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People can use almond oil to moisturize the skin and help treat conditions such as eczema.
In this article, we look at how almond oil is made, the evidence of its benefits to the skin, and the risk of side effects.
There are two main types of almond oil — bitter and sweet — and manufacturers make them from different varieties of the Prunus dulcis tree. This tree is common in Mediterranean countries, and almonds are its seeds.
Manufacturers extract almond oil by pressing or grinding almonds. They may use heat or chemical solvents to refine the oil.
Cold-pressed almond oil is extracted at a low temperature without solvents, and cold-pressed oils may be particularly beneficial for the skin.
Almond oil mostly remains at the surface of the skin, so any effects take place there.
Some believe that the oil has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, or anticarcinogenic properties and that it may help wounds heal. There is little direct evidence for most of these claims, however.
Below, we describe common uses of almond oil on the skin and what researchers have to say.
Dermatitis, eczema, or dry skin
Almond oil is both a moisturizer and an emollient.
Moisturizers supply water to the skin and hold it in with an oily substance. Emollients smooth the skin, filling in little gaps. Rather than adding moisture, they help the skin retain it by improving its barrier function.
One study showed that a moisturizer containing sweet almond oil reduced the symptoms of moderate or severe hand dermatitis.
Another showed that emollients containing refined almond oil helped relieve itching and improved the skin’s barrier function in people with xerotic eczema, also known as asteatotic eczema, which causes the skin to become particularly dry, cracked, and itchy.
Some people with acne use almond oil as a moisturizer, often alongside topical acne medication. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) caution that oil from moisturizers may make acne worse, but some doctors recommend moisturizing.
Stretch marks of pregnancy
Pregnant women looking to prevent stretch marks or reduce associated itching might try massaging almond oil into their abdomens.
One study found that massage with bitter almond oil can reduce stretch marks, but that the application of the oil without massage did not.
Another study indicated that sweet almond oil cream may reduce the itchiness of stretch marks and their spread.
Overall, the evidence that almond oil helps with stretch marks is limited, and further research is necessary.
Anti-aging and UV protection
Almond oil may help reduce signs of aging and restore or support the barrier function of the skin.
Some people also believe that almond oil may help protect the skin from the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation, though there is very limited evidence for this.
Instead, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend covering the skin when outdoors, staying in the shade, and using sunscreen.
Circles under the eyes and skin lightening
Some people rub almond oil under their eyes to reduce bags or dark circles. There is little reliable scientific evidence for this or for almond oil helping to lighten patches of darker skin.
A person can massage the oil directly into the skin. It may help to first rub it between the palms or fingertips to warm it up.
Other uses include:
- mixing the oil with sugar to make an exfoliating facial scrub
- mixing it with salt to make a body scrub
- adding a couple of tablespoons to a hot bath
- rubbing the oil into chapped lips
- applying it to the nails and cuticles
There are few known risks associated with using almond oil on the skin.
First, it is a good idea to perform a patch test on a small area to check for an adverse reaction. People with sensitive skin should perform the test over several days to give the body more time to respond.
Anyone with a nut allergy should not use almond oil.
Also, having eczema can increase the likelihood of having allergies, so people with eczema may want to be extra careful when trying almond oil.
One study linked preterm delivery to the daily application of almond oil during pregnancy. However, confirming this risk will require further research.
Although people have been using almond oil on the skin for a long time, there is very little evidence that it works better than any other moisturizer or emollient in most cases.
Moisturizers and emollients can help relieve many skin conditions, and the choice of almond oil is often down to personal preference.