If you're a fan of silky-smooth, high thread count cotton sheets (the real kind, not the ones with the inflated numbers) then congratulations, you're doing life right—and you're going to be thrilled to find out exactly what the rest of that cotton plant can really do for your skin. While everyone's grandma had a container of cotton balls on her vanity, we're willing to bet that she didn't have a bottle of this extraordinary oil, which has remarkable benefits to help optimize skin health.
What Is Cottonseed Oil?
Cottonseed oil comes from the same plant you're familiar with—the used worldwide for its fluffy white fibers. But the cotton clouds you know are actually grouped around thirty or so of the plant’s seeds, which are used to produce cottonseed oil. Once the fibers and seeds are separated, the former go on to make fabric, while the seeds are pressed for their precious oil.
The Skin Benefits Of Cottonseed Oil
This oil’s biggest assets are its frankly extraodinary skin-softening and protecting properties. Because of its molecular weight, cottonseed oil effectively coats the skin in a way that allows it to protect the cells beneath, and keeps them from being irritated. This oil is also exceptionally high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which have both been shown to help skin retain moisture—essential for combatting both winter dryness and summertime sun and wind damage.
Linoleic acid, one of the fatty acids in cottonseed oil, is especially great for treating dry skin because it helps strengthen the skin's barrier, and it helps calm red, irritated, dry skin. It's also effective as an antioxidant, fighting the effects of cell-destroying—and skin-aging—free radicals. Cottonseed oil is also high in Vitamin E, which works together with linoleic acid to soothe skin. Basically, the specific combination of anti-inflammatory properties in this oil can help damaged skin cells take a breather and repair themselves.
Is Cottonseed Oil Safe?
Though there is some anecdotal suggestions that a cottonseed oil can cause an allergic reaction, hydrogenated cottonseed oil lacks any allergic protein—and studies have found it caused no irritation in skin care products where cottonseed oil made up about 20% of the formulation. A quick note about that "hydrogenated" part: cotton seeds contain gossypol, a natural toxin that the cotton plant uses to fight off insect infestations. To make it safe for consumption, the oil has to be refined to remove the gossypol. Once it's been removed, the resulting hydrogenated cottonseed oil is safe to consume and use in skincare.