Evening primrose oil is a purely natural product made from the common evening primrose (Oenothera biennis), a plant from the evening primrose family. It consists of three different fatty acids:
- The essential, doubly unsaturated linoleic acid, which is one of the omega-6 fatty acids,
- Gamma-linolenic acid, a triple unsaturated omega-6 fatty acid,
- and oleic acid
If you want to buy evening primrose oil, you will find all the important information about the ingredients and areas of application below. This information provides good support when deciding on a specific preparation, as evening primrose oil is available in different dosage forms - as a pure product for internal and external use, in capsule form and as an ointment, cream, or lotion. 
What can evening primrose oil do for you in particular?
- Supports the health of the skin: Preparations made from evening primrose oil have long been used in the treatment of skin diseases. Today we know that the skin-soothing and anti-inflammatory effect of evening primrose oil are due to the two ingredients linoleic acid and gamma-linolenic acid. Linoleic acid is not only a natural part of the epidermis, it also counteracts skin irritation and damage caused by light, maintains the skin barrier and supports the re-formation of age spots and blackheads when used externally. Gamma-linolenic acid is used, among other things, to support the treatment of neurodermatitis. There is some research that has shown a gamma linolenic acid deficiency in people with this disease. The ingestion of gamma-linolenic acid for several weeks is said to have an effect on the complexion in some cases, but further research is necessary here.
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopausal symptoms: Another traditional area of application for evening primrose oil is for ailments that often occur in women before menstruation or during menopause: A feeling of tightness in the chest, headaches, nervousness and irritability are among these symptoms. Especially during menopause, dry skin and mucous membranes are also a problem. The oleic acids contained in evening primrose oil can help you reduce these symptoms - among other things, by supporting the prostaglandin formation, which is influenced by hormone fluctuations during menopause.
- Memory and concentration: The gamma-linolenic acid contained in evening primrose oil, as a triple-unsaturated omega-3 fatty acid, is one of those vital substances that is responsible for a good functioning nerve stimulus transmission. It supports the ability to concentrate and the memory function.    
Buying Evening Primrose Oil - What should you look for?
There is a large selection of preparations available on the market that contain evening primrose oil or are offered as pure oil. Making the right choice is not that easy. Therefore, we have summarized the most important criteria for you to make a good purchase decision. These include above all
- Products and dosage forms
- Ingredients and dosage
- Bioavailability and bioactivity
- Ingestion and tolerance
- Additives and allergens
- Price-performance ratio
- Satisfaction guarantee
Products and dosage forms
Evening primrose oil is available in its pure form as oil for external use and in capsule form for internal use. Which dosage form makes more sense depends on the type of application desired. If you want to buy evening primrose oil, the following products and dosage forms are available:
Evening primrose oil for external use: Ointments, creams and lotions with evening primrose oil
For external use, evening primrose oil is mainly used on irritated and/or very dry skin. Ideally, you should choose a preparation that is as natural as possible and one that doesn't contain any artificial additives or preservatives - these, in turn, can cause additional undesirable skin irritations.
If you prefer using evening primrose oil as a cream, ointment, or body lotion, you should also look at the ingredients: A stable water-in-oil emulsion that does not contain any skin-irritating fragrances or dyes is recommended. When using this, please follow the manufacturer's recommendations regarding the frequency of application and duration of use. If the desired effect does not occur within the recommended application period or if undesirable effects occur, please consult your dermatologist.
Evening primrose oil for internal use: Evening primrose oil capsules
Evening primrose oil capsules consist of a shell made of a - usually plant-based - soft gel, which contains the oily basic substance. This may also contain small amounts of vitamin E as well as amino acids and minerals that occur naturally in evening primrose oil. Apart from the additives that are absolutely necessary to gel the capsule and to keep it moist and regulate the acidity, such as carrageenan, sodium carbonate and glycerine, no other auxiliary substances should be included.
Evening primrose oil capsules are easy to swallow and, thanks to the rapid dissolution of the gel capsule in the stomach, enable the ingredients to be absorbed more quickly into the bloodstream and into the body cells. In rare cases, however, an intolerance reaction can occur. If you notice such a reaction after taking the capsules, refrain from further use and, if necessary, ask your general practitioner about alternatives.
