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Essential Oils

Borage Seed Oil – A Popular Skincare Tool

Essential oils can make great massage oils, skin care treatments, and therapeutic aids. However, they must be used carefully. Most essential oils are too strong to apply undiluted, and it could damage your skin if you were to do so. That's why people are encouraged to use milder carrier oils to dilute essential oils. Borage seed oil is one of the lesser-known but hugely versatile carrier oils.

Borage Seed Carrier Oil History of Borage Seed Carrier Oil

Borage seed oil comes from the seeds of the star flower herb or the Borago officinalis . The plant is cultivated primarily in the northern hemisphere, although it is also used in New Zealand, South America, and South Africa. 1

It has been used as food throughout history, and traditionally, Roman soldiers would be given borage flowers steeped in brandy or wine before they went into battle.

Though it has been popular as a food product for a while because it is a good source of gamma-linoleic acid (GLA), it is only relatively recently that borage seed oil became popular as a skincare tool.

Chemical Properties

Borage seed oil is rich in gamma-linolenic acid, with the concentration ranging from 26 to 38 percent depending in the plant. It also contains linoleic acid (35–38 percent), oleic acid (between 16 and 20 percent), approximately 10 percent palmitic acid, and smaller amounts of stearic acid, eicosenoic acid and erucic acid. 2

These compounds contribute to many of its properties, especially its skincare benefits.

Uses for Borage Seed Carrier Oil

Borage seed oil is a comparatively new oil in the world of skincare and essential oils, and people are only just starting to appreciate its benefits. However, this versatile oil boasts a wide variety of different uses, some of which are outlined below.

Hydrates the Skin Borage Seed Carrier Oil

As with many other carrier oils, borage seed oil is an effective anti-aging oil which can help repair and rehydrate your skin. If you don't want to be using chemical moisturizing creams that contain synthetic fragrances and parabens, consider trying plant-based oils like borage seed oil instead.

Reduces Stress

Borage oil is rich in GLA, and studies show that GLA can help reduce the stress response, which was demonstrated in a study in men facing stressful situations. 3 Using borage carrier oil to provide a base for massage of other essential oils can also help to combat stress.

The essential oils themselves can help relax the body and mind, and the simple act of massaging the skin can help relax muscles. Studies show that physical contact such as that experienced in a massage can help to prompt the release of stress-fighting hormones and consequently improve overall well-being. 4

Reduces the Symptoms of PMS or Menopause Borage Seed Carrier Oil

During menstruation, a woman's body produces inflammatory substances known as prostaglandins. Borage seed oil contains GLA, which can help reduce inflammation and therefore reduce symptoms of cramping and pain. 5

Additionally, some women are deficient in iodine, and the essential fatty acids in borage oil have been shown to promote better iodine absorption. 6

Furthermore, linoleic acid found in borage seed oil can offer a protective effect against many of the symptoms of menopause. 7

Soothes Skin Conditions

Many skin conditions can be improved through the use of essential oils and borage oil. Inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, and acne can all respond well to the use of borage oil.

Your skin is a protective layer that helps protect the rest of your body from infection and damage. Lipids help to keep the skin moist, supple, and smooth. There are several lipids that help promote healthy skin, with the ones in the omega-6 family being particularly important.

GLA has been found to help improve the balance of oil in the skin, particularly in cases where people are not able to produce enough lipids themselves. 8 Modern western diets are lacking in healthy fats, and this can increase the risk of developing certain skin conditions.

Some research suggests that supplementing with GLA can help improve skin health, but results have been mixed. 9 There are virtually no side effects to supplementing with small amounts of GLA, however, so it is worth trying.

Topical treatments with borage oil can help improve certain skin conditions, including dermatitis. The oil is quite light and easily absorbed, so applying small amounts to irritated skin can be beneficial. It is important, however, to use only small amounts and not to apply essential oils to broken skin because this can make the damage worse.

borage seed oil Helps Prevent Gum Disease

Another benefit of the anti-inflammatory effects of GLA is that it can help prevent periodontitis and associated gingivitis. Studies show that those who have a diet rich in GLA typically have healthier gums than those who do not. 10

Gum disease is caused mostly by bacteria and plaque build up. In some cases, the inflammation from the damaged gums does not clear up correctly, and it spreads to the bloodstream where it can damage other blood vessels, including those in the heart and the brain. For this reason, it is important to take proper care of your teeth and gums. 11

Best Essential Oils to Pair with Borage Seed Carrier Oil

Borage seed oil goes well with a lot of different essential oils to make aromatherapy blends. One popular blend that is used for the management of eczema is:

This blend is ideal for use on the skin to soothe inflammation and reduce the dryness associated with eczema.

Another option is to add a few drops of lavender, rosemary, and marjoram to a similar blend of calendula and borage oil to produce a warming massage oil that can help fight aches and pains and aid recovery after exercise. A similar combination of oils used in your bath will help you relax and unwind after a hard night at the gym as well.

Essential oils can be useful for helping with the pain of PMS symptoms. Useful essential oils to pair with borage seed oil for relieving PMS symptoms include frankincense, ginger, turmeric, and eucalyptus essential oils.

These oils can help reduce inflammation and have a warming effect. Eucalyptus oil, in particular, has been shown in studies to reduce pain because of its anti-inflammatory properties. 12

Safety and Precautions borage seed oil

For most people, borage oil is considered to be safe, but there are some contraindications. It is important to avoid using borage seed oil that contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). In particular, do not take oils that contain PAs orally. Some parts of the borage plant contain these chemicals, and they have been found to be damaging to the liver. There are oils that are certified as being PA-free, which would be safer to use. 13

In addition, avoid using borage seed oil if you have any bleeding disorders. Stop use of borage seed oil two weeks before any scheduled surgery. There is evidence to suggest that borage may increase the risk of bleeding during or after surgery.

Borage seed oil may interact with certain medications. While most of these warnings apply to oral rather than topical use of borage oil, it is important to be aware that the risk of interaction exists. Avoid using borage oil if you are taking anticoagulant or antiplatelet drugs or drugs that increase the breakdown of other medications by the liver. 14


Borage seed oil is a versatile carrier oil that can be used for a wide range of applications. It has a hazelnut-like aroma and works well in skin and hair care, as well as for bath lotions, scrubs, and massage oils. If you’re looking for ideas for an alternative to coconut oil or argan oil, then borage seed oil can be a great option that can improve your overall wellbeing.

PhotoCredits: 13Smile/, AntonioGuillem/, Prostock-studio/, RomanSamborskyi/, JPC-PROD/

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