The grandmother of skin oils, evening primrose has been popular in Europe for centuries. Originally referred to as the ‘King’s Cure-All’, but also known as fever plant, night willowherb and scurvish, this poetically named oil was popular for a wide range of ailments.
With its effects said to cure everything from loss of libido to fatigue, evening primrose oil was heralded for its range of “honourable” medicinal benefits and was considered fit for use by even Kings and Queens.
Today, capsules of evening primrose oil are readily available for purchase (even to us commoners) in most supermarkets, pharmacies and health stores, and are often used to aid PMS and skin complaints. But while a daily dose of evening primrose oil taken orally can do wonders, applying it to the skin unlocks a whole host of other benefits. Here’s everything you need to know about evening primrose oil.
What Is Evening Primrose Oil?
Common evening-primrose or Oenothera biennis is a flower native to North America but naturalized across the globe. Traditionally, the benefits of evening primrose were released by creating a tea or tincture of the leaves, flowers, seeds and roots, but today it is predominantly found in oil form. The oil is produced by cold-pressing the seeds and is then either put into a capsule for taking orally or is bottled for use in skin or hair care.
Evening primrose oil is well known for its ability to soothe and moisturise dry skin, improving skin texture as it nourishes rough, scaly areas. It can also reduce redness and irritation, relieving inflammation and encouraging the healing process. It’s no surprise then that it’s a staple ingredient in products for an array of skin complaints.
How Does It Work?
Evening primrose oil is rich in fatty acids, which are renowned for their impressive emollient benefits and their ability to soothe the skin. Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is one such compound and is an Omega-6 fatty acid which is found in beneficial quantities in evening primrose oil. GLA has been shown to reduce the level of inflammatory proteins in the body, improving inflammatory conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
Alongside its anti-inflammatory effects, evening primrose oil is an antioxidant and is shown to cleanse, nourish and act as an astringent, much like witch hazel. It can also aid other ingredients absorbing into the skin more readily.
Who Can Benefit From Using Evening Primrose Oil?
Evening primrose oil is a fantastic oil for all skin types. Its nourishing, moisturising properties benefit dry skin, while its anti-inflammatory and astringent properties benefit acne-prone skin. So effective is it, that evening primrose oil was at one point available on prescription for use on eczema and other skin conditions!
What Products Contain Evening Primrose Oil?
Evening primrose oil features on the ingredients list of tens of thousands of cosmetic skin care products, so finding one won’t be a problem. However, narrowing down the right one for your skin type can take time.
With that in mind, here are a few of our recommendations for specific skin types:
An ideal hydration boost for applying underneath moisturiser, Aromatherapy Associates Hydrating Nourishing Face Oil contains a combination of essential oils to improve moisture levels and nourish dry skin.
Aromatherapy Associates Skincare
Hydrating Nourishing Face Oil 15ml
RRP £49.00 (Save 30%)
Restorative face cream for mature skin, Weleda Evening Primrose Age Revitalising Day Cream combines evening primrose with olive oil and cocoa butter to deeply nourish, firm and increase the skin’s resilience.
Weleda Face Care
Evening Primrose Age Revitalising Day Cream 30ml
RRP £28.95 (Save 37%)
For skin prone to inflammation and redness, a cleanser that includes evening primrose oil can provide much-needed relief. Inner Strength Soothing Cleansing Balm does just that, adding chamomile oil for additional soothing benefits.
Aromatherapy Associates Skincare
Inner Strength Soothing Cleansing Balm 100ml
RRP £40.00 (Save 20%)