Ingredients and Uses

22 Benefits Of Evening Primrose Oil For Skin, Hair, And Health

Medically reviewed by Dr. Scott Johnson
22 Benefits Of Evening Primrose Oil For Skin, Hair, And Health December 28, 2018

Ever wondered how an oil can change your health and beauty for the better? Evening primrose oil is the solution to a lot of health and beauty issues.

It is best known for its ability to balance the hormone levels, cure menopausal symptoms, and induce labor. If used regularly, it provides a wide range of benefits to your health, skin, and hair.

Keep reading to discover just how amazing this wonder oil is.

Table Of Contents

What Is Evening Primrose Oil?

Evening primrose is a small plant that produces dainty yellow flowers during the spring and summer seasons.

Evening primrose oil is extracted by pressing the seeds of this plant. This oil is known for its labor-inducing effects as well as relieving PMS symptoms like breast pain, headache, bloating, acne, etc.

It is also widely used in the cosmetic industry as one of the main ingredients in soaps and shampoos.

Here’s a glimpse into the profile of evening primrose oil:

Scientific Name: Oenothera biennis

Also Known As: EPO, Night willow herb, Primrose seed oil, Primrose oil, Huile de Primrose.

Origin: The evening primrose plant is native to North America and Europe, specifically England.

Color, Smell, And Texture: The oil is a beautiful golden yellow and has a slightly nutty scent. It has a thick consistency that is absorbed into the skin very slowly.

Shelf Life: The general shelf life of this oil is 6 months, but it lasts longer if refrigerated.

Comedogenic Rating: 2

(This means that while this oil does not clog the pores for most people, a few people might experience it.)

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How Safe Is It?

Evening primrose oil is usually safe for people who use it for a short period and in the recommended dosage.

Short-term implications include nausea, headache, and loose stools. If you experience these symptoms, it means that your dose is too high.

It is always a good idea to do a patch test on your arm to check if your skin is allergic to it. If you don’t experience any irritation, redness or rashes within 1-2 hours, you can use it on your face and body.

Let’s see why we this oil is good for your face and body…

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What Are Its Health Benefits?

From regulating your mood swings to controlling your blood sugar levels, the benefits of evening primrose oil are plenty. Read below to know more.

1. Helps Treat PMS And Menopausal Symptoms

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Women have been taking primrose oil to treat their hormonal imbalance for years, and all for a good reason.

Studies have shown that the omega-6 fatty acids in the oil help treat menopausal and premenstrual symptoms (PMS).

When a woman undergoes menopause or PMS, she experiences symptoms such as bloating, breast tenderness, acne, or irritability. Making sure to get enough of omega-6 fatty acids, like linoleic acid (LA) and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), can help balance the overall hormone levels in the body (1).

Another common symptom experienced by most women is hot flashes. A six-week clinical trial study was performed on 56 menopausal women to test the efficacy of evening primrose oil to treat hot flashes. It was found that primrose oil was highly effective in treating and decreasing the frequency of hot flashes (2).

2. Induces Labor 

There are several natural ways to induce labor if you are past your due date. One of the best ways is to use evening primrose oil.

Its supplements can be either taken orally or inserted vaginally after the 37th week of pregnancy. Studies suggest that it can help shorten the duration of labor (3).

3. Improves Fertility

Evening primrose oil can be used to increase fertility in women naturally.

But how?

Evening primrose oil increases the quality of cervical mucus, making it a very fertile ground for the sperm. This facilitates the free movement of the sperm through the cervix.

When a woman does not produce enough cervical mucus or fluid, the motility of the sperm is restricted, and this decreases the chances of conception. 

4. Controls Diabetes 

Evening primrose oil helps people with diabetes by preventing its common symptoms and complications.

The GLA in the oil helps relieve nerve pain and prevent nerve damage by reducing the numbness and tingling that is experienced by diabetic patients.

A study was done on diabetic rats to test the effects of evening primrose oil on nerve conduction. It concluded that the oil rapidly reversed the nerve conduction deficits. It also acts as a vasodilator, thus helping to reduce blood pressure (4).

5. Helps Manage Osteoporosis

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Consuming evening primrose oil regularly helps to reduce the risk of fractures in patients suffering from osteoporosis. This oil improves the bone mineral density and makes your bones stronger and healthier.

A few studies have proved that the presence of GLA in the oil makes it highly effective in the management of osteoporosis (5), (6).

