Ingredient To Know: Sea Buckthorn Oil


When it comes to nouns in the English language, I have a pretty clear mental picture to accompany most of them. That’s what elementary school is for, right? But when I first heard “sea buckthorn,” I was stumped. Was it animal? Plant? Other? I came to the conclusion that there were two options. One: It was a spiny sea creature. Or two: It was a mythical ingredient used in a witch’s brew. Totally logical guesses, I thought.

The mysterious ingredient had first made its way onto my radar a few weeks ago when I was introduced to the founders of a new-ish Swedish skincare line called MyHavtorn. Recently launched in the US (they’ve been producing in Sweden for several years), the line is made up entirely of products containing sea buckthorn extracts and oils. “Um, so what is a sea buckthorn?” I asked MyHavtorn's founder, Robin Johansson. “It’s a berry!” he replied. Oh, OK.

In the next few days, sea buckthorn started popping up everywhere I turned. I discovered it in my beloved May Lindstrom The Youth Dew, rediscovered it in my Pai Fragonia & Sea Buckthorn Instant Hand Therapy cream I keep in all my bags, and realized that I even own a bottle of Sea Buckthorn Oil Gelcaps from Sibu, (purchased with virtuous intentions and then promptly forgotten in my medicine cabinet—my typical vitamin MO).

Apparently, what the sea buckthorn-enlightened knew and I didn’t is that the cheerful little orange berries are packed with nutrients to feed the skin. They’ve got carotenoids (important antioxidants to help fight aging that are particularly well absorbed by the top layers of your skin), antioxidant vitamins like A, C, E, and nourishing omega 3, 6, 7, and 9 oils. It’s been said to help skin retain moisture, repair itself from scarring and sun damage, and boost collagen production—all things that fall high on my spectrum of skincare requisites.

Unsurprisingly, I’m not the first to discover this super ingredient. The Chinese have been using it in their medicine for centuries, as have the Swedes (sea buckthorn grows naturally in cool climates like Sweden and the Himalayas). The oil extracted from sea buckthorn is great for your skin, and you can eat the vitamin C and antioxidant-rich berries too. “They’re like the new acai berry,” Johansson said, “but actually, better.”

Other than anti-aging superpowers, what all my sea buckthorn products share is their warm, orange hue, refreshing scent, and the ability to make your skin seriously glow. I’ve added MyHavtorn's Facial Cleanser, Facial Essence, and Body Oil to my daily routine in addition to the already-loved May Lindstrom face oil, and my skin is looking pretty shiny (in a good way) and new. Plus, the body oil gives me a little bit of a natural sun-kissed glow, which I can only assume comes from that orange hue. I’m even taking my sea buckthorn supplements—a great source of omegas for those who don’t love fish oil. Turns out that there’s no witchcraft or wizardry involved at all, just one seriously super, natural berry.

—Victoria Lewis

Illustrated by Lucy Han. Read more about fern, blue tansy, and mangosteen in skincare.