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Oils in skin care are nothing new at this point, though the vast array of options out there is admittedly dizzying at times. And while each option boasts its own benefits, there’s one that’s a particular crowd-pleaser: meadowfoam seed oil. Beloved for its versatility and ability to work with practically any other skin-care ingredient, this plant-derived oil is suitable for all skin types. Ahead, experts explain more about what this oil can do, how to use it, and the best meadowfoam seed oil products to try.
What is Meadowfoam Seed Oil?
“Meadowfoam seed oil is an oil extracted from the seeds of the meadowfoam flower, a white flower native to Oregon and Northern California, also known as Limnanthes alba,” says Alicia Zalka, M.D., a dermatologist in Danbury, Connecticut and founder of Surface Deep.
While it has many skin-care benefits (more on those below), what makes meadowfoam oil particularly unique – and seemingly ubiquitous in products – is its stability. The oil is made up of long-chain fatty acids, which gives it a very long shelf life of 3 years (vs. the two months to 2 years of other natural oils), explains cosmetic chemist and natural products formulator Kim Walls, founder of BEB Organic. (Related: What Is Sea Buckthorn Oil – and Should You Add It to Your Skin-Care Routine?)
Couple this with the fact that meadowfoam seed oil plays nicely with almost all other oils and many active ingredients in skin-care products, and it’s one of the more versatile natural oils out there, she says. It’s also one of the more sustainable skin-care oils on the market. Meadowfoam flower’s a “highly renewable crop with a low carbon footprint” that’s grown here in America, says Walls. This means the distribution of the oil requires less transportation and, in turn, creates fewer carbon emissions. Local cultivation also increases the odds that the oil – and the skin-care products containing said oil – are fresh and ultimately, more effective when they show up at your doorstep, she explains.
The Benefits of Meadowfoam Seed Oil
Before going any further, it’s important to note that there’s minimal clinical research on meadowfoam seed oil, so any purported benefits are largely anecdotal, according to the experts here. That said, there are still a good number of potential perks.
Meadowfoam seed oil acts as a barrier on top of the skin, sealing in moisture and leaving it feeling smoother and softer, says Dr. Zalka. And if you think all oils are thick and greasy (simply because, well, they’re oils), think again: This plant-derived ingredient endows the skin with a beautiful, shine-free (!!) glow. After all, not all oils are created equal and meadowfoam seed, in particular, is known to be less greasy than its counterparts, notes Dr. Zalka.
It’s also high in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that can help ward off free-radical damage, and omega-9 fatty acid or eicosenoic acid, which may help reduce UV-induced damage as well, says Walls. Both free radical and UV-induced damage can cause hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, fine lines, among other dermatological issues. (Also helpful and very important? Wearing sunscreen daily.)
Other perks of meadowfoam seed oil: It has a low comedogenicity (a measurement of how likely it is to clog pores) and, thanks to the eicosenoic acid, can help balance sebum (oil) production. Together, these two benefits make meadowfoam seed oil a particularly great choice for those with oily or acne-prone skin, says Walls.
How to Use Meadowfoam Seed Oil
Interested in adding meadowfoam seed oil to your routine? Go ahead and make room for it – specifically, between any hydrating creams or serums you use and sunscreen (which, BTW, always goes last) to ensure hydration, says Walls. “Or, if you’re using it alone, apply it immediately after you wash your face to help lock in that moisture.” You can also use it as cleansing oil or in lieu of makeup remover, adds Walls.
Meadowfoam seed oil also makes an excellent carrier oil, says Dr. Zalka. So try pairing it with a few drops of your chosen essential oil for an aromatic, skin-benefiting massage or bath.
The Best Products with Meadowfoam Seed Oil
Just because it’s a good choice for sensitive, acne-prone skin (or any skin types, for that matter), doesn’t mean meadowfoam seed oil will work for everyone. Here’s the thing: an allergic reaction to any skin-care ingredient, natural or not, is always possible. As such, Dr. Zalka advises testing out any new product or ingredient on a small area, such as the inside of your wrist, and monitoring your skin for any reactions for 24 to 48 hours before applying it all over your face.
Now, onto the fun part: the best meadowfoam seed oil-containing products, according to Dr. Zalka and Walls.
Ghost Democracy Softglow Facial Oil
“As the name implies, this product delivers a light, not suffocating layer of moisture to the skin,” says Dr. Zalka. “It’s wonderful on its own as an emollient or can be used along with a moisturizing lotion.” If trying the latter, remember to apply the oil post-lotion. And when it comes to the item’s ingredients, meadowfoam seed oil is in good company with ultra-hydrating almond and sunflower oils.
Available at Verishop
Prima Bath Gem CBD Bath Soak
“Adding meadowfoam seed oil to a bath via a soak like this helps keep the moisture in your skin long after you emerge and gives it an amazing glow,” says Walls. And with ingredients such as Epsom salts and CBD, your tub time is sure to be soothing AF.
Ilia Balmy Gloss Tinted Lip Oil
“The velvety texture of meadowfoam seed oil really comes through in this tinted lip gloss,” says Walls, who adds that it pairs well with the hyaluronic acid that’s also in the formula. HA helps retain moisture and the oil helps seal it in, she explains. And this is the case no matter which of the six shades you choose.
Angela Caglia Soufflé Moisturizer
Featuring a combination of meadow foam seed oil, sunflower seed oil, and vitamin E, this Dr. Zalka-approved cream is so gentle that you can even use it around the delicate eye area. You can also swipe a little bit of the multipurpose formula on your lips in place of your usual balm before jumping into bed at night. Despite the heavy hit of hydration it delivers, it does, in fact, feel soufflé-like.
Tenoverten Celery Nail Oil
Meadowfoam seed oil isn’t just good for your face; it can also be a lifesaver for dry, ragged cuticles. Walls is a fan of this cuticle treatment, which blends the plant-derived ingredient with other oils such as rosehip and evening primrose to create a formula that hydrates skin, delivers antioxidant protection, and helps strengthen nails. Bonus points for the unique rollerball applicator, which makes it easier (and less messy) than ever to use. (Related: This Cuticle Oil Pen Can Help You Maintain Salon-Worthy Nails Without Leaving the House)
Beautycounter No. 3 Balancing Facial Oil
If you have acne-prone skin, this meadowfoam seed oil product is for you. Boasting nearly five stars on the brand’s site, this fan-favorite item contains lots of luscious, plant-based oils though it still has a featherweight feel and absorbs quickly.
Soapbeauty Organic Meadowfoam Seed Oil
This high-quality, affordable option is hard to beat. Perfect for those who are looking for straight-up meadowfoam seed oil, this one-ingredient wonder checks all of the boxes that Walls says are important for a meadowfoam seed oil-only product: organic, cold-pressed, and unrefined. Use it on its own as a moisturizer or makeup remover or mix with essential oils; you can even dab some onto the ends of dry hair.