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When it comes to DIY beauty regimens, no product garners more attention than jojoba oil. It’s a pure and natural substance that can be used on almost any surface of your body: hair, skin, nails. The possibilities are endless. So what, exactly, is jojoba?

What is jojoba?
Jojoba (ho-HO-bah) is a plant extract that is produced in the seed of the jojoba tree (Simmondsia chinensis). The tree, which looks more like a shrub, is native to the Sonoran and Mojave deserts of Arizona, California, and Mexico. In fact, it’s the second most economically valuable native plant in the Sonoran desert. The tree is grown commercially for its popular oil.

Why is jojoba so popular?
Jojoba oil is rare in that it’s an extremely long straight-chain wax ester and not a triglyceride, making jojoba and its derivative jojoba esters more similar to human sebum and whale oil than to traditional vegetable oils. The oil is easily refined to be odorless, colorless, and oxidatively stable, which makes it an easy additive to beauty products. Jojoba is also notable because its seeds contain alpha, delta, and gamma tocopherols, all forms of vitamin E.

How is jojoba used?
It was the Native Americans who first discovered how helpful and versatile jojoba seeds and oil could be. In the 18th century, Jesuit missionaries in Baja reported observing Native Americans heating jojoba seeds to soften them. Once the seeds were soft, a pestle and mortar were used to create a salve or buttery substance. The latter was applied to the hair and skin to heal, nourish, and condition them. Traditionally, the Native Americans also used jojoba oil to soften and preserve animal hides. Pregnant women were known to eat jojoba seeds, believing they assisted during childbirth. Native hunters ate jojoba seeds on the trail to keep hunger at bay. Modern research has confirmed that jojoba seeds contain a compound that acts as an appetite suppressant.

In the modern world, jojoba is used primarily in cosmetics as a moisturizer and as a carrier oil for specialty fragrances. Some of the most popular uses of jojoba oil include:

  • Eye and face makeup remover
  • Add a few drops of jojoba oil to your fingertips or a cotton ball. Massage around your eyes and on your face. Rinse off with water and follow with your regular facial cleanser.
  • Body moisturizer
  • Apply a few drops of jojoba oil after getting out of the shower or bath, while your body is still damp. The jojoba oil will seal in moisture and leave skin feeling smooth.
  • Facial moisturizer
  • Pat a few drops of jojoba oil on freshly cleansed skin. This is best done right before bed, because it can leave skin looking shiny before completely soaking into the skin. There is a bonus here for people with medium to oily skin. Because jojoba is so similar to skin sebum, it can actually “trick” the skin into producing less oil. That’s a win-win.
  • Cuticle oil
  • Add a few drops of jojoba oil to rough, dry cuticles at least once a day.

When it comes to using jojoba oil in your DIY beauty regimen, the sky is the limit. What will you use it for?

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