What Are the Benefits of Palm Oil on Hair & Skin?

Palm Oil Plantation
Palm oil waiting to be extracted at a palm oil plantation in Malaysia. (Image: szefei/iStock/Getty Images)

According to the American Palm Oil Council, palm oil has been consumed for over 5000 years. Its health benefits are numerous, and additional benefits continue to be discovered. It is now a leading crop, and according to Dr. Betty Kamen, PhD, palm oil is the second most common vegetable oil produced worldwide. Some benefits are particular to the hair and skin, however.

Anti-aging

Spa manicure with essential oils
Palm oil is often used as an anti-aging treatment. (Image: Zoia Kostina/iStock/Getty Images)

Palm oil contains the hard to find toctrienols, which are members of the vitamin E family. The common form of vitamin E, tocopherol, has long been used to treat many skin ailments and is found in many anti-aging products. Vitamin E is a strong antioxidant that helps the skin to fight free radicals that damage the skin and cause fine lines and wrinkles. Dr. Betty Kamen, PhD confirms that as a stronger antioxidant than tocopherols, toctrienols have been proven to be more effective in preventing aging and damage from free radicals. Used topically, as with tocopherol, toctrienols are able to penetrate deep into the skin’s layers to enable healing and protection from the base up.

Cleansing & Moisturizing

Young woman in the beauty salon (shallow DOF)
Palm oil is found in many cosmetic products such as this foundation being applied. (Image: Dmitrijs Dmitrijevs/Hemera/Getty Images)

Palm oil is found in shampoos, conditioners, soaps, lotions, creams, foundations and more. It is found in shampoos and soaps for its ability to remove oil and dirt from hair and skin. It also contains a refatting agent that helps restore the hair and skin natural oils most soaps and shampoos strip away letting moisture escape. In shampoos and conditioners, it also provides a conditioning agent. It is added to skin care products not only for its anti-aging properties, but also because it provides deep moisturizing properties making the skin soft and supple.

Healthy Hair

Oil palm fruit
Red palm oil is not only very hight in vitamin E, but also in beta carotene. (Image: dolphfyn/iStock/Getty Images)

The best thing you can do for your hair and skin is eating a healthy diet and drinking appropriate amounts of water. The hair specifically requires fat soluble vitamins A & E to nourish the roots and scalp, and red palm oil specifically is not only very high in vitamin E, but also in beta carotene. When consumed, beta carotene is converted by the body to vitamin A.

Cancer Fighter

Fresh Palm Oil Fruit
Palm oil can fight free radicals and even prevent them from forming in the first place. (Image: Khoo Eng Yow/iStock/Getty Images)

Lipids in our skin can be damaged or oxidized by ozone exposure, which can lead to free radicals being generated in our skin. We’ve established that palm oil can fight free radicals, but it can also prevent them from forming in the first place. The oxidation of lipilds resulting in free radicals have been proven to be an underlying cause of many skin diseases, including cancer. Dr. Betty Kamen, PhD notes that toctrienols have been proven to be 40 to 60 times more powerful than the common tocopherol in preventing lipid preoxidation.

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