Sea Buckthorn Oil: A Powerhouse for Skin Repair and Regeneration

Mar 9, 2022by Heather Smith


As we continue through our article series about the best oils for your face, sea buckthorn oil is the next one up for discussion. This oil has some unique properties that make it excellent for aging skin and acne-prone skin.

Our comprehensive face oil guide will get you started in how to choose and use them.

Sea buckthorn oil skin benefits - infographic by bareLUXE Skincare

Sea buckthorn oil is extracted from the plant's seeds and berries. It's very rich in fatty acids, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. Used a lot in natural health and nutritional supplements, sea buckthorn oil skin benefits are numerous and shouldn't be overlooked!

In this guide, we will take a closer look at sea buckthorn oil and its many benefits for the skin!

Some History

Sea buckthorn's scientific name is Hippophae rhamnoides. The Greek botanist Theophrastus (372-287 BC) is credited with naming the plant "Hippophae". According legend, the ancient Greeks used seabuckthorn to revive their racehorses after long, arduous chariot races.

The plant is a deciduous shrub that grows up to six meters in height. It is native to Europe, Asia, and North America. The fruit of the sea buckthorn plant is rich in oil. It has been used for food, as a medicinal plant, and for its cosmetic benefits throughout ancient history. The oil was used to treat wounds, burns, and skin conditions. It was also used to promote healing and tissue regeneration.

Pure sea buckthorn oil has a high content of unsaturated fatty acids and, as a result, can go rancid if not properly stored. When stored properly in a cool location and away from direct light, the shelf life is around two years. 

What Does Sea Buckthorn Oil Contain?

Sea buckthorn oil contains many beneficial compounds, including fatty acids, phytonutrients, and antioxidants.

The fatty acid profile is impressive and includes a variety of beneficial essential fatty acids. The phytonutrients include carotenoids and tocopherols. Sea buckthorn oil is also rich in antioxidants, which can help protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals.

    • Fatty acids: linoleic acid, alpha-linolenic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, and stearidonic acid
    • Antioxidants & polyphenols
    • Vitamins & minerals
    • Carotenoids & flavonoids
    • Beta carotene
    • Amino acids

What are the Skin Benefits of Sea Buckthorn Oil?

The skin benefits of sea buckthorn face oil are numerous.

The oil is said to help with various skin conditions, including eczema and acne. Sea Buckthorn oil Is good for anti-aging and skin brightening because it has a high amount of carotenoids and vitamin A.

Sea Buckthorn oil is also suitable for sun-damaged skin, wrinkles, and age spots. It's also helpful in improving stretch marks and scars. The fatty acids in sea buckthorn oil help moisturize the skin and keep it healthy. The antioxidants fight free radicals and help to prevent cell damage.  

There has been a fair bit of animal research done looking at things like wound and burn healing, sun protection, anti-cancer properties, and anti-inflammatory effects. While interesting, there's no strong scientific evidence that it's a miracle cure for anything specific. 

There is some limited human data showing improved skin elasticity, reduced transepidermal water loss, improved hydration, improved sebum levels, and improved barrier function. 

The general benefits your skin experiences are from the high levels of known beneficial classes of chemicals, more research is needed to figure out exactly what makes sea buckthorn specifically beneficial compared to other oils.

What's the Difference Between Cold-Pressed and CO2 Extracted Oil?

The difference between cold-pressed and CO2 extracted sea buckthorn oil is how the oil is removed from the plant.

Cold pressing involves extracting the oil from the seeds or berries using pressure.

CO2 extraction uses carbon dioxide to extract the oil from the plant material. CO2 extraction is a more gentle process, resulting in a higher quality oil.

What's the Difference Between Seed Oil and Fruit Oil?

There are some differences in phytochemical composition depending on whether the oil is obtained from sea buckthorn seeds or fruit (berries). All sea buckthorn oil will have benefits for your skin and getting too caught up in the details just gets overwhelming.

The composition of all oils is affected by the method of extraction, the location the plant was grown (microclimate, water table, soil acidity), the age of the plant, etc. Even batch to batch you'll notice differences. 

If the cold-pressing process includes the entire fruit, the resulting oil tends to be more red/pigmented. It also contains more of the rare omega 7 fatty acids. Most of the vitamin C is lost because it goes with the water when the oil is separated.

When just the seeds are used to extract the oil, it's thinner and less red in colour. The total fatty acid content is higher and the omega 3 and 6 are found in a near perfect 1:1 ratio.

The main differences between sea buckthorn seed and fruit oil really matters most when it comes to nutritional/dietary value. Both will be excellent additions to your skincare routine.  

Is it Good for Acne? Comedogenic? Will it Clog Pores?

Sea buckthorn oil has a comedogenic rating of two, which means it is unlikely to clog pores, but it is not considered a dry oil.

Sea buckthorn oil may help reduce acne by reducing inflammation and helping regulate your natural sebum levels. 

Will Sea Buckthorn Face Oil Stain the Skin Orange?

No, sea buckthorn oil will not stain the skin orange. You will notice some colour as you put it on, but it will sink in and not leave a stain. The colour of the oil is due to the carotenoids and they are highly desired for their actions against age related skin changes.

Do be careful though because it will transfer onto cloth like white bedding, So don't put it on the right before going to sleep!

Additionally, most people do not use 100% concentrated sea buckthorn face oil. The benefits are still seen with a product that's diluted (and the orange staining potential is reduced). 

Will Sea Buckthorn Oil Lighten Skin?

Sea Buckthorn oil is not a lightning agent. However, it does contain many antioxidants, including "gallocatechin," which may have some effect against excess melanin. 

What are the Estrogen Effects of Sea Buckthorn Oil?

There is no evidence to suggest that sea buckthorn oil has any estrogenic effects. The oil does not contain any known phytoestrogens, and there are no studies to indicate that it has any impact on hormone levels. There is some thought that oral intake could help with some of the changes experienced during menopause, but this remains to be seen from a research standpoint. This oil is often included in products designed for menopause skin changes.

Tamanu Oil vs Sea Buckthorn Oil

Tamanu oil is extracted from the nut of the tamanu tree, while sea buckthorn oil is removed from the fruit, seeds, and berries of the sea buckthorn plant.

Tamanu oil effectively helps acne and other skin conditions, while sea buckthorn oil is more commonly used for its anti-aging properties.

Both oils are rich in fatty acids and antioxidants, making them good choices for use on the skin. Both oils are highly pigmented due to their phytochemical composition (carotenoids vs chlorophyll pigment). 

How Do You Use Sea Buckthorn Face Oil?

Sea buckthorn oil can be consumed and applied externally for health benefits. The nutritional benefits and uses are discussed in different articles.

It is typically diluted in a carrier oil such as jojoba oil when used topically. It can also be added to lotions, creams, and serums. For best results, apply the oil to clean skin twice daily. If you have sensitive skin, it's always best to do a patch test.

DIY recipe for an excellent face oil for aging skin would be:

50g Squalane (plant-based)
30g Rosehip Oil
13g Pomegranate Seed Oil
5g Jojoba Oil

2g Sea Buckthorn Oil

Is Sea Buckthorn Oil Sustainable?

In our sustainability review, we couldn't find any red flags for humanitarian issues or agricultural exploitation.

We did find several examples where sea buckthorn planting was used as a method to enhance soil quality, reduce soil erosion, reduce desertification, and provide a source of income to a local indigenous population. It is widely able to be grown throughout the world. 

Sea buckthorn oil skin benefits come from the high levels of carotenoids and antioxidants. Combined it with other oils, like tamanu, help maximize its potential as a face oil for acne or aging. 



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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.


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.