Meadowfoam Oil

Why this plant oil should be on your radar

If you have read the ingredient profile of any botanical skin care product in recent years, you are sure to have stumbled upon meadowfoam oil at least a few times, especially in botanically-based skin care lines. Meadowfoam oil is growing in popularity, and there are many benefits to be studied in this U.S. native plant oil. Let’s uncover why meadowfoam oil is an increasingly popular ingredient in professional skin care.

Meadowfoam (Limnanthes alba) is a winter plant that is native to Northern California and Southern Oregon. Limnanthes means “marshflower” and its common name of Meadowfoam is derived from its likeness to white foam moving over the ocean. When in bloom, meadowfoam showcases white flowers. This plant has adapted to hot, dry summers and cool winters, which allows it to flourish in these dry valley climates. It can also be found in parts of Canada.

Meadowfoam serves as nutrient food for many small animals such as birds and mice, and is an important biodegradable alternative to vegetable oil.

Meadowfoam oil is also efficient at reducing trans-epidermal water loss.

Meadowfoam Oil

The oil produced by the meadowfoam plant is odorless with a light golden color. It is extracted from the plant and has been used industrially since the 1980s and in cosmetics since the 1990s.

The seeds of the meadowfoam plant have about a 25 percent concentration of oil. High quality oils are extracted via the cold-pressing process, as to not disrupt the nutrient profile of the oil. Meadowfoam oil is a highly stable oil that does not oxidize easily. This gives meadowfoam oil a uniquely long shelf-life, lasting up to three years.

Nutrient Profile

Meadowfoam oil is most similar to jojoba oil based on its fatty acid profile. The fatty acid breakdown of meadowfoam oil is:

  • 61 percent eicosenoic acid
  • 18 percent docosadienoic acid
  • 16 percent acid

Meadowfoam oil also contains:

Vitamin C – protects against free radicals and increases collagen production

Vitamin E – antioxidant, products outer skin layers

Linoleic Acid – promotes cell turnover

Oleic Acid – protects skin barrier

Clients with burns, blisters, eczema, or psoriasis will benefit from meadowfoam oil due to its high content of antioxidants Vitamin E and C.

As mentioned, meadowfoam oil is similar to jojoba oil in that its chemical makeup is similar to that of human sebum, making it a great moisturizing ingredient. Specifically, it contains a large amount of omega 9 fatty acid.

This helps to balance the skin’s oil production and can be a great choice for clients struggling with oily skin and who are looking for a moisturizing oil to help inhibit over-production of oil.

Meadowfoam oil is also efficient at reducing trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL) and is a beneficial ingredient for those with damaged skin barriers, whether it is from over-exfoliating or adverse reactions to other products.

This oil also has anti-inflammatory benefits that help acne-prone skin since it has a low comedogenic rating and aids in soothing redness. When added to face cleansers, it reduces blackheads and unclogs pores. When paired with other ingredients, meadowfoam oil increases the absorption properties of other active ingredients.

UV Protection

A study from Oregon State University found that meadowfoam oil provides some UV protection. It contains compounds known as glucosinolates prevented sun-induced aging by blocking enzymes responsible for collagen degradation.

The same study also found that the glucosinolates had anticancer properties because they prevent the cross-linking of DNA. This helps prevent cancer-causing mutations and reduce precancerous cells.

Usage in Cosmetics

Meadowfoam oil can be used in small doses due to its potency. A few drops can be applied directly to the face or it can be used as a massage oil. Two to three drops will suffice if combining with other products such as serum, moisturizer or skin creams.

Because of its long shelf life, meadowfoam oil increases the stability of essential oils by working as a carrier oil and prolonging the fragrance.

Infants with skin irritations and those that are experiencing discomfort with teething can benefit from this oil as well.

Meadowfoam oil is currently used in skin care products such as stretch mark creams to provide moisture, improve skin texture, and complexion. Cosmetics such as lip plumpers and mascara also contain meadowfoam seed oil for its moisture-retaining and conditioning properties.

The moisturizing and restorative properties can be seen in hair care as well.

Meadowfoam oil hydrates and rebuilds damaged hair creating a smoother, shinier hair shaft. In addition, it protects against further damage caused by extreme weather conditions, the sun, and other elements.


According to the Environmental Working Group, Meadowfoam seed oil has no known side effects and is edible. It is advised that those with nut allergies avoid products containing the oil. It is best to consult a physician before introducing it into your skin and hair care routine.