Your Guide To The Skincare Benefits Of Apricot Kernel Oil

Pairing the word "apricot" with "skincare" may not elicit the warmest reaction from the public, thanks to dermatologists raising awareness on the abrasive effects of apricot scrub on the skin when used as an exfoliant. However, inside this stone fruit's tough pit is a kernel that's not only edible (per Spruce Eats) but also yields an extract that has been discovered to have beneficial dermatological effects.

Apricot kernel oil is available in the beauty market in various forms. Consumers can buy it as a facial or cleansing oil, and they can also enjoy it as an ingredient infused into different skin- and body-care products, from serums, masks, and face creams to makeup removers and cuticle oils. Some companies even sell bottles of 100% pure apricot kernel oil and recommend it as a carrier oil for homemade concoctions like massage oils. It may not be as buzzy as other ingredients such as edelweiss or snail mucin, but it has been used widely in both the beauty and the pharmaceutical industries to address different concerns.

According to dermatologist Dr. Hadley King, apricot kernel oil contains bioactive compounds, specifically tocopherols and phytosterols, which have hydrating properties and the capacity to fight free radicals. "[It] is particularly rich in beta-sitosterol, which has anti-inflammatory properties, [and] oleic acid, [which] helps to lock in moisture," she told Byrdie.

Is apricot kernel oil a potential remedy for psoriasis?

Beauty blogs hail apricot kernel oil for its potential to offer relief against psoriasis. A non-contagious skin disease, psoriasis is viewed by medical experts as a reaction of the immune system that ends up mistakenly attacking healthy skin cells. Per the Mayo Clinic, there's no definitive conclusion on what causes it, though genetics and environmental triggers are considered factors, and treating psoriasis successfully doesn't guarantee that it won't flare up again in the future. Plaque psoriasis, the most common type of this condition, results in having dry, itchy, and scaly patches on the elbows, knees, back, and scalp, which can make a person feel self-conscious.

A 2016 study discovered that oil extracted from bitter apricot kernels has prohibitive effects against psoriatic skin cells, although this study was done on cultured cells and not tested on humans. Still, dermatologists take it as a positive sign of the ingredient's capacity to heal and protect the skin, with visible effects. Dr. King explained to Byrdie, "It can help to gently remove dead skin cells, making the skin appear brighter and dark spots less noticeable. [Apricot kernel oil] nourishes the skin to decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improves skin tone, and increases skin radiance." While further research is needed to confirm its effectiveness against a skin condition suffered by as much as 3% of the global population (per Verywell Health), it does help make the skin healthier and look suppler.

It may have adverse effects on acne-prone skin

Before heading out to buy a bottle of this lightly fragrant oil, be aware that this extract has a comedogenic rating of 2 and contains a high amount of both oleic and linoleic acid (per Skincare Lab). While it's generally safe to use for all skin types, it's most suitable for people with dry or mature skin. If you're prone to breakouts, it would be better to look for plant-based oils with a lower comedogenic rating.

There's also a possibility that it could trigger an allergic reaction from sensitive skin. eMediHealth suggests testing a few drops on the back of your hand and watching out for any adverse effects within the next 24 hours. You might even need to consult with a specialist first if you know that you're allergic to nuts.

Otherwise, it's worth trying apricot kernel oil. Its inclusion in your routine depends on the product where it's used as an ingredient, though it's light enough to be applied directly on the skin. "It's a safe carrier oil and can be used on its own," Dr. King confirmed to Byrdie. As a moisturizer, use a couple of drops and layer it evenly on your face after cleansing. As a skin cleanser, do the same process but leave it on for 5 minutes then gently wipe off with a warm cloth (per eMediHealth). Just make sure to vet where you get your pure apricot kernel oil so it's of good quality.