Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunflower oil

Sunflower oil is a fantastic oil if you are looking for a high linoleic acid oil. It is light, meaning you can make some very light moisturizers containing great ingredients, and it's inexpensive.

Its fatty acid make up is...
5 to 7% palmitic acid (saturated, C16)
3 to 6% stearic acid (saturated, C18)
16 to 36% oleic acid (unsaturated, C18:1)
61 to 73% linoleic acid (unsaturated, C18:2)

It can contain up to 700 mg per kg Vitamin E, 500 mg in the form of the alpha tocopherol and 100 mg in the gamma tocopherol.

Unfortunately, with all those double bonds in the linoleic acid, it doesn't have a long shelf life - 3 to 6 months. The high levels of Vitamin E help with oxidation, but not enough to overcome the double bonds. If you buy the high oleic version, you're going to lose all the benefits of the linoleic acid (but gain those of the oleic acid, so it's not all bad!) With these high levels of Vitamin E, you're going to get the goodness offered by the vitamin - softening of the skin, alleviation of dry skin, the usual retention of water, plus anti-inflammatory benefits!

Another bonus of sunflower oil is the cost - it's one of the least expensive oils you can buy at $7 to $10 a pound.

It's not considered a comedogenic oil, so it is good for facial lotions. Not only is it light, but it is also thought to help with acne! (I definitely recommend it for acne - it makes your skin feel moisturized and very soft!)

Join me tomorrow for some ideas on formulating a facial moisturizer with sunflower oil!


Ai Shiang said...

When you mention 3-6 months shelf life, do you mean before or after it is used to make lotion/cream?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Before it is used in a lotion.

p said...

Hi Susan,

I've discovered that most of the sunflower oil in the supermarket and on our suppliers' shelves is now high oleic!

In fact, I used to buy a locally grown organic sunflower oil that I bought in bulk from my co-op - I loved it in my creams and body butters for what I thought was its high linoleic acid content. I recently moved to a new city and needed to find a substitute, but I can't find organic high linoleic sunflower anywhere (in person or online)! It occurred to me that my beloved bulk sunflower oil might not have been high linoleic like I had thought; I did a bit of investigating, and it turns out that yup, this sunflower oil was high oleic too!

It might be worth updating the post, given that the market seems to have changed.

Thanks as always!


Mia said...

Hi Susan. I know this is a bit old post, but I hope you can help me with this anyway. I bought high linoleic organic sunflower oil (I know it's high linoleic because the website where I bought it specifically stated that) a couple of months ago, honestly I can't remember how long ago, but it wasn't much, I think. I'm actually using it as a cleansing oil. My problem is that I have no idea how to recognize when the oil has gone rancid or oxidized. All I could notice is that the scent has changed a bit, is now stronger than it was when I recently bought it. I keep it on the fridge, but I remember that when I bought it, I used to keep it in the bathroom, and obviously, when I use it I take the cap off and all the light and air comes in contact with it.
Do you think my oil has gone bad already? How can I recognize when the oil has gone bad?

Jodi said...

Hi Susan,

Does high Oleic acid Sunflower oil have the same properties as high linoleic sunflower oil? (as shown in your chart comparing oils) I.e., does it have the same shelf life, Vitamin E, phytosterols, polyphenols and other nice benefits?

Thanks so much,


Tricia said...

Hi Susan,

Hoping you'll re-visit sunflower oil and help clear up some of the confusion re: high-oleic vs high-linoleic varieities.

Most of what's now on the market is high-oleic (intended for cooking, tolerates higher cooking temperatures, has a longer shelf life), although it's still possible to find high-linoleic sunflower oil (Flora is one brand name) which as I understand it comes from different strains of sunflower plant than the high-oleic kind.

Based on your knowledge of chemistry and/or direct experience working with sunflower oil, can you tell us anything about whether/how these two differ when they're used in, say, a lotion? Different skin benefits? Different interaction with other oils or other ingredients?

Thanks again for all the good information here.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Tricia! Take a look at the emollients section of the blog to see more about fatty acids to see what each brings to the product. As well, a search will uncover a series I wrote on sunflower oi in 2014 with loads of information on this oil. I hope this answers your questions! I love sunflower oil.