Jojoba oil (pronounced "ho-HO-bah") is the liquid wax produced in the seed of the jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) plant, a shrub native to southern Arizona, southern California and northwestern Mexico. The oil makes up approximately 50% of the jojoba seed by weight.
Jojoba oil is a mixture of wax esters, 36 to 46 carbon atoms in length. Each molecule consists of a fatty acid and a fatty alcohol joined by an ester bond. 98% of the fatty acid molecules are unsaturated at the 9th carbon-carbon bond (omega-9) The approximate percentages of fatty acids in jojoba oil are as follows:
Unrefined jojoba oil appears as a clear golden liquid at room temperature with a slightly fatty odor. Refined jojoba oil is colorless and odorless. The melting point of jojoba oil is approximately 10°C and the iodine value is approximately 80. Jojoba oil is relatively shelf-stable when compared with other vegetable oils. It has an Oxidative Stability Index of approximately 60, which means that it is more shelf-stable than oils of safflower oil, canola oil, almond oil or squalene but less than castor oil, macadamia oil and coconut oil.
Unlike common vegetable oils, jojoba oil is chemically very similar to human sebum. Most jojoba oil is consumed as an ingredient in cosmetics and personal care products, especially skin care and hair care. Jojoba derivatives, including jojoba esters, isopropyl jojobate and jojoba alcohol, are particularly widely used in this context.
Jojoba oil is also used as a replacement for whale oil and its derivatives, such as cetyl alcohol. The ban on importing whale oil to the US in 1971 led to the discovery that it is "in many regards superior to sperm oil for applications in the cosmetics and other industries."
Jojoba oil is an exceptional moisturizer.