Apricot kernel oil contains vitamin E, which can help protect your skin against damage from free radicals. Topical use of apricot oil may have photoprotective effects. However, more research is needed to definitively state the benefits and dangers of topical apricot kernel oil.
Apricot oil is made from apricot seeds. Benefits include plenty of fats and vitamin E, which may help protect your skin from UV-induced free radical damage. However, more research is needed on apricot seed benefits for treating any skin conditions, including acne.
What Is Apricot Oil?
Apricot oil is made from the pressed kernels of apricots, the fruit of the Prunus armeniaca plant. The oil is typically light in color with a gentle fragrance. Apricot oil is often used for cosmetic purposes, and food-grade apricot oil can be used in recipes that might typically call for almond oil.
One tablespoon of apricot kernel oil provides 120 calories and contains 0.5 milligrams of vitamin E and 13 grams of fat, including over 8 grams of monounsaturated fatty acids, almost 4 grams of polyunsaturated fatty acids and almost 1 gram of saturated fatty acids. The oil does not contain any vitamins, minerals or caffeine.
Skin Products With Apricot Oil
You can find apricot oil in face oils, lotions, lip balms, massage oils and perfumes. It's also a popular ingredient in baby products, due to the gentle nature of the oil. You may see apricot oil in DIY face-mask recipes or dry-scalp remedies.
It may seem counterintuitive to put oil directly onto your skin if you're concerned about oily-looking skin. Your sebaceous glands produce an oil-like substance called sebum, which helps keep your skin hydrated.
Certain beauty oils are designed to mimic sebum, quickly sinking into your skin to provide hydration. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that beauty oils don't work for all individuals and skin types. You can always consult a dermatologist about the best options for your skin based on their medical expertise.
According to the Environmental Working Group, there are very few health concerns associated with apricot oil. That means it's extremely unlikely that apricot oil is dangerous when applied topically. If you notice any side effects from using apricot oil topically, stop using it.
Vitamin E in Apricot Oil
The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University describes vitamin E as "essential" for the maintenance of healthy skin. The fat-soluble antioxidant helps protect skin against damage caused by free radicals — chemicals that can damage cells and genetic materials.
Topical application of vitamin E can have photoprotective effects on your skin, absorbing energy from UV light to prevent UV-induced free radical damage. Plus, Vitamin E may also have anti-inflammatory properties.
Consuming Apricot Oil
Apricot oil is safe to consume and is an excellent source of unsaturated fatty acids. Unsaturated fats are linked to health benefits like reducing inflammation, lowering cholesterol levels and better heart health. Other good food sources of unsaturated fats include avocado, olive oil and fatty fish.
Apricot kernel oil has a deep, nutty flavor that may be beneficial when cooking desserts or other sweet dishes. It can be a good substitute for sweet almond oil and peanut oil in recipes that call for those two ingredients.
Other Uses for Apricot
The flesh of apricot fruits can be eaten raw, though the raw kernel is not edible. One cup of apricot halves provides 74 calories and over 2 grams of protein, almost 1 gram of fat and 17 grams of carbohydrates including 3 grams of fiber and over 14 grams of sugar.
This serving also provides 20 milligrams calcium, 16 milligrams magnesium, 36 milligrams phosphorus, 401 milligrams potassium, 15.5 milligrams vitamin C, 2,985 IU vitamin A, 1 milligram vitamin E and 5 micrograms vitamin K.
Dried apricots are a popular snack with a nutrition profile different from that of the fresh fruit. One cup of dried apricot halves provides 313 calories, over 4 grams of protein, less than 1 gram of fat, over 81 grams of carbohydrates, including over 9 grams of fiber, and over 69 grams of sugar.
This serving of dried apricots also provides 72 milligrams of calcium, over 3 milligrams of iron, 42 milligrams magnesium, 92 milligrams phosphorus, 1511 milligrams of potassium, 13 milligrams of sodium, over 1 milligram of vitamin C, over 3 milligrams of niacin, 4,685 IU vitamin A, almost 6 micrograms of vitamin E and 13 micrograms of folate.
Healthy Skin Tips
If you're not sure about using apricot oil on your skin, there are a number of skin care habits that dermatologists recommend. If certain products irritate your skin and leave you red or itchy, stop using them.
When washing your face, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you use your fingertips to massage lukewarm water and a gentle cleanser into your skin. Try to avoid scrubbing, and use a soft towel to pat your face dry. The academy also recommends that you wash your face only twice per day and after sweating — for example, after a workout.
The Cleveland Clinic says that, if you have dry or sensitive skin, you should avoid taking super-hot baths and showers in favor of lukewarm ones. To help lock in moisture, you can also apply a moisturizer directly after bathing and whenever your skin feels dry.
Some conditions that cause dry skin, such as eczema, may require specific treatments such as a prescription cream or ointment. You can talk to a doctor about any dry skin concerns to see what he recommends and to see if there are any products you should avoid putting on your skin.
Perhaps the most crucial component of skin care is using sun protection. There are a huge variety of safe, effective sunscreens available — and you should be wearing SPF every day. If you're out in direct sunlight, consider wearing long sleeves, a hat and sunglasses for further protection against potentially harmful rays. And don't forget to reapply sunscreen according to the instructions on the label.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: "Oil, Apricot Kernel"
- Environmental Working Group: "Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil"
- Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University: "Vitamin E and Skin Health"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Antioxidants: Beyond the Hype"
- USDA National Nutrient Database: "Apricots, Raw"
- USDA National Nutrient Database: "Apricots, Dried, Sulfured, Uncooked"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Types of Fat"
- American Academy of Dermatology: "Face-Washing Tips for Healthier-Looking Skin"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Skin Care: Basics and Tips"