A search conducted to determine the plants yielding vegetable oils resulted in 78 plant species with potential use in cosmetics and skin care products. The taxonomic position of these plant species is described with a description of vegetable oils from these plants and their use in cosmetic and skin care products. These species belonged to 74 genera and 45 plant families and yielded 79 vegetable oils. Family Rosaceae had highest number of vegetable oil yielding species (five species). Most of the species were distributed in two families (Anacardiaceae and Asteraceae) containing four species each, followed by seven families (Boraginaceae, Brassicaceae, Clausiaceae, Cucubitaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Fabaceae and Lamaceae) containing three species each of oil yielding plants. Five families (Apiaceae, Dipterocarpaceae, Malvaceae, Rubiaceae and Sapotaceae) have two species each of vegetable oil yielding plants. Two monocotyledonous families Arecaceae and Poaceae contained three species each of oil yielding plants. Remaining 28 vegetable oil yielding species were distributed in 28 plant families, which included two species of gymnosperms distributed in family Cupressaceae and Pinaceae. These vegetable oils are natural and can be used as the base for mixing ones own aromatherapy massage or bath oil, or if preferred can be used as ready blended massage oils or bath oils. Apart from their medicinal value, vegetable oils have heat contents approximately 90% that of diesel fuel and are potential alternate fuel candidates. By combining the skills and efforts of biologists, food scientists, plant breeders and oil companies it may be possible to develop reasonably priced vegetable oils with enhanced levels of functional ingredients. With growing trend of using vegetable oils in food preparation and body and skin care, the health benefits in reducing heart disease and body and skin ailments could be substantial.
Key Words: Taxonomy, vegetable oils, uses, cosmetics, skin care products.
African Journal of Biotechnology Vol.4(1) 2005: 36-44