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Pumpkin seed oil is a carrier oil with antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties.
While it has multiple health benefits, pumpkin seed oil hasn’t been widely studied for the treatment of acne. Here’s what the research shows, and what several dermatologists have to say about its use for skin care.
Pumpkin seed oil is dark green or amber and has a nutty scent. It’s derived from the hulled seeds of pumpkins (Cucurbita pepo), often via cold pressing.
The oil contains multiple nutrients which provide benefits for health and for skin. These include:
- linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acid)
- linolenic acid (omega-3 fatty acid)
- tocopherols (vitamin E)
- vitamin C
- carotenoids (antioxidants)
Pumpkin seed oil can be used for food preparation and topically for skin care. It’s also available as a nutritional supplement and as an ingredient in skin care products.
Pumpkin seed oil can be used as a topical, spot treatment to reduce the inflammation associated with acne.
One small study showed a significant difference in the amount and severity of pimples, pustules, and blackheads among participants who used pumpkin seed oil on their skin over the course of 1 to 3 months.
Some dermatologists embrace the use of pumpkin seed oil for acne. “Pumpkin seed oil is considered a good oil to use for acne prone skin. It contains a plethora of unsaturated fatty acids which can soothe inflammation and acne-prone skin,” says plastic surgeon and anti-aging expert, Dr. Anthony Youn.
Others are less enthusiastic, but confident that pumpkin seed oil won’t produce any adverse effects on skin.
According to board certified dermatologist, Erum Ilyas, MD, MBE, FAAD: “Pumpkin seed oil does not appear to prevent oil or sebum from building up. It also does not appear to work to break apart skin cells for exfoliation. However, it may help reduce redness or inflammation that comes from acne, to make it appear less inflamed.
“Pumpkin seed oil will not likely make acne worse, so it’s reasonable to try if you find that you are frustrated by redness or the skin sensitivity that comes from either acne, or the traditional products we use to treat acne.”
Pumpkin seed oil’s use for skin conditions such as acne and photoaging haven’t been studied extensively. However, there’s some research indicating that its components can be beneficial.
Supports wound healing
Supports production of collagen
Pumpkin seed oil’s vitamin C content supports the production of collagen, which helps skin retain elasticity and firmness.
Reduces free radicals and balances oil in the skin
“The components of pumpkin seed oil translate into a wide range of benefits for skin,” says dermatologist Dr. Peterson Pierre.
“Vitamin C and vitamin E are potent antioxidants which help protect skin against environmental stressors by reducing free radicals. The essential fatty acids penetrate the skin to maintain and increase moisture levels, without leaving a greasy residue. Combined with the antioxidant properties, they help maintain a youthful appearance.
“These acids also help balance oil in the skin, providing moisture where it’s lacking and controlling oil where it’s abundant. Zinc and selenium also help in this regard. Furthermore, zinc along with vitamin C protect and help in the production collagen and elastin fibers which enhances tone and tightness,” he adds.
Did you know?
There are several varieties of pumpkin which may be used to make pumpkin seed oil. One of the most common types is the Styrian pumpkin, which grows in certain parts of Eastern Europe.
Styrian pumpkin is an oilseed pumpkin which produces a nutrient-dense oil. It can take as many as 30 pumpkins to make a liter of oil.
You can use pumpkin seed oil directly on your skin as a spot treatment for acne. Since it’s a carrier oil, there’s no need to dilute it. There are also several products which contain pumpkin seed oil that can be beneficial for skin conditions.
Price range guide:
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US Organic Pumpkin Seed Oil
This brand of cold-pressed, organic pumpkin seed oil is manufactured domestically in a USDA-certified organic facility. Unlike some other brands, it’s not diluted with fillers or alcohol.
You can purchase US Organic Pumpkin Seed Oil in multiple sizes. It can be used as a spot treatment for acne or as an allover body moisturizer.
MyChelle Dermaceuticals Pumpkin Renew Cream
This facial moisturizer is perfect for normal and dry skin. In addition to pumpkin seed oil, it contains naturally sourced, organic shea butter. It’s phthalate free and contains no artificial colors or fragrance. It has a very creamy consistency, and absorbs quickly.
Ilike Organic Skin Care Pumpkin and Orange Mask
This organic face mask is good for acne-prone and dry skin. In addition to pumpkin seed oil and orange essential oil, it contains honey, which is beneficial for balancing skin bacteria and reducing inflammation.
The mask produces a temporary, tingling sensation that some people like, but others may find uncomfortable.
ARCONA Pumpkin Lotion 10%
This natural, exfoliating body lotion contains pumpkin extracts and glycolic acid. It’s designed to reduce the effects of photoaging and sun damage.
Shea Moisture 100% Premium Pumpkin Seed Oil
This fair-trade brand of pumpkin seed oil can be used anywhere on the face, hair, or body. It’s an excellent choice for sensitive skin, dry skin, or acne-prone skin.
Pumpkin seed oil is packed with beneficial components for skin. Even so, it hasn’t been researched extensively for its use as an acne treatment.
Users find it mild for all skin types and beneficial for reducing breakouts and inflammation.