Borage seed oil is a Mediterranean wonder herb extract for natural skincare. The herb itself grows wild in abundance in our home island Malta. Despite its striking appearance with its piercing blue, dainty, star-shaped flowers, red stems and vibrant, hairy green foliage, borage is such a common native herb that it's easy to overlook - and to overlook also how these humble flowers produce a powerhouse for natural skincare advocates.
Borage seed oil benefits in skincare have not been shouted as loudly as those of argan oil, for example. Even its name sounds worthy, solid and unassuming. But for all its commonality, this is a plant to appreciate more than for the few weeks it blooms and shines in our countryside. Borage seed oil is a highly-prized ingredient for us at Olentium.
Here's a little primer as to why:
Borage: origins & etymology
Borage (Latin: Borago officinalis) is thought to have originated in Syria, and it grows wild across the Mediterranean and also in temperate climes in northern Europe. As you can see from the photos here, bees love it! It also has a folkloristic name in English of Beebread for just this reason. The bees were certainly out early on the spring morning we photographed.
Since ancient times, it has documented uses and was regarded as what we might call today a 'mood enhancer'; Pliny named the plant euphrosium (think 'euphoria'!) for the herb's mythical ability to bring happiness, though we must add that these beliefs have never been ascertained for sure.
Borage Seed Oil benefits for our skin: why & how
You've no doubt heard for a long time of the benefits of Evening Primrose Oil as a source of the body's Essential Fatty Acids and in anti-ageing skincare.
Our body needs EFAs and can't produce them internally; to delve more into the phytochemical terms, we're talking about gamma linolenic acid (GLA), an omega-6 fatty acid. GLA when taken internally and processed by the body can help calm inflammation.
However, we're interested in GLA's role when applied topically in cosmetic skincare. Less famed and talked about but perhaps more effective in anti-ageing skincare formulas is humble borage seed oil. It is our richest, readily-available source of plant-extracted GLA; in fact, gram for gram, it has easily twice as much GLA content (16-23%) as evening primrose oil (which contains around 8-10% GLA).
It can help in preventing the signs of our skin's ageing, and also be a very useful oil in guarding against dry skin and in reducing visible signs of stretch marks and in alleviating some skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
To really get the full benefit of borage seed oil, you should opt for first cold pressed, and therefore an oil of higher phytochemical value. It is often found along with the more expensive, well-known evening primrose oil, to help increase a skincare formula's active GLA content.
At Olentium, we use borage seed oil as a firm favourite in our Ritual & Restore Beauty Oil 12/24. As we're keen to use what nature bequeaths us locally here in the Mediterranean, we don't use evening primrose oil, preferring our hairy, but bounteous borage and its wondrous seed oil benefits.
While its beauty on our waysides lasts only during our brief spring, its benefits live on longer in its beneficial oil.