April 2009 Ageless herbal newsletter
The name "jojoba oil" is misleading, as it is not oil, but a wax ester made up of a complex mixture of naturally occurring long-chained linear esters with many functional cosmetic properties that are far superior to triglycerides. Over 97% of jojoba is composed of an array of liquid wax esters, with a combination of mixed tocopherols, free sterols and other unsaponifiables making up the balance.
In addition to the obvious chemical difference, jojoba differs from normal vegetable oils as these triglyceride fats and oils are easily hydrolyzed and oxidized, yet jojoba resists hydrolysis and oxidation and is a far more effective, non-occlusive, moisture control and for photo-protection on the external surfaces of the skin, than any other natural or synthetic oil.
Early Spanish explorers and missionaries recorded that the native Amerindian inhabitants of the American Sonoran Desert used it for sundry cosmetic and medicinal purposes, such as hair dressings, body oils, and skin salves.
Realizing that most legends have some basis of truth, research chemists in the 1930's first investigated the composition and properties of jojoba oil. These chemists realized, to their surprise, that jojoba was not based on triglycerides (glycerol esterified to three long-chain carboxylic acids) as are essentially all naturally occurring liquid oils and solid fats.
In fact, the researchers realized that the extract from jojoba seeds was the only plant-sourced material composed of liquid, long-chain esters. They were intrigued with jojoba seed oil, but were very limited in their research due to limitations of technology of the day.
Soon, jojoba oil fell into relative obscurity that lasted until the late 1960's and early 1970's.
In the late '60's and early '70's, two events transpired which brought jojoba oil into the limelight of cosmetic research and development. First, many nations of the world started to become "environmentally conscious" and realized the finite limitations on many of the world's resources.
These nations, either collectively or independently, identified endangered plant and animal species around the world. Soon thereafter, they outlawed the hunting and/or harvesting of these species and prohibited the use of any materials derived from these sources.
Among the endangered species was the sperm whale, whose spermaceti waxes, a mixture of long chain esters, was greatly valued for its functionality in cosmetic applications. Scientists soon found that jojoba oil could not only replace sperm whale oil (spermaceti) in all applications but discovered that it was actually superior to it.
Secondly, the cosmetic industry commenced a world-wide search for renewable, plant-sourced lipid materials to eventually replace nonrenewable, petrochemical sourced materials, when and if market supply or cost factors dictated.
It was obvious to many that jojoba completely satisfied the needs created by both of the aforementioned events.
It is a renewable plant-sourced ingredient and is sourced from the seeds of Simmondsia chinensis, which is a woody, evergreen, desert shrub indigenous only to the American Sonoran Desert. Jojoba seeds are a dark, reddish-brown color and about 1.0 to 1.5 centimeters long.
Approximately 50% of the weight of the seed is a mixture of long-chain liquid esters that is typically extracted by mechanical pressing. Unlike most triglyceride seed and nut crude oils, jojoba oil is very low in or virtually devoid of tars, gums, free carboxylic acids, hydroperoxides, hosphatides, chlorophylls, color bodies and malodorous low molecular weight carbonyl compounds.
Expelled, crude jojoba oil is naturally of high quality and purity as it flows from the mechanical presses.
Simmondsia chinensis produces a marvelously consistent mixture of liquid esters.
Extraction of natural jojoba oil from seeds that are in optimal condition results in a very pure and clean initial product that requires minimal processing and/or refining, producing a very high quality consistent end product.
After mechanical extraction, jojoba is generally screened to remove tiny bits of sediment called "footes" and then filtered.
Different grades of jojoba can then be produced:
With the pure, natural golden grade, no further processing is needed after filtration.
The jojoba is simply packaged for storage and shipment. This grade of jojoba has a golden-yellow color. Organoleptically, this grade has a very slight, pleasant odor peculiar to jojoba.
From the early 1980s refined and bleached jojoba has also been available. The color bodies are removed with bleaching earths and filtration. Various degrees of decolorization can be attained by this method with Lovibond readings that are typically between those of pure golden jojoba and decolorized/deodorized grade. This grade of jojoba retains a slight odor.
Many of the most effective ingredients for skin care formulations are those with chemical composition and physical properties similar to the skin's own surface layers.
Since jojoba is completely miscible with sebum, it forms a very thin, non-greasy lipoid layer of jojoba and sebum when it is applied to the skin - and can be applied neat to the skin on all skin types and will also not contribute to skin problems or acne.
This partially porous layer provides exceptional transepidermal respiration and moisture control - making it perfect for anti-aging skin care.
Unlike greasy occlusive materials such as petrolatum, mineral oils and some lanolin products, jojoba provides an absolutely non-tacky and non-greasy, dry emolliency.
At the same time jojoba significantly reduces transepidermal water loss without totally blocking transpiration of gasses and water vapor. The kinking at jojoba’s cis configuration that helps avoid tight packing of hydrocarbon chains enhances this function.
Jojoba serves as an excellent moisturizing agent with exceptional spread and lubricity, and leaves a rich velvety non-oily feel on the skin while retarding water loss and enhancing the flexibility and suppleness of the skin.
Percutaneous absorption studies at the University of Michigan demonstrated that jojoba is quickly absorbed into the skin. Absorption is apparently via the trans-appendegeal mechanism and occurs through the pores and hair follicles.
Additionally, because jojoba is rapidly absorbed, the pores and hair follicles can remain open and thus maintain their proper functioning ability.
From the pores and hair follicles, jojoba diffuses into the corneal layer of the skin probably via a pilosebaceous mechanism.
In short, it appears that jojoba effectively moisturizes and softens the skin by a dual action of forming a lipid layer, which is partially occlusive, and by the diffusion of jojoba into the intercellular spaces of the stratum corneum to soften this tissue.
Jojoba is an extremely functional ingredient in hair and scalp preparations. Many scalp related problems are caused by a hardened build-up of sebum that clogs the hair follicles and may cause some types of scaling.
If this hardened build-up is not removed, it can eventually obstruct the hair follicle's ability to function properly, which can lead to a loss of the hair shaft, and ultimately, death of the follicle.
Jojoba rapidly penetrates down to the scalp and hair shaft, and readily loosens and dissolves this hardened build-up. The scalp and hair follicles are left clean and free to continue their normal function.
Jojoba is also an excellent soil-solubilizing agent, which can remove sticky build-up on the hair from many modern hair preparations as well as airborne particulates.
Jojoba will leave the hair clean and supple. Jojoba exhibits a matchless keratoplastic effect that leaves the hair shimmering and brings out the hair's natural color overtones and brilliance. Jojoba can be used with confidence in most hair preparations at a level ranging from 0.5-3%.
One of the essential functions of lipids on the hair is moisturizing to improve texture and manageability. Keeping the hair fully hydrated is a guarantee of manageability, softness and shine. This is exactly what natural jojoba does: it conditions the hair, and prevents it from becoming brittle and dull when exposed to unfavorable conditions.