Did you know that Almond is a seed found inside the fruits of the Almond tree? These fruits look very similar to peaches, only green in color. So, this fact about Almond makes it a fruit, and not a nut! Interesting, right?
Almonds are the oldest and most widely grown of all the world's nut crops. They were first produced in the Middle East, and very soon, people discovered that the oil extracted from its seeds was extremely beneficial. Nearly half of dry Almond’s weight was found to be oil and ripe Almonds were pressed to extract the oil with minimal heat.
Today, Almonds and Almond Oil are popular as rich sources of nutrients. You might have come across nutritionists advising people to add Almonds to their daily diet and Ayurveda beauty experts recommending Abhyanga (self-massage) with the oil to nourish the skin. Either way, Almonds provide us with what our body requires and form an important part of our life.
The Almond oil obtained simply by pressing the nuts is unrefined Almond oil and retains most of these nutrients and the original flavor of the oil. Refined Almond oil, on the other hand, is obtained by heating and chemically treating unrefined Almond oil. This oil is more resistant to heat but contains fewer nutrients.
So, which Almond oil should you choose for yourself? Well, to understand that, let’s talk about one more derivative of Almond, Cold-Pressed Sweet Almond Oil.
What is Sweet Almond Oil?
There are two types of Almond oil: sweet and bitter. Sweet Almond oil is the kind that’s better suited to your skin as it’s obtained from an Almond tree (Prunus amygdalus var. Dulcis) whose seeds do not contain poisonous chemicals. Bitter Almond oil can be toxic and derived from a different kind of Almond tree (Prunus amygdalus var. Amara). Bitter Almond oil is only used for medicinal purposes.
The four most important nutrients found in Sweet Almond oil are Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and zinc. Each nutrient has a specific function.
Perhaps the oil's most famous benefit is the immediate boost of moisture it locks into skin. Thanks to its emollient properties and high percentages of vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper, it "helps restore the outer layer of skin, prevents water loss and rehabs dry, flaking skin," says Dr. Rabach.
To watch it work its magic, apply it all over your face and body, paying special attention to callused feet, dry cuticles, and flaky areas, the dermatologist recommends.
Although Rabach cautions that reducing the appearance of stretch marks skews more anecdotal wives' tales than scientific facts, there may still be some topical benefits for pregnant women due to its moisturizing properties.
But one unquestionable factor, according to Rabach, is the antioxidant vitamin E found in the oil. "[It] may help with the signs of aging by reducing oxidative stress and damage from the environment, like pollutants, sunlight and blue light from screens, and also help with texture, scars, and striae," she says.
To further improve the skin's overall appearance and luminosity, almond oil also contains some vitamin A, also known as retinol. "This can help even out skin tone, and texture, and prevent wrinkles," says Rabach, making it a more natural solution to a fresh, brightened complexion.
Of course, nothing substitutes proper skin protection from wearing at least SPF 30. But just in case your younger self was a little looser with sunscreen, vitamin E can come to the rescue to protect your skin from further damage and heal the damage that's already been done.
"Regular use of vitamin E, with its antioxidant properties, will help protect the skin from free radical damage from UV rays and pollution," explains Dr. King. However, Rabach adds that vitamin E isn't a cure-all for past sun choices. "It can certainly help, but it probably can't reverse all damage," she says.
Irritated and sensitive skin will benefit most from almond oil," says King. "Its anti-inflammatory fatty acids and vitamins A and E can be soothing to inflamed skin and may help to rejuvenate damaged skin as well.