Application and tolerance
Evening primrose oil in its pure form is an absolutely natural product, which is characterized by the best skin tolerance. Creams, ointments and lotions with evening primrose oil that do not contain any additives other than water and natural, non-irritating preservatives, are also generally well tolerated.
If you take evening primrose oil in capsule form, you should drink enough water beforehand - this makes it easier for the capsule to dissolve in the stomach and for the active ingredients to be transported further into the body. Particularly sensitive people should take the capsules with a meal, preferably on a regular basis in the morning or evening.
Despite a generally good tolerability, it can happen that some people develop an intolerance to a certain product or a certain active ingredient. This is by no means due to the quality of the product - intolerances can develop against practically any substance. If you experience an undesirable reaction when taking or applying a product containing evening primrose oil, discontinue the preparation and inform your general practitioner.  
Additives and allergens
The quality of food supplements depends, among other things, on the number of additives used: The fewer additives are added, the higher the quality of the product. If you want to buy a preparation with evening primrose oil, you should therefore check the ingredients first. Some fragrances and dyes in creams and ointments are considered to be allergenic, so you should avoid such products.
The same applies to evening primrose oil capsules: They sometimes contain soy, lactose or gluten, which can also trigger allergies. Again, make sure that the composition is as natural as possible.
It is also important for vegans that the products they buy do not contain any animal ingredients.
Good evening primrose oil products contain purely natural products and high-quality additives - they are therefore more expensive than cheap products, which can only be kept at a low price by discounting the quality.
Manufacturers often give a "satisfaction guarantee" for products that are of high quality: This means, that in the rare event of intolerance you will get your money back from the manufacturer - so you do not take any risks with the order.
Questions and answers about buying evening primrose oil
Below are some common questions from buyers and the answers to them in a short version.
Who can benefit from evening primrose oil?
Ointments or lotions with evening primrose oil help soothe the skin in people who suffer from blemished, inflammatory, or very dry skin. Another area of application are premenstrual complaints and menopausal symptoms: Studies have also clearly shown that the use of preparations with evening primrose oil can help reduce the symptoms.
Where can I buy evening primrose oil?
Good evening primrose oil preparations are available through online mail order companies. When making a purchase online, however, make sure that you have enough information about the product and that the manufacturer provides a satisfaction guarantee - this way, you are not taking any risks if the product does not meet your expectations. The preparations are sometimes available locally in well-stocked pharmacies or drug stores.
How long should I use evening primrose oil?
The recommended duration of use depends on the chosen treatment. When used externally to treat skin problems, you should use the evening primrose oil ointment or lotion until there is a significant improvement, or follow your doctor's recommendations. When taking capsules with evening primrose oil, it is usually necessary to take them for several weeks until a change appears. Here you should follow the manufacturer's recommendations.
Which brand is best?
The brand itself is not a criteria for the quality of a product. However, when buying, it is important to ensure that the evening primrose oil is produced under controlled conditions and contains as few additives as possible.
Evening primrose oil Studies and references
- Nachtkerzenöl Kapseln - reich an essentiellen mehrfach ungesättigten Fettsäuren
- Nachtkerzenöl – Wirkung, Anwendung und Studien
- Chung B Y et al Effect of Evening Primrose Oil on Korean Patients With Mild Atopic Dermatitis: A Randomized, Double-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Study Ann Dermatol. 2018 Aug; 30
- Farzaneh F et al The effect of oral evening primrose oil on menopausal hot flashes: a randomized clinical trial Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2013 Nov
- Gamma-Linolensäure (GLS) bei Neurodermitis
- Schöne Haut trotz Neurodermitis
- Nachtkerzenöl – Balsam für die trockene Haut
- Nachtkerzenöl – eine Wohltat für die Haut und mehr
- Nachtkerzenöl – Wirkung, Anwendung und Studien
- Sharif SN, Darsareh F Impact of evening primrose oil consumption on psychological symptoms of postmenopausal women: a randomized double-blinded placebo-controlled clinical trial Menopause. 2019 Oct 31