Health Benefits of Jojoba Oil

Medically Reviewed by Jabeen Begum, MD on November 03, 2023
6 min read

Jojoba plant

Jojoba (pronounced "ho-ho-ba") is a woody, grey-green shrub that's native to the southwestern U.S., Baja California, and Mexico. It's now also grown in some other countries, like Argentina, Australia, and Egypt, because it grows well in warm and dry climates. Jojoba's scientific name is Simmondsia chinensis.

Jojoba fruit

Flowers of the jojoba plant can produce a fruit that starts out green and turns brown as it ripens. The ripened fruit looks like a large coffee bean or acorn. For this reason, you may hear jojoba called coffee nut or coffee berry, but you may also hear it called oat nut, goatnut, pignut, deernut, or a number of other names. Native Americans in the Sonora desert cooked the fruit and used the oil from crushed seeds to treat many skin and scalp conditions, such as psoriasis and acne.

Jojoba oil

Jojoba oil is pulled out of the seeds in the fruit using cold press and/or chemicals. About half of each seed is made up of oil, so it's relatively easy to extract. Chemically, jojoba oil is 98% wax, so scientists consider it to be a liquid wax rather than an oil. The oil is usually golden or light yellow in color and doesn't spoil because of its high level of antioxidants (natural compounds that protect against cell damage).

Jojoba oil is a mixture of jojoba wax, free fatty acids, alcohols, molecules called sterols (such as cholesterol), as well as antioxidants and fat soluble vitamins. About 79% of the vitamins in jojoba oil are vitamin E.

Jojoba wax is a lot like human skin sebum, the oil your skin makes to stay moisturized and supple. Because jojoba oil is so similar to sebum and has a high vitamin E content, it's an an excellent skin softener that can smooth dry skin, prevent flakiness, and improve skin elasticity.

Jojoba oil is often added to makeup, lotions, and hair products.

Native Americans have used jojoba oil for centuries to treat skin and scalp conditions, as well as for wound care. Studies show it benefits people with acne, psoriasis and sunburn and may help prevent some bacterial infections.

Is jojoba oil good for the skin?

Studies on jojoba oil in humans are rare, but it has been used for hundreds of years to treat some skin conditions. Lab tests and studies in animals suggest that the benefits of jojoba oil for the skin mostly come from its unique make up of plant waxes and antioxidants.

  • Jojoba oil for eczema and psoriasis

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis are different skin conditions with similar causes and symptoms. Both are triggered by an overactive immune system and cause skin inflammation, which can lead to dry, flaky, and itchy skin. Some of the compounds in jojoba oil help dissolve skin flakes and scales and build healthy skin layers in their place. That can help restore the normal barrier function of your skin. In addition, the wax in jojoba oil includes anti-inflammatory compounds that may soothe itchiness and flakiness. Jojoba oil may help prevent flare-ups of eczema or psoriasis that worsen due to ongoing inflammation. Some studies also suggest that the oil may help relieve pain.

  • Jojoba oil for acne

Native Americans used jojoba oil to treat sores, which is why it's considered promising for the treatment of psoriasis and acne. Because it's so similar to sebum, jojoba oil can help dissolve blackheads and whiteheads (also called comedones), which are pores or hair follicles that have been blocked with bacteria, oil, and dead skin cells to form an inflamed bump on your skin. One study found that people with acne-prone skin who used a facial mask containing jojoba oil and clay 2-3 times per week had fewer blackheads, whiteheads, and bumps after about 6 weeks.

  • Jojoba oil has antibacterial activity

Another aspect of jojoba oil that makes it good for treating acne and other sores is its antibacterial action. One study shows that it prevents growth of several bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause skin infections. Because jojoba oil also has high levels of vitamin E and antioxidants, it may help wounds heal quickly and prevent scars.

  • Jojoba oil for sunburn

Jojoba oil may help reduce swelling and pain from sun damage. Vitamin E, other antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory parts of the oil soothe the symptoms of a burn and may promote healing.

  • Jojoba oil for antiaging

Plant products with antioxidants are often used to treat wrinkles and fine lines. The ingredients in jojoba oil may improve skin elasticity.

Does jojoba oil clog pores?

Jojoba oil is considered noncomedogenic, which means it will not clog your pores.

Is jojoba oil good for the hair?

  • Jojoba oil for hair conditioning

Jojoba oil is sometimes added to hair conditioners because it can soften and protect hair fibers. When used with straightening products, it may protect from protein loss and prevent hair breakage. You may even be able to use jojoba oil as a leave-in conditioner by applying it to your roots and then working it through the rest of your hair.

  • Jojoba oil for dandruff and scalp psoriasis

Jojoba oil creates a barrier around your skin to keep in moisture. This may prevent flaky, itchy dandruff from forming and can soothe psoriasis plaques on the scalp.

Try full-strength jojoba oil:

  • As a makeup remover
  • As a cuticle oil
  • As the final step in your nighttime skin care regimen (because it's thicker than many other oils you might use)
  • As a leave-in hair conditioner

 You can also use it to dilute other strong oils, like essential oils.

Generally, jojoba oil is considered safe to apply to your skin. But although it offers various benefits, it may come with some risks, including:

Allergic reactions

In some people, especially those with skin conditions, jojoba oil can cause an allergic reaction. This may appear as an itchy rash, red skin, hives, eye irritation, and, in severe cases, the closing of your airway. If you have these symptoms, stop using the oil. If the reaction leads to a rash or an outbreak of hives, talk to your doctor. If you have shortness of breath or closing of your airway, go to the ER right away.

Before you use jojoba oil for the first time, perform an allergy test on a small patch of your skin. Put three to four drops of oil on your inner elbow and cover this spot with a bandage. Wait 24 hours, and if you react in any way, you should stop using the oil.

Digestion issues

Jojoba oil is not meant to be eaten and should only be used on your skin. Your body can't digest jojoba oil, but you would likely need to eat more than your own body weight for it to be toxic. Still, eating jojoba oil can lead to symptoms that include excess fats in your stool (poop) and possibly diarrhea and stomach pain. If you do eat it and have fatty poop that doesn't go away 1-2 days after you stop eating it, talk to your doctor.

Jojoba can be applied to your skin or mixed with essential oils. If you want to use jojoba oil, talk to your doctor about the skin or hair issue you're trying to treat. That way, they can suggest guidelines for you to follow.

Jojoba oil is widely available at a number of price points. Cold-pressed oil may be more expensive than heat or chemically expressed oil because it uses a method to extract the oil that takes more time. But cold-pressed oil may be the best for use on your skin and your hair because its extraction process doesn't use heat or chemicals that can destroy some of jojoba's antioxidant qualities.