Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wheat germ oil

It's hard to find a standard fatty acid profile for wheat germ oil (INCI Triticum aestivum oil or Tricium vulgare oil) as it depends upon the strain of wheat, the climate in which it is grown, and so on. A general profile looks something like this - with a fatty acid profile - 1 to 16% palmitic acid (C16), 1 to 6% stearic acid (C18), 8 to 30% oleic acid (C18:1), 44 to 65% linoleic acid (C18:2), and 4 to 10% linolenic acid (C18:3).

It's very high in Vitamin E - about 2540 ppm - just about the highest in any carrier oil we use (I'm saying "just about" because I haven't found anything higher, but my research is not done!) All this lovely tocopherol content can actually help to prevent other oils from becoming rancid, which is always a good thing, while softening your skin.

About 5% of wheat germ oil are those wonderful phytosterols - about 67% ß-sitosterol, 22% campesterol, and 10% others. Phytosterols help our skin barrier mechanisms recover by penetrating into skin, reducing transepidermal water loss (TEWL), and they can help with sun damaged or harmed by the elements, as well as reducing inflammation and itching.

We also find ferulic acid in wheat germ oil (it's starting to look a lot like rice bran oil!), which is very effective anti-oxidant - more powerful than Vitamin E - that can prevent skin aging, reduce age spots, helps repair light and radiation induced damage. It penetrates skin to soften and moisturize, soothes wind chapped and sun burned skin, and reduces itching and inflammation.

And don't forget those wonderful polyphenols! Wheat germ oil is filled with carotenoids like xanthophyll and beta carotene, both of which are precursors to Vitamin A. And the squalene! Wheat germ contains about 0.1% to 0.7% squalene, which is soaked quickly into our skin to soften and moisturize.

There is a fatty alcohol in wheat germ oil called octacosanol, a long chain fatty alcohol with 28 carbons! Although it has been debunked as a wonder ingredient for athletes, it has been studied as a possible treatment for very dry skin or skin suffering from an inflammation disease.

To sum it up, wheat germ oil has a shelf life of up to 6 months, but you'll want to keep it in your fridge or a very cool, dark place - treat it like you would hemp seed oil. It offers softening and moisturizing through the oleic acid and Vitamin E. It may help with skin barrier repair through the linoleic acid. The phytosterols offer anti-inflammatory and anti-iching benefits. The polyphenols offer free radical scavenging and anti-oxiding properties. And the octacosanol may help with inflamed or very dry skin!

Wheat germ oil is a great addition to a lotion for extremes of weather, like summer and winter, because it helps with wind chapping and sun burn. Although it seems like a great addition to a facial product, it does have a comedgenicity level of 5 - 5 being the highest on the scale - and an irritation index of 2, which means it is slightly irritating. It is possible someone with a wheat allergy may be sensitive or even allergic to wheat germ oil, so try it out before using it all over your body and show caution when sharing your products with others.

Join me tomorrow for more fun with oils!


Susan said...

Love the oil articles. Keep them coming.

Puja said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Puja said...

This is a wonderful on-line resource to have come across.

I think you should publish it in book form, as a stylish and illustrated guide perhaps. It would certainly be on my bedside-table for frequent reading.

Thank-you for sharing with us :o)