Sea-buckthorn berry oil is one of two types of sea-buckthorn oil. It is made from the berry-like fruit of the sea-buckthorn plant, more specifically, the pulp. Sea-buckthorn berry oil does not contain seed material – the seeds alone are used to make another popular oil called sea-buckthorn seed oil. Sea-buckthorn berry oil boasts numerous therapeutic properties as a result of its anti-inflammatory, non-comedogenic antioxidant and reparative effects. This type of oil is popular for its skin benefits, helping soothe skin irritation, calm redness, reduce inflammation and swelling, deeply moisturize dry, cracked skin and regenerate damaged skin. Topical use is further recommended for dry, damaged, listless and brittle hair, split ends and dry, flaky scalp types prone to dandruff.
What is sea-buckthorn berry oil and what is it made from?
Sea-buckthorn berry oil is made exclusively from the pulp or flesh of sea-buckthorn berries or fruits. The pulp or flesh naturally accumulates lipids which can be extracted into an oil along with pigmented and fat-soluble antioxidants and other components with therapeutic properties. You can technically extract oil from any species of sea-buckthorn (sea-buckthorn berries in general are known to be edible/non-toxic and safe to use, despite being extremely astringent and sour to the taste). However, some species and cultivars are definitely preferred for their higher oil yield. One such species is Hippophae rhamnoides and its various cultivars developed specifically for oil production, producing fruits higher in oil than other species. For example, in a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, berries from Hippophae rhamnoides subsp. rhamnoides were found to have an oil content of 3.5%, compared to berries from Hippophae rhamnoides subsp. sinensis which had an oil content of only 2.1%.
What does sea-buckthorn berry oil look like?
Sea-buckthorn berry oil is a beautiful deep-dark orange color. The oil is made from pressed sea-buckthorn berry pulp or flesh, with no seed material whatsoever. At room temperature, sea-buckthorn berry oil is liquid, but slightly thicker compared to other typical oils. If refrigerated, it thickens visibly, acquiring a relatively viscous consistency. There may be a slight color variation between the different sea-buckthorn berry oils depending on the species and cultivar of sea-buckthorn the oil is made from, fruit ripeness and age of the oil. For example, some sea-buckthorn species produce yellow berries, while others produce orange berries – the difference in color indicates a difference in carotenoid content and profile (e.g. orange carotenoids known as carotenes vs yellow carotenoids known as xanthophylls) which can affect oil color and even therapeutic properties. However, sea-buckthorn berry oil should generally be deep-dark orange in color and slightly thicker.
Sea-buckthorn berry oil properties
- Cold-pressed, undiluted, 100% pure sea-buckthorn berry oil
- Classified as a berry oil, fruit oil or pulp oil
- Classified as a carrier oil, requiring no dilution prior to use. Find out more about essential vs carrier oils.
- Deep/dark orange color, slightly thick consistency (thicker than sea-buckthorn seed oil)
- High carotenoid content as indicated by the orange color
If made from orange sea-buckthorn berries, it tends to be high in carotenes (orange-colored antioxidants such as beta-carotene and lycopene).
If made from yellow sea-buckthorn berries, it tends to be high in xanthophylls (yellow-colored antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin).
- High in antioxidants, varied antioxidant profile: carotenoids such as carotenes (e.g. beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, cis-beta-carotene, lycopene) and xanthophylls (e.g. lutein, zeaxanthin), vitamin C, vitamin E (e.g. tocopherols, tocotrienols), manganese, unsaturated fatty acids (e.g. palmitoleic acid, linoleic acid, alpha-linolenic acid), pheophytin a, a chlorophyll a, flavonols and other phenolic acids (e.g. quercetin, kaempferol).
- High monounsaturated fatty acids oil
- High palmitoleic acid and palmitic acid oil (the two fatty acids account for up to 65% of all fatty acids content of sea-buckthorn berry oil)
- Shelf life of up to 1 year – can turn rancid quickly due to the high monounsaturated fatty acids content of the oil
Should be kept sealed in a dark, preferably glass bottle or container, in a dark, cool place.
- High vitamin E oil
- High in pro-vitamin A antioxidants (e.g. beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin)
- Quick-absorbing, light feel, non-greasy, but rich oil
- Unscented (no particular odor)
- Calming, soothing, typically non-irritating
- Moisturizing, reparative, rejuvenating properties
Sea-buckthorn berry oil uses
The main recommended use of sea-buckthorn berry oil is topical use for skin care, hair care and nail care, but also treatment and management of eczema, dry skin, rosacea etc. However, sea-buckthorn berry oil is made from non-toxic, perfectly edible fruits/berries using cold-pressing and should not contain any preservatives or additives. So technically it’s edible. However, if considered for internal use, it can be consumed as a nutritional supplement and is available in the form of sea-buckthorn berry oil capsules or gel caps. Indeed, the oil variety is a great nutritional resource, rich in antioxidants, unsaturated fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins and other biologically active components. One of the main reasons why it’s not as popular as a dietary supplement is it’s unpalatable taste.
The most popular topical uses for sea-buckthorn berry oil include:
- Skin care: for dry, flaky skin, sensitive skin and mature skin, dry scalp, eczema, dermatitis, rosacea, acne, fine lines and wrinkles, thin skin, ulcerations, minor burns, cuts, blisters, hyperpigmentation etc.
- Hair care: for dry, brittle, listless hair and split ends.
