Cottonseed oil (and the more concentrated cottonseed extract), which comes from the seeds of cotton plants, isn't as well-known as some of its buzzy ingredient counterparts, but it's a natural way to tap into those nourishing properties you want in your beauty products.
"Cottonseed oil is often used in hair and skin-care products because of its high vitamin E and antioxidant content," says New York City dermatologist Hadley King, MD.
"Cottonseed oil is often used in hair and skin-care products because of its high vitamin E and antioxidant content."
Whether you want pollution protection, a more dewy complexion, or you're trying to dial up the shine in your hair, cottonseed oil is an ingredient you don't want to overlook.
You can find it in a variety of products—from eye cream to hair treatments—and Dr. King says you can also go straight to the source and use the pure form in your lineup. For the lowdown on all the reasons to add more cotton to your self-care routine (aside from the fact that plush cotton robes are heaven), keep reading.
Scroll down for 3 beauty benefits of cottonseed oil (plus a few products to try).
Environmental protection for hair and skin
Your skin and hair take a beating every day from environmental factors like pollution, UV exposure, and either dry or humid air. By using ingredients like cottonseed oil, you can help protect your hair and skin health so you aren't undoing all your self-care efforts every time you step outside.
"Like olive oil, the high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E [in cottonseed oil] offers a natural alternative for skin health," says beauty nutrition and formulation expert Paula Simpson. "Some studies have shown its ability to help block out environmental aggressors and protect the skin."
Dr. King agrees: "[Cottonseed oil's] antioxidant properties can help protect against free radical damage from UV rays and pollution." Plus, some studies suggest that plant oils may also help promote hair growth and protect hair from damage, Simpson says.
Hydration, hydration, hydration
"Drink more water" might be your mom's go-to cure-all method, but hydration is a legit key to keeping your hair and skin healthy. To keep your skin hydrated (which water does help with, btw), using ingredients that promote a strong skin barrier can help lock in that sought-after moisture. That's where the fatty acids in cottonseed oil come into play, and the same principle applies for hair, too.
"Cottonseed oil contains high concentrations of vitamin E and fatty acids," Dr. King says. "These ingredients can help moisturize the hair and [...] increase luster and help decrease hair breakage as well."
No inflammation here
Inflammation is wellness enemy number one, and that status holds true for both skin and hair care, where it can lead to things like dandruff, redness, and breakouts, among other concerns. Cottonseed oil can help keep inflammation at bay thanks to its high concentration of fatty acids.
"Linoleic acid, one of the fatty acids in cottonseed oil, has anti-inflammatory properties," Dr. King says. "This could be helpful for decreasing the inflammation in seborrheic dermatitis or dandruff."
The vitamin E in cottonseed oil is also beneficial on the anti-inflammatory front because its antioxidant properties can help to calm inflammation and promote healing of acne scars and smoothing of fine lines and wrinkles, Simpson says.
So, if a quick label check doesn't turn up any cotton in your beauty products, it might be time to consider adding the multitasker to your lineup—for the sake of your skin and your hair.
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Top photo: Stocksy/Leandro Crespi Studio
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