Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pumpkin seed oil!

It's autumn in Canada, which means the leaves are turning all kinds of shades of orange before they fall off, the squirrels in my yard are collecting their winter nuts from under my walnut tree, and the air is getting slightly nippier. It also means pumpkin spiced everything everywhere you go. In tribute to the season, I thought I'd use pumpkin seed oil in a few products I like to have around for the colder months of the year.

I'm not really affected much by the cold and I tend to wear shorts or capri pants all but one or two weeks of the year, which means I need even more moisturizing and repairing when I get home at night! 

So what's the deal with pumpkin seed oil (INCI Curcubita pepo (pumpkin) seed oil)? It's a high linoleic acid oil with 12 to 18% palmitic acid (C16), 5 to 8% stearic acid (C18), 24 to 41% oleic acid (C18:1), and 18 to 62% linoleic acid (C18:2), with an average of 50% or so.

Pumpkin seed oil contains tocopherols (Vitamin E), but the amount can differ with the time of year the pumpkins grew, where the pumpkins grew, and how the oil processed. It can range from as low as 150 ppm - not much - to 1575 ppm, which is quite a lot!

The darker colour of pumpkin seed oil comes from the carotenoids - a type of flavonoid - at about 15 ppm. It isn't a lot, but it behaves as a Vitamin A precursor and free radical scavenger. We also find caffeic acid, also found in coconut oil and mango butter, which is a great anti-oxidant. 

The phytosterols in pumpkin seed oil - ß-sitosterol at about 249 milligrams per kilogram of oil - offer help with reducing redness and inflammation as well as soothing dry and itching skin.

The oleic acid in pumpkin seed oil offers skin softening and moisturizing properties, as well as cell regenerating and anti-inflammatory benefits. The linoleic acid helps with skin's barrier repair and reduction of transepidermal water loss. The tocopherols offer anti-oxidizing effects with softening, and the carotenoids offer free radical scavenging. And the phytosterols can help with dry and itchy skin, as well as anti-inflammatory features.

Pumpkin seed oil can have a shelf life of 6 to 12 months. (The reason for the variability is the variable amount of tocopherols.) I would stay on the safe side and call it 6 months unless you add up to 0.5% Vitamin E to the bottle the moment you open it.

I'd compare pumpkin seed oil to rice bran oil or sesame oil. It's a medium weight oil with a nice balance of oleic and linoleic acids. Try using it where you might use those two oils. As well, try it in a facial moisturizer or serum, anywhere you want some Vitamin A free radical scavenging.

Join me tomorrow as we start a series of making products with pumpkin seed oil! 


Anonymous said...

hi susan!
cant wait for everything pumpkin :D

can I pls ask if any recipes on your website are suitable for babies? (6 mth old; no allergies of any sorts; has a little dry butt!) is the 6 ingredient anti-itch lotion ( a good choice?

xo eeting
thank you for your time once again.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi eeting. I'm not comfortable recommending anything for babies as I don't know the babies in question. I have a zinc oxide recipe I've given out to many parents and they report being happy with it, but I'm still wary of suggesting it for little ones as parents can get very anxious these days, and I would hate for someone to think something I made or suggested to be made had made the child break out or go red or something else. Please forgive my paranoia...

Anonymous said...

hi susan. thank you for your reply. i do appreciate your honest and upfront point of view on things. :) and I totally see your point!