Stock photo of a perilla leaf
Elevated Simplicity Blog

Perilla Seed Oil for Skin Health

by Heather Smith on Jun 13, 2023

  

Perilla oil, extracted from the seeds of the Perilla frutescens plant, is a natural ingredient that has gained popularity in the skincare industry for its numerous benefits for the skin.

The perilla oil skin benefits come from its nourishing status as a skincare super ingredient. The oil is rich in essential fatty acids, flavones, polyphenols, and triterpenoids, contributing to its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. These qualities make it an ideal choice for problematic, aging, mature, and oily skin.

The high levels of alpha-linolenic acid found in perilla oil regulate inflammation, making it a versatile ingredient that can be added to facial oil and serum formulations that are soothing and protective.

In this article, we'll explore the benefits of perilla oil for the skin, its fatty acid and phytochemical composition, and environmental and humanitarian considerations associated with its use. This article is a continuation of our ongoing series about face oil, and cold-pressed perilla seed oil makes its way onto our list of best face oils oils for acne.

Key Takeaways

  • Perilla oil is extracted from the Perilla frutescens plant and is rich in essential fatty acids, flavones, polyphenols, and triterpenoids.
  • It has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, making it ideal for problematic, aging, mature, and dry skin.
  • It is a renewable resource and environmentally friendly extraction method, making it a beneficial natural ingredient for many skincare formulations.
  • Suitable for all skin types, especially oily or acne-prone
Perilla oil benefits for skin - infographic by bareLUXE Skincare

The Perilla Plant

Perilla frutescens, the plant from which perilla seed oil is extracted, is a member of the mint family and is widely used in traditional medicine due to its high content of beneficial compounds. Perilla plant is native to Asia and commonly cultivated in China, Japan, and Korea.

The oil is extracted from the seeds of the plant, which are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, flavones, polyphenols, and triterpenoids. Perilla oil's benefits for health and the skin are substantial, and it is a popular natural ingredient in skincare formulations.

History of Perilla Oil

The Perilla plant, scientifically known as Perilla frutescens, is a member of the mint family, native to East Asia. This annual plant, often referred to as perilla mint, shiso, or beefsteak plant, is renowned for its richly coloured, serrated leaves and a distinct aroma. Perilla is cultivated for a variety of uses. In cuisine, its leaves are used for garnishing, pickling, and as a flavouring component in certain dishes, especially in Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese cuisine. 

The seeds of the perilla plant yield perilla oil, which is appreciated for its high content of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and is used both in cooking and in traditional medicine. The plant is also valued for its ornamental appeal, often enhancing gardens with its vibrant purple leaves.

Here are a few lesser-known perilla seed oil facts:

    • Cultural Significance: In Japan, a red shiso variety is used to dye pickled plums, known as umeboshi, giving them their characteristic colour. Also, the leaves are an essential part of the Obon festival as they are believed to help guide the spirits of ancestors.

    • Natural Remedy: Perilla oil extracted from the plant's seeds has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for its purported anti-asthmatic, anti-tussive, and expectorant properties.

    • Bee Attraction: Perilla plants are great for attracting bees. So, they're not only beneficial for humans but also the local ecosystem, playing a role in supporting bee populations.

    • Invasive Species: Although Perilla is a beloved plant in many Asian cultures, it's considered an invasive species in some parts of the United States. It proliferates and can crowd out native plants if not controlled.

    • Varieties: There are two major varieties of Perilla: red (also known as purple) and green. Each has a slightly different flavour profile, with the red variety having a more potent anise-like flavour, while the green one is said to taste more like cinnamon.

Phytochemical and Fatty Acid Composition

Perilla seed oil has a unique fatty acid composition that differentiates it from many other plant-based oils.

The most abundant fatty acid in perilla seed oil is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid, which can constitute up to 60% of the total fatty acid content. This is notably high compared to many other plant oils. The oil also contains linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid, and oleic acid, a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid, although in smaller amounts.

In terms of phytochemicals, numerous other beneficial phytonutrients are present in perilla oil. One such group is polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties and can help to combat oxidative stress in the body. Additionally, perilla oil contains flavones like apigenin and luteolin, which also have antioxidant properties and may contribute to the potential health effects and benefits of the oil.

Perilla oil's natural composition makes it an excellent addition to a range of natural skincare products, including facial oils and serums for aging and problematic skin, as well as body oils and face products for those with drier complexions.

What's the Link Between Perilla Oil and Ceramides

A bit of internet myth-busting to unpack here.

We keep seeing web posts that state Perilla oil contains substances that are natural precursors to ceramides, but when we dig deep, trying to find more info about the pathway and the exact substance behind this, we can't find any details.

The balance between the synthesis, utilization, and degradation of ceramides and other sphingolipids is carefully controlled in the skin and is crucial for maintaining the skin's barrier function and overall health.

The link between perilla seeds and ceramides is indirect.

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) helps maintain the health of the skin barrier, which is primarily composed of ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids. A strong skin barrier prevents transepidermal water loss (TEWL), keeping the skin hydrated and protecting it from environmental factors.

