Soybean Oil—Its Benefits for Your Skin & As a Repellent

August 06, 2018

Soybean Oil—Its Benefits for Your Skin & As a Repellent

In old Chinese folklore, it is stated that women working in the tofu industry always had the most radiant skin: shiny, soft and glowing. They used to attribute it to the skin benefitting properties of soybean. Even the Traditional Chinese Medicine Encyclopedia talks about soybean’s therapeutic benefits for skin and overall health care. It is no wonder that many cosmetic companies use soybean proteins, isoflavones and lecithin found in soy and soybean oil in their products. Let us study the health benefits of soybean oil in skin care.

What is Soybean Oil or Soy Oil?

Soybean oil belongs to the small group of oils pertaining to the pea family. It has a light yellow or pale golden color, and in the Far East, is one of the oldest annual crops. Dietary soy is known to promote several health, medicinal and nutritional benefits. The use of soy for treating skin issues has a long standing history as well. Soybean oil belongs to the small group of oils containing significant amounts of alpha linoleic acid. The phytoestrogen content of soy makes its oil an important ingredient in many pharmaceutical and medicinal applications, too.

Health and Medicinal Properties of Soybean and its Oil

Soybean has boundless health properties. Whether you choose to eat soy based foods or use the skincare lines containing soybean oil or soy proteins for added glow—the majority of the evidence available today supports the fact that soy products are great for long term health and especially for the skin. Here are some benefits of soybean oil:

As a Base or Carrier Oil for Aromatherapy and Massage

Soybean oil is great as a massage or base oil. It is an excellent base for mixing Aromatherapy essential oils. Soybean oil is nutritive and contains many vitamins as well as lecithin. In taste and smell, it is quite similar to toasted sesame oil which is used extensively in Oriental cooking. Many aromatherapists love working with this oil for massage on account of its medicinal properties. You can also buy light, highly refined soy bean oil in case you do not like the strong smell of  unrefined varieties.

Wonderful for Aging Skin

Soybean oil based creams and moisturizers are very beneficial for aging skin. The glycine soy protein inhibits the formation of proteinases, increases trichoblasts and also the number and length of root hairs. These properties find application in anti-aging skin care, for treating sensitive skin, UV protection and also as a hair promoting agent. Soy isoflavones also have phytoestrogenic properties which are especially beneficial for mature skin in menopausal women. 

As a Moisturizer

Soybean oil is water emulsified and rehydrating. It retains the skin’s natural moisture level. Of all the oils, soybean oil has the highest lecithin content which makes it great as a co-emulsifying agent, and balances the skin’s lipid content. Soybean oil is also great as a base in moisturizers. It is also an effective blender or carrier oil for mixing essential oils, and contains omega 3 essential fatty acids, which are highly beneficial for the skin. In fact, as per reports in History of U.S. Federal and State Governments' Work with Soybeans by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi, soybean oil is as rich as fish oil in omega 3 essential fatty acids. 

  • When added to water, soybean oil produces a colloidal solution having a ph of 4 to 5.5 which is the ideal preferred range for ph of healthy skin.
  • According to Mark Bricklin and Susan G Berg in the Best of Prevention, soybean oil topical application can benefit psoriasis sufferers.
  • In body care products

There is a reason why so many cosmeceutical companies are using soybean oil in their body care products.  Soybean oil is a wonderful carrier oil for all other plant based ingredients, oils and vitamins. It is readily absorbed into the skin and finishes residue free. This makes it an excellent addition in soaps and bathing oils. It also protects the skin from moisture loss. Cold pressed soybean oil also has a long shelf life especially when stored in a cool environment. In body balms, it enhances the velvety, buttery texture of the cream when combined with beeswax and shea or cocoa butter.

In Insect Repellents

Natural bug repellents will not keep you 100% bug proof, nor are they going to last all day. But the benefit of using natural bug repellents with plant and essential oils is that they will not expose your lungs, eyes, skin and other organs to toxic chemicals. Chemical repellents have been and will always be harmful to mankind and animals. The repeated use of these insecticides fosters many environmental hazards like development of resistance in vectors like mosquitoes to these chemicals. Synthetic chemical insecticides have an adverse effect on the environment and disturb the ecological balance. Majority of these chemicals are also not biodegradable and they spread their toxic effects for days and affect the delicate ecological balance. Many of these insecticides also enter the system to harm delicate organs like kidneys and liver. Insecticides applied in ponds, lakes etc tend to contaminate water bodies and harm humans as well as larvivorous fish. Mosquito coils and chemical bug repellent diffusers can cause side effects like burning , watery eyes, asthma, headaches, itching and sneezing in users.

With natural bug repellents, you can avoid all this.

