Sunflower Oil for Skin care: Benefits and side effects

Posted on March 7th, 2024 10:00 PM

Can I use Sunflower oil on my face?

Oleic acid present in sunflower oil is used to treat a dry, aging skin, it is absorbed easily by the skin, replenishing lost moisture, and restore the oil in skin without clogging pores. Oleic acid present in sunflower oil is responsible for mineral transport, immune and hormone response.

As a dermatologist practising in India, I have always been in search of actives that are readily available in our kitchens which are cost effective and skin effective!

When I was younger, I remember my grand mom using sunflower oil (especially in winters) as our family moisturizer, and in summers, it was always coconut oil.

As I look back, I now understand the actual reason behind this, cause sunflower oil does not solidify easily at room temperatures, in the cold weather too and thereby being unlikely to clog pores and give a sticky feeling post application.

Delving further, I realized that there are so many moisturizers and creams that contain “sunflower oil” as their main occlusive ingredient. This made me look further into the sunflower oil magic, so let’s see what science has to say about this oil…

What Is sunflower oil:

Sunflower Oil (or Helianthus Annuus, as scientists like to call it) is a clear to pale gold liquid extracted from sunflower seeds. 

It’s made up mostly of fatty acids, including Linoleic Acid (48-74%), Oleic Acid (14-40%), Palmitic Acid (4-9%) and Stearic Acid (1-7%). Depending on the type of sunflower oil you use (yes, there’s more than one type of sunflower oil), the ratios change.

For example, some types of sunflower oils are high in lineolic acid while others in oleic acid. In case you’re wondering, these differences depend on the genetics of the plant and where it was grown. But they ALL contain a huge dollop of vitamin E, an antioxidant with hydrating properties. Sunflower oil absorbs quickly into your skin and delivers some serious hydration.

How does Sunflower oil benefit our skin:

Remember all those fatty acids I’ve just told you about? They are super moisturising and make sunflower oil a great option for dry skin that needs some extra TLC. Here are all the benefits of sunflower oil:

  • It moisturises skinSunflower oil creates a barrier on the skin that locks in moisture. Because of its high fatty acid concentration, sunflower oil has great emollient benefits, helping to improve skin barrier function and maintain hydration. This makes even the driest of skin types soft and smooth and helps sensitive skin better withstand the assaults of the environment.

  • It prevents wrinkles: I’ve already mentioned that sunflower oil is a rich source of Vitamin E. These powerful antioxidants fight off free radicals before they can give you wrinkles.

  • It soothes skin2005 study also discovered that sunflower oil lowers the rate of infections in low-birth-weight premature infants. It does this better than Aquaphor or Vaseline (you know, the treatment that uses petrolatum). The skin of premature babies is underdeveloped and more prone to infections. Sunflower oil helps strengthen their skin’s protective barrier, keeping them safe. Plus, it has been well studied to treat skin conditions like dryness and eczema, as mentioned in our medical literature.

Side Effects Of Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil is generally considered to be safe. Because it’s an anti-inflammatory, that’s helping patients that have barrier issues in atopic dermatitis, and it is unlikely to cause a reaction. “Usually, those ingredients that have that kind of interaction with the body very rarely end up causing any negative impact”, is what I have learned in dermatology.

Can Sunflower Oil Clog Pores?

Like most oils, sunflower oil can clog pores – but that doesn’t mean it will. Whether or not it makes you break out depends on your skin type and how much oil you’re using, i.e. whether sunflower oil is at the top or bottom of the ingredient list. It’s the dose that makes the poison.

You’re more likely to get a breakout if you have oily skin. Some of the fatty acids that deeply moisturise skin can clog pores and give you acne. Dry skin? They’ll moisturise skin without any unpleasant side effects.

Is Sunflower Oil Safe To Use During Pregnancy?

Yes, sunflower oil is safe to use during pregnancy, especially if the hormones are drying out your skin. There’s no research that shows it poses any risk during pregnancy or lactation.

Is Sunflower Oil Good For Sensitive Skin?

Yes, sunflower oil is suitable for sensitive skin for multiple reasons. It helps strengthens the skin’s protective barrier against irritants and environmental aggressors. It soothes irritations. And, although it’s not impossible, it’s highly unlikely to cause a negative reaction.

How to Use It 

It depends on whether you’re using sunflower oil alone or in a skincare product. If it’s in a night moisturiser or oil, use it as the last step of your skincare routine at night. If it’s in a serum, use it right before moisturiser.

How Often Should You Use It?

You can use it up to twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Keep in mind, in the morning it can take a while to absorb and could cause pilling under your sunscreen. Once a day is enough too, so don’t stress it if you can’t use it in the morning.

Who Should Use It?

Due to its moisturising and anti-inflammatory properties, sunflower oil is best for dry and sensitive skin that needs extra moisture (without the irritation).

Can You Use Sunflower Oil With Retinoids?

Yes, not only you can. You should. Retinoids are a family of anti-aging ingredients that fight free radicals and boost collagen production. They both reduce the wrinkles you already have and prevent new ones from forming.

But, they’re a double-edged sword. They work, but there’s a cost. They can irritate your skin and cause dryness, especially when used too much too often. Sunflower oil has moisturising and soothing properties that can counteract the drying and irritating effects of retinoids.

Is Sunflower Oil The Same As Safflower Oil?

Sunflower and safflower sound very similar – and there are times when I too confuse them on an ingredient list. But, they’re NOT the same thing! Safflower’s Latin name is Carthamus Tinctorium and is a completely different plant.

Ok, they have some similarities. They both contain unsaturated fats and are deeply moisturising. But they have a different ration of fatty acids. For example, sunflower oil is higher in oleic acid (30% VS 13.75%) and lower in linoleic acid (59% VS 76.22%)

Message in a bottle!

Sunflower oil is a great choice as a natural moisturizer, be it for the face or body. Especially in the dry and cold seasons, it is great to give you a quick and effective solution to flaky, irritable skin. The added benefit of finding it in your kitchen, saves much time and of course cost!!