Why is meadowfoam so great for your skin?

Skincare Benefits of Meadowfoam Seed Oil

Published on: November 29, 2020

Unique in almost every way from where it’s grown to how it behaves in skin care, meadowfoam seed oil permeates the products you’ll find here at Rain Organica.

Here are just a few reasons why I'm so in love with this oil,... and the reasons are only partly related to how amazing meadowfoam seed oil is for your skin.

What is Meadowfoam?

In the Pacific Northwest, fields of white buttercup shaped flowers with yellow centers burst into bloom in spring and summer creating inland seas of whitecaps, which is how meadowfoam earned its name.  This annual self-seeding plant tops out between 10 and 18 inches tall and has a small spread of about 6 inches.

Meadowfoam relies on bees and butterflies for pollination and loves wet feet. 

It’s a native to northern California and Oregon, but you can also find it in the Appalachians near streams and bogs.  Meadowfoam seeds sprout at cooler temperatures and won’t germinate if it’s over 60°F.

meadowfoam growing along a stream near Oroville California

Meadowfoam, a Sustainable Crop

Meadowfoam is a relatively new crop in both agriculture and skincare.  Interest in meadowfoam ramped up in the 1960s when it showed promise as a rotational crop for improving soil health.  Even though it was pretty heavily researched back in the '60s, it really didn't take off as an agricultural crop until the mid 1980s.

Meadowfoam can be planted in the fall or spring making it a versatile choice for crop rotation being planted during the fallow season for grass crops.

About 90% of the world's meadowfoam seed oil comes from crops grown in the Willamette Valley. 

Quick Facts about Meadowfoam

Botanical name:  Limnanthes alba (translation white marshflower)

Grown and harvested:  in the Pacific Northwest

Just one acre of meadowfoam flowers can provide nectar to 100,000 honey bees.

Why it's used in skin care:

  • quickly absorbed
  • replenishes the skin's moisture barrier
  • reduces the appearance of redness
  • non-comedogenic

Meadowfoam's Unique Fatty Acid Profile

Meadowfoam seed oil has one of the most unique fatty acid profiles of any oil used in skincare.  It is abundant in three long chain unsaturated fatty acids: 

  • eicosenoic acid, an omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acid with the short-hand C20:1 at about 60%
  • docosenoic acid also known as erucic acid, another omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acid with short-hand, C22:1 at about 20%
  • and docosadienoic acid, an omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid with the short-hand, C22:2 also around 20% 

The fatty acids in meadowfoam seed oil are LONGER than the fatty acids in any other botanical oil or butter.  These fatty acids exhibit excellent skin benefits by helping repair the skin's moisture barrier, and they contribute to meadowfoam’s ability to reduce the appearance of redness.

Since these fatty acids are unsaturated (monounsaturated), meadowfoam seed oil is a liquid at room temperature instead of a solid (like shea butter or cocoa butter).

If you’re interested in reading more about the science behind fatty acids, you can check out the previous blog series here where I go deep about the structure of fatty acids. I won’t go into that kind of crazy detail in this post, instead...

let’s look at how meadowfoam’s unique fatty acid profile makes it so great for our skin.

Meadowfoam soaks into skin and is non-comedogenic

The abundance of long chain fatty acids in meadowfoam seed oil creates the incredibly rich emollience that meadowfoam seed oil is so well known for.  

This oil doesn’t sit on the surface of your skin making you feel greasy.  It soaks right in leaving skin feeling supple. 

And, it’s comedogenicity rating?  1.

Meadowfoam is rich in Anti-oxidants

Meadowfoam seed oil is high in Vitamin E.  Vitamin E is a whole group of oil soluble compounds collectively called either Vitamin E or tocopherols. 

Meadowfoam is also high in carotenoid content (precursors to Vitamin A aka provitamin A), which contributes to the red color of cold pressed meadowfoam seed oil. 

Meadowfoam improves the shelf-life of other oils

Because of its fatty acid profile and high anti-oxidant content, meadowfoam seed oil stabilizes more fragile oils such as chia seed, evening primrose, and rosehip oils.

It’s stability also means it is a great oil to include in lotions and creams because it can withstand the heat involved in the emulsification process. 

Meadowfoam in skincare

I started using meadowfoam in my skincare formulations sometime around 2015. I noticed immediately that the oil imparts a different skin feel compared with other oils, and you can check out some compelling photos for yourself in this pdf file.

I fell head over heels with meadowfoam and haven't turned back since that initial experience.  It's one of the mainstays of Rain Organica products whether you're looking for facial care or body care.

Be sure to check out Rain Organica's skincare products and treat yourself to 10% off your first order by signing up for our newsletter.


Meadowfoam Seed Oil in Skincare

Ingredient Dictionary:  Meadowfoam Seed Oil

Limnanthes alba: Meadowfoam Seed Oil

A Brief History of Meadowfoam Seed Oil

Brandy Searcy founder Rain Organica

About the Author

Brandy's a formulation scientist and self-proclaimed health geek who loves hiking, gardening, bird-watching, and body boarding. 

Her struggle with acne during her teens and 20s led to a holistic and healthy approach to skincare, embracing skin as an organ to be loved and cared for rather than a canvas to wage war on. 

Since 2008, she's been developing all-in-one products for a simple routine at home, & Rain Organica started when her backpacking friends asked for a portable skincare routine to keep their skin healthy & happy on and off the trails.

You can try Rain Organica for yourself with The Essentials Kit, a complete skincare routine in just 3 steps.

Brandy's LinkedIn Bio

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