How does Ho Wood work in skin cleansers?

By: Gina Fisher

The two main components of ho wood oil are camphor and linalool. See more pictures of unusual skin care ingredients.
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Skin cleansers are an important part of a healthy skin care regimen. They are used to remove dirt, bacteria and excess oil from the skin, while still leaving it with enough natural oil to stay supple and smooth. Because people now know that some natural ingredients -- such as essential oils and herbal extracts -- can perform these functions, they are becoming popular additions to cleansers.

Because of this popularity, you may have seen an ingredient called ho wood in your skin cleanser and wondered what it was. After all, you probably know that some ingredients are there to help your skin, while others are there to smell nice, and still others act as preservatives. Ho wood may serve two out those three purposes.


Ho wood essential oil, also known as white camphor, is a product of the distillation of the wood and bark of the cinamomum camphora tree, which is commonly found in Southeast Asia [source: Encyclopedia of Food and Color Additives]. Synthetically produced camphor is also available: People use it in lip balms, chest rubs and pain medications to soothe their skin [sources: WebMD].

The two main components of ho wood oil are camphor (about 40 percent) and linalool (about 15 percent) [source: Encyclopedia of Food and Color Additives]. Manufacturers commonly use linalool to add its floral fragrance to skin care products, including cleansers, lotions, perfumes and shampoo [source: Cosmetics Info]. You can also find it in lavender and coriander.

Natural camphor, like synthetic camphor, may have a cooling effect on skin. People also use it to provide relief from itchy, irritated skin and to reduce swelling. Additionally, experts say camphor may work as an anti-fungal agent. When used in skin care products, like cleansers, it could offer some of these benefits. However, keep in mind that camphor can also cause skin irritation if used too often, and that you should never put it on broken skin or ingest it, since it can be toxic when it enters your body at high levels [source: WebMD].

For more information on how to care for you skin, visit the links on the following page.


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • Burdock, George A. "Encyclopedia of food and color additives." Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press Inc. 1997. (Accessed through Google books on 10/19/2009)
  • Cosmetics Info. "Linalool." (Accessed 10/19/2009)
  • WebMD. "Camphor." Find a Vitamin or Supplement. (Accessed 10/19/2009)