If you regularly read your skincare labels, it should come as no surprise that the bright, cheerful sunflower provides one of the oils most commonly used on skin: sunflower oil. The sunflower, or Helianthus annuus, produces the nutrient-dense seeds from which the sweet, mildly scented, and yellow-hued oil is extracted. Are you curious as to why sunflower oil shows up in so many skincare products—as well as in so many kitchens? Here’s a look at the many benefits of this calming, moisturizing carrier oil:

History and origins of sunflower oil

Parts of the sunflower, including its oil, were used thousands of years ago by native american tribes. An early patent for the extraction of sunflower oil from sunflower seeds was granted as far back as 1716 in England. In the 20th century, sunflower oil was historically produced in Eastern Europe, primarily in Russia, but also in Bulgaria, Hungary, and Poland. Today it’s more widely produced.

Why choose sunflower oil for your skin?

Sunflower oil has pleasant, mild scent that makes it a good base for essential oils, and it’s also excellent for making infused oils and for facial and body massage and moisturization. It’s known for its emollient properties, which help skin retain moisture. A study in Pediatric Dermatology also found that sunflower oil helps skin produce more ceramides and cholesterol, which improve its hydration overall. Sunflower oil, though highly nourishing and moisturizing, is also light and absorbs well. Sunflower oil is considered to be an excellent match for drier, more sensitive skin, especially since its high antioxidant value and antiinflammatory properties can help soothe inflammatory skin conditions like eczema. On oily skin types, however, it may clog pores. Sunflower oil is highly regarded for its vitamin E content, which gives it some of its antioxidant value and protective benefits, as well as vitamins A, and D. It also contains the essential fatty acids oleic, stearic, linoleic, and palmitic acids, as well as omega-6 fatty acids.

What to consider when using sunflower oil:

Look for cold pressed and unrefined sunflower oil when possible. It’s more common to find expeller-pressed and refined sunflower oils in stores. Sunflower oil has a long shelf-life as long as it’s stored away from heat and light, which quickly cause it to go rancid. Sunflower oil is often substituted for olive oil or almond oil, both in the kitchen and as a carrier oil. It can withstand high heat cooking.

Sunflower oil: Did you know?

Sunflower oil naturally contains lecithin. Lecithin is commonly used in natural skincare as well as in food for its mild antimicrobial, binding, emulsifying, thickening, and nutrient delivery-enhancing properties. However, most lecithin on the market is either egg or soy derived, which is not always desirable. Sunflower lecithin is becoming a highly sought after source of this multifunctional ingredient.

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Additional Sources:

Sunflower: the Skin Protector, Annmarie Gianni Skincare

2 Ways to Use Sunflower Seed Oil for Smoother Skin, Prevention