Limnanthes alba (meadowfoam) seed oil

Limnanthes alba (meadowfoam) seed oil is a non-fragrant, edible plant oil originally developed as an agricultural crop in the 1950s. It functions as an emollient and softening agent in skin care and hair care products.

This plant oil is exceedingly stable because it is primarily composed of long chain fatty acids, the type most resistant to rancidity when exposed to oxygen. Among plant oils, meadowfoam has the highest concentration (95%) of these highly stable fatty acids, making it a valuable addition to products that would otherwise be prone to spoiling quickly.

Meadowfoam seed oil contains two compounds known as glucosinolate derivatives, 3-methoxybenzyl isothiocyanate (MBITC) and 3-methoxyphenyl acetonitrile. Research has shown these compounds can inhibit collagen-degrading enzymes in skin and help offset the negative impact of UVB light exposure (but just to be clear, these ingredients do not replace the need for broad spectrum sunscreen).

The glucosinolate derivatives are not direct antioxidants (indeed, meadowfoam seed oil isn’t a good source of antioxidants), but they can positively influence skin’s own antioxidant defenses, which is a nice benefit.

Meadowfoam seed oil can also enhance the penetration of other ingredients into soil and across animal skin; however, to date the same benefit hasn’t been shown to occur on human skin. On the upside, the long-chain fatty acids in this plant oil have chemical similarity to some of the fatty acids found in skin’s own oil, so in theory it’s certainly possible meadowfoam oil would help deliver other oil-based (lipophilic) ingredients to skin.

References for this information:

Frontiers in Pharmacology, May 2018, ePublication
British Journal of Dermatology, February 2012, pages 279-287
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, January 2012, pages 339-345
The Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, November 1996, pages 1,133-1,137

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