6. Aids Weight Loss 

While some studies found that evening primrose oil was quite useful for managing obesity, a few other studies showed no significant benefits of using this for weight loss.

One double-blind study was done on 100 overweight women to determine the benefits of evening primrose oil versus a placebo. The study did not conclude any significant difference between the oil and placebo (7).

Another double-blind trial was performed on 47 overweight people, who had a family history of obesity. The study proved that this oil facilitated significant weight loss (8).

Since the results are confusing, more research is required in this aspect. 

7. Treats Scleroderma And Raynaud’s Phenomenon 

Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that makes the skin hard and thick. This usually happens when our immune system does not function at its best. Sometimes, scleroderma causes the blood vessels to constrict, causing Raynaud’s phenomenon.

A person experiencing this phenomenon usually feels numbness in his or her fingers and toes due to a temperature drop or a rise in stress levels.

One of the best natural remedies for scleroderma and Raynaud’s phenomenon is evening primrose oil (9), (10). The presence of omega-6 fatty acids in the oil helps protect the fingers and toes by keeping them warm. 

8. Helps Improve Heart Health 

Evening primrose oil is excellent at maintaining heart health by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. It also lowers the prevalence of blood clots, thus protecting the body against heart diseases and stroke.

A 2014 study was conducted to determine the cholesterol-lowering, antithrombotic, and anti-inflammatory effects of evening primrose oil. A group of 10 rats was fed a high-fat diet for four weeks, and myocardial infarction (MI) was induced in their system.

Treatment with evening primrose oil for six weeks improved their blood lipid profiles and cardiac recovery (11).

9. Reduces Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

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If you have quit drinking alcohol and are experiencing withdrawal symptoms, there is nothing better than evening primrose oil to help you.

The GLA present in the oil helps in the production of prostaglandin E, a chemical in the brain that is very effective in fighting withdrawal symptoms experienced by alcoholics. This chemical also promotes the overall functioning of the liver and nervous system.

The following benefits lack any supporting evidence. 

10. Cures Asthma

This oil is known to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, which greatly benefits asthma patients. It has been used as a traditional medicine by people of many cultures, but there is no clinical evidence to prove the efficacy of evening primrose oil in this regard (12).

11. Treats ADHD

Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological condition, which is very common among children.

Evening primrose oil is said to treat ADHD naturally and improve children’s behavior. But this claim is not supported by research.

A trial study done on evening primrose oil showed little or no improvement in alleviating symptoms of ADHD (13).

12. Treats Hepatitis B

There is not much evidence to support the fact that evening primrose oil benefits patients with hepatitis B.

A 1996 study was conducted on 10 hepatitis B patients, who received evening primrose oil capsules every day for 12 months. Another group of 10 patients received a placebo. At the end of the time frame, the study could not find any major difference between both the cases (14).

Hence, additional research is required in this aspect.

13. Helps Prevent Breast Cancer

 Early studies suggest that evening primrose oil has more benefits as compared to corn oil to treat breast cancer. Treatment with this oil is also known to reduce the recurrence of cancer (15).

But these studies are not enough. More research is needed to prove this claim.

14. Treats Psoriasis

Very little research has been done to test the efficacy of this oil in the treatment of psoriasis.

One small double-blind, parallel trial involving 37 patients was performed in Bristol, UK, to test the effects of evening primrose oil in treating psoriasis. It could not find any significant improvement in the patients’ conditions (16).

15. Treats Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

This is a neurological condition that has no known treatment. But researchers are making attempts to treat MS with polyunsaturated fatty acids and colchicine (an anti-inflammatory drug).

Preliminary results show that a combination of evening primrose oil and colchicine can help treat the symptoms of MS (17).

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Are There Any Skin Benefits Of Evening Primrose Oil?

Of course, there are! When applied topically, this oil renders a nourishing glow to the face and body. Not only that, it also prevents and cures skin problems like acne, dark pigmentation, rashes, inflammation, and dry skin. Below are all the skin benefits in detail.

16. Enhances Skin Health

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Evening primrose oil is excellent for the overall health of the skin. This magic oil is known to be a great moisturizer. Not only does it make the skin soft, but it also supplies it with essential nutrients and healthy fats, making your skin look youthful and flawless.

The anti-inflammatory properties of this oil also help reduce swelling, redness, itching, and rashes on the skin (18).

Mix equal amounts of shea butter and evening primrose oil and apply on your skin every night before going to bed. You will wake up with beautiful skin every morning.

17. Treats Acne 

Evening primrose oil is known for treating hormonal imbalance in the body. This, in turn, helps reduce acne and breakouts on the face.

