When comparing carrier oils, it’s not just about “is this oil comedogenic?” or “is this oil good for _____ skin issue?” To make an informed decision for any carrier oil, you need to look at its chemical composition to determine its usefulness for the particular task at hand or client in question. While the therapeutic value of the oil is key, it’s also necessary to determine the oil’s environmental impact and stability. Meadowfoam seed oil is an example of a carrier oil that ticks off many of those boxes.

The market has been abuzz about meadowfoam seed oil for good reason.

Meadowfoam flowersWhat’s amazing about meadowfoam seed oil is not only its shelf life which we will get to in a minute, but also its environmental impact.

Meadowfoam (Limnanthes alba) seed oil is produced from the seeds of white meadowfoam flowers (that kind of resemble a sunny side up egg). It is a plant that is helpful to the farmer and yields a beautiful oil. It was initially used to replace sperm whale oil in cosmetics. Then farmers started using it in crop rotation, because it helps promote soil resistance to pathogens, and naturally controls weed populations. The leftover seeds that have been extracted will then be fed to the cows as part of their diet, so very little of this plant’s life cycle is wasted.

It’s both budget and eco-friendly.

Not only is meadowfoam seed oil ecologically smart but it’s budget friendly. Its price point is on the lower side compared to other carrier oils, but meadowfoam’s real claim to fame is its incredible shelf stability. Many carrier oils are notoriously unstable, meaning their fatty acids and unsaponifiables are highly susceptible to oxidation and degradation. Those oils either require fast formulation, refrigeration or storage in expensive violet UV glass bottles, or an antioxidant added to avoid it going rancid after a couple of months. Some oils are so delicate that even if you keep them in the refrigerator, once applied to the skin, they oxidize rapidly, which contributes to inflammation and clogged pores.

That’s not the case with meadowfoam, which is shelf stable without refrigeration or other interventions for 5 years. So you can purchase bulk quantities of meadow foam seed oil and get years of safe use out of it without having to worry about rancidity (it’s incredibly frustrating to have to pitch carrier oil that has gone bad before you can use it).

What makes a carrier oil like meadowfoam so stable?

Single bond hydrocarbon chain makes a very stable oil like meadowfoam seed oil
The green spheres represent single bonded carbon atoms. The white spheres are the stabilizing hydrogen atoms.

It all comes down to its chemistry. What makes a carrier oil stable or unstable has to do with its carbon backbone–or carbon chain. The more carbon atoms on the chain, the more stable the oil is, since there are more opportunities for stabilizing hydrogen atoms to bond to them.

Ninety-seven percent of this unique oil’s chemical composition is made up by 20+ carbon atoms, which qualifies it as an extremely long carbon chain, or an incredibly stable carrier oil. This is what gives it its 5+ year shelf life. In addition, the oil has naturally occurring tocopherol (Vitamin E), which naturally provides antioxidant support to boost its stability.

What this means in practical benefits is that meadowfoam seed oil won’t go rancid in the bottle, on the shelf, or your skin.

How to use meadowfoam seed oil

Meadowfoam seed oil isn’t just stable on its own, but it’s also a great stabilizer for other carrier oils that you love (such as rosehip seed oil), but are more delicate and prone to rancidity. Blending delicate oils with a stable oil like meadowfoam seed oil helps make the entire blend more shelf stable. This way you can still reap the rewards of the fragile oils, without worry.

Aside from its stability, eco-friendliness, and cost effectiveness, meadowfoam is also nourishing in its own right. It’s rich in phytosterols, and carotenoid antioxidants, and other phytonutrients and skin-healthy fatty acids.

We recommend cold-pressed meadowfoam seed oil, as the extraction process allows the phytonutrients to stay intact more than solvent extraction or expeller pressing. This allows your skin to get more benefit from this amazing plant oil.

How does meadowfoam seed oil feel?

Meadowfoam seed oil benefitsAn oil that has this much stability might lead you to think that meadowfoam’s super heavy and viscous. Quite the contrary! It glides on beautifully and absorbs quickly for most skin types and combinations.

Is meadowfoam seed oil worth adding to your collection?

There is really very little negative about this oil. The only potential downside is how challenging it can be to find a cold-pressed, organic version. This is due to meadowfoam’s increased use in farming taking priority over its use in cosmetics.

So with its beneficial ecological impact, long shelf life, and affordable price point, you can buy it in bulk quantities without having to worry about it going rancid before you can use it.

Because of all these benefits, we consider meadowfoam seed oil a slam dunk addition to your treatment room and skincare routine.

What’s your experience with meadowfoam seed oil?

How do you use it in your skincare business or practice? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

About the author:

CNAPVicki Parra of Why Not You Skincare student, Vicki Parra, is a licensed aesthetician, molecular biologist, and is the founder and formulator of Why Not You Skincare–a plant-based line of fully customizable skincare products that gives you a voice in your skincare. Connect further with Vicki on her website and Instagram.

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