Sesame oil is the golden child of Asian cuisine, because it enhances foods with its naturally nutty flavor and aroma. The same can be said for sesame oil as a personal care product, with its unique properties to soften, protect and repair your skin. Keep this do-it-all oil on hand in your kitchen and in bathroom cabinet.
Check out this laundry list of the benefits of this natural, quick-acting oil: It is considered antibacterial, antifungal, an anti-inflammatory, an antioxidant, antiviral, and highly stable when stored at room temperature (which means it's unlikely to go rancid). Still not impressed? Then consider that sesame oil is used to treat sun- or wind-burned skin, tighten facial skin, control acne and other skin blemishes and fade dark spots. It is also effective in soothing skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, has sun-blocking qualities for mild natural sun protection (SPF rating of 4), is used in massage oils as energy rejuvenation, can be used to control bacteria-caused dandruff and can heal and protect mild scrapes or abrasions [source: Kahn].
Sesame seed oil originates from the Sesamum indicum plant and is rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, and E, with a high content of minerals such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. The plant's seeds are cold pressed to obtain a pale yellow oil, which contains a host of fatty acids -- including linoleic, palmitic, oleic and stearic acids – that act as emollients (products that help moisturize the skin to keep it smooth and soft) [source: Personal Care Products Council].
Sesame oil might not make you automatically think "skin care," but this botanical oil could already be part of your beauty routine. Take a close look at the ingredients list of many of the skin- and hair-care products you buy. When added to skin care products, sesame oil forms a barrier on the skin's surface, acting as a natural impediment to protect against airborne elements such as smoke, smog, and environmental pollutants that can leave your skin looking weathered and wrinkled. You'll find it in many sunscreens for the same properties.
Like other organic oils, sesame oil has the ability to trap moisture, helping your skin stay hydrated. Proper hydration translates to softer skin and lips, making sesame oil a popular ingredient in lipsticks and moisturizers. It is particularly effective for those difficult areas, such as cracked soles, dry elbows and knees. You can even leave it on overnight.
And since it is also an exceptional cleansing agent, sesame oil is the ideal before, during, and after skin-care product. In your bath, sesame oil can attract oil-soluble toxins in your skin, which can then be washed away with warm water and a mild soap [source: Divine Caroline]. The oil is also a popular "carrier oil" in massage therapies because it is readily absorbed by the skin [source: Joy].
In addition to clearing your complexion, sesame oil can also keep your hair in place. It makes a moisture-enhancing conditioner (just rub it in with your hands), but it also defends your hair against sun and surf. In hair care products, it may keep extra moisture from being absorbed into the strands, helping your hair stay in place [source: Personal Care Products Council].
Does your hair hate humidity? Sesame oil is again your answer. However, one word of caution: Since oils aren't normally recommended for people with oily skin, sesame oil might be better suited for people with normal or dry skin types.
To learn more about sesame oil in skin care products, visit some of the links on the next page.