Ingredient Spotlight on Luxury Carrier Oils: Hibiscus Oil for Your Face & Scalp
by Heather Smith on Aug 28, 2023
Hibiscus oil has made its way onto the bareLUXE list of luxurious carrier oils for several reasons. This delicate, light, and subtly scented carrier oil is special because of the skin benefits you'll experience when using it, but also because it is romantic and rarer than a lot of other carrier oils used in natural skincare products.
I fell in love with hibiscus oil because of its scent. Because it's a carrier oil, the scent is very subdued, but that's why I love it. With none of the risks of added essential oils, using lightly scented carrier oils like hibiscus can really amp up your daily experience while improving your skin health.
- Hibiscus oil comes from the seeds of the hibiscus flower. It is a less common and more expensive carrier oil.
- It's rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and fatty acids, which provide numerous benefits for skin and hair health.
- The oil has potent antioxidant properties, maintains collagen levels, enhances skin elasticity, and reduces wrinkles, making it beneficial for maintaining firm and youthful skin.
- Hibiscus oil moisturizes dry and damaged hair, restores shine, balances scalp pH, prevents dandruff, and encourages healthy growth, making it effective for various hair concerns.
The Hibiscus Plant
The hibiscus flower is much more than just a pretty bloom; it's a symbol that carries deep cultural meanings across the globe. In many societies, the hibiscus represents beauty, love, and fertility, often featured in celebrations like weddings. In Hawaii, the hibiscus encapsulates the "Aloha spirit," signifying warmth, hospitality, and friendliness. Additionally, this radiant flower holds a place of honour as the national flower of Malaysia, where it is known as "Bunga Raya" and stands as a symbol of courage.
In Chinese folklore, hibiscus is valued for its cooling properties and has been used to treat respiratory issues. African traditions incorporate hibiscus tea in wedding ceremonies, symbolizing the mix of sweetness and challenges in a marriage. In Ayurveda, hibiscus oil has long been used for skin rejuvenation and hair care, touted for its supposed "youth-boosting" properties.
Hibiscus Oil Production
Hibiscus seeds are harvested and dried to reduce their moisture content. This is crucial, as excess moisture can affect the oil's quality and longevity.
The dried hibiscus seeds are then cold-pressed, a method favoured for preserving the beneficial properties of the oil. This process involves applying high pressure to the plant material, forcing out the oil without using heat, which can degrade the oil's quality. It's a meticulous procedure, but it ensures you're getting the most potent and beneficial hibiscus oil possible. The quality and effectiveness of hibiscus oil can vary greatly depending on the extraction method and the quality of the hibiscus used.
Hibiscus Carrier Oil Fatty Acid Profile
Hibiscus oil has a balanced fatty acid profile that leans towards being more moisturizing and better for drier skin types due to higher levels of oleic acid. The Oleic acid content usually ranges 35-40% and is well-balanced by 25-35% linoleic acid. Having these two critical fatty acids balanced in that proportion results in an oil that's anti-inflammatory as well as moisturizing while being very unlikely to clog pores.
Will Hibiscus Oil Clog Pores
The comedogenicity of hibiscus oil isn't well studied. Given the fatty acid profile and how well it's balanced, you would expect it to fall in the 1-2 range on the comedogenicity scale. It is a light oil that wouldn't be expected to clog pores, but the higher oleic acid levels make it best for dry skin types.
The specific use of hibiscus for acne is not well studied. Given that it is a more moisturizing oil, those with oily skin may want to look elsewhere. However, its ability to balance sebum production still makes it reasonable to try for those with acne and drier skin.
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The extract from hibiscus flowers is a powerhouse of bioactive compounds, many of which have potential benefits for the skin and hair. This is often sold in the powdered form. Hibiscus flower powder contains many phytochemicals with skin benefits. Among the most notable are the astringent tannins, which can help tighten pores and control excess oil on the skin. The extract is also rich in specific phenolic acids like protocatechuic acid, a potent antioxidant that has shown anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. These phenolic acids can be beneficial for a variety of skin issues, including acne, signs of aging, and uneven skin tone.
