Sweet almond oil is a staple skincare ingredient with many benefits for your skin, hair, and overall health. This versatile oil has been used for thousands of years in eastern parts of the world, and quickly made an impact when it appeared in the West.
Even though almonds are now a very common food in North America, the first almond trees weren't brought to Europe and the U.S. until sometime in the 19th century.
Here's more about the benefits of sweet almond oil and how to incorporate it in your daily routine.
All About Sweet Almond Oil
Although most of us think of them as nuts, almonds are technically the seeds of the Prunus dulcis tree. They're closely related to stone fruits like plums, cherries, apricots, peaches, and nectarines.
Almonds are harvested from the inside of the almond fruit. The fruit is known as a drupe, meaning it consists of a fleshy fruit with thin skin and a stone at the center. The stone is hard and surrounds the seed or kernal. These inner seeds/kernals are the almonds that we eat and from which oil can be extracted.
Sweet almond oil comes from trees with a botanical name of Prunus amygdalus var. dulcis. There's another type of almonds- bitter almonds- that come from Prunus dulcis, var. amara trees.
Unlike sweet almond oil, which has many health benefits, bitter almonds release toxic compounds when processed. Bitter almond oil does have certain medicinal properties but must be used very carefully. Otherwise, it can be lethal.
On the other hand, sweet almond oil is made up of fatty acids, a good amount of vitamin E, and other trace vitamins and minerals. It's an incredibly safe, lightweight, and gentle oil that's especially nourishing for skin and hair.
Top Benefits of Sweet Almond Oil
Moisturizes and Protects Skin
One of the biggest benefits of sweet almond oil is its moisturizing properties. It contains lots of fatty acids that not only hydrate skin but also help keep moisture locked in.
Almond oil makes a particularly good lightweight oil moisturizer for dry skin. It's not as heavy as oils like coconut or olive, so it feels lighter on the skin and absorbs quickly.
Another good quality of sweet almond oil is its emollient, or skin softening, power. Emollients smooth skin and can improve skin complexion and tone. (1)
Gentle on Sensitive Skin
Sweet almond oil is a very mild and gentle oil. It's soothing to all different skin types and safe to apply even on delicate baby skin.
Almond oil doesn't have a strong scent like unrefined coconut and other oils do, so it's a great neutral oil to add other scents to. People rarely have allergic reactions to sweet almond (although it's possible), making it great for sensitive skin.
If you have sensitive, dry skin, try this Calm Cream formulated with sweet almond oil and other gentle moisturizers.
Almond oil contains a lot of vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants are good for your skin because they help to stop damage from free radicals.
Excessive amounts of free radical damage can lead to premature signs of aging like wrinkles, sun spots, sagging skin, etc. A lot of free radical damage in your skin comes from exposure to UV rays (sunlight).
Vitamin E has shown an ability in studies to both prevent UV damage from happening and slow its effects after it has already occurred. (2)(3) To get these benefits, use sweet almond and other oils with vitamin E regularly on your skin.
May Help Stretch Marks and Scars
While there's no surefire way to prevent stretch marks, keeping your skin moisturized can help. Sweet almond oil was found in one study to reduce the itching of stretch marks and prevent them from spreading as far. (4)
Coconut oil is another good choice during pregnancy to help prevent or reduce stretch marks. It has many other benefits as well.
The vitamin E and fatty acids in almond oil can also help to reduce the appearance of scars. It's been frequently used for this purpose in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine as well as to treat dry eczema and psoriasis. (1)
Excellent Carrier and Massage Oil
Because of its mild nature and scent, sweet almond oil makes an excellent lightweight carrier oil. If you enjoy using essential oils, almond oil is one of the best choices for diluting your oils before applying them to your skin.
Sweet almond oil can also be infused with herbs to make many soothing skincare products. It can be used alone, infused, or mixed with essential oils as a massage oil for sore muscles or to improve circulation.
For aches and pains, try this Muscle Mend salve made with almond oil.
Softens and Nourishes Hair
The moisturizing and softening benefits of sweet almond oil extend to your hair. You can use it on dry hair and scalp to get some hydration and a protective barrier against more water loss.
You can also rub it into your hair to make it shinier and smoother. To use, you can either use some almond oil to make a hair mask that you'll wash out later or apply a tiny bit to wet hair as a leave-in "conditioner."
Nourishes Your Body
Most people think of sweet almond oil strictly as a skincare ingredient. However, it can be eaten and cooked with just like many other oils.
The main dietary benefits of sweet almond oil come from its rich source of unsaturated fats. Almond oil specifically contains about 70% monounsaturated fats. A diet rich in this type of fat has been linked to better heart health and blood sugar levels. (5)(6)
Vitamin E is also good for your body and skin when taken internally. Adding a shot of almond oil into smoothies or using it to make things like salad dressing can give your body a healthy boost.
Refined vs. Unrefined Sweet Almond Oil
When it comes to skincare, unrefined oils are almost always the best choice. Here's why.
Refined almond oil is less expensive than unrefined, mainly because it's extracted more easily by using high heat and chemicals. This gives it a higher smoke point (if you wanted to use it for cooking) but a much lower nutritional value.
Unrefined almond oil is cold-pressed. This method keeps most of the nutrients intact, which means more benefits for your skin. Unrefined oil is also free of the chemicals used to extract the refined version, although chemicals could still be present from pesticide use.
For the absolute best option, buy unrefined and organic sweet almond oil.
The main precaution with sweet almond oil is to avoid using it if you're allergic to nuts. Even though almonds technically aren't nuts, they can still cause a reaction in certain people and may have been processed with other tree nuts.
You can always do a patch test on your skin to check for an allergic reaction before using a large amount.
Sweet Almond Oil for Health
A well-known powerhouse for skin, sweet almond oil also has benefits for your hair and overall health. It's calming, moisturizing, protective, mild, and versatile.
You can use the oil as is or make it the base of homemade skincare products. Don't overlook this much-used oil!