You know Italians are obsessed with olive oil, right?
It’s our go-to oil for cooking. We drizzle it on salads and bruschettas, we use it to make pesto and pasta sauces and cook meat or fish with it. We even put it on our skin when it’s dry.
But when it comes down to deep-frying, my mum leaves her beloved olive oil on the kitchen cupboard. Instead, she reaches out for a bottle of sunflower oil.
Yes, we Italian cheat on olive oil sometimes. For a good reason.
Sunflower oil has a higher smoking point so it’s best for cooking at higher temperatures.
This got me thinking, is sunflower oil better for the skin, too?
What The Heck Is Sunflower Oil?
Sunflower Oil (or Helianthus Annuus, as scientists like to call it) is a clear to pale gold liquid extracted from sunflower seeds.
It’s made up mostly of fatty acids, including Linoleic Acid (48-74%), Oleic Acid (14-40%), Palmitic Acid (4-9%) and Stearic Acid (1-7%). Depending on the type of sunflower oil you use (yes, there’s more than one type of sunflower oil), the ratios change.
For example some types of sunflower oils are high in lineolic acid while others in oleic acid. In case you’re wondering, these differences depend on the genetics of the plant and where it was grown.
But they ALL contain a huge dollop of vitamin E.
What Does Sunflower Oil Does For The Skin?
Remember all those fatty acids I’ve just told you about? They are super moisturising.
With their help, sunflower oil creates a barrier on the skin that locks in moisture. This makes even the driest of skin types soft and smooth and helps sensitive skin better withstand the assaults of the environment.
There’s more. A 2005 study also discovered that sunflower oil lowers the rate of infections in low-birth-weight premature infants. It does this better than Aquaphor (you know, the treatment that uses petrolatum).
The skin of premature babies is underdeveloped and more prone to infections. Sunflower oil helps strengthen their skin’s protective barrier, keeping them safe.
Oh, it has antimicrobial properties, too
The Bottom Line
I can’t see sunflower oil taking the place of olive oil in my skincare routine (I don’t want olive oil to get too jealous 😉 ), but if you’re looking for a natural moisturiser for dry and sensitive skin, this is up for the job.
Have you ever used Sunflower Oil? Share your experience in the comments below.