While perilla seed oil doesn't directly provide precursors to ceramides, the fatty acids it contains (like ALA) are necessary for overall skin health and function, including the proper production and function of ceramides.

The synthesis of ceramides in the skin is part of the complex sphingolipid metabolism pathway and involves several steps. To more directly influence ceramide synthesis, you could theoretically consume sphingolipids. These are found in foods such as dairy products, eggs, and soybeans. But please note that the skin health benefits of dietary sphingolipids are still an area of active research, and more studies are needed to fully understand their effects.

So what does that mean? It means that perilla oil, as with other carrier oils, supports the skin barrier and indirectly influences ceramide production. Some oils do this in different ways than others, but all can be helpful! 

Perilla Oil Skin Benefits

Carrier oils have a lot of overlapping properties that make them all excellent additions to your face care routine. Perilla oil stands out in a few categories, particularly those that help target blemish-prone skin. The Alpha-linolenic acid is Perilla's claim to fame. However, many of the effects you would experience using Perilla oil will overlap with other oils.

    • Antibacterial: Studies have shown that perilla oil has potent antibacterial properties against a range of bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli.

    • High Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) Content: Perilla oil is rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential omega-3 fatty acid. ALA has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and can help to soothe irritated or inflamed skin. It also supports the health of the skin barrier, helping to lock in moisture and protect the skin from environmental damage.

    • Anti-Inflammatory: Perilla oil contains rosmarinic acid, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects on the skin. Additionally, perilla oil contains alpha-linolenic acid, which can help regulate inflammation in the body and skin.

    • Beneficial Phytosterols: Phytosterols in perilla oil may help to reduce inflammation and soothe irritated skin. They have also been shown to help increase collagen production, which can help improve skin elasticity and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

    • Antioxidant: Perilla oil contains high levels of polyphenols and flavones, making it a potent antioxidant. These components help neutralize free radicals responsible for causing skin cell damage, leading to premature aging, hyperpigmentation, and other skin concerns.

    • Light and Easily Absorbed:¬†Perilla oil is relatively light and absorbs well into the skin, making it suitable for various skin types, including oily and acne-prone skin.

The combination of fatty acids and phytochemicals that give Perilla oil the above benefits make this an excellent carrier oil for people who have aging or acne-prone skin. The comedogenicity rating is 1-2, and the oleic levels are very low, so Perilla is a good one to try for those with oily skin who want to use a face oil as a natural remedy.

The anti-inflammatory and soothing properties can make perilla oil a good choice if you have sensitive skin. However, individuals who are allergic to Perilla or Chinese basil should avoid it. From an environmental standpoint, perilla plants are a contributor to seasonal allergies and hay fever, so this could be an unexpected culprit for skin irritation in some people. If you're worried, check with your physician.

Environmental and Humanitarian Considerations

There are no specific red flags for concerns related to environmental or humanitarian practices.

Perilla frutescens, the plant from which the oil is extracted, is a renewable resource that grows easily in many climates.

The cold-press extraction method does not involve any chemical solvents or harmful additives.

Perilla oil production can provide a source of income for farmers and workers in rural areas, particularly in regions where other crops may not thrive.

 

 

References

Choi HJ, Song BR, Kim JE, Bae SJ, Choi YJ, Lee SJ, Gong JE, Lee HS, Lee CY, Kim BH, Hwang DY. Therapeutic Effects of Cold-Pressed Perilla Oil Mainly Consisting of Linolenic acid, Oleic Acid and Linoleic Acid on UV-Induced Photoaging in NHDF Cells and SKH-1 Hairless Mice. Molecules. 2020 Feb 22;25(4):989. 

Asif M. Health effects of omega-3,6,9 fatty acids: Perilla frutescens is a good example of plant oils. Orient Pharm Exp Med. 2011 Mar;11(1):51-59. 

Igarashi M, Miyazaki Y. A review on bioactivities of perilla: progress in research on the functions of perilla as medicine and food. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:925342. 

Xu Y, Shi Y, Huang J, Gu H, Li C, Zhang L, Liu G, Zhou W, Du Z. The Essential Oil Derived from Perilla frutescens (L.) Britt. Attenuates Imiquimod-Induced Psoriasis-like Skin Lesions in BALB/c Mice. Molecules. 2022 May 7;27(9):2996. 

Hou T, Netala VR, Zhang H, Xing Y, Li H, Zhang Z. Perilla frutescens: A Rich Source of Pharmacological Active Compounds. Molecules. 2022 Jun 2;27(11):3578.

About the Author

Dr. Heather Smith developed her love for skinimalism and clean beauty years ago when she began making home remedies for her newborn's eczema. She is an expert in natural ingredients and active botanicals and has now launched bareLUXE Skincare - a full line of effective oil serums. She dedicates this blog to consumers who are researching ingredients and working to make their beauty ritual more natural and sustainable.

MEDICAL DISCLAIMER 

This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Smith nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content should consult their physicians about their skincare concerns and routines.