Friday, November 20, 2009

Evening primrose oil

Evening primrose contains about 6% palmitic acid (C16), a titch of stearic acid (C18), 11% oleic acid (C18:1), 70% linoleic acid (C18:2), and between 9 to 12% GLA (C18:3). With so much linoleic acid we can expect evening primrose oil to help restore skin's barrier functions, act as an anti-inflammatory, reduce scaling, and soothe dry skin and itchiness. The oleic acid will contribute some moisturizing and softening benefits, but the real star attraction here is the GLA! The high levels of GLA in evening primrose oil will help restore the skin's barrier functions quicker than linoleic acid containing oils, reduce TEWL, increase skin's hydration, and offer increased skin flexibility as it is absorbed quickly.

We find anti-oxidants in the form of tocopherols in evening primrose oil, but a surprisingly low amount at 211 ppm (compare this to sunflower oil with up to 700 ppm). Interestingly enough, evening primrose doesn't oxidize as quickly as you'd think given all those double and triple bonds! Evening primrose is "antioxidative in nature", meaning it quenches free radicals and chelates metal ions through mechanisms other than tocopherols! (Scienticians are still studying this to figure out why this is!) It has a shelf life of about 6 months, which is far higher than you'd expect with up to 93% double and triple bonded fatty acids!

The polyphenols in evening primrose are about 300 mg per kg of oil, found mainly as catechins, which may act as an anti-bacterial agent on our skin. This means evening primrose is going to feel a little drier than something like sunflower oil on your skin. Evening primrose contains gallic acid, which has been studied as a burn and wound healer that might prevent infection during the healing process (you might remember gallic acid from mango butter!). Studies have found evening primrose used at 20% offers a statistically significant effect on the skin barrier of those suffering with atopic dermatitis (a type of eczema).

Evening primrose is a fantastic addition in your lotions and other creations at up to 10% - mainly because of cost - but you can use at up to 20% if you are having real difficulties with dry skin.

Considering using it in a facial serum (more about this coming soon) at 10 to 20%. It does have a comedogenicity rating of 3 (out of 4), so although it works really well for people who are prone to acne, it might not be the best idea for those of us who are prone to clogged pores!

I like to use it in an after bath spray during the winter to increase the amount of linoleic acid and GLA to help with dry chapped or reddened skin. I'm tweaking this anhydrous after bath oil spray to include 20% evening primrose oil - which will offer us a lot of linoleic acid and GLA to help with skin barrier repair - 48% sesame oil, because it is non-staining and has a lot of linoleic and oleic acids. I'm adding 10% cyclomethicone to help with the glide of the product and 10% dimethicone to help protect our skin as it repairs itself, as is is an approved barrier ingredient. I like to add IPM to my bath oil sprays as it makes the product feel a little less oily, as does the cyclomethicone as it evaporates. I'm including Vitamin E in here because the evening primrose oil has a short shelf life - no more than 6 months - so we need some great anti-oxidants in here.

Note: Feel free to leave out the silicones and increase the oils and feel free to play with any oils you really like in this recipe!

20% evening primrose oil
48% sesame oil
10% cyclomethicone
10% dimethicone
10% IPM
1% Vitamin E
1% fragrance or essential oil

Mix your oils together, then pour into a spray bottle for apres bath or shower use.

Join me tomorrow for fun with borage oil!


johndaddy said...
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TC said...

Hi Susan,

In my search to finding out the shelf life of EPO, i came across a supplier website which stated that EPO should be added during the cool down phase. I suspect they must have nutrition preservation in mind? I'm just now a little confused, as i'd like to retain the benefits of the oil, but want to make sure i'm doing the right thing with heating and holding. Especially so, with this particular oil as i'll be using it for my children who have eczema.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts in this.


charmscribe said...

The skin feel of this formulation is amazing: it spreads nicely, it's quickly absorbed and has a silky after feel. The only thing I don't like is that it comes out of my spray bottle as a stream. The very light blend, Apres Bath Oil Mister with IPM (from the Back to Basics: Oil Based Body Sprays post) came out in a fine mist! But there are more GLA's and other goodies in this one so it's a trade off. I just realized the dimethicone I have is 1000 c.s. and it might be too thick for the sprayer. I will try again without it or with 350 c.s.

Matthew Wood said...

Several years ago I fielded a phone call from a man who claimed that Evening Primrose Oil worked for him in the 80s and early 90s but no longer worked. He felt that changes in manufacture had changed the product and it was no longer as good. I had to admit that in the 80s and 90s women raved about it as a menstrual remedy, but not nowadays. Maybe more and better is available. He investigated, found the original manufacturer (EFAMOL) no longer in business. Plant no longer harvested in the wild but cultivated; a specific variety. Extracted a different way. M