Ingredient Spotlight: Evening Primrose Oil Benefits For Every Skin Type

By Ashley Guttuso, @urbandesertskin

Using Evening Primrose Oil for skin means clear, hydrated, glowing and youthful skin 

While it’s hard to say that there’s just one cure-all skin care ingredient that magically treats every skin condition, there is one plant oil packed with acne-fighting, anti-aging, inflammation-reducing goodness that is prized here at Apoterra. Meet Evening Primrose Oil. Touted for its unparalleled ability to clarify the skin, that’s just one of the many reasons we hold this night-blooming flower’s oil so near and dear.

Brimming with Gamma-linoleic acid (or GLA), an essential omega-6 fatty acid that’s crucial to the development of cell membranes and hormones, Evening Primrose Oil provides our bodies and skin with essential nutrients that are important for our overall health and wellbeing, and is one of our skin’s best allies. So what exactly does this mean? Evening Primrose Oil has the ability to balance hormones (goodbye hormonal acne), has emollient properties (ideal for dry skin), and is antioxidant rich (great for aging skin!). We dive into all of this below!

A Brief Background on Evening Primrose

Latin Name | Oenothera biennis 

Evening Primrose is a common yellow wildflower native to North America, but also found in South America and parts of Europe. This delicate yellow flower blooms, as its name suggests, in the evening. Evening Primrose’s oil is pressed from the plant’s red seeds and contains omega 6 and essential fatty acids which gives the oil its anti-inflammatory, emollient, anti-aging, and hydrating properties.

Evening Primrose was originally used by Native Americans to speed wound healing; the Cherokees heated the plant’s root and applied it to hemorrhoids, while the Iroquois used it as a salve for skin problems. First introduced to Europeans by Native Americans in the 17th century, Europeans new to North America adopted this plant as a treatment for inflammatory-caused skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema, two common conditions this plant is still used to treat today.

Discover the Benefits of Using Evening Primrose Oil for Skin Concerns

Evening Primrose Oil for Acne


Let’s start with acne - because let’s face it, almost no one is immune to an occasional breakout. Those monthly repeat offenders? Those are hormonal breakouts. One of the most impressive  qualities of Evening Primrose Oil for skin that experiences frequent acne breakouts is its incredible ability to balance hormones thanks to its extremely high Gamma-linoleic acid content that keeps the body’s inflammatory responses at bay. Exactly how does Evening Primrose Oil do this? When the body breaks down Gamma-linoleic acid, dihomo-gamma-linolenic (DGLA) is then produced. Studies have shown that DGLA can help lower inflammation throughout the body (aka less inflammation-caused acne breakouts!)

While gamma-linoleic acid gets most of the glory, to not highlight Evening Primrose Oil’s high omega-6, or linoleic acid, content would be a disservice. The level of linoleic acid in Evening Primrose Oil is one of the highest found in nature and ranges between 65-85%! Why is this so extraordinary? Those who deal with skin issues like acne on a regular basis have been found to have low levels of linoleic acid in the skin’s acid mantle, meaning there’s an overall deficiency of essential fatty acids. How does skin react to these deficiencies? You guessed it: acneic breakouts. Supplementing the skin topically or internally with Evening Primrose Oil can level out essential fatty acid deficiencies for making clear and balanced skin possible.


Evening Primrose Oil for Aging Skin

Graceful Aging

While you may not think a skincare ingredient can be both acne fighting AND “anti-aging”, that’s just another pro to add to the list of reasons we love using Evening Primrose Oil for skin. Evening Primrose oil’s high gamma-linolenic acid content aids with the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and even improves skin’s elasticity and firmness, according to this study

Another factor that contributes to the appearance of aging skin are dark spots on the face, neck and décolleté that are known as pigmentation. Evening Primrose Oil has been found to inhibit pesky enzymes like Tyrosinase from triggering the creation of melanin that creates pigmentation, an often tricky condition to correct.


evening primrose oil for dry skin

Dry Skin

An important factor about gamma-linoleic acid to consider is that naturally, our bodies do not produce this crucial building block on their own. That’s where natural sources like Evening Primrose Oil come in. For dry skin, this is especially notable because GLA is believed to contribute to skin hydration. For those that lean toward the drier end of the spectrum, gamma-linoleic acid has been shown to reduce transepidermal water loss, or TEWL, which happens overnight as we sleep. Simply put, TEWL means that water is literally evaporating from the skin’s surface, and by topically applying occlusive Evening Primrose Oil (in skincare lingo occlusive means a substance that physically prevents water loss), skin is better equipped to retain moisture and appear healthy, plump and glowing. 


Evening Primrose Oil for Eczema


Much like the way you may benefit from using Evening Primrose Oil for skin conditions like inflammation-caused acne,  this oil can similarly help relieve the sometimes painful and uncomfortable inflammatory skin condition eczema, also known as atpoic dermatitis. This study shows that when taken internally on a consistent basis, Evening Primrose Oil produces a significant improvement when it comes to the overall severity and grade of inflammation for these types of skin conditions. To top off those encouraging findings, consuming  Evening Primrose Oil has also shown a decrease in the total percentage of the body’s surface affected by eczema as well as the severity of dryness and itchiness that accompany the condition.

That same study also found that taking Evening Primrose Oil even caused a significant rise in the amount of dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid which has the potential to produce local anti-inflammatory metabolites, which presents a non-toxic, natural approach to treating eczema. 

Our recommendation? For these hard to treat skin conditions, look to over the counter supplements in addition to applying Evening Primrose Oil  topically. As always, consult with your doctor before beginning any supplement regimen. 

Not sure how to find a trusty supplement brand? We’ve pulled together a few helpful tips to know before you shop:

  1. Make sure the manufacturer label provides manufacturing dates and expiration dates
  2. Look for supplements that don’t contain fillers
  3. Look for brands that utilize sustainable agriculture and harvesting practices
  4. Look for brands that test for contamination like mold, mildew and pesticides and other harmful substances. 


Shop Apoterra Products with Evening Primrose Oil


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