Jojoba wax is the oily substance that is obtained from squeezing or pressing the seeds of the jojoba shrub, which is a woody perennial that is native to southern Arizona and southern California of the United States and to the northwestern region of Mexico. The seeds of the jojoba evergreen yield approximately 50 percent of a liquid wax when they are squeezed, which is called cold pressing and is the most natural way to obtain the wax. Most people call this substance "jojoba oil" because the wax is fluid and resembles a vegetable oil. It is, however, a wax because of its chemical composition. The biological name for the jojoba shrub is Simmondsia chinensis.
Indigenous peoples of the United States were accustomed to gathering jojoba seeds and squeezing them to obtain jojoba wax, which they used for cooking, for skin care, for hair care and for medicinal purposes. The seeds are considered large, and they somewhat resemble coffee beans in appearance. These indigenous people also sometimes roasted jojoba seeds to prepare a type of coffee. Jojoba wax looks like an amber-color oil that virtually has no scent, tends to be absorbed by the skin faster than oils and is more stable, allowing for a longer shelf life. Many modern hair care products contain jojoba wax because this natural substance has a remarkable similarity to human sebum.
It is said that if jojoba wax is placed on the scalp, it will reduce usual sebum production, thus aiding in the control of oily hair. That claim, however, has not been proven. Baldness might also be prevented or slowed with the use of jojoba wax because this natural substance has the ability to help clean hair follicles of what is known as solidified accumulation of sebum, which can lead to the stoppage of hair growth. Skin care products, especially those that claim to be natural, also might contain jojoba wax because it has been proven to soften and moisturize dry skin by slowing the loss of water through the pores. The passage of water vapor and gases is not totally hindered by this wax, which makes it a good cosmetic product that nourishes the skin without keeping it from breathing.
Although few people actually cook with the liquid vegetable wax of the jojoba shrub, it is still widely used externally to help to alleviate sunburn, windburn, minor lacerations, sores and burns or as a general tonic for the skin and hair. It is a non-toxic substance, but sensitive individuals might experience a mild allergic reaction to its use. The wax is widely sold in health foods stores and is best used straight instead of as an ingredient in skin and hair care products.