Evening Primrose Oil

Nachkerzenöl in Flasche neben Nachtkerzenblüten


  • Active Oil
  • INCI: Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil
  • Comedogenicity: 2-3
  • Composition: Linoleic acid (up to approx. 75 %), γ-linolenic acid (up to approx. 13 %), oleic acid (up to approx. 10 %), palmitic acid (up to approx. 10 %), stearic acid (up to approx. 2 %).
  • Iodine number: 187 – 198.
  • Cosmetic use: Dry, scaly, inflammatory, blemished, neurodermitic skin.
  • Shelf life: About 6 months. Should be stored in the refrigerator.



The two-year-old evening primrose was introduced to Europe in the 17th century from North America and can reach a height of approximately 1.5 m. In its first year, the plant forms a leaf rosette with 20 to 30 leaves lying close to the ground. Then, in the second year, a green, densely-leafed and hairy stem rises from it. On the upper part, the stem branches out and carries a raceme with numerous green flower buds. The evening primrose flowers from July to September. The flowers, consisting of four yellow petals, only open in the evening. The fruit of the evening primrose are up to 3 cm long capsules, each containing more than 200 seeds. These dark grey to brown-black seeds contain between 15 % and 30 % oil.


Extraction of Evening Primrose Oil

Evening primrose oil is obtained from the seeds of the common evening primrose. For the production of high-quality oils, the ripened seeds are extracted with hexane in steel tanks or in glass tanks. The extract is then washed with water and the solvent is removed under reduced pressure. Another method of oil extraction is cold pressing. The fatty acids are only retained if a low amount of heat is generated during production. The seeds of the harvest are stored in a very dry location, because the water content of the harvest may not exceed nine percent. The seeds are then cleaned and dried further. Then, they are subjected to gentle cold pressing and the oil is extracted.

Cosmetic use of Evening Primrose Oil

Due to the unique composition of the oil, it is used both internally and externally. Dry, itchy skin especially benefits from the oil and the fatty acids it contains. The active ingredients of the fats resemble the natural fats of the skin and are therefore particularly well tolerated and quickly absorbed. Inflammatory, impure, and dermatitic skin can be well cared for with evening primrose oil since the oil disinfects the affected areas and combats inflammations of the skin. The oil’s moisturizing component also accelerates the healing process. Thanks to the high content of gamma-linolenic acid, the oil has proven itself as a remedy against neurodermatitis. Small, open wounds are disinfected and water loss of the skin is reduced.

Nachkerzenöl in Flasche neben Nachtkerzenblüten

Benefits of evening primrose oil

  • cares for dry and itchy skin
  • well tolerated
  • has disinfecting and anti-inflammatory effects
  • suitable for impure skin
  • accelerates the healing of skin
  • reduces water loss of skin

Internal use of Evening Primrose Oil

In our body, linoleic acid is converted into γ-linolenic acid. This conversion is inhibited by alcohol, cholesterol, saturated fatty acids, virus infections and zinc deficiency. Therefore evening primrose oil with its high content of γ-linolenic acid can be used as dietetic food. By its intake a further conversion of the γ-linolenic acid to the dihomo-γ-linolenic acid (DGLA) can happen with the help of Vitamin B6, zinc and magnesium. DGLA is converted to the important prostaglandin E1, or arachidonic acid. Prostaglandin E1 has strong anti-inflammatory properties and prevents the formation of blood clots. The intake of vegetable oils rich in γ-linolenic acid, such as evening primrose oil, promotes the formation of prostaglandin E1 at the expense of the prostaglandin E2 series and thus counteracts the strain on heart and circulation as well as increased tendencies to inflammation.

Buy Evening Primrose Oil – what to consider?

Evening primrose oil can be obtained by various methods. As already mentioned, the best method is a gentle cold pressing. During this process most of the important ingredients are preserved due to the very low temperature supply. If you want to buy a high quality oil, you should choose one that has been obtained by cold pressing.   Although hot pressing is cheaper for producers, many important ingredients can be lost. Since high temperatures and chemicals are used, the quality of the oil decreases. This type of evening primrose oil is therefore often cheaper, but it usually lacks valuable ingredients.   In addition, you should choose an oil from organic cultivation. With these, a gentle cold pressing of the organically grown plants takes place. For a gentle intake one should not heat the oil too hot yourself. Maximum 90 degrees celcius.

Sources: Krist, Sabine (2013): Lexikon der Pflanzlichen Öle und Fett. Vienna: Springer Verlag. | Braunschweig, R. (2020): Pflanzenöle - über 50 starke Helfer für Genuss und Hautpflege. Wiggensbach: Stadelmann Verlag.

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