Cosmetic vegetable oils
Humans have always exploited plant-derived oils to cook, but also to soften the skin, to clean it, to polish the hair; there are so many vegetable oils, the most common of which, like olive oil or peanut oil, we are used to using them in the kitchen, and of which we know every feature, such as color, smell and origin.
If we look at the ingredients of the most common creams on the market, we see, however, in addition to names known to us, even a list of vegetable oils little known to us, or at least, whose origins we do not know. Jojoba, shea, copra, are exotic names, but we know nothing about the origin of these products, which are given to us by nature, and in many cases have been used by man for millennia, as is the case for olive oil . Knowing one thing better, it also serves to better understand where it comes from, how it is obtained, but also how to use it to exploit all its properties.
Jojoba oil is obtained from the seeds of a shrub native to Central America, called Simmondsia chinensis, with fleshy, evergreen leaves, and small flowers gathered in compact inflorescences.
It grows even in semi-desert conditions, and produces its small roundish fruits for many years; the plants develop naturally, without the need for treatment, but of course there are also plantations specially cultivated to obtain oil.
The seeds are harvested manually, and the jojoba plants are grown only in the area of origin, these things make this oil quite precious, given that the availability is limited.
Jojoba oil is actually a liquid wax, which solidifies at temperatures below 10 ° C; it is an ester, and in particular it is the vegetable wax more similar to the oil that was once derived from whale fat, very similar to human sebum. It is a decidedly very stable oil, comparable to that of castor oil, and can be used either alone, as a detergent or as a moisturizer, but also to convey essential oils or active ingredients of various types, through massages or other types of applications; it has antifungal and disinfectant properties and is therefore widely used, in addition to its moisturizing and emollient properties, in cosmetics for oily or acne-prone skin. Jojoba oil is quite dense, yellow in color, with a smell similar to that of various seeds, not annoying, but not even pleasant. In cosmetics it is also used refined, and therefore colorless and odorless. It is not toxic if ingested, but it does not taste good and is difficult to digest, therefore it is not used for food
Wheat germ oil
Wheat germ is the embryonic part contained in wheat grains; this part is removed from the grain before shredding it to obtain the flour, which is then used for feeding. With wheat germ is obtained a flour, rich in vitamin E, also used in nutrition, and by pressing it gets an oil, yellow and pungent smell. This oil is very rich in vitamin E and has a high moisturizing and antioxidant power. It is mainly used as a healing oil, therefore to be taken orally, as a diet supplement; in small quantities it is also used in various types of cosmetics, especially for the treatment of skin with dry, dull or opaque hair. Wheat is grown in Europe, Asia, Africa and America, so it is a very available product; even if the germ represents a small part of the wheat seeds, and even if it is necessary to have large quantities of germ to obtain the oil, it is clear that the presence of extensive cultivations of wheat make this oil quite easy to find.
Argan Oil is obtained from the seeds of Argania spinosa, a plant widespread in nature in Morocco; for centuries the Moroccan populations have been using argan oil, both for cosmetic purposes and as edible oil. The argan is a large tree, used to living in dry and hot climates, very resistant to drought. The seeds for producing the oil are harvested from plants grown spontaneously, as there are no plantations of argan trees; in Morocco, however, a splendid Argan forest extends, where most of the seeds with which to prepare oil are collected.
The cosmetic oil is toxic, and with an unpleasant taste, it is used for its great aging, anti-aging properties, to treat dry and dehydrated skin, but also for skin spots; it is used to cleanse the face, like a cleansing milk, or it can be applied as a moisturizer on the whole body, including hair and nails.
Food oil, widely used in Morocco, with a very particular taste, is obtained from seeds, after having roasted them, which makes it digestible and non-toxic. Indeed, studies carried out on Moroccan populations have shown that regular consumption of food Argan oil has significant effects against the most widespread tumors, such as those with colorectal cancer. It seems that this oil has beneficial effects in the normalization of some metabolic diseases, such as diabetes.
Coconut Oil and Copra Oil
Coconut oil is obtained from the fresh pulp of coconuts, the fruits of a palm of Asian origin; copra oil is instead a generally poorer product, obtained from dried coconut pulp. Coconut oil is widespread throughout Asia, mainly as edible oil, is light in color, and has a strong characteristic smell and taste. This is vegetable oil that contains the largest amount of saturated fat, therefore, despite being of natural origin, it presents all the problems of butter, linked to cholesterol levels in the blood; therefore, despite being a vegetable oil, it does not offer the advantages of olive oil, or other seed oils, which contain large quantities of unsaturated oils.
Despite this, it is also widely used in the food industry, especially for packaging desserts, thanks to the fact that it is a decidedly cheap oil. It is true that, in recent years, virgin coconut oil has begun to be produced, which through the use of perfectly matured walnuts and better extraction technologies contains significantly less saturated fats than the common coconut oil.
It is also used in cosmetics, as a moisturizer, for hair, body, face, nails.
Shea oil, or rather shea butter, is obtained from the seeds of Vitellaria paradoxa, synonymous with buthyrospermum parkii, a large tree found in Africa, with large oval leaves, and flowers in apical inflorescences. This butter, from which oil is obtained, has emollient, protective, moisturizing properties, and was also used in ancient times in Africa for its beneficial effects. It is an excellent elasticizing product, suitable against skin stretch marks.
Even in this case, there are no buthyrospermum plantations, but the fruits are harvested from trees that grow spontaneously.
Cosmetic vegetable oils: Castor oil
Castor oil is obtained from the seeds of ricinus communis, a small tree or large shrub widespread in the Mediterranean area; it has great lubricating properties, in every sense that it can have this term, it is in fact used as a real lubricant, but also as a laxative.
Castor beans are harvested in large quantities, especially because in some areas of Asia real castor plantations have been planted, specifically to produce oil.
In cosmetics the benefits of this oil are known, especially for the hair, in fact it enters as an active component of shampoos, conditioners and hair creams.
It should be noted that castor in the English-speaking countries is called castor, so in many products it is called beaver oil, which confuses ideas to many people, who are afraid of causing the slaughter of so many small creatures, with the aim of obtaining an oil for hair wellness.
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