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Horse Oil: Newfangled Beauty Trend or Skin Saviour?

08 Jan 2022 - By Hanna Wee

You would be forgiven if you cringed at the thought of applying Horse Oil to your skin but Horse Oil isn’t some new beauty fad and has actually been used for centuries in the Far East in treating various ailments. We take a look at what it is and what it does in our latest ingredient spotlight.


From snail mucin to donkey’s milk, most of us are by now unfazed by the variety of bizarre beauty ingredients coming out of South Korea. Even so, you would still be forgiven if you went “eww” at the thought of applying Horse Oil to your skin. But far from just a fleeting fad, Horse Oil has actually been used for centuries for its healing and protective properties and still remains popular in places like Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Taiwan and China.

Animal by-products in our cosmetic and skincare products aren't new - think beetles in red lipstick, beeswax in creams or sheep placenta in serums - but I love horses. While I am aware that horse meat is eaten in some countries (more than you think!), the thought of using Horse Oil on my skin was absolutely cringe worthy to me so I decided to dig a little deeper.


A Short Horse-tory

Forgive the tortured pun. Before its modern evolution as a beauty product, Horse Oil found its start as a type of folk medicine in ancient China. Used in treating burns, minor cuts, insect bites, fungal infections, and even asthma and hair loss, the practice of using Horse Oil was brought to the rest of Northeast Asia over a thousand years ago and continues to remain popular till this day.

Horse Oil, being naturally derived, shares a lot of similarities with human sebum and is not only easily absorbed into the skin but also safe for people of all ages, even infants. An excellent moisturiser and natural anti-inflammatory, Horse Oil creates a protective barrier that defends the skin against moisture loss and harsh climates which explains its enduring popularity in Northeast Asia.


What Is Horse Oil?

horse oil

Well, as the name would suggest, Horse Oil is rendered from horse fat but before you imagine horses lining up to the slaughter for the sole purpose of beauty, you’ll be happy to know that this isn’t the case. Horses have very low fat content making the rearing of horses for the sole purpose of manufacturing beauty products economically unviable.

Instead, Horse Oil is obtained as a by-product of the production of horse meat which is widely eaten in countries across Europe and Asia in dishes like basashi (馬刺し) or horse sashimi. The fat is discarded as a waste product of the process and some might find it reassuring that nothing goes to waste.


So What Are The Benefits Of Horse Oil?

First of all, Horse Oil is very easily absorbed. Depending on the concentration of Horse Oil  and other ingredients in the formulation, it might feel a little oily initially but is often absorbed within a few minutes without any feeling of greasiness. This is because the palmitic and stearic acid content of Horse Oil  is very similar to human sebum making it an especially absorbent topical ingredient.

Beyond just being easily absorbed, Horse Oil also has a number of other skincare benefits:

01 It is non-comedogenic, that is it doesn’t clog your pores. So if you have dry and acne prone skin, you don’t have to worry as much about applying a little more.

02  It prevents acne and pimples. Rich in the essential fatty acid, Linoleic Acid or Vitamin F, it is a natural anti-inflammatory and can help prevent acne flare ups.

03 It delivers long lasting hydration. It maintains and repairs your skin’s natural moisture barrier and prevents moisture loss while protecting it against the climate. 

04 It is anti-ageing. In addition to protecting your skin and keeping it well hydrated, Horse Oil promotes collagen synthesis which is crucial in maintaining elasticity and preventing wrinkles.

05 It is multi-purpose. Horse Oil can be used on your face, body and even as a hair ointment. You can use it over your whole body or as a spot treatment for dry spots like elbows and knees.


Want To Give It A Try?

Despite the number of growing vegan options, most products, not just beauty products, contain animal by-products that are discarded as waste and upcycled - leather is one good example. So if you’re ok with it and suffer from dry and acne prone skin, then Horse Oil is something that you might want to give a try.

maternity w care

A maternity care cream infused with Horse Oil, this is the best cream we’ve tested for general use in Singapore’s humid climate. Light and easily absorbed without any greasiness, it is pregnancy safe and can prevent hormonal acne, dry skin and stretch marks.

Mayu Specialty V 100 05

Containing 99% concentration of high quality Horse Oil, this facial Oil is perfect for dry and acne prone skin. Because of its high concentration of Horse Oil, it is slightly oily but give it a few minutes and it gets fully absorbed.

Mayu Classic S 100 02

This moisturising balm combines Vitamin A-rich Candelilla Wax and Horse Oil in a moisturising balm that creates a stronger protective barrier to treat and protect dry or chapped spots such as elbows, knees, cuticles and is ideal if you suffer from eczema.

About the writer
Hanna Wee

Hanna is a writer, dog-lover, and beauty connoisseur. Outside of writing, she spends most of her time snuggling her cocker spaniel pup, trying all kinds of fitness classes, and attempting to learn to cook.

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