When I started making body care products here at our farm, I started with extra virgin olive oil like most herbalists. Eventually, we all move on and experiment with new oils. I branched out first to light oils such as grapeseed for beautiful bath applications but I only encountered jojoba just a few years ago. It has become very popular, talked up for its similarity to the oil (called sebum) found in our own skin. It is a wonderful oil to use in any kind of preparation for aged or very delicate skin.
As I was paging through an herbal (guide) today I came across a description of the jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) plant. I realized that. I know where olive oil comes from, but had never given a passing thought to where jojoba comes from.
History of Jojoba
Turns out the jojoba plant has quite an interesting past. The jojoba shrub grows in southern Arizona and California and northern Mexico. It seems to be incredibly hardy, living in poor soils and with incredibly low moisture levels. The Native Americans who lived in the area extracted jojoba oil from the shrub’s seeds. At that time, the seeds probably wouldn’t have yielded much. The oil was used for wounds, to soften both human skin and animal hides for clothing.
Because it was so difficult to get much oil out of the jojoba seed, it wasn’t a well-known oil until 1970. At that time, humans began selecting plants that produced more oil and began planting them in commercial fields. The really exciting thing about jojoba was perfect for this moment in history.
How Jojoba Oil Saved the Whales
Up until 1970, the world had used sperm whale oil for fuel and lubricant for heavy machinery. We were also consuming the oil in margarine, soap, cosmetics, and even vitamin supplements. It was quickly becoming clear around the world that we could not continue to kill off these beautiful animals for our oil needs so we began to look for alternatives. Most plant based oils simply didn’t stack up. Their oily component was glycerine. Jojoba oil, however, has a very high smoke point and contains fatty alcohols that are similar in structure to those of animals. These fatty alcohols were new to find in the plant world and made it a viable replacement for the whale oil.
Jojoba may have had a large hand in saving the sperm whales. In 1971, the whale was put on the endangered species list. Sentiment and environmental fervor are one thing, but ensuring that industry no longer needed the whale oil was paramount to saving this animal.
Jojoba Oil for Dry Hair and Scalp
Jojoba oil continues to be one of the more pricey options. For many reasons I think its worth it. One of the best ways to use jojoba is in hair and scalp care. It really shines when you happen to have eczema on the scalp. Here’s a homemade shampoo recipe that we love in our house for dry hair and scalp:
Homemade Shampoo with Jojoba Oil
- ¼ cup liquid castille soap (find it here)
- ½ cup filtered water (DIY Natural recommends these water filtration systems)
- 2 Tbsp peppermint leaf (find organic dried peppermint leaf here)
- 2 Tbsp glycerine (find organic vegetable glycerine here)
- ½ tsp jojoba oil (find organic jojoba oil here)
- ½ tsp honey
Make a strong herbal tea (with filtered water and 2 Tbsp peppermint leaf) and allow to steep for at least 20 minutes. Strain and pour liquid into your bottle of choice. Add the glycerine, jojoba oil, and honey. Top off with castille soap. Mix by shaking well.
Follow up with this Homemade Conditioning Rinse or another conditioner of your choice.
Don’t Want to Make Your Own?
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