How does sesame oil benefit skin?

Close up of white sesame seeds.
Oil pressed from sesame seeds can help to keep your skin moisturized.

Sesame oil is often used in Asian cooking recipes because it enhances foods with natural flavors and aromas found only in sesame seeds. Whether you're using a wok or rolling wontons, the cooking oil and flavoring ingredient is a crucial part of the unique seasoning in many kinds of recipes. A similar version of that same oil splashed in wontons can work in personal care products to soften and protect your skin.

Sesame seed oil originates from the Sesamum indicum plant. The plant's seeds are pressed to obtain the pale yellow oil, which contains fatty acids that can work to protect your skin. These fatty acids -- which include linoleic, palmitic, oleic and stearic acids -- act as emollients, meaning they help moisturize the skin to keep it smooth and soft [source: Personal Care Products Council].


When sesame oil is added to skin care products, it forms a barrier on the skin's surface. Used in items from sunscreens and skin cleansers to lipstick and moisturizers, sesame seed oil has a unique ability to soften skin, lips and hair. And since it holds moisture in, sesame oil can help your skin stay hydrated. Because oils aren't usually recommended for people with oily skin, sesame oil might be better suited for people with normal or dry skin types.

In addition to helping your skin, sesame oil can also keep your 'do in place. The oil can be used to condition your hair, but can also protect your hairstyle against the elements by acting as a shield. In hair care products, it may keep extra moisture from being absorbed into the strands, which can cause your hair to quickly lose its style [source: Personal Care Products Council].

As for safety, sesame oil isn't regulated in cosmetics by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel evaluated it and found it to be safe for use in cosmetics.

Sesame oil might not make you automatically think "skin care," but this botanical oil could already be part of your beauty routine. And if you struggle with dry, itchy skin or hair that goes limp whenever the humidity is on the rise, you might consider seeking out products that include sesame oil.

To learn more about sesame oil in skin care products, visit some of the links on the next page.


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Related HowStuffworks Articles


  • Cosmetics Database. "Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil." (Accessed Oct. 12, 2009)
  • Kozolchyk, Abbie. "Remedies to the Rescue." WebMD. May 1, 2007 (Accessed Sept. 13, 2009)
  • Personal Care Products Council. "Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil." (Accessed Sept. 13, 2009) http://www.Cosmetics