Evening primrose is relatively new to the skincare world, but there’s no doubt it’s going to make a big impact. There are some major benefits of evening primrose oil both as a topical skincare ingredient and if you take it as a supplement.
Rich in rejuvenating fatty acids, evening primrose especially shines as a hydrator for skin. It also contains a special fatty acid known as gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which has its own outstanding benefits for your skin and body. GLA may even be an important part of improving many skin disorders.
Here’s more about this soothing flower oil and what it can do for your skin (and health).
What is Evening Primrose Oil? A Flower With History
Evening primrose may be new to skincare products but it has been used in other ways for hundreds of years. It comes from a plant with the botanical name Oenothera biennis– more commonly known as evening primrose, suncup, or sundrop.
The oil is made from the bright sunshiny yellow flowers of the plant. It gets pressed from the tiny seeds of the flowers, which contain lots of beneficial fatty acids.
A native wildflower in North America and Asia, evening primrose has seen a lot of use in Native American, Ayurvedic, and traditional Chinese medicine. The entire plant- leaves, flowers, roots, and seeds- is edible and has been used for many medicinal purposes.
For example, Native Americans boiled the root and ate it as a nutty-flavored food. They also used other parts of the plant for wound healing, bruises, sore throats, and stomach aches. Later, the plant became popular in Europe and was used both medicinally and in culinary applications.
In fact, evening primrose became so valuable it was nicknamed ‘King’s Cure-All’- a plant fit for royalty.
It wasn’t quite a real cure-all but was used for a huge variety of health issues- acne, menopause and other hormone-related issues, rheumatism, fatigue, hemorrhoids, hair loss- and the list goes on!
Today, the oil is probably the most used part of the plant and a new superstar for skincare.
Benefits of Evening Primrose Oil for Skincare
Rich in Fatty Acids, Particularly GLA
As mentioned briefly, many of the positive qualities of evening primrose oil come from its fatty acid content.
The oil is mostly made up of two types of omega-6 and one type of omega-9. Linoleic acid (an omega-6) is the most abundant, usually coming in at 70-74% of the total. Gamma-linolenic acid (another omega-6) comes in at about 8-10% of the total and oleic acid (omega-9) at 8-12%.
There are also smaller quantities of stearic and palmitic acids.
While omega-3s often get the spotlight when it comes to skincare and health, these other omegas are just as helpful. For example, linoleic acid has moisturizing properties, and oleic acid helps to keep skin smooth and supple. Palmitic and stearic acids have cleansing and hydrating properties and also soften skin.
But the main star of the show is gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).
GLA is an essential fatty acid, which means your body and skin need it but can’t produce it on their own. It’s primarily found in seed oils- like evening primrose- and has a significant anti-inflammatory effect. GLA is also needed by your skin to keeps its elasticity and an overall healthy glow.
Helps Keep Moisture in Your Skin
With its excellent fatty acid profile, it’s no surprise that one of the top benefits of evening primrose oil is hydration.
The oil does some of its best work by strengthening your skin’s natural barrier. This barrier is what helps keep the right amount of moisture in your skin. If it gets damaged (which can happen over time), there’s a good chance your skin will start feeling dry.
The technical term for moisture escaping from your skin is transepidermal water loss (TEWL). If TEWL is too high, the likely results are dry skin- and sometimes other conditions like dermatitis.
Interestingly, research has indicated that consuming GLA as a supplement (including in evening primrose oil) is another way to improve TEWL and aid dry skin. It appears to work both from the outside in and the inside out.
Enhances Elasticity and Softens Skin
By providing hydration and essential fatty acids, evening primrose oil also helps your skin to stay elastic and supple. Keeping your skin’s elasticity intact is an important part of helping it stay youthful-looking. As elasticity starts degrading, your skin begins to look saggy and shows wrinkles and other signs of aging more easily.
Once again, gamma-linolenic acid plays a big role in this, although linoleic and oleic acids also do their part.
Studies in this area has so far focused on internal consumption of evening primrose oil (rather than topical), but the results have still been promising. One found that taking evening primrose for 12 weeks led to improved elasticity, firmness, TEWL, skin texture, and moisture!
To add to this, stearic and oleic acids work to soften skin and make it smoother-looking.
May Reduce Inflammation and Aid Skin Issues
Yet another of the significant benefits of evening primrose oil is the anti-inflammatory power of GLA. It has shown an ability to combat inflammation within your body and and may also have a powerful effect on your skin.
You can try evening primrose oil to reduce the appearance of redness and even out skin tone. Its soothing nature will help irritated skin to calm down and can be especially beneficial when weather conditions are harsh on your skin.
There’s also some growing evidence that GLA and evening primrose oil may help certain inflammatory skin conditions.
Several studies have looked at the effects of the oil (used as a supplement) on atopic dermatitis. All so far have uncovered positive results, although larger trials are still needed. However, it’s still significant that each study found improvements with no adverse effects reported.
One particular study came to the conclusion that it was specifically the GLA in evening primrose oil that was responsible for relieving dermatitis (no surprise there).
May Help Clear Acne (+ Not Pore-Clogging)
Speaking of skin issues, evening primrose oil is getting some attention as a potential supplement to reduce acne. And if you guessed that GLA might be largely responsible for this, you’d be right.
