Everything's Coming Up Sunflowers
Let’s begin by sharing how grateful I am for the sunflower. This fierce majestic plant is often overlooked as a skincare ingredient. For many of you, it already feels familiar, so you’ll swipe on to the next thing or perhaps it just doesn’t have the exotic draw of other ingredients you’ve heard about. The lipids and desmosomes of your epidermis say otherwise.
Let me stop you there and say, wa·ter re·tain·ing.
It’s a powerhouse.
Well, perhaps the Mammoth Sunflower enjoys bragging from time to time. But come on, soaring up to 12 feet high, I get it.
Its botanical name, Helianthus, originates from the Greek words helios—the sun, and anthos—a flower. The sunflower is primarily grown for the extraction of oil from its seeds. It is also the fourth largest vegetable oil produced worldwide, after palm, soybean, and canola. Having many applications (nutritional, biofuel, cosmetic) make it pretty impressive in my eyes. Today I speak to its prowess as an emollient.
In many commercial products, petrolatum, lanolin, mineral oil and dimethicone (lotions, hair products) are common emollients. Due to the potentially harmful nature of the aforementioned substances, they are never used in our products. Take a look at our restricted ingredients for more information.
Emollients are used for protecting, moisturizing, and lubricating the skin. They work by forming a barrier on the epidermis or stratum corneum (outer layer of skin) that holds water and aids in hydration. Among many functions, this layer defends against environmental threats and aids in water loss or absorption. The stratum corneum is comprised of corneocytes, desmosomes, and lipids. Bored yet? I hope not!
Sunflower oil, rich in Vitamin E, is specifically related to improving skin health and regenerating cells. This means your skin is better protected against damage from the sun, as well as the natural degradation of age that occurs when free radicals are present in the body. Antioxidants like Vitamin E neutralize free radicals, keeping them from destroying or damaging healthy cells.
Sunflower oil was chosen with great intention as one of the base oils in our serum, maison. Our grade of oil has a smooth texture, similar to human sebum and is incredibly high in oleic acid (70-88%). Oils rich in oleic acid are full-bodied, seal moisture well, and are known to reduce inflammation. They serve as an essential fatty acid to strengthen the skin barrier. I am all for it! Sunflowers are found abundantly in North America, making high oleic sunflower oil a sustainable, economical, and sound ecological choice.
Make it Matter! Skin is our largest organ, regulates body temperature, defends against bacteria, and serves us in so many ways! Let us treat it with tender love and care.
Still brainstorming a sign off,
Danby, S.G., AlEnezi, T. et al. (2013). Effect of Olive and Sunflower Seed Oil on the Adult Skin Barrier: Implications for Neonatal Skin Care. Pediatric Dermatology, 30 (1), 42-50. doi: http://loyon.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Danby_2013.pdf
Del Rosso, J. Q, et al. (2011). The clinical relevance of maintaining the functional integrity of the stratum corneum in both healthy and disease-affected skin. doi:
Dimitrijevic, A. & Horn, R. (2018). Sunflower Hybrid Breeding: From Markers to Genomic Selection. Frontiers in Plant Science, 8, 22-38. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2017.02238
James, M., Gibson, R., Cleland, L. (2000). Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids and inflammatory mediator production, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 71,(1), 343-348. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/71.1.343s
Marino, C. (2006). Skin Physiology, Irritants, Dry Skin and Moisturizers. Report Number 56-2-2001a. doi: http://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/Research/Dermatitis/
Rauf, S., Jamil, N., Ali Tariq, S., Khan, M., and Kausar, M. (2017). Progress in modification of sunflower oil to expand its industrial value. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 97, 1997-2006. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.8214
Scharffetter-Kochanek, K., Brenneisen, P., Wenk, J., Herrmann, G., Ma, W., Kuhr, L. (2000). Photoaging of the skin from phenotype to mechanisms. Experimental Gerontology, 35, 307-316.
Yousef, H., Alhajj M., Sharma, S. (2019). Anatomy, Skin (Integument), Epidermis. In: National Center for Biotechnology Information, StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing. doi: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470464/