Just apply 2-3 drops of this oil to your face every day, and your pimples will start clearing up faster than usual.

You can also consume this oil twice a day in the capsule form to treat acne.

18. Treats Eczema

Evening primrose oil is known to treat eczema, a skin condition that is characterized by dryness, itchiness, swelling, and rough patches of skin.

Using this oil topically or in the form of capsules has been known to improve eczema within a few weeks’ time.

But there is a lack of clinical evidence to support this claim. Research has shown that there is not a lot of difference in the treatment of eczema when this oil is compared to a placebo (19).

19. Nourishes Nails

 The LA and GLA (fatty acids) present in this oil help nourish the nails and prevent them from cracking.

Just rub a few drops of this oil on your fingernails as well as toenails every night.

20. Lightens Dark Spots

 Evening primrose oil is known to lighten the skin and reduce hyperpigmentation or any dark spots.

You can consume this oil twice a day in the form of capsules. Or combine equal amounts of primrose oil with argan oil and add a few drops of lemon juice to the mixture. Apply this on the affected areas every night to treat uneven skin tone and unwanted dark spots.

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What About Hair Benefits?

 Evening primrose oil contains ingredients that prevent hair loss, promote hair growth, reduce graying, and nourish your scalp.

21. Treats Hair Loss

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Regular use of evening primrose oil has proved to be highly beneficial for hair loss. This is due to the presence of LA and GLA in the oil that nourish the scalp and make the hair stronger.

Massage this oil into your scalp for a few minutes and leave it on for 30 minutes before washing it off. Do this once or twice a week to notice visible results.

You can also consume this twice daily in the form of a capsule.

24. Treats Scalp-Related Problems

 This magic oil not only prevents hair fall but also takes care of other scalp-related problems like dandruff, itchiness, and redness.

Regular application of evening primrose oil to the hair improves the quality of hair and scalp as it provides nourishment from the roots.

Now that all the benefits of evening primrose oil are past us, here is something more.

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What Are Some Interesting Facts About Evening Primrose Oil?

  • Often abbreviated as EPO, evening primrose oil is rich in both linoleic and linolenic fatty acids, which form the essential components of the protective layer around the nerve fibers.
  • The flowers of the evening primrose plant bloom from late afternoon to sunrise, hence the name “evening primrose”.
  • The root and leaves of the plant can be consumed by humans and are known to be very healthy.
  • During the 17th century in Europe, this plant was nicknamed “King’s Cure-all” since it was used for treating several diseases.
  • The evening primrose plant produces up to 150 seeds per season. The oil is obtained by pressing the seeds of the plant.
  • During World War II, when food was being rationed, the seeds of this plant were roasted and used as a substitute for coffee.

This magic oil just got more interesting. Isn’t it? So, how can you get your hands on it?

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Where Do I Buy Evening Primrose Oil?

Always make sure to buy 100% high-quality evening primrose oil, preferably in the cold pressed form. You can buy it at a local store or online.

One of the best organic evening primrose oils is Nature’s Absolutes, which is available here.

If you are looking to buy capsules, INLIFE and Nature’s Bounty are the best choices.

All evening primrose oil supplements are recommended to be stored in the refrigerator to increase their shelf lives.

And if you have already bought the oil, this next question must be on your mind.

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How Much Can I Consume Daily?

The general recommended dose of evening primrose oil is between 2 to 8 grams daily, depending on the concentration of GLA in the capsule or oil.

The dosage varies for different people with different conditions.

For example, a person suffering from breast pain is advised to take 3 grams daily, while a sunburnt person can take up to 4 to 5 grams every day till the symptoms subside.

Now that you are aware of the benefits and the dosage, it is equally important to know about the side effects.

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What Are The Side Effects Of Evening Primrose Oil?

This oil is usually safe when used in the recommended dosage. Some of the mild side effects reported are stomach pain and loose stools (20).

There can be some severe side effects of this oil if it is used or consumed in excess. They are as discussed below:

1. Low Blood Pressure

Evening primrose oil is known to lower blood pressure. This may be a good thing for most people, but if you are taking blood pressure medication, you should talk to your physician before using this oil.

2. Hypoglycemia

Using this oil regularly may cause hypoglycemia in diabetic patients.

3. Allergies

There are reports of some people having allergic reactions to the oil. Common allergic symptoms are skin irritation, rashes, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and irritability.