However, it's important to differentiate between hibiscus extract and hibiscus carrier oil. While the extract is rich in water-soluble compounds like flavonoids and certain phenolic acids, not all of these will be present in the carrier oil, which is primarily lipid-based. That said, hibiscus carrier oil retains many of the beneficial properties of the plant, particularly lipid-soluble components like fatty acids, Vitamin E, and quercetin, a phytochemical known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These compounds offer their own set of benefits for skin and scalp health, including moisturization, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant protection.
Skin Benefits of Hibiscus Oil
All varieties of carrier oils have many overlapping benefits for the skin. Hibiscus oil skin benefits include:
- Reinforcing the skin's natural protective barrier
- Improving moisture retention in the skin and preventing water loss
- Antioxidant protection from oxidative stress caused by pollutants. This can promote collagen production and improve skin elasticity.
- Soothing, anti-inflammatory effects
- Reducing redness and irritation and evening out skin tone
- Supporting the healing processes
- Balancing sebum production and potentially reducing acne
Hibiscus oil retains some of the astringent properties of the extract, which makes it excellent for the scalp and as a cleansing oil. When used for skin care, hibiscus oil for face products is both safe and beneficial.
When it comes to choosing the best oils for the face, don't overthink it. They all have overlapping benefits and will all contribute to beautiful skin. Choose the ones that appeal to you based on your skin type (dry vs. oily) and your preferences (scent, affordability, organic farmed, etc.). But if you're looking for serious results-based skincare, you need to look for oils that are formulated as serums with more active botanicals and ingredients. It was this realization that got me onto the path of formulating oil serums and face oils that are elevated far beyond simple carrier oils.
Hibiscus Oil for Hair
Hibiscus oil is great for the hair and scalp. There is some thought that it may stimulate hair growth and could function as a natural alternative to medicated options for some people trying to regrow hair. Hibiscus hair oil is lovely, light, and non-greasy.
Additionally, the emollient properties of hibiscus oil make it an excellent moisturizer for dry and damaged hair. Its rich, moisturizing properties strengthen hair and restore its natural shine. Hibiscus oil can also help to balance the pH of your scalp, preventing issues like dandruff and scalp irritation. These reasons are why we love hibiscus for hair and have included it in our list of best hair oils.
Hibiscus Oil for Cleansing
Because it retains some of the astringent properties and (again) because of its luxurious feel and scent, hibiscus oil is on our list of best oils for cleansing.
Hibiscus oil is rich in antioxidants that fight against skin-damaging free radicals. It also has natural exfoliating properties, promoting a brighter and smoother complexion. Furthermore, it's packed with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that nourish and hydrate the skin, making it a perfect contender for oil cleansing.
Farming and Manufacturing Sustainability
Hibiscus farming and oil production present unique opportunities for humanitarian and sustainability initiatives, although the impact can vary depending on regional practices and scales of operation. From a humanitarian perspective, hibiscus cultivation can empower local communities, especially in developing countries.
Small-scale farmers often grow hibiscus as a cash crop, which can provide a more stable and reliable source of income than other agricultural options. This economic empowerment can lead to improved educational and health outcomes for the farmers and their families.
On the sustainability front, hibiscus plants are relatively hardy and can thrive in a variety of climatic conditions, making them a suitable choice for sustainable agriculture. They often require less water and fewer pesticides compared to other cash crops, contributing to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly farming practice.
However, it's crucial to note that the actual sustainability of hibiscus oil production can vary widely and depends on factors like extraction methods and transportation. Cold-pressed oils, for example, are generally considered more eco-friendly than oils extracted using chemical solvents.
Frequently Asked Questions
How is hibiscus oil different from other plant-based oils?
The delicate scent is what makes this oil stand out among many others. Unlike some plant-based oils, hibiscus oil is rich in antioxidants and vitamin E, making it exceptional for skin and hair health. It's unique in promoting hair growth and providing anti-aging benefits for your skin.
Are there any known allergic reactions to hibiscus oil?
This is highly unlikely. There are no unique side effects to worry about that are specific to hibiscus. While rare, some people may experience allergic reactions. This is why it's always important to patch-test new products or discuss them with your dermatologist if you're worried.
Can hibiscus oil be used in aromatherapy?
Yes, you can use hibiscus oil in aromatherapy. Research shows its floral, calming scent promotes relaxation. However, it's essential to ensure you're not allergic to it before incorporating it into your aromatherapy routine. That said, the aroma is very subtle, so it makes a great carrier oil for massage, and other scents can be used in the diffuser.
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