Acne is a multifaceted skin issue, but one of common themes in almost every type of breakout is inflammation. Reducing this inflammation is one of the keys to lessening acne and helping to prevent future breakouts.
This is why certain supplements with known anti-inflammatory effects have been found useful against acne. Omega-3 supplementation, for example, has shown benefits for reducing acne (though not completely treating it).
GLA has also become a supplement of interest because of how your body processes it. Once you consume it, it gets broken down into dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA). As DGLA increases, inflammation goes down.
In a key study, an omega-3 supplement was tested alongside a GLA-rich supplement and a control group. The results for both the omega-3 and GLA groups were very similar- significant reduction of inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne lesions!
It’s still unclear whether there are benefits of evening primrose oil against acne when used it’s used topically rather than internally. However, it is beneficial for breakout-prone skin because it’s a low-comedogenic oil, meaning it won’t clog pores.
Contains Anti-Aging Antioxidants
Antioxidant-rich ingredients (like astaxanthin) are some of the best to use in skincare. They help protect your skin from oxidative stress, which can cause premature aging, and work to counteract the effects of UV damage. Or to put it simply, antioxidants excel at keeping your skin looking youthful.
Along with fatty acids, evening primrose oil also contains some antioxidants, mainly polyphenols. Polyphenols are a fairly common type of antioxidant with many health benefits.
The oil also contains tocopherols (a form of vitamin E), which also have antioxidant power and are hugely beneficial for skin.
Even one of the fatty acids in evening primrose oil- oleic acid- has exhibited antioxidant properties in studies. It has also shown protective properties against oxidative stress.
All of this means that your skin will get some extra protection and anti-aging power when you use evening primrose oil.
Good for Your Hair + Scalp, Too
Sometimes we forget that taking care of our scalp is just as important as taking care of the hair that comes out of it. Even though you can’t usually see it, your scalp is still an area of skin that needs moisturized, cleansed, nourished, etc.
Unfortunately, many hair care products and the heat of blow dryers can really take a toll on your scalp (and hair). It may start to feel dry or itchy, and you might see small flakes start to show up after years of normal “hair care”.
Evening primrose is one of the best oils you can use to give your scalp some much needed nourishment. It has the same properties as if you were to use it on the rest of your skin: hydrating, soothing, softening, and so on. It’s also very lightweight and non-greasy, so your hair won’t feel oily after using it.
Besides massaging it into your scalp, you can also apply a tiny bit of evening primrose oil to the rest of your hair. It will help to lock in moisture and rejuvenate strands. You can either wash it out (after letting it sit) or leave it in, depending on how your hair feels.
Other Benefits of Evening Primrose Oil
As you might have guessed, evening primrose oil goes beyond skincare. It does really shine for healthy-, young-looking skin, but it also has benefits for your brain, hormone health, and more when taken internally as a supplement.
Here’s more on what it can do.
Supports Brain Function
Omega-6 fatty acids are important for proper brain function. They are considered essential nutrients because your body needs them but can’t make them on its own. One of the most common omega-6 fatty acids is linoleic acid, which evening primrose oil is especially rich in.
It is important to note that getting the right ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 is key. For example, research has linked a combination of omega-3s and omega-6s in the blood to healthy brain aging. This means you may want to combine evening primrose with an omega-3 supplement to keep a balance.
May Improve Hormone-Related Conditions
One traditional use of evening primrose is to help “balance” hormones, particularly during menopause. Modern research looks like it might be turning up some confirmation of this.
For example, low levels of essential fatty acids are one contributor to premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Because of the specific fatty acids found in evening primrose oil, some studies have found that it can help reduce PMS symptoms.
It also may help with certain symptoms of menopause, particularly hot flashes, as one study demonstrated.
May Help With Rheumatoid Arthritis
Though studies are limited, there are likely benefits of evening primrose oil for certain types of pain and especially arthritis. One research study from the UK found that evening primrose oil was able to improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, including pain and stiffness.
There’s also indication that the oil may help with nerve pain (like from diabetic neuropathy).
It is important to note that the primrose oil was used over a long time period in both studies- up to 6 months. This means it probably takes time for it to do its best work.
Using Evening Primrose Oil for Age-Defying Eyes
Though it does have other health benefits, this incredible oil is still most potent for skincare.
With its fantastic skin benefits and gentle nature, evening primrose oil is especially perfect for the delicate skin around your eyes, particularly when used in a cream. If you’ve been looking for anti-aging eye care, check out the powerful Age-Defying Eye Cream from Purity Woods.
It contains organic evening primrose oil combined with other superb moisturizers like rosehip seed oil, aloe vera, and mango seed butter. The cream also has outstanding antioxidant ingredients: sumac berry extract, smartweed extract, and bakuchiol, just to name a few.
Overall, the Age-Defying Eye Cream contains 20+ pure plant extracts. The entire formula is USDA Certified Organic and effective at quickly reducing signs of aging like crow’s feet, under-eye bags, and dark circles. It’s the best way to get the benefits of evening primrose oil, plus other anti-aging botanicals.
Learn more about the Age-Defying Eye Cream here and nourish your skin with primrose!