Cheap Cosmetic Filler Or Skin Saviour?

Not long ago while watching Instagram stories I came across a green beauty blogger who stated she refuses to use a product if it contains Sunflower oil, as she considered it just be "a cheap filler added to cosmetic products and not beneficial to skin". As botanical plant oils go sunflower oil is one of the cheaper to grow and produce along with soybean oil, castor oil, and sweet almond oil. This, of course, is not true for any plant which has been grown to be Certifed Organic and or Biodynamic. I am a great believer in the maxim "Knowledge is Power" - Sir Francis Bacon who was the first person to be attributed to this phrase dating back to 1597. This blog post takes a look at some actual, known facts about Sunflower Oil.

sunflower oil benefits for skin

It is a non-volatile oil expressed from the sunflower seeds obtained from Helianthus annuus, family Asteraceae. The following is a review of the available data for the skin benefits of Sunflower Oil: 

The components of sunflower oil mainly consist of oleic (Omega 9) and linoleic (Omega 6) acids. Sunflower seed oil contains relatively higher linoleic acid concentration relative to olive oil. This property makes sunflower oil a suitable ingredient in skin products due to the positive benefits of linoleic acid. 
2002 Study Impact of topical oils on the skin barrier: possible implications for neonatal health in developing countries.

Sunflower Seed Oil has been shown to preserve Stratum Corneum (the outermost layer of the skin) integrity and improve hydration of the adult skin without inducing erythema (redness).
2013 Study Effect of olive and sunflower seed oil on the adult skin barrier: Implications for neonatal skincare. Pediatr. Dermatol. 

Linoleic Acid serves as an agonist at peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPAR-α), which enhances keratinocyte proliferation and lipid synthesis. This, in turn, enhances skin barrier repair. Natural oils such as sunflower, sesame, or safflower seed oil have been suggested as good options for their use in promoting skin barrier homeostasis.
2005 Study Traditional massage of newborns in Nepal: implications for trials of improved practice.

Sunflower Seed Oil has exhibited a chemopreventive effect in a mouse model of skin cancer with two-stage carcinogenesis. Sesamol, one of its constituent, specifically plays a role in the chemopreventive (cancer preventive) effects.
2002 Study Chemopreventive effect of resveratrol, sesamol, sesame oil and sunflower oil in the Epstein-Barr virus early antigen activation assay and the mouse skin two-stage carcinogenesis. 


The seeds from which the oil is cold-pressed contain approximately 50% oil. Consisting mainly of fatty acids in triglycerides is linoleic acid followed by oleic acid. It is a rich source of Lecithin which is an emollient with softening and soothing skin properties. Read the Blog "Behind The Ingredient - Lecithin" here.

Sunflower oil also contains tocopherols, carotenoids and waxes, Vitamins A, B, D, and E, and minerals. Sunflower seeds are not dehulled prior to cold pressing, the oil contains a significant amount of wax, these waxes may at lower temperatures crystallize resulting in the formation in small solid particles. You should not keep Tanu in a fridge or the new very cute mini cosmetics fridges as it will become semi-solid! 


Linoleic Acid (Omega 6) 55%

Oleic Acid (Omega 9) 30%

Palmitic Acid 6%

Stearic Acid 4%

Alpha Linolenic Acid (Omega 3) 2%

Vaccenic Acid 1%


PhytosterolsBeta-sitosterol has a very similar composition to cholesterol, topical application can be helpful in treating allergic inflammatory diseases including atopic dermatitis.

Waxes - Long-chain fatty acids linked by ester bonds to
a long chain of alcohol help protect the skin against
water loss.

Phospholipids - Lecithin.

Terpenoids - Lupeol - has an anti-inflammatory effect, antimicrobial activity against P. acnes helps to reduce the production of sebum and full of antioxidants. Squalene - can help speed up the healing process while soothing eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis. You can read more about Squalene here.

Chlorophyll - Has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Carotenoids - Beta-carotene a powerful antioxidant - Studies now show that antioxidants do have the ability to be absorbed into skin cells of the stratum corneum (top layer of skin) where they neutralize free radicals.


  1. Sunflower oil has been recommended for the removal of hot tar in patients of tar burn.
  2. Considered noncomedogenic - will not cause blocked pores.
  3. Sunflower oil is becoming increasingly popular as a substitute for soybean as it represents an alternative source for the production of lecithin due to the unacceptability of genetically modified soybean in natural cosmetics.
  4. High Linoleic sunflower oil with unsaturated fatty acids, is used for making paint and other industrial uses.
  5. You can eat the seeds which have diuretic and antioxidant properties while being a great source of protein and vitamins B D E and K.


SCIENTIFIC NAME //Helianthus annuus L.
FAMILY // Asteraceae Daisy family
PLANT PART // Achene - the seed
INCI //Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil
FUNCTION // Emollient skin & conditioning
METHOD OF EXTRACTION // Virgin Cold Pressed 
FORMULATION // We have incorporated Sunflower Seed Oil into our formulation for our Hero Product, via two of our ingredients:

  • Certified Organic DehydraSome Acai & Goji Extract
  • Certified Organic Willow Bark Extract

CONCLUSION // Because Sunflower Seed Oil is widely available and at a cost-effective price, I personally feel it can sometimes mistakenly be given the label of a 'cheap filler' in skincare products. However, the above research I hope will help to dispell that misnomer. It offers fantastic skin benefits: anti-inflammatory and regenerative properties care for dry, irritated or inflamed skin along with emollient properties to soften, soothe and protect the skin acting as a barrier against the environment preventing moisture loss from your skin.  

Until next time

be human, be kind, be you.







Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils Tzu-Kai Lin, Lily Zhong, and Juan Luis Santiago.

BOOK // Modern Cosmetics - Ingredients of Natural Origin a scientific review Vol. 1


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