Real Benefits of Berry Seed Oils

Countless cosmetic products make verbose claims in their marketing. Honestly, it’s difficult to discern or buy into these claims and many don’t really understand how or if these products even work. However, there is an abundance of scientific research into ingredients that actually work to beautify you; berry seed oils being one of these ingredients. Blackberry, raspberry, and strawberry seed oils are popular in the world of cosmetics; from skin moisturizers to hair products, you’ll find them in the ingredients list of many well-known beauty products. But why exactly is it so common and for what reasons is it used in the cosmetic industry? Well, besides smelling delectable, there is significant scientific evidence that shows that the inclusion of berry seed oils is more than “marketing fluff”. It can be a lot to take in on your own, so today we’ll give you the cliff notes to make it just a smidge more digestible.

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Acids That Contribute to Your Beauty

To start, let’s quickly identify the specific chemicals found in berry seed oils that can potentially beautify you. Linoleic acid, a fatty acid, makes up most of the chemical composition of berry seeds. Fatty acids are special molecules known as macromolecules that our bodies use to manage the regulation of cellular activities like metabolism (cell energy conversion), cellular multiplication, structure, and cellular signaling (essentially how our cells talk to each other and react to their environment).

On a different note, ellagic acid, a phenolic acid, is also an important component of berry seeds. Phenolic acids usually have to be supplemented (your body cannot create these) and typically come from different types of plants. Phenolic acids are well-known antioxidants for helping deal with oxidative stress in your cells. This term is a bit complicated and will be explained further when it’s more relevant; for now, just know that oxidative stress of cells causes free radicals and free radicals can lead to DNA mutation, aka cancer.

Still with me? If anything in this segment didn’t stick with you, worry not. The later sections will develop on these concepts and by the end you might learn something new!

Linoleic Acid: Promotes Hair Growth and Voluminous Hair

Linoleic acid has been linked to hair growth factors and shortages of fatty acid supplements relate to hair loss, although exactly how this works is currently unknown (3). Regardless, linoleic acid treatments have been shown to increase the hair cell growth rate, helping combat/prevent balding and general hair loss. Studies indicate that linoleic acid activates cell signaling in the human hair papilla cell (the root of hair follicles), leading to a quicker cell cycle or the creation of more hair cells (3). The evidence presented suggests that linoleic acid is a potential alternative and effective natural therapeutic agent against hair loss. Additionally, more “new” hair cells equals healthier and stronger hair. Similar to skin cells, it’s important to have a healthy cell cycle as old cells get frequently replaced by fresh ones. Another benefit of linoleic acid is moisture retention, it helps keep the scalp hydrated as the fat content keeps the water inside the cell.

All this to say, the linoleic acid content of berry seed oils promotes hair cell health and serves as a preventative for balding/hair loss by promoting cell growth while also keeping skin and hair cells nice and hydrated. So when you see hair care products containing berry seed oils claiming “youthful, shiny, and voluminous hair” remember that it isn’t simply the use of buzzwords; it’s a scientifically backed description of the product and an accurate depiction of what you can expect if you used it!

Ellagic Acid: Protection from Free Radicals and UV Damage

Ellagic acid is one the most important ingredients found in berry seed oils due to its antioxidant, skin-rejuvenating, and protective properties. Let’s further define oxidative stress, free radicals, and antioxidants to better understand ellagic acid’s benefits. Free radicals are molecules lacking the normal amount of electrons, typically caused by external forces like pollution, sunlight/radiation, and psychological stress; these external forces cause oxidative stress (or the presence of free radicals). These molecules (free radicals) negatively affect other molecules around them by stripping them of electrons; the change in electron count mutates the “makeup” of macromolecules and, more importantly, DNA. This can lead to cellular dysfunction, and in the worst scenarios can lead to different cancers. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals before they have a chance to cause damage by donating electrons thus stabilizing the molecule. With this info in mind, ellagic acid functions as a natural antioxidant and combats the effects of oxidative stress, keeping the important chemicals of your cells/DNA safe from damage (4).

Ellagic acid additionally protects the skin from different types of UV damage. Not only does UV light have oxidative properties, but it also hinders cell-to-cell communication which is needed for proper function. Lim et al experimented to test the protective ability of ellagic acid by recording how human skin cells reacted to UV-B radiation, with and without ellagic acid treatment. Testing concluded that the cells treated with ellagic acid managed to combat the UV-B damage while the cells without ellagic acid were compromised. It was found that ellagic acid protects and encourages the cell-to-cell signaling responsible for your body’s natural ability to combat oxidants, which is normally blocked/hindered by UV radiation (4). A similar study was done using strawberry seed oil and UV-A radiation, with similar results. The article suggests that berry seed oils can be used to create high UV-protection cosmetic products with small amounts of synthetic materials (5).

These two studies mentioned show us the UV light protective and by extension the anti-aging properties of berry seed oils when used on skin and the real potential it has as an ingredient used in cosmetics; which is why berry seed oils are commonly used in skin moisturizers and conditioners promoting youthful and healthy skin. It’s more than just marketing, it’s science!

The Beauty of Being an Educated Consumer

Props! Now you’ve become an educated consumer on why so many beauty products contain berry seed oils. Everything covered is just the tip of the iceberg regarding berry seed oil’s beneficial and holistic effects. However, this article aims to focus on cosmetic applications and is starting to get long-winded; let’s wrap up. In summary, berry seed oils are used in hair products for their linoleic acid content to support scalp health and hair growth. Additionally, the oil supports hydration and protects cells against water loss due to its fatty acid content (2). Ellagic acid in berry seed oils is a natural antioxidant that suppresses oxidative stress on cells. It also has potent sun-protective qualities and is responsible for stopping cell structure breakdown, also known as a loss of skin firmness (6); this is the reason berry seed oils are often found in anti-wrinkle, anti-aging, and UV-protecting cosmetics, typically in the form of moisturizers.

Products often claim things that sound too good to be true and it’s really easy to quickly dismiss a lot of it considering the amount of “fluff” found in today’s marketing. However, every once in a while there is truth in the marketing; finding the answer involves educating yourself as a consumer. I hope this article helped you become a bit more of an informed buyer and maybe encourages you to do a bit of research of your own before blindly buying into or dismissing a product; this is especially important in the world of cosmetics with how oversaturated the market is. So if you seek some beauty products that actually do what the marketing claims, maybe consider incorporating products containing berry seed oils into your self-care routine and rest well knowing that countless people have worked hard to ensure your purchase is legitimately meaningful to your wellbeing.

  1. Quality Assessment of Cold-pressed Strawberry, Rasberry and Blackberry Seed Oils Intended for Cosmetic Purposes. https://www.food.actapol.net/volume20/issue2/abstract-1.html
  2. A Review on Berry Seeds—A Special Emphasis on Their Chemical Content and Health-Promoting Properties https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10058722/
  3. Activation of Hair Cell Growth Factors by Linoleic Acid in Malva verticillata Seeds
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8067726/
  4. Ellagic acid plays a protective role against UV-B-induced oxidative stress by up-regulating antioxidant components in human dermal fibroblasts
    https://synapse.koreamed.org/upload/synapsedata/pdfdata/0067kjpp/kjpp-20-269.pdf
  5. Strawberry-Based Cosmetic Formulations Protect Human Dermal Fibroblasts against UVA-Induced Damage
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5490584/
  6. Recovery of Bioactive Components from Strawberry Seeds Residues Post Oil Extraction and Their Cosmetic Potential
    https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3417/14/2/783
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