The carrot or Daucus carota is one of the most common vegetables in the world and is consumed both raw and cooked. Anthropologists have discovered evidence that the green tops and orange roots of carrots were used as food as far back as the 1st century and that the vegetable became an important staple in the diet of early Europeans during the 8th to 10th centuries. Carrots are now grown commercially around the world with more than 33.5 million tons of the vegetable harvested each year.
While most people know that carrots are a healthy addition to their diets, many are surprised to hear that they are also incredibly beneficial for the skin. This is particularly true of carrot seed oil, which is found in an ever-increasing number of skin care products, particularly those included in natural, organic and vegan skin care collections.
Carrot seed oil is produced through a process known as distillation. The extraction of the oil begins with the boiling of the seeds of the carrot plant in water. The boiling causes the seeds to give off a nutrient-rich steam, which travels upwards inside of the distillation apparatus. A coiled passage connects to the boiling chamber and is cooled, so that when the steam passes through the structure, its temperature drops rapidly. The chilled steam is then transformed into the liquid carrot seed essential oil.
It is important to note that the carrot seed oil used for skin care is not the same as pressed carrot seed oil, an ingredient used for cooking. The pressed form is made by simply squeezing the seeds until they give off fluid and does not result in the same concentration of nutrients that is present in the essential oil. Carrot seed oil is also not the same as wild carrot seed oil, which is derived from the Queen Ann's lace or bishop's lace plant.
Carrot seed oil's benefits for the skin stem largely from the presence of vitamin A and beta-carotene in it. Both of these ingredients are antioxidants, nutrients that shield the skin from oxidative particles known as free radicals. The human body is constantly bombarded by free radicals, which act on cells and produce what is known as oxidative damage. The gradual oxidative damage caused by free radicals is the primary mechanism for aging.
Studies have proven that consuming antioxidant-rich foods and applying antioxidant-rich formulas to the skin helps to delay the aging process. As a result, carrot seed oil is a common ingredient in anti-aging skin care products used to prevent fine lines and wrinkles from developing. Some evidence suggests that antioxidants can even rejuvenate the skin cells to make existing expression lines and wrinkles less noticeable.
Derivatives of vitamin A, such as retinol, are commonly used in the treatment of acne. The ingredients sourced from the vitamin hasten the cellular turnover process, preventing the pores from becoming clogged by dead skin cells. Recent clinical studies show that the presence of vitamin A in carrot seed oil may make it an effective ingredient for acne, which has led to its inclusion in some acne cleansers, toners and moisturizers.
Carrot seed oil is also an emollient, a substance that lubricates the cells in the outermost layer of the skin. The oil helps to replenish moisture that is lost from the skin due to evaporation, making it a useful ingredient in moisturizers. The emollient properties of carrot seed oil also allow it to soften the skin tissue. The ingredient is often included in products designed for the treatment of eczema and rosacea.
Research indicates that carrot seed oil provides a moderate amount of protection from the sun. While the amount of ultraviolet energy that can be absorbed by the oil is not enough for it to function as an active ingredient in sunscreen, carrot seed oil is sometimes added to sunscreens as a supportive ingredient. In these formulas, the oil helps to keep the skin soft and supple, protects it from oxidative damage and may boost the effectiveness of the active ingredient due to its potential sun-protective properties.
As a natural ingredient, carrot seed oil is generally well tolerated and not a known allergen; however, other ingredients in products that contain the oil could produce side effects in people with sensitive skin.