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Helping People Achieve Clear Skin Since 2007

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How to Use Jojoba Oil to Treat Acne

dr jaggi rao Reviewed by Dr. Jaggi Rao, MD, FRCPC, Double board-certified dermatologist

Is jojoba oil just the thing for treating your acne? The oil extracted from jojoba seeds is extremely similar to human sebum. Since like dissolves like, jojoba oil is great from removing excessive soft sebum, but it can make hardened sebum deposits in pores even worse. This article will tell you what you need to know to use jojoba oil to keep your skin clear once you have treated blemishes.

jojoba oil for acne
Jojoba oil is extracted by crushing the nuts of a desert tree.


  • Jojoba oil is a natural oil crushed from the nuts of a desert tree native to the American Southwest.
  • Egyptian jojoba oil tends to have more of the healing waxes than jojoba oil made from nuts of plants grown in Argentina or the USA.
  • Jojoba oil is chemically similar to the sebum in human skin, and the oil can dissolve sebum and carry ingredients deep into the skin.
  • Many products that use jojoba oil as a carrier, however, carry harmful ingredients deep into the skin.
  • Jojoba beads are good for keeping unblemished skin clear. The best products for acne contain jojoba beads and very few other ingredients.

What Is Jojoba Oil?

The jojoba plant is native to the “green desert” of southeastern Arizona and portions of the Mohave desert in southern California in the United States. It is a distant relative of the cloves tree grown in South and Southeastern Asia, but it is the only plant of its family in North America.

Jojoba nuts are eaten by squirrels, rabbits, rodents, and birds, but most animals eat them in small quantities because they cannot digest the wax the nut contains. Only a desert creature known as Bailey’s pocket mouse can eat jojoba nuts in large quantities without stomach upset. The reason most animals don’t eat jojoba nuts is that the oil they contain is actually a wax, with a chemical composition similar to whale blubber or the sebum in human skin.

Jojoba Oil as a Skin Treatment

Native American tribes of the American Southwest traditionally used jojoba nut oil as a treatment for burns. Only in 2011, scientists discovered that the the oil stimulated the production of collagen in the skin without stimulating the production of enzymes that break collagen down. It helps skin grow faster to close wounds and to firm the tissues under scars.

Jojoba nuts deliver vitamin E to the skin. Nearly 80% of the vitamin E in the nuts is gamma-tocopherol, which is usually deficient in European and Australian (although not American and Canadian) diets. The nuts also contain alpha- and beta-tocopherol, and a compound called beta-sitosterol, which can interact with testosterone in the skin.

The waxy oil of jojoba nuts is not a triglyceride (a building block of fat), so it is very stable. It does not go bad when it is stored at room temperature, and it has little color or odor. Since there is essentially nothing in jojoba oil but the waxy oil itself, it does not cause skin irritation or inflammation and will not trigger oil production when it is applied to human skin. Since the jojoba plant makes this wax to protect its seeds, nuts grown on plants raised with irrigation in deserts where it never rains in Egypt tend to have more of the desired long-chain fatty acids than nuts grown on plants where it occasionally rains in Texas and Arizona.

Treating Acne with Jojoba Oil

Jojoba oil usually is not used “straight” in treating acne. It is most commonly employed as a carrier agent to help deliver healing substances deep into pores. Since jojoba oil is chemically similar to sebum, it easily mixes with sebum, and carries other substances deep down into the skin. Of course, whether this is a good thing or a bad thing depends on the substance it is used to carry.

You don’t have to buy an expensive acne skin care product, however, to take advantage of the healing properties of jojoba oil. If you want a good scrub for blemishes on the dry skin, for instance, just mix equal amounts of jojoba oil and cornmeal (about a tablespoon, or 15 grams, of each). Apply the mixture to blemished skin, rubbing it on your skin without trying to rub it into your skin, and then rinse away. This mixture costs just pennies per application, and is likely to be better for blemishes on dry skin than expensive products containing “jojoba beads.” Also, since you only use two ingredients, you don’t have to worry about any allergenic fragrances or harsh detergents damaging your skin.

Jojoba oil is often the first-named ingredient in products that advertise antioxidant ingredients such as sea buckthorn oil and vitamin C. While adding antioxidants to jojoba oil certainly does not hurt, it usually does not help, either. Antioxidants go bad when they are exposed to the air, and jojoba oil is so thick that it is hard to package as a product in a tube. If you buy a jar of jojoba oil with antioxidants, the jojoba oil won’t go bad, but the antioxidants quickly will. It’s just as good, and a lot less expensive, just to buy pure jojoba oil.

What are some products that use jojoba oil in the right way to help blemished skin?

  • Aveeno Advanced Care Moisturizing Cream combines jojoba oil with glycerin, without adding any unneeded ingredients. The glycerin helps soothe sensitive skin, and the jojoba oil stimulates it to make the collagen it needs for repair. If you have a problem with both eczema and acne, this product will help with both skin issues, and it costs less than US $10 a bottle.
  • Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser really wouldn’t work if it did not contain jojoba oil. In this product, jojoba oil makes the alpha-hydroxy acids, beta-hydroxy acids, and polyethylene exfoliating beads stick to the skin long enough to work. However, the jojoba oil sticks to your skin so well that you have to remove the product with a washcloth.
  • MyChelle Fruit Enzyme cleanser contains a tiny amount of fruit enzymes with jojoba beads and bamboo powder. It’s actually the jojoba beads and bamboo powder that cleanse your skin.
  • Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Aging Buffing Beads use jojoba beads to break up tight, dead skin that keeps pores closed. This product is best for keeping unblemished skin clear. The beads won’t really dissolve in the sebum in your pores the way pure jojoba oil will, so they are best for keeping dead skin and dried sebum from building up on clear skin.
  • Zia Ultimate Deep Pore Cleanser is also a product that is better for keeping skin clear than it is for clearing up blemishes. The jojoba beads in this product can break up tiny amounts of hardened sebum, but they only get stuck in the oily skin or large pores.
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NoScrubbing Reply

Never scrub blemishes, especially with something coarse like cornmeal!

January 7, 2013 at 6:41 pm Reply
Meri Reply

Extremely helpful, thank you! :)

March 6, 2013 at 7:57 am Reply
Nicole Reply

Thank you for this tip , very helpful .

April 25, 2013 at 8:55 pm Reply

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