The macadamia nut from the tree by the same name was first discovered in Australian rainforests. Australian aboriginals have long revered the nut for its high nutritional value and benefits for healthy skin and hair. Composed of high concentrations of antioxidants and fatty acids, macadamia nut oil is prized in natural skincare products. Many shampoos and conditioners, face creams and body lotions contain this nourishing oil.
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Antioxidant-rich oleic acid makes up about 60 percent of macadamia nut oil. The substance helps the oil work against free radicals, which are damaged cells missing a needed electron that subsequently attack other cells to gain that missing electron. Basically, oleic acid prevents these damaged cells from attacking healthy cells. Oleic acid is also a great emollient, as it penetrates deep into the outer skin layer for intense and longer-lasting moisture. This undermines the development of blotchy, dry or scaly skin.
The oil of the macadamia nut also has a high concentration of palmitoleic acid. Naturally found in young skin, this omega-7 fatty acid begins to diminish as we age, leaving skin vulnerable to wrinkles and free radicals. Macadamia nut oil replenishes the skin with palmitoleic acid, soothing and moisturizing while encouraging tissues to regenerate. Also an emollient, palmitoleic acid helps keep the skin soft and supple.
In a study conducted by the Marshall Dermatology Research Laboratories, acne patients were discovered to have low levels of linoleic acid on their skin surface. Without this acid, skin is more prone to developing whiteheads, blackheads and acne, as the skin's natural oils become thick and sticky, clogging pores. Even worse, the more severe the acne, the less the skin produces linoleic acid. Because approximately 3 percent of macadamia nut oil is made up of this important acid, applying the oil to your skin can help regulate the imbalance and prevent the vicious cycle of acne.
Macadamia nut oil is high in phytosterols, plant-based compounds that have the same structure and function in plants as cholesterol has in animals. Specifically, the compounds produce steroid hormones necessary for normal development and functioning. When phytosterols are applied to skin, however, the researchers at the Institute for Environmental Medicine in Dusseldorf, Germany, discovered that they not only have the capacity to block collagen reduction, they can also encourage new collagen production. As the "glue that holds the body together," collagen is essential for preventing wrinkles and other skin ailments.