against increased expression of interstital collagenase and reduced collagen-I expression after single exposure to UVA irradiation. Hautarzt. (2008)
  14. Ranzato E, Martinotti S, Burlando B. Wound healing properties of jojoba liquid wax: an in vitro study. J Ethnopharmacol. (2011)
  15. Habashy RR, et. al. Anti-inflammatory effects of jojoba liquid wax in experimental models. Pharmacol Res. (2005)
  16. Sandha GK, Swami VK. Jojoba oil as an organic, shelf stable standard oil-phase base for cosmetic industry. Rasayan J Chem. (2009)
  17. Meier L, et. al. Clay jojoba oil facial mask for lesioned skin and mild acne--results of a prospective, observational pilot study. Forsch Komplementmed. (2012)
  18. Miklaszewska M, Kawiński A, Banaś A. Detailed characterization of the substrate specificity of mouse wax synthase. Acta Biochim Pol. (2013)
  19. Hirai Y, et. al. Application of the Compounds Related to Jojoba in Cosmetics. Proceedings from the Seventh International Conference on Jojoba and Its Uses. (1988)
  20. Budai L, et. al. Natural oils and waxes: studies on stick bases. J Cosmet Sci. (2012)
  21. Bedi MK, Shenefelt PD. Herbal therapy in dermatology. Arch Dermatol. (2002)
  22. Bergelson L, Touitou E. Products for preventing penetration into the skin. US Patent 1427386 (2004)
  23. Touitou E, Godin B. Skin nonpenetrating sunscreens for cosmetic and pharmaceutical formulations. Clin Dermatol. (2008)
  24. Dias TC, et. al. Protective effect of conditioning agents on Afro-ethnic hair chemically treated with thioglycolate-based straightening emulsion. J Cosmet Dermatol. (2008)
  25. Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel. Safety Assessment of Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Wax, Hydrogenated Jojoba Oil, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Isomerized Jojoba Oil, Jojoba Esters, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Butter, Jojoba Alcohol, and Synthetic Jojoba Oil. Cosmetic Ingredient Review. (2008)
  26. Wantke F, et. al. Contact dermatitis from jojoba oil and myristyl lactate/maleated soybean oil. Contact Dermatitis. (1996)
  27. Di Berardino L, et. al. A case of contact dermatitis from jojoba. Contact Dermatitis. (2006)
  28. Arquette DJ, et. al. Non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic properties of jojoba oil and hydrogenated jojoba oil. J Cosmet Sci. (1998)