Sunflower Oil

Sonnenblumenöl in Flasche neben einer Sonnenblumenblüte


  • Base Oil
  • INCI: Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil
  • Comedogenicity: 0-2
  • Composition: Linoleic acid (up to approx. 62 %), oleic acid (up to approx. 30 %), palmitic acid (up to approx. 6 %), stearic acid (up to approx. 4 %), lecithin (up to approx. 1 %), tocopherols (mainly α-tocopherol), phytosterols.
  • Iodine number: 118 – 145.
  • Cosmetic use: Dry, mature, irritated skin.
  • Shelf life: Up to 9 months. During cold pressing, the kernels are processed together with their shells, therefore the oil also contains waxes. If stored in a cool place, these can cause the oil to become cloudy, but this is not an indication of spoilage.



The sunflower reaches a height of up to 2.5 m and has a strong, branched, and foliated stem. Its alternately arranged leaves are heart-shaped, rough-haired, long-stalked, and strongly serrated at the edge. The flower heads have a diameter of up to 40 cm and contain up to 10 cm long yellow ray flowers. The tubular flowers on the other hand have a brown color. After withering, the flower head contains up to 2000 seeds from which the oil is extracted. The color of the seeds ranges from black to white to striped lengthwise black and white. The skin of the seeds is woody and easy to separate from the seed. The seeds can contain up to 60% fatty oil.


Extraction of sunflower oil

Sunflower oil is obtained from the seeds of the sunflower and has a light yellow color. First, the seeds are removed from their shells and then pressed either warm or cold. Cold pressing is a gentle procedure that produces an oil with a limited shelf life but a high content of fat-soluble vitamins. The more efficient hot pressing process ensures a longer shelf life (up to two years), but the content of valuable ingredients is lower. In addition to pressing, there is also the possibility of extraction with critical CO2.

Cosmetic use of sunflower oil

Sunflower oil is a light, well-tolerated oil that is absorbed quickly by the skin and leaves no oily film behind. The high content of Omega 6 fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamin E make sunflower oil (both natural and cold-pressed) a very nourishing cosmetic ingredient. The oil is also said to have anti-inflammatory and skin-protecting effects, which is why it is also used in the treatment of eczema and irritation. Besides, the oil is also used in anti-aging cosmetics due to the antioxidants it contains. The effect of free radicals on cell damage and premature skin aging can be counteracted by the regular application of the oil.

Sunflower oil does not have a very long shelf life and should be mixed with more stable oils in cosmetic products to increase its durability.


Benefits of sunflower oil for skin

  • is absorbed quickly
  • does not leave a greasy film
  • nourishes the skin
  • has antioxidant effects and prevents cell damage

Internal use of sunflower oil

Experience shows that sunflower oil is helpful for constipation.

Cold-pressed sunflower oil is also an excellent and valuable edible and salad oil and is also used as a dietary food. If regularly used, native, cold pressed sunflower oil is said to contribute to lower cholesteral levels and thus to work preventively against arteriosclerosis as well as heart and cardiovascular disease.

Buy sunflower oil – what to consider?

Sunflower oil is one of the most popular edible oils worldwide and is also used in cosmetics from time to time. The oil can be bought in the native or refined version.

Virgin sunflower oil is obtained by cold pressing and is not further processed after pressing. It has a light yellow color and a nutty taste. Refined sunflower oil, on the other hand, is purified after extraction to remove colorants and bitter substances, among others. It therefore has a more neutral taste and a paler color. Most of the nutrients of sunflower oil are retained when it is cold-pressed and then not treated further.

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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