Almond oil had been used extensively for its health benefits and as a beauty aid long before science knew the goodness of this oil. Very popular in Southeast Asia and the Mediterranean region where the almond tree was first domesticated, the almond kernels and walnut oil extracted from them have been credited as an excellent method of caring for heart and skin health.
Properties of almond oil
We now know that the oil is rich in vitamin E, monounsaturated fatty acids, protein, potassium and zinc, in addition to other minerals and vitamins, which explains why it is so good for our hearts, skin and hair.
Almond oil comes in two variants; bitter and sweet :
- Bitter almond oil is extracted from bitter almonds that contain a glycoside called amygdalin that is converted to toxic hydrocyanic acid in processing. Most of the almond trees that grow in nature produce bitter almonds that have varying degrees of this glycoside. They can be fatal if ingested. Bitter almond oil has some medicinal properties, and it can be quite safe for external application, but it is best avoided due to the high risk of poisoning.
- Sweet almond oil that comes exclusively from edible almonds (Prunus amygdalus var. Dulcis) is selectively cultivated for its sweet taste. It is the oil popularly used for skin and hair care.
Almond oil benefits
1. For smooth and flawless skin
Almond oil is a mild, hypoallergenic oil that can be used safely even on baby skin. In fact, it is the best massage oil for babies. When gently rubbed into the skin, it is completely absorbed, making it suitable for post-bath application. To improve absorption, warm the oil to body temperature before application. This natural oil has a slight nutty smell, which most people find pleasant, but you can mix it with a few drops of lavender oil or any other fragrant essential oil of your choice to personalize it.
2. For a deep cleansing of the skin
Almond oil is light in texture and can easily penetrate deep into the skin, softening and dislodging accumulated dirt and debris from skin pores and hair follicles. This prevents blackheads and acne. Thanks to the vitamin A content in the oil, it can even help reduce acne breakouts.
3. To eliminate dark circles and use as a solar post
If you have dark circles and bags under your eyes, almond oil can come to your aid. Apply the oil every night before going to bed. You will see a noticeable difference in about two weeks.
Exposure to the sun can inflame the skin and cause pain and redness. Apply almond oil on these patches for quick relief. An unwanted tan can also be lightened with the oil. Mix a teaspoon of honey with a few drops of lemon juice and almond oil. Rub with your fingers and leave it like that for an hour. Wash it with pure water.
4. To relieve eczema and psoriasis
These problems are caused by the body’s own reactions to external and internal triggers, but they can leave the skin in the affected areas dry and itchy. Scratching can make things worse. When the skin breaks, it begins to bleed and peel. It also gives way to bacterial and fungal infections that can complicate the management of these chronic conditions.
The least we can do is keep the affected skin soft and hydrated to reduce itching. Almond oil helps with this. Being a mild and hypoallergenic oil, it hydrates the skin without further irritating it.
5. To treat skin rashes
Skin rashes are very common in the diaper area of children. Also in adults, the skin can become inflamed by constant rubbing with hard materials, including underwear. Skin-to-skin friction can also lead to irritated skin. This type of contact dermatitis can cause pain and a burning sensation. Doctors generally prescribe zinc-based ointments to reduce inflammation.
6. To reduce fine lines and other signs of aging
Smooth, supple skin is a sign of youth, but a structural protein called collagen is behind this flawless appearance. Collagen forms an even layer under the skin and acts as a good cushion that keeps the skin taut but supple. Fine wrinkles begin to appear as we age due to thinning of the skin and the uneven collagen filler underneath.
7. For muscle aches and fatigue
Relieving muscle aches and pain is one of the main traditional uses for bitter almond oil. The same benefits can be obtained from sweet almond oil, but without the risk of poisoning associated with the former. Massage this protein rich oil into tired muscles to rejuvenate them. Aromatherapy uses almond oil to relax knotty muscles.
Dr. Samantha Robson ( CRN: 0510146-5) is a nutritionist and website content reviewer related to her area of expertise. With a postgraduate degree in Nutrition from The University of Arizona, she is a specialist in Sports Nutrition from Oxford University and is also a member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.