- Nail care: nourishes nails and cuticles, softens cuticles.
- Massage therapy: can be used by itself or as a carrier oil to dilute essential oils.
The most prominent internal uses of sea-buckthorn berry oil include:
- Dietary supplement for supplementing with (pro-)vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, unsaturated fatty acids and Omega-7 in particular.
- Dietary supplement for dryness, dry eyes, dry skin and hair, eczema insulin resistance, cardiovascular health etc.
Sea-buckthorn berry oil benefits for skin
- Benefits for dry skin. Sea-buckthorn berry oil is a source of fatty acids such as linoleic acid and other fats that strengthen the lipid barrier of the epidermis and prevent water loss, helping achieve a deeply moisturizing effect that softens and soothes dry skin and reduces flakiness (source).
- Benefits for sensitive skin. Sea-buckthorn berry oil is reported to calm irritation and soothe skin. Being thicker and richer, it also feels better on the skin, further providing a soothing effect.
- Potential benefits for mature skin. Fatty acids in sea-buckthorn berry oil protect the skin barrier and prevent water loss, contribute to skin fat, moisturize and soften skin, resulting in better skin firmness and possibly also a more youthful looking skin.
- Promotes skin elasticity. Vitamin C in sea-buckthorn berry oil stimulates collagen production for improved skin elasticity. Pro-vitamin A carotenoids and vitamin E moisturize skin and help it retain moisture, contributing to a more supple and youthful appearance.
- Benefits for acne-prone skin. Sea-buckthorn berry oil is an important source of linoleic acid which is physically part of skin cell membranes as well as a natural component of sebum. When used topically, sea-buckthorn berry oil replenishes linoleic acid in the skin and regulates skin metabolism, reducing the incidence of blocked pores and comedos, with benefits for acne-prone skin (see previous source).
- Benefits for eczema. Fatty acids in sea-buckthorn berry oil (Omega-7, Omega-6 and ALA Omega-3) contribute to skin cell membranes and reduce water loss through the epidermis which results in softer skin and a deep moisturizing effect, helping prevent eczema. Furthermore, they promote healing of the damaged skin cell membrane, restore hydration, soothe and promote eczema healing (see previous source).
- Potential benefits for hyperpigmentation. Sea-buckthorn berry oil is reported to help with dark spots on the skin, sun spots and uneven skin tone problems when used regularly. Unsaturated fatty acids and antioxidant vitamins are believed to be responsible for such effects.
- Deep moisturizing properties. Owed to the high unsaturated fatty acids and sterols content of the oil which strengthens the lipid barrier of the skin, reducing water loss through the epidermis, as well as high content of palmitoleic acid (Omega-7) which is a component of skin fat (source).
- Potential benefits for atopic dermatitis. Studies suggest sea-buckthorn oil, taken as a dietary supplement, may hold benefits for atopic dermatitis management.
- Other skin benefits. Good for soothing pain from minor burns, cuts and scratches, ulcerations and other minor wounds. Promotes tissue regeneration and healing.
Other benefits of sea-buckthorn berry oil
- Anti-inflammatory benefits. Sea-buckthorn berry oil is rich in unsaturated fatty acids (Omega-7, Omega-6, Omega-3) and other beneficial fats, as well as antioxidants which actively reduce inflammation in the body. Some people take sea-buckthorn berry oil supplements (soft gel capsules) for rheumatoid arthritis and report varying degrees of improvement to their condition.
- Benefits for nail care. The oil variety can be applied topically on the nails to soften and moisturize cuticles and nourish the nails.
- Benefits for hair care. It can be used topically on split ends or the whole length of the hair for a deep moisturizing effect. Some people take sea-buckthorn berry oil supplements (soft gel capsules) for hair nutrition and report improvements in the appearance of their hair.
- Good for eyesight. Sea-buckthorn berry oil is an important dietary source of pro-vitamin A antioxidants (e.g. beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin) and other antioxidants that promote vision health (e.g. lutein, zeaxanthin). In addition to this, it contain fat that helps the body absorb and use the antioxidants for better vision.
- Immune-boosting benefits. Sea-buckthorn berry oil taken as a dietary supplement provides vitamins A and C with immune system-boosting effects.
Note: vitamin C is sensitive to light, air and heat which makes it imperative to store the oil according to recommendations to prevent oxidation and loss of therapeutic properties.
- Supports brain function. Fats in general are components of cell membranes and they are particularly important for a healthy brain. Sea-buckthorn berry oil is basically all fat and contains important amounts of healthy unsaturated fatty acids, not to mention it is often an organic oil.
- Potential benefits for high blood pressure as a result of the oil’s high sterols content (e.g. beta-sitosterol which accounts for up to 83% of all sterols content).
- Other benefits: potential benefits for liver function and insulin sensitivity as a result of a high palmitoleic acid (Omega-7 fatty acid) content.
What are the side effects?
- It doesn’t work the same for everyone, or at all. We are all different and it is normal to respond differently to various foods, extracts and supplements.
- Minor risks of allergic reactions. Like with all foods, there is a risk that sea-buckthorn fruit oil will cause allergic reactions. There have been reports of users experiencing irritation following the topical application of the oil.
- Medicine interactions. Not very much is known about sea-buckthorn berry oil and its effects when taken as a dietary supplement (internal use). However, it is possible for the oil to cause varying degrees of medicine interactions which is why it’s advised to talk to your doctor prior to starting supplementation.