4. Neurological Problems

Evening primrose oil is known to cause migraines, especially in people who suffer from epilepsy.

5. Bleeding Issues

If you need to undergo surgery, stop using this oil at least two weeks before it is scheduled since it is known to lower blood clotting.

6. Issues In Pregnant Women

If you are pregnant, you should talk to your physician first before using this oil to prevent any known or unknown complications.

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What Is The Take-Home Message?

The take-home message is very simple – evening primrose oil is just as wonderful as we said it was at the beginning of this article.

Yes, it has side effects, but the benefits outweigh them. Give this magic oil a shot, follow its recommended dosages, and you will not be disappointed. 

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Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Can you take evening primrose oil and birth control pills simultaneously?

Yes, you can. There is no known interaction between the two pills.

Can evening primrose cause spotting?

Usually, it does not, but an overuse of this oil may cause spotting or hormonal imbalance in some people. Talk to your physician if you experience the same.

Is it safe to take evening primrose capsules?

Yes, it is safe to take evening primrose capsules in the recommended dosage. Do not consume this in excess as it may be fatal.

Can you use evening primrose oil directly on the skin?

Yes, you can.

Is evening primrose oil effective for dry eyes?

Yes, evening primrose oil has been shown to considerably improve the symptoms of dry eyes within a few weeks of regular use. Talk to your ophthalmologist if you are still not sure.

Can we use evening primrose oil on the eyebrows?

Yes, some people use EPO on their eyebrows to prevent eyebrow hair loss.

When is the best time to take evening primrose oil?

Evening primrose oil can be taken twice a day (morning and evening) along with meals to boost its absorption and prevent side effects.

Are there any benefits of evening primrose oil bath?

Yes. An evening primrose oil bath helps to moisturize your skin and treat any skin related problems.

What are the benefits of vitamin E and evening primrose oil combination?

Combining EPO with vitamin E increases its shelf life and makes it more effective, especially in decreasing breast pain.


  1. “Approach to the management of premenstrual syndrome”. Clinical Obstetrics and Gynaecology. June 1987.
  2. “The effect of oral evening primrose oil on menopausal hot flashes…”. Shaheed Beheshti University of Medical Sciences. Tehran, Iran. Nov 2013.
  3. “Evening Primrose Oil”. University of Texas Health Science Center. San Antonio, Texas. Dec 2009.
  4. “The effects of evening primrose oil on nerve function and capillarization in streptozocin-diabetic rats…”. University of Aberdeen, Marischal College. Aug 1993.
  5. “Associations of polyunsaturated fatty acid intake with bone mineral density in postmenopausal women”. Journal of Osteoporosis. Feb 2015.
  6. “A systematic review of omega-3 fatty acids and osteoporosis”. Ohio State University. June 2012.
  7. “A double-blind evaluation of evening primrose oil as an anti-obesity agent”. International Journal of Obesity. 1983.
  8. “Gamma linolenic acid (GLA)”. Tristar Medical Group, Family Physicians.
  9. “Natural remedies for scleroderma”. Alternative Medicine Review. Sept 2006.
  10. “Evening primrose oil in the treatment of Raynaud’s phenomenon…”. Thrombosis and Haemostasis. Aug 1985.
  11. “Evening primrose oil ameliorates platelet aggregation and improves cardiac recovery…”. International Journal of Physiology, Pathophysiology and Pharmacology. March 2014.
  12. “Epogam evening primrose oil treatment in atopic dermatitis and asthma”. Paediatric clinic, Health Center. Karlstad, Sweden. Dec 1996.
  13. “Oiling the brain: a review of randomized controlled trials of omega-3 fatty acids…”. University of South Australia. Adelaide, Australia. Feb 2010.
  14. “Essential fatty acid supplementation in chronic hepatitis B”. St. Thomas Hospital. London, UK. Aug 1996.
  15. “Evening primrose oil (Oenothera spp.)”. Mayo Clinic.
  16. “Evening primrose oil and marine oil in the treatment of psoriasis”. Bristol Royal Infirmary, UK. March 1994.
  17. “Multiple Sclerosis: the rational basis for treatment with colchicine and evening primrose oil”. Medical Hypotheses. March 1979.
  18. “Systemic evening primrose oil improves the biophysical skin parameters of healthy adults”. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. April 2005.
  19. “Oral evening primrose oil and borage oil for eczema”. The Cochrane database of Systematic Reviews. April 2013.
  20. “Evening Primrose Oil (EPO)”. University of Maryland, Medical Center.

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