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What are the benefits of palm oil for skin?

This popular ingredient may help fight signs of aging—and more.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 6, 2023 • 8 min read
Medically reviewed by Meredith Hartle, DO
Palm Oil Serum
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 6, 2023 • 8 min read
Medically reviewed by Meredith Hartle, DO
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

In the vibrant world of skincare, ingredient lists can often seem like a bewildering alphabet soup. One ingredient that has gained attention—and a varied reputation—in recent years is palm oil. 

From deep moisturization to potential anti-aging properties, palm oil offers a treasure trove of skin-loving qualities. So, what is it and should it earn a spot in your skincare regimen? Allow Curology’s dermatology experts to explain everything you need to know. 

What is palm oil? 

Palm oil, derived from the pulp of the fruit of the oil palm tree (Elaeis guineensis), is a widely used vegetable oil that has been cultivated for over 5000 years. It holds the distinction of being the most commonly utilized vegetable oil worldwide.¹

With its origins deeply rooted in history, this oil has become an integral part of various industries, including skincare. Its versatile properties and abundant availability make it a popular choice in skincare formulations.

Types of palm oil

There are two primary types of palm oil that are commonly produced: crude palm oil and palm kernel oil. The distinction lies in the part of the oil palm fruit from which they come. Crude palm oil is obtained by extracting and squeezing the fleshy fruit pulp of the oil palm. It’s a versatile oil used in various industries, including food and skincare. On the other hand, palm kernel oil is derived from crushing the kernel or the stone found in the middle of the fruit. It has a different composition compared to crude palm oil.²

From a nutritional and chemical perspective, these two types of palm oil differ. Crude palm oil contains lower levels of saturated fats compared to palm kernel oil, making it a preferred choice for individuals looking to reduce saturated fat intake.³

How palm oil can help your skin 

This versatile ingredient offers a range of benefits that can revitalize your skin. With its moisturizing properties, palm oil provides deep hydration. It’s also known for its anti-aging properties that may help diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Powerful and gentle moisturizer

Palm oil has garnered a reputation as a powerful yet gentle moisturizer. It is widely used in neonatal skincare, as it’s suitable for even the most delicate skin. As an emollient and moisturizer, palm oil provides essential hydration and maintains the skin's moisture barrier. Its emollient properties help to soften and smooth your skin, promoting a supple and youthful appearance.⁴

While palm oil demonstrates significant skincare benefits, it's important to note that there are debates regarding its nutritional and neurodevelopmental properties. Ongoing research aims to better understand these properties.

Anti-aging properties

Palm oil, with its rich content of vitamin E, specifically tocopherols and tocotrienols, may hold significant anti-aging properties. These compounds act as potent antioxidants, helping to neutralize harmful particles and protect the skin from sun damage.⁵

Research indicates that vitamin E may play a significant role in preventing skin cancer and providing sun protection.⁶ Its ability to scavenge free radicals and counteract oxidative stress contributes to its ability to help maintain healthier and more youthful skin.

Palm oil is also a natural source of coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone).⁷ Topically applied Q10 has been found to combat skin aging by replenishing diminished Q10 levels due to aging and UV radiation. Its antioxidant properties help promote healthier skin overall.⁸

A study involving a cosmeceutical cream containing palm oil extract, specifically Elaeis guineensis extract loaded with solid lipid nanoparticles, demonstrated promising results. The cream improved skin hydration, reduced transepidermal water loss, increased skin elasticity, and improved skin texture. Volunteer satisfaction scores were high, with users reporting increased moisture, reduced wrinkles, and clearer skin.⁹

These findings highlight the potential of palm oil in skincare formulations, specifically in combating signs of aging and improving overall skin health.

Skincare products that contain palm oil

If you’ve decided to try this ingredient out, you can find it in the following skincare products:

Kernel Fresh Baobab & Palm Kernel Oil Natural Glow Lotion

This lotion utilizes the power of natural ingredients.The star ingredient, hyaluronic acid, helps hydrate the skin. Salicylic acid actively fights against skin blemishes, and Baobab oil, known for its powerful moisturizing properties, deeply hydrates and leaves a healthy glow. It also contains palm kernel oil, a rich source of vitamin E and ubiquinone, which gently moisturizes skin and boosts overall skin health.

Curology's The Moisturizer

Help keep your skin clear and hydrated with Curology 

The right ingredients can help your skin remain clear and hydrated. With Curology's range of products, you can achieve a healthier complexion and address your skincare concerns effectively.

Curology offers a specially formulated moisturizer designed to keep your skin nourished and hydrated. This moisturizer is crafted with high-quality ingredients that work synergistically to promote your skin health and maintain its moisture balance. It works to increase hydration, leaving skin feeling soft, supple, and revitalized.

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Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

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Whether you have oily, dry, or combination skin, this moisturizer is suitable for all skin types. It’s carefully crafted to provide the perfect balance of moisture without clogging pores or causing any unwanted breakouts.

