What We Know About The Hair & Skin Benefits Of Sea Buckthorn Oil

It can be overwhelming to hear of yet another plant-based oil that's been hyped up as the next must-include ingredient in your beauty routine. After all, if you've already come to rely on, say, rambutan extract to give your sensitive skin an anti-aging boost, trying a different one feels like a huge risk with no guaranteed pay-off.

Still, it's good to know why a number of brands would include an ingredient in their formulation. In the case of sea buckthorn oil, it's used not just by skincare labels, but also by hair care companies. Derived from the seeds, leaves, and berries of the sea buckthorn plant, a 2017 study found this extract to be rich in unsaturated fatty acids, specifically palmitoleic and gamma-linoleic acids, which are more commonly known as omega-7 and omega-6, respectively. These components give sea buckthorn oil the regenerative powers that have made it a frequently featured ingredient for products that address dry, flaky, or mature skin. In addition, dermatologist Dr. Purvisha Patel told Shape that it contains omega-3 and omega-9, making it an ideal ingredient for repairing the skin barrier, especially for those who suffer from psoriasis and eczema.

These same qualities make sea buckthorn oil ideal for scalp care, which is a huge factor in having healthy locks. Aside from its capacity to facilitate better blood circulation and skin oxygenation, according to the same 2017 study, this extract can make the hair structure stronger and fortify it against hair loss and even balding.

Sea buckthorn oil is recommended for its hydrating and anti-aging properties

According to MindBodyGreen, oil extracted from sea buckthorn berries packs more of the plant's skin-nourishing components. What differentiates it from the oil derived from the seeds and leaves is its vivid golden-orange color. That's why although sea buckthorn oil is easily absorbed and can be directly applied to the skin, Dr. Patel advised taking care that it doesn't stain your towels and bedding (per Shape).

Aside from people with inflammatory conditions like psoriasis and eczema, those whose skin shows signs of aging due to oxidative stress will also benefit from adding sea buckthorn oil to their regimen. Research shows that having excessive free radicals in the body results in oxidative stress, leading the skin to lose its firmness, change its texture, and develop fine lines and dark spots. To combat this, you'd need products that are rich in antioxidants such as flavonoids and vitamins A, C, and E — which sea buckthorn oil has plenty of, as dermatologist Dr. Rebecca Marcus told MindBodyGreen. 

Aside from people with dry and/or mature skin, those with oily skin can also find relief by using pure sea buckthorn oil. Simple Pure Beauty revealed that it has a comedogenic rating of 1, meaning it poses a very low risk of clogging your pores. However, MindBodyGreen cautioned checking the ingredients list of sea buckthorn oil-infused products for other components that may cause breakouts.

It also helps regulate oil production for healthy hair

A 2015 study discovered how taking in omega-3, omega-6, and antioxidants through nutritional supplements over the course of six months could help increase hair density. It's no wonder then, that sea buckthorn oil is used in hair care products that aim to protect hair from breakage since it's a rich source of these nutrients. "Fatty acids, as well as vitamins present in sea buckthorn oil, can provide nourishment and hydration to the scalp and support the structure of the hair," Dr. Marcus further explained to MindBodyGreen.

Aside from supporting hair growth and hydrating the scalp, it also helps remedy scalp problems ranging from excessive oil production to seborrheic dermatitis. According to dermatologist Dr. Anar Mikalov (per MindBodyGreen), the extract's anti-inflammatory properties can calm down dry, irritated skin. Furthermore, the 2017 research into the oil's active ingredients also discovered that it contains lecithin, a complex lipid that removes excessive oil from the hair, making sea buckthorn oil advisable for those with greasy tresses.

There are different ways to harness this oil's power for your hair: Taking it in capsule form, using shampoos and conditioners that feature it, or massaging it onto the scalp in its pure oil form. For the last option, Byrdie suggested doing it a few hours before you wash your hair or letting it sit overnight. Make sure to let the oil dry completely first before you go to sleep so it doesn't leave orange stains on your pillow.

Take the usual necessary precautions before using sea buckthorn oil

Given its numerous benefits, it's tempting to buy the first product you see that lists sea buckthorn oil as the star ingredient. Still, as MindBodyGreen explained, it's a botanical extract that could cause irritation to sensitive skin. Patch testing and consulting with your dermatologist are always advised when trying out a new topical ingredient. Medical News Today further stated that its hydrating benefits for both the skin and hair have only limited evidence so far, so it's best to manage your expectations for its effectiveness. Additionally, while a study concluded that the direct application of the oil on the skin yielded zero toxicity in the short term, it isn't known yet if long-term use or overconsumption of sea buckthorn oil is safe. Medical News Today advised talking to your doctor first if you're pregnant, breastfeeding, or on medication.

Once you get the all-clear, though, this extract can be integrated into the different steps of your skincare routine. As a cold-pressed oil, MindBodyGreen suggested mixing a drop of it with your clay mask to combat dryness. Cosmetic chemist Krupa Koestline also recommended doing the same with your moisturizer or serum. Another tip she shared? "I use it under my eyes before concealer as a natural color corrector." Thanks to its high pigmentation, the tiniest amount of this extract goes a long way in adding a Tomato Girl-worthy glow to the skin just before you apply makeup.