Otherwise known by its scientific name Ziziphus, jujube fruit can be eaten fresh, candied, or powdered, and is savored for its light, sweet-tart flavor.
But why is it in my shampoo?
Fair question. As it turns out, this remarkable fruit has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine as a treatment for a wide range of ailments. Modern cosmetics are just now catching on, which is why jujube extract is suddenly showing up in soaps, shampoos, and other beauty products.
But do its purported health-boosting properties hold up? Let’s explore how jujube extract might help fight wrinkles, clarify your skin and scalp, and deliver other amazing benefits.
Jujube has powerful health benefits
Although it’s cultivated throughout the world, jujube - a date-like stone fruit - is thought to have originated in the Mediterranean. Fresh jujube fruit is packed with vitamin C - as much as twenty times more than citrus fruit. It’s also rich in fiber, vitamin A, and other essential nutrients.
Using jujube powder as a dietary supplement can help promote healthy digestion and reduce gastric acid, which can have a positive effect on ulcers. Adding dried jujube to your diet has also proven beneficial for people with chronic constipation.
Some people suffering from insomnia use jujube extract for its mild sedative effect to help them sleep at night. The relaxing effect can also be used as an aid for chronic anxiety and stress. Two of the bioactive compounds found in jujube, flavonoids and saponin, interact with neurotransmitters to make them more receptive to GABA and serotonin. This can help you feel calm and get a good night's rest.
But the benefits don’t end there. Studies on diabetic rats have also demonstrated that the antioxidant activity of aqueous extract of the leaves and roots of the Ziziphus tree effectively lowered their blood sugar and insulin resistance. Additionally, some studies have suggested jujube can help improve memory and learning function in people with dementia by increasing choline acetyltransferase activity in the body.
Many of the bioactive compounds found in the jujube tree can have an inhibitory effect on cancer cells. Vitamin C and triterpenoid are just a few of the antioxidants found in high concentrations that can help kill cancer cells by interfering with their autophagy process. Jujube has also shown promising results for the anti proliferation of melanoma cells that cause skin cancer.
These are all purported benefits of eating the plant. But what about the topical benefits of using jujube in beauty products and soaps?
Jujube fruit and bark is great for hair care products and soap because it’s naturally high in saponin.
Jujube for hair and skin health
Antioxidants in jujube fruit are known for reversing the effects of aging by promoting cell health and helping to improve elasticity in your skin. Skincare products also use jujube extract to improve dry skin and relieve pain caused by sunburns. Some advocates also claim that jujube helps reduce acne, scar tissue, and stretch marks, though more research is needed on these fronts.
Jujube fruit and bark is great for hair care products and soap because it’s naturally high in saponin. Fruits and nuts with high saponin content have been used to create soaps and hair treatments for thousands of years. It’s a natural and gentle surfactant that allows water to lift and carry oil out of your hair and scalp.
These days, most shampoo manufacturers use much harsher surfactants, like sodium lauryl sulfate, which is cheaper and creates a lot more lather. But these suds just create the illusion of a superior product. The amount of lather actually has nothing to do with the effectiveness of a product - it simply means it’s particularly good at making water foamy.
Sodium lauryl sulfate is an effective surfactant that can rid your hair of grease and grime; but unfortunately it has a tendency to work a little too well, stripping your hair and scalp of the oils it uses for protection. These oils, known as sebum, provide a protective coating for scalp and hair that strengthens hair follicles and helps ward off infections in your skin.
Shampoos with harsh surfactants and other synthetic additives can have a negative impact on your hair. Your scalp may start overproducing sebum, leading to greasy, unmanageable hair. Or your skin cells may fail to keep up, leading to dry scalp and fragile hair follicles. And for people who deal with dandruff, this is where things start to get flaky.
The story behind dandruff
Dandruff, to put it simply, is flaking of the scalp that results from irritation. The flakes may appear yellow or white, and they can be either powdery or scaly. Dandruff is often itchy and may even lead to hair loss. Flaking and scalp irritation can be linked to underlying skin issues, including dry scalp, psoriasis, and seborrheic dermatitis. A fungal infection of Malassezia yeast is also thought to play a pivotal role.
Things like diet, stress, hygiene, and the weather can all play a role in dandruff as well. Though there isn’t a cure, flaking can be managed effectively - no matter what the cause. Regular hair care with a dandruff shampoo that contains Zinc Pyrithione has been proven time and again to be an effective strategy for mitigating flakes.
Of course, not all dandruff shampoos make the cut. They’re either missing Zinc Pyrithione, or they use harsh surfactants, fragrance stabilizers, and other things that can throw a wrench in your scalp's natural balance and cause more flaking than they prevent.
We already know that jujube can be used as a gentle, effective surfactant. But there are other ways it can prove useful in scalp care. The jujube fruit contains betulinic acid, which has antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. That means it has great potential for addressing several of the conditions associated with flaking, including Malassezia yeast and psoriasis.
Jujube may also play a supporting role in the fight against dandruff by helping to boost the immune system. The high level of bioactive compounds that reduce inflammation lower the oxidative stress in your body. Oxidative stress puts the immune response into overdrive. That means when your immune system is dealing with fungal infections in your scalp, you’ll see excess flaking. Jujube may help calm that immune response.
In addition, the mild relaxation effect you get from eating the fruit can help you deal with anxiety and stress that lead to skin flare-ups. And hey, if you want to snack on jujube, the extra vitamins and minerals in your diet certainly won’t hurt.
Winning the fight against flakes
Dandruff is incredibly common - over 75% of people will deal with it at some point in their lives. The good news is that there’s a proven solution, and it’s remarkably simple. You just need to regularly wash your hair with a high-quality Zinc Pyrithione shampoo.
In addition to a proven dandruff treatment, you should also use scalp care that harnesses beautiful, nourishing ingredients to keep your scalp and hair moisturized and soothed. Things like jujube fruit extract, coconut oil, and relaxing lavender can calm your scalp while enhancing your whole shower experience.
You’ve got this! With the right products at your disposal, dandruff can be so easy to manage, and scalp care will be a breeze. Plus, it’s the kind of self-care that can be a downright pleasure to add to your day.