May 20, 2019

meadowfoam flowers

Naturally Preserving Vitamin E

Rich and velvety, with a feel similar to pomegranate seed oil, meadowfoam oil should be a staple of any skin care routine. Relatively inexpensive as an oil, meadowfoam performs on a par with oils that run many times the price. The qualities that make it a great oil for the skin are its very long chain fatty acids which we’ll discuss in a moment. Naturally present vitamin E, tocopherols are abundant in the oil contributing a high degree of antioxidant protection against free radicals in and on the skin.

meadowfoam flowers
Meadowfoam Flowers blooming at the Portland, OR Farmers Market

An Ocean Of Meadowfoam

Meadowfoam seed oil is pressed from the seeds of a flower native to the Pacific Northwest. This small annual flower Limnanthes alba and its oil seed crop are a fairly recent addition to agriculture in the US. The name meadowfoam expresses the way a field of the crop appears when in bloom, like white foam blowing across the sea. Originally grown as a replacement for sperm whale oil, Meadowfoam oil is now grown as a crop for its unusual fatty acid makeup that makes it a desirable ingredient in skin care products.

pie chart showing meadowfoam seed oil fatty acidsVery Long Chain Fatty Acids

All fatty oils are made up of carbon chains of varying lengths called fatty acids. These fatty acids can be saturated – with hydrogen – thus solid at room temperature or, unsaturated – less than a full complement of hydrogen – liquid at room temperature. What is so unusual about the fatty acids in meadowfoam seed oil is their length. A full 97% are twenty carbons long or longer, very unusual for a plant derived oil. Over 20 carbons the fatty acids fall into the category of very long, while 14 to 18 carbons are called a simple long chain.

Two types of meadowfoam seed carrier oil
These are both meadowfoam seed oil from two different sources. The different color reflects the level or refinement of the oil.

Stability Against Oxidation

When carbon chains of oils are 20 carbons and longer they become very stable against oxidation – they resist turning rancid. They keep well and this property also confers protection to the cells that underlie an application of the oil. They protect the cells against dehydration as it can lock in moisture plus provide protection against damaging rays of the sun and weather extremes. That the oil glides on easily, soaks into the cells and offers so much protection makes it an obvious choice for skin conditioning.

Have you used meadowfoam seed oil? what’s your experience with this oil? Leave a comment below, I love hearing about your work.

  • I love meadowfoam and have been using it since I started making facial care. It is one of my favorites and I don’t think I have a single formula that doesn’t contain at least a little. It feels amazing and I got really excited when I could get an organic version from lotioncrafter!

  • I have been trying to find a supplier of meadow foam oil that is organic and unrefined without having to get a gallon size. Can you direct me to any resources?

    • Hi Nancy, you are not going to find it organically grown and for years we could only get it solvent extracted. But in the last couple of years Essential Wholesale of Portland Oregon and Lotion Crafter of Washington state both have the oil as cold process rather than solvent extracted. A step in the right direction.

  • Meadowfoam Seed Oil has been a favorite of mine for such a long time! I use it as a scent extender in my soaps (and other formulas too!) I add the fragrances/eo’s to the meadowfoam oil first. My soaps rarely lose their scent, even after 3 or 4 years in storage. It is such a great oil for the skin as well, so my customers get a double bonus. People always look at me strangely when they ask the ingredients in my soaps, and I mention this oil. Their look gets even stranger yet, when I mention it was a replacement for Sperm Whale Oil (I do that on purpose lol!) It is nice to see this oil getting a bit more attention these days!!!

    • Very interesting on the scent extender properties Shannon! Can’t wait to get back to making soap and giving it a try. Thanks.

  • Can I use Meadowfoam oil on my face straight from the bottle? If not what should I be mixing it with for my dry mature wrinkled skin.

    • Linda, yes it makes a lovely skin oil but it also works with other oils to make a great facial oil. Mix it with oils like Argan, cranberry, baobab, and/or avocado to make a facial serum to help nourish and protect your skin.

    • Yes, it is between 20 and 35% but it does vary how much protection it gives different oils based on a study done on a variety of oils.

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