People have used sea buckthorn oil for centuries as a natural remedy for a variety of conditions. However, scientific research proving its benefits is limited.

Sea buckthorn oil comes from the seeds and fruit of the sea buckthorn plant.

Much of the knowledge people have about the oil comes from traditional medicine and anecdotal reports. However, some studies suggest it is useful for moisturizing a person’s skin and hair.

This article looks at sea buckthorn oil’s benefits and uses. It also explores its safety and potential side effects.

A woman gathering orange berries outdoors to make sea buckthorn oil.Share on Pinterest
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Sea buckthorn oil is a thick, golden-orange liquid that comes from sea buckthorn berries. Many cosmetic companies use it in their products. It is also possible to apply the oil to a person’s skin or hair directly, or to take it orally in a capsule.

Sea buckthorn oil contains a number of compounds that can be beneficial to human health. These include:

  • fatty acids, including gamma linolenic acid (omega-6) and palmitoleic acid (omega-7)
  • vitamins, including vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin E
  • antioxidants, such as flavonoids and polyphenols

According to a 2021 review of previous studies, sea buckthorn oil possesses several medicinal properties too. It is:

  • antibacterial
  • antifungal
  • anti-inflammatory

These properties may explain why the plant has been part of traditional medicine in Asia and Europe for hundreds of years.

Research suggests that sea buckthorn oil may have benefits for the following:

Hair care

According to a 2017 article, sea buckthorn oil contains lipids, or fats, that can remove excess oil from someone’s hair. This is one of the reasons why the oil is often an ingredient in shampoos.

Sea buckthorn oil also supports the structure of people’s hair. This may make it a useful addition to hair care routines that aim to protect hair from damage or breakage.

Dry or mature skin

The same lipids that may benefit hair health can also help moisturize and soften a person’s skin, improving elasticity. This may be especially useful for people with dry or mature skin, which can lose its elasticity over time.

According to the 2017 article, one of sea buckthorn oil’s lipids can also speed up cell regeneration and renewal. It also contains sterols, which reduce water loss and improve firmness in a person’s skin.

Oily skin and acne

Sea buckthorn oil may be a useful moisturizing ingredient for people with oily skin. This is because it contains linolic acid, which is a component in the skin’s own oil, or sebum. Linolic acid helps to regulate moisture levels.

The 2017 review explains that previous studies have found that the sebum in people with oily skin has less linolic acid than usual. This may play a role in the formation of blackheads and acne.

However, few studies have looked at whether sea buckthorn oil reduces oiliness or acne lesions in humans.


A 2017 animal study found that sea buckthorn oil had a positive effect on eczema-like rashes in mice. The researchers applied the oil to the mice’s skin for 4 weeks and found that it inhibited inflammation, improving symptoms.

While sea buckthorn oil did not provide comparable results with topical anti-inflammatory medication, the oil had fewer side effects. This may mean that the oil could be a good complementary treatment for eczema in humans too.

However, high-quality human studies are necessary to confirm the results.

Vaginal atrophy

One of the symptoms of menopause is vaginal dryness or atrophy, which happens as a result of a person’s body producing less estrogen. This causes the tissue of someone’s vagina to become thinner and dryer, which can cause discomfort or itching.

Doctors typically recommend vaginal moisturizers or hormone therapy to treat this symptom, but not everyone can take estrogen. A 2014 study of 116 females in postmenopause found that taking sea buckthorn oil orally significantly improved vaginal health. The authors suggest it may be a potential alternative to estrogen replacement.

Heart health

Past studies have shown that the fruit of sea buckthorn increases the level of high-density lipoprotein or “good” cholesterol in a person’s blood. In healthy individuals, this can help protect heart health.

Antioxidants are also present in sea buckthorn oil. Antioxidants may help to prevent cardiovascular disease. Clear evidence that antioxidants prevent cardiovascular disease is lacking, but researchers speculate that antioxidants may play a role in preventing atherosclerosis, or hardening of a person’s arteries.

There are few reports of people experiencing side effects while using sea buckthorn oil. However, as with any topical oil, skin irritation or allergies may be possible. Individuals may want to patch test new substances on a small area of their skin before using them elsewhere.

The 2014 study on menopause found that out of the 98 people taking sea buckthorn oil orally, 11 reported digestive symptoms. The group taking the oil also experienced more joint pain than the placebo group. The researchers do not understand why this happened.

Sea buckthorn oil is generally safe to take orally at moderate doses. Multiple studies have found no toxicity associated with sea buckthorn oil during short-term use. However, experts know little about the exact effect of long-term use or overconsumption.

Additionally, there is no research on whether sea buckthorn oil is safe to take while a person is pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking other medications. People should always consult a doctor before adding a supplement to their routine.

Do not give oral sea buckthorn oil to children or teenagers. Anyone who experiences new, unexplained symptoms while using sea buckthorn oil should stop using it. If the symptoms persist, speak with a doctor.

Sea buckthorn oil comes from the berries and seeds of the sea buckthorn plant. It contains a number of beneficial vitamins, antioxidants, and fatty acids.

Limited evidence suggests that sea buckthorn oil’s benefits may include hydrating a person’s dry skin and hair, as well as easing vaginal dryness during menopause. However, more research is necessary to better understand how effective the oil is in larger groups of people.