Take the first step towards achieving a healthier skin. Visit the Curology online store today to discover the transformative power of our skincare solutions. Learn more about our personalized skincare formulas and sign up for a 30-day trial* today!


Is palm oil good for the skin?

Palm oil is known to have moisturizing properties and offers potential benefits for your skin, which may include possible anti-aging effects. It has been recognized for its ability to deeply hydrate and nourish the skin, helping to maintain its moisture balance and leaving it feeling soft and supple. Additionally, palm oil contains natural antioxidants, such as vitamin E, which may help protect skin from free radicals and potentially reduce the signs of aging.

What does palm oil do for your face?

Palm oil offers several potential benefits for your face. It’s known to effectively hydrate the skin, providing long-lasting moisture that can help improve its overall appearance and texture. The moisturizing properties of palm oil can help combat dryness, leaving skin feeling nourished and supple. 

Palm oil also contains natural antioxidants, such as vitamin E, which have been associated with anti-aging properties. These antioxidants can help protect your skin from environmental stressors and free radicals, potentially reducing the signs of aging and promoting a more youthful complexion.

Keep in mind that it’s always recommended to consult with a dermatology provider before trying any new skincare products.

Does palm oil brighten skin?

While palm oil doesn't have direct skin-brightening properties, the moisturizing benefits of palm oil can help improve your skin hydration and texture, which in turn can contribute to a more radiant and even complexion.

By deeply moisturizing your skin, palm oil can help diminish the appearance of dryness and dullness, resulting in a healthier and more vibrant-looking complexion. Additionally, the presence of natural antioxidants, such as vitamin E, in palm oil can help protect your skin from environmental damage and free radicals, which may contribute to a youthful and glowing appearance.

It's important to note that individual results may vary, and factors such as skin type, overall skincare routine, and lifestyle habits can also influence the brightness and radiance of your skin. While palm oil can offer moisturizing and anti-aging properties that may enhance the brightness of your skin, it's always beneficial to maintain a comprehensive skincare regimen and seek professional advice to address specific skin concerns and achieve the best possible results.

What are the disadvantages of palm oil for skin?

While palm oil offers potential benefits for your skin, there are some disadvantages to consider:

Compatibility with your skin: Palm oil may not suit everyone's skin. Just like any skincare ingredient, you may have different sensitivities or allergies to palm oil, leading to potential adverse reactions. It’s essential to be aware of your skin's unique needs and consult a dermatology provider if you have concerns about using palm oil-based products.

Pore-clogging potential: Generally speaking, skincare ingredients with a greasy texture, including palm oil, have the potential to clog pores if not used correctly. Clogged pores can lead to breakouts and other skin concerns. It's crucial to understand your skin type and ensure that the products you use, including those with palm oil, are suitable for your skin's needs. Doing a patch test before incorporating new products into your skincare routine can help you identify potential adverse reactions. If you have acne-prone skin it’s always better to use non-comedogenic oils in your routine.

To make informed decisions about your skincare routine, seek the advice of a licensed dermatology provider. They can assess your specific skin concerns, evaluate potential sensitivities, and provide personalized recommendations. Consulting a professional will help ensure that the skincare products you choose, including those containing palm oil, are suitable for your skin type and address any individual concerns you may have.

• • •

P.S. We did the homework so you don’t have to:

  1. Gesteiro, E., et al. Palm Oil on the EdgeNutrients. (2019, August 26).

  2. Sulaiman, N.S., et al. Balancing functional and health benefits of food products formulated with palm oil as oil sources. Heliyon. (2022, October 11).

  3. May, C.Y. and Nesaretnam, K. Research advancements in palm oil nutrition. European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology. (2014, October 6).

  4. Chiabi, A., et al. The empiric use of palm kernel oil in neonatal skin care: justifiable or not? Chinese Journal of Integrated Medicine. (2011, December 3).

  5. Boateng, L., et al. Coconut oil and palm oil's role in nutrition, health and national development: A review. Ghana Medical Journal. (September 2016).

  6. Keen, M.A. and Hassan I. Vitamin E in dermatology. Indian Dermatology Online Journal. (July-August 2016).

  7. Loganathan, R., et al. Health-promoting effects of red palm oil: evidence from animal and human studies. Nutrition Review. (February 2017).

  8. Knott, A., et al. Topical treatment with coenzyme Q10-containing formulas improves skin's Q10 level and provides antioxidative effects. Biofactors. (2015, November 12).

  9. Plyduang, T., et al. Formula Development of Red Palm (Elaeis guineensis) Fruit Extract Loaded with Solid Lipid Nanoparticles Containing Creams and Its Anti-Aging Efficacy in Healthy VolunteersCosmetics. (2021, December 24).

Meredith Hartle is a board-certified Family Medicine physician at Curology. She earned her medical degree at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, MO.

*Cancel anytime. Subject to consultation. Results may vary.

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Our policy on product links:Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Meredith Hartle, DO

Meredith Hartle, DO

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