Apricot kernel oil is a wonderfully light carrier oil that isn’t as popular as, say, avocado oil or coconut oil. Sad but true! Nevertheless, here’s everything you need to know about apricot kernel oil, its benefits and its uses.
Pros: Apricot kernel oil is a wonderful light oil that is great for moisturizing, oil cleansing and more.
Cons: Apricot kernel oil has high levels of oleic acid, which may cause breakouts in acne prone skin. That’s why the oil has a low to moderate comedogenic rating (2 out of 5).
Properties of Apricot Kernel Oil
There are a few apricot kernel oil properties you should know about.
Apricot’s botanical name is Prunus armeniaca. Its name is pretty similar to sweet almond’s (Prunus dulcis) so verify the botanical name before buying this oil.
You should also know that bitter almonds are sometimes labelled as apricot kernels. Its botanical name is also similar: Prunus dulcis var. amara. But here’s the thing, bitter almonds contain dangerous levels of cyanide. That is why it is so important to check for the name – Prunus armeniaca – when buying this carrier oil.
Color & Scent
Apricot kernel oil has a light yellow to golden color. And since the kernels are used to make the oil, it has a mild, nutty odor.
Apricot kernel oil is a pretty light oil, similar to sweet almond oil. It absorbs quickly, faster than jojoba and argan oils. And it can leave your skin feeling a little dry. So if you’re looking for an oil that doesn’t leave a greasy feel, then apricot kernel oil is a great choice for you.
You should know, however, apricot kernel oil has a comedogenic rating of 2 out of 5. That means it has a low to moderate chance of causing acne. So before lathering the oil onto your skin or using it on your acne prone areas like your face or back, test the oil out for a few weeks before adding it to your daily beauty regime.
There are several compounds in apricot kernel oil. The main ones include oleic acid (which makes up around 60% of the oil), linoleic acid (30%), palmitic acid, palmitoleic acid, and stearic acid.
The oil also contains relatively high levels of gamma-tocopherol, sterols (like campesterol, beta-sitosterol, cholesterol, gramisterol and citrostadienol) and squalene. You would know gamma-tocopherol is a type of Vitamin E, which is amazing for skin care and beauty. And sterols and squalene are phytochemicals that play unique roles in our health.
Note, apricot kernels also contain a compound called amygdalin or Vitamin B17. This compound may have possible health benefits like strong anticancer activity but the research has shown mixed results. And amygdalin is also considered toxic. BUT … It’s a big but… There is very little to almost no trace of amygdalin in apricot kernel oil. So there is nothing to worry about.
Ok, so those are some properties of apricot kernel oil, now it’s time to get into its benefits.
Apricot Kernel Oil Benefits
Sadly, there aren’t many studies that have explored the benefits of apricot kernel oil, especially for skin.
There is a 2014 study that investigated the anti-inflammatory effects of apricot kernel extracts and apricot kernel oil on mice with ulcerative colitis (inflammation of the colon). While the extracts showed good anti-inflammatory benefits, apricot kernel oil did not.
So apricot kernel extracts may not have the same benefits as apricot kernel oil.
This is very important to remember when considering this 2009 study in the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research. This study explored the antimicrobial and antioxidant effects of methanol and water extracts of (sweet) apricot kernels. The results showed both the methanol and water extracts had good antioxidant potential. And the methanol extract had antibacterial effects too against the bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus.
But… as you saw earlier, apricot kernel extracts behave differently when compared to the oil. That is why we cannot say apricot kernel oil has antioxidant and antimicrobial benefits.
From experience though, I can say apricot kernel oil is a light moisturizing oil that keeps my skin smooth and soft. And that’s a great benefit to have.
Where to Buy Apricot Kernel Oil
You can buy apricot kernel oil at your local big box store. You know – Trader Joe’s, Walmart, and so on. And, of course, you can also get the oil on Amazon too. Here are a few brands to try:
Apricot kernel oil is not exactly the most stable oil on the market. That means its average shelf life is short. It may last for about six months to one year. So don’t overstock this oil. Also, remember if you keep your oil in cool, dark conditions, it will last just a little bit longer.
Apricot Oil Uses
The high oleic acid content in apricot kernel oil may cause acne if you have so inclined skin. So it is very important to patch test this oil before lathering it on. In fact, you should probably monitor the effects of the oil over a week or two to make sure you aren’t getting sudden closed comedones, blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples.
Once, you are satisfied the oil won’t cause you to break out, here are a few apricot oil uses for you to try:
- For oil cleansing: The lightness of apricot kernel oil makes it great for oil cleansing. Simply add a few drops of oil to your fingertips and massage your face for a minute or two. You can then place a warm wash cloth on your face to open up your pores. But this is optional. Then, with a damp, warm cloth, simply wipe the day’s dirt away and off your face. Rinse your face afterward with cool water to close up your pores.
- To remove makeup: You can add a few drops of apricot kernel oil to a cotton ball, pad or wipe and gently rub your makeup away. The oil works especially well to remove your eye makeup and mascara. And you don’t have to worry about harsh cleansers getting into your eyes.
- In massage blends: Apricot kernel oil is wonderful for massaging because it is so light and absorbs quickly. And you can mix in a few essential oils to make a wonderful massage blend.
- For scrubs: Finally, apricot kernel oil works really well in foot scrubs and body scrubs. Add one part apricot kernel oil to five parts of raw, coarse sugar. That’s all it takes. You can even add a drop or two of your favorite essential oil. But mix it in thoroughly before applying to your feet or body.
There are many other uses of apricot kernel oil. Leave a comment and let me know how you use yours.