While avocado oil is best known for its uses in cooking, it can also contribute to skin care. The oil is an ingredient in many types of creams, moisturizers, and sunscreens.
In this article, we explore the benefits of avocado oil for the skin and describe the best ways to apply it.
1. Moisturizes and nourishes
In addition to vitamin E, avocado oil contains potassium, lecithin, and many other nutrients that can nourish and moisturize the skin.
The outermost layer of skin, known as the epidermis, easily absorbs these nutrients, which also help to form new skin.
2. Relieves inflammation from psoriasis and eczema
A person with a skin condition may wish to test a patch of skin first, to ensure that the oil does not trigger or aggravate their symptoms.
3. Prevents and treats acne
When left on for short periods of time and rinsed off with warm water, avocado oil can keep skin hydrated without leaving an oily residue. This may reduce the risk of acne.
4. Accelerates wound healing
Avocado oil may help wounds to heal more quickly. One 2013 study found that the essential fatty acids and oleic acid in avocado oil can promote collagen synthesis, which is the process of creating new connective tissue.
The essential fatty acids in avocado oil were also found to help reduce inflammation during the healing process.
More studies are needed in humans, however, to determine whether avocado oil can be used to treat wounds.
5. Treats sunburned skin
The antioxidants in avocado oil may help to ease the symptoms of a sunburn. According to a 2011 review, the vitamin E, beta carotene, vitamin D, protein, lecithin, and essential fatty acids in the oil can support healing and soothe the skin.
Other small studies have shown that consuming avocados may help to protect the skin from harmful UV radiation.
6. Reduces signs of aging
The first signs of aging usually appear on the skin. Some studies have shown that consuming healthful fats, such as those found in avocados, can help the skin to retain its elasticity.
However, researchers have yet to address whether applying avocado oil to the skin has the same effect.
7. Improves nail health
While some people use avocado oil to heal dry, brittle nails, little scientific evidence confirms this benefit.
However, using natural oils to keep the nails and surrounding skin soft may help to reduce breakage.
8. Improves scalp health
Applying avocado oil to the scalp as a hot oil mask can help to reduce dandruff and other problems caused by a dry, flaky scalp.
Avocado oil can be massaged into the skin, used in a face mask, or added to lotions, creams, shower gels, or bath oils. It can be used on skin daily without adverse effects.
As a facial moisturizer
To use avocado as a facial moisturizer, a person can take the inside of an avocado peel and massage it onto their face. Leave the residue on for about 15 minutes, then rinse the face with warm water.
Bottled avocado oil can also be used to moisture the face at night. Wash it off the following morning.
In the bath
Adding a few tablespoons of avocado oil to a bath can leave the whole body feeling soft and help to prevent hot water from drying out the skin.
It can also be mixed with a person's favorite bath oil, such as lavender or aloe vera.
As a moisturizer
Combine avocado oil with other essential oils and massage the mixture into the skin after a bath. Pat the skin dry with a towel before using the oil.
Avocado oil is also effective on its own and can be applied all over the body to keep skin soft.
For scalp care
A person with a dry scalp may benefit from using avocado oil in a hot oil treatment. To heat the oil, pour 3–5 tablespoons into a small glass jar, and place the jar in a saucepan of recently boiled water.
Test the temperature of the oil frequently, to prevent it from getting too hot. When the oil is warm, remove the jar from the water and gently massage the oil into the scalp.
The oil can be left overnight and shampooed out in the morning. This may help to reduce dandruff and dry, flaky skin on the scalp.
Treating dry, inflamed skin
To heal and soften rough, dry skin, mix equal amounts of avocado and olive oils, and apply the mixture to the skin once or twice a day.
To give the mixture a scent, try one or two drops of an essential oil, such as lavender.
Research suggests that avocado oil can help to prevent several health issues, including diabetes and high cholesterol. A study from 2014 found avocado oil to have as many healthful benefits as olive oil.
A 2017 study concluded that avocado oil could reduce the oxidative damage that causes kidney damage in people with type 2 diabetes. The result stems from oleic acid, a "healthy" fat, which is the primary component of the oil. More research is needed in humans, however, before this claim can be fully supported.
In addition to fighting kidney damage, oleic acid is known for its ability to lower the risk of developing some cancers, preventing flare-ups of some autoimmune diseases, speeding up cell regeneration to promote healing, aiding in eliminating microbial infections, and reducing inflammation throughout the body.
Side effects of avocado oil are rare, but it is possible to be allergic or avocados or their oil.
The best way to rule out an allergy is to do a patch test. Apply a small amount of avocado oil to a 1-inch patch of skin on the inside of the arm. If no irritation occurs over a 24-hour period, the oil can be safely used on other parts of the skin.
Anyone allergic to avocados should avoid contact with avocado oil.