September 28


Seabuckthorn Oil for Skincare & Formulating

Sea Buckthorn is a powerful carrier oil rich in antioxidants and other unsaponifiables.

Just looking at the intense color in these oils you can tell there is something special going on here.

It has an extremely generous antioxidant carotenoid component that protects and repairs skin tissues from all kinds of damage.

But simply saying seabuckthorn oil lacks an important distinction as the sea buckthorn is a plant that produces two different oils, a carrier oil from the seed and a more potent antioxidant-rich bright orange skincare oil from the fruit around the seed.

Two Versions of Sea Buckthorn Oil

The seed oil is a wonderful skincare oil, but it is in the fruit oil that we find the powerhouse of antioxidants.

The fruit oil is usually a bright cherry red as you can see below – top dot – and has to be diluted so as not to turn skin red.

The bottom dot, you can see the oil from the seed oil is more amber color and less staining to the skin. Both pulp and seeds are pressed for the lipid content.

This is a plant of the northern counties and regions, Europe, Siberia, Mongolia, the Balkans and Canada. Its botanical name Hippophae rhammoides literally means shiny horse. When used as animal fodder the animals develop beautiful thick coats.

Both oils while strongly red-orange differ considerably in the oils’ fatty acid profiles, which are radically different from each other.

Seabuckthorn Berry Oil Fatty Acids

The cherry red berry oil is highly unusual with a high percentage of rare omega 7 palmitoleic acid. The fatty acid is mono-unsaturated 16 carbons long and an important fatty acid produced by the skin.

Palmitoleic acid stimulates wound healing and provides anti microbial protection for the skin layers.

The fatty acid is produced at 20% in the skin when optimum, but as we age its production tends to diminish.

Seabuckthorn Seed Oil Fatty Acids

Conversely, the seed oil only contains at most 2% palmitoleic omega 7 fatty acid.

Rather, this carrier oil pressed from the seeds only is generously made up of the two essential fatty acids, EFA, linoleic and alpha-linolenic acids.

These two fatty acids are especially beneficial to the structure of the epidermis and the barrier function of the skin.

The Healing Fraction

The unsaponifiable portion for the sea buckthorn oils varies as well in the two different oils. This is to be expected as the color is so very different.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E, alpha tocopherol is roughly the same in both oils however, the tocotrienol content of the seed oil is five times the pulp oil. Tocotrienols are a form of vitamin E that is more highly antioxidant than the tocopherols. They are smaller and more reactive so able to penetrate the skin more deeply to protect the tissues.


Phytosterols in the seed oil is twice that of the pulp oil. Plant sterols protect against inflammation, promoting elasticity in addition to protecting and repairing damage to the skin.


Carotenoid content in the pulp oil is five or six times as that of the seed oil! This can be seen in the color differences and the strength of the cherry red of the pulp oil, on the right.

The carotenoid content of the seed oil left, is not insignificant just much less red than its pulp seed mate.

Formulating with Seabuckthorn seed and berry oils

Side by side the two oils are potent skincare additions. Using them in formulas you’ll be diluting them, especially the cherry red pulp oil, right beaker. The oil is so very red that even massaging it into the skin will still result in red skin.

But both are powerhouse healing oils. The healing fraction of both oils, especially the carotenoids will add potent nutrition and protection for the skin to your formula.

Diluted down to 10% or even less will still deliver protection and nutrition to your formula.

Is seabuckthorn seed or berry oil a part of your formulations or skincare routine? Leave a comment or a question below.


About the author 

Susan Parker

I'm Susan M Parker, author, teacher and researcher. My life is steeped in the lipid oils, carrier oils, plant butters. Since publishing my book Power of the Seed in 2014 I have been teaching and sharing my work with the botanical and lipid oils with students from around the world.

  • Hello Susan, I have just come across your site and blog- what an amazing source of information! Thank you!
    I make a Sea Buckthorn infusion using the discarded skin and seeds from a juicing company- I infuse the dried pomace and it turns out super bright with a typically strong , slightly acidic smell. I then add this at low percentages to my formulas but I’m wondering what qualities would you think it would take on considering it is from both seed and skin? Would these be the same as the seed oil and skin oil discussed in this post? Many thanks.

    • Hi Beth,
      The infusion of the pulp will give you a good oil with lots of nutrients – but to get the seeds’ fatty acids, you would need to collect the seeds, dry them to the right moisture content and then press the seeds to extract the fatty acids. The plant makes two very different fatty acid profiles, and your infused oil of the pulp would yield yet a third with the fatty acids of the infusing oil you are using.

  • Thank you Susan! I have a virgine seabuckthorn fruit oil from Siberia Altai montains..and this oil is so concentrated, that as 100% it is also very thick oil. In my formulations I use less than 1%, otherwise the carothenoids leave the skin in strong orange

    • Veronika sounds like you have a wonderful source for the oil. Even highly diluted – because red! – the carotenoids are great for the skin.

  • Would these be good to add to a cream for bed sores that are closed but still healing? Is there something that would be a better choice for the tender/fragile skin of the buttock area? Currently using a combination of MediHoney with a zinc cream mixed together – helping but may need something more added. Thank you so much for you thoughts. ~ Sheila

  • Hi Susan! Thank you so much for such a wonderful post. Very informative! I didn’t know there were two versions of Seabuckthorn oil. I use 0.3% of Seabuckthorn seed oil in my formulations. I’ve noticed that anything higher will leave my skin orange:)

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