Soybean oil as Bug Repellent

In 1997, a product called Bite Blocker was introduced in United States after being hugely popular in Europe. Its composition was soybean oil, geranium oil and castor oil. Studies conducted on this product at the University of Guelph showed that this product was capable of providing over 97% protection against Aedes species of mosquitoes under field conditions even with 3.5 hours after application. Another study on Bite Blocker showed that it offered 200+/-30 minutes of complete protection from mosquito bites. A laboratory study showed that Bite Blocker provided an average protection time of about 7 hours against mosquito bites. Another lab study showed Bite Blocker could give about 10 hours of protection against biting black flies where, in the same test, 20% DEET gave only about 6.5 hours of protection. The American Soybean Association has also conducted significant research on soybean oil as pesticides and concluded following uses for this oil: as carrier for insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, 

It is no wonder that citronella based bug repellent products are incorporated with geranium and soybean oils to increase the repellent effect. Following commercial bug repellent products contain soybean oil:

  • Herbal Armor- Manufactured by All Terrain Company. Contains 11.5% soybean oil, citronella oil 10% and peppermint oil 2%, cedar oil 1.5%, lemongrass oil 1% and Geranium oil 0.5%.
  • Buzz Away Extreme- Soybean oil 3%, Geranium oil 6%, Castor oil 8%, Cedarwood oil 1.5% and Lemongrass oil 0.25%.
  • Cutter Natural and Repel Natural- Both contain Soybean oil 2% and Geraniol 5%.

As a Dietary Source

We’re all familiar with soy milk, tofu, edamame, and miso soup (to name a few). Apart from Asian cultures, these foods can be especially significant for vegans and vegetarians, as they’re an important source of protein in our diet. Despite some propaganda to the contrary, soybean oil consumption has actually been found to have breast cancer protective effects.1, 2 And unlike what fear mongers would like you to believe, it also does not cause feminization in men.3 If we were to think about this realistically, and soybean consumption were actually found to cause gynecomastia (breasts) in men, then wouldn’t most Asian cultures demonstrate a huge population of feminized, big breasted men? Come on...this is obviously not the case, but for some reason, there are people who would like you to believe that…

What to Look For in Soy Bean Oil before Purchasing

Soy beans have been cultivated for over 5000 years in China and were introduced in the United States only in the 19th century. In 2011-12, the US became the world’s largest manufacturer of soybeans with over 100 different varieties being grown nationwide.  Because it is such an important crop, it is also now being produced as a GMO one. The controversy surrounding these can fill up hundreds of books (which we won’t get into right now), but suffice it to say, it is important to steer clear of anything GMO. GMO soy products are filled with pesticides, which make them naturally resistant to pests and insects, and by consuming them or applying them to your skin, you are also exposing yourself to said pesticides.  Also, processed soy uses hexane extraction. Hexane is known to cause headaches, nausea and fatigue. So if you are planning on buying soy products including soybean oil, go for USDA certified organic and non GMO varieties only. This ensures there is no hexane extraction used in its production and also fewer chemicals and toxins.

Now let's look at an easy DIY soybean oil, bug repellent recipe:

Soybean Oil Bug Repellent Recipe 

Bug Repellent

16 oz or 473.2 ml of organic soybean oil

0.8 oz  or 23.6 ml of any of (or combination of) the following essential oils: Citronella, Eucalyptus, Pine, Cedar, Geranium, Peppermint, Allspice, Basil, Thyme, Lavender, Rosemary, Lemongrass, Catnip, Clove or Palo Santo

Mix the oils. Shake well before use. Apply to exposed parts of the skin for repelling mosquitoes. 

Our products that contain organic soybean oil:

Deliciously Aromatic, Natural Perfume and Insect Repellent Spray

Deliciously Aromatic, Natural Perfume and Insect Repellent Roll On


1. The Top 5 Soy Myths

2. Soybean products and reduction of breast cancer risk: a case–control study in Japan

K Hirose,1,* N Imaeda,2 Y Tokudome,3 C Goto,3 K Wakai,1 K Matsuo,1 H Ito,1 T Toyama,4 H Iwata,4 S Tokudome,5 and K Tajima1


4. Expert Consult Premium Edition - Enhanced Online By Paul S. Auerbach (

5. Organic Body Care Recipes: 175 Homemade Herbal Formulas for Glowing Skin By Stephanie L. Tourles

6. Best of Prevention by Mark Bricklin and Susan G Berg

Medical Disclaimer

The content found on this website is for informational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Information and statements regarding health related benefits of certain ingredients are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information provided is not meant to substitute the advice provided by your personal physician or other medical professional. Do not use the information found within this website to self-diagnose any medical conditions or treat any health problems or diseases. The information provided is not intended to prescribe or be taken as medical advice.

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