Apricot kernel oil is not likely something you have ever heard about. However, those who have heard about this oil know that it is great for hair and skin.
Since apricot kernels are almost 50% oil, it is no wonder that they are used to make apricot oil.
What Is Apricot Kernel Oil
You are doubtless familiar with what apricots are.
Apricot trees originated in China but spread to the eastern world through Armenia. It is for this reason the scientific name of this tree is Prunus Armeniaca. This is the most common apricot tree and is sometimes called a ‘sweet apricot.’
However, there are other types of apricots that have ‘bitter’ pits. While both are safe to use on your hair or skin, oil made from the bitter pits contains trace amounts of cyanide. Bitter pits have only recently started being used for oil, mostly for things like ulcers.
Apricot kernel oil is often simply referred to as apricot oil and is used in everything from the kitchen to aromatherapy. This oil is pressed from the pits, or stones, in the center of apricots.
In fact, the dried apricots that many people love to eat is, in a way, the byproduct of making this.
First, the whole apricot has to be dried so that the pit can be removed. Then, the pits are dried by themselves to rid them of any moisture.
Afterward, the pits are cold-pressed. This means the pits are put under extreme pressure to essentially crush the oil out of them.
The resulting oil is then often refined to remove any impurities that might make it go rancid. However, some brands don’t refine their apricot oil.
The result is an oil that doesn’t keep as long but which has more of the valuable nutrients in it.
Making this oil helps there to be no waste since it uses the pits that would have otherwise be discarded. It is for this reason that apricot oil has been around for a while, though it is still not commonly heard about.
What Are The Benefits Of Apricot Kernel Oil
Apricot kernel oil has a lot going for it, with some of its benefits being rare, even among beneficial oils.
For example, oleic acid is a rare unsaturated fatty acid that cannot be produced by your own body. It belongs to the omega-9 fatty acids family and works to reduce signs of aging.
Linoleic acid is another omega-6 fatty acid. This one focuses on stimulating your cells, reducing acne when used on your skin. Stearic acid is something called a saturated carboxylic, which is still something in the fatty acid family. This one is a cleanser that is also great for your skin.
Palmitic acid is an unsaturated omega-7 fatty acid that gives you a protective seal for your cells.
In fact, apricot kernel oil has a remarkably high proportion of unsaturated fats. This is measured by what is called an iodine value, of which this oil has a rating of 96-109.
Apricot oil also has a list of beneficial vitamins in it. The main three vitamins that this oil has are Vitamin E, Vitamin A, and Vitamin B.
Though it has a few of the different B vitamins, apricot oil primarily has B3 and B17. These two are also known as niacin and amygdalin.
This oil also has Vitamin K in it. This vitamin works to thicken your blood cells so that your circulation is better.
The small amount of Vitamin C helps your body make collagen, which is needed for both your hair and your skin.
Apricot kernel oil also contains antioxidant properties that can penetrate into your skin. While it does this, the oil removes harmful bacteria and free radicals that damage your body.
Finally, the amino acids also help some with inflammation, which can damage your cells.
The Benefits For Your Hair
The oleic acid, as an omega fatty acid, is great at moisturizing your hair. In helping to postpone sings of aging, it will slow down your graying process.
Finally, when oleic acid is used in hair products, it can also help give your hair some volume.
The linoleic acid and the stearic acid are just as beneficial to your hair. The former can stimulate hair growth.
Meanwhile, the latter will cleanse your scalp, something that will help clear away the buildup for the new growth.
Unsaturated fats are great for not only your skin but your hair as well. These tend to do a good job of moisturizing your hair without leaving it feeling greasy.
The result when apricot oil is working is hair that is shiny and smooth as well as being healthy.
As for the vitamins that are in it, these three vitamins are perhaps some of the most important ones for your hair. The Vitamin E and the B vitamins, in particular, are commonly recommended for helping people with hair loss and are put in many products.
Though Vitamin K is less common, it is still great for hair, helping to expand the circulation for your scalp. It also tightens your hair follicles, making sure that they have a good grip on your hair. This prevents your hair from falling out until it is actually time for it to do so.
Altogether, apricot kernel oil helps with itching and flaking at the roots and reduces split ends at the tips of your hair.
In the middle, it will help remove any buildup on your hair from things like hair spray and general pollutants. This makes apricot oil an all-around good thing for every part of your hair.
How To Use Apricot Kernel Oil For Your Hair
There are a few different ways that apricot kernel oil can be used to help with your hair. The first way is simply to dip your fingers into the oil and then rub it into your scalp.
You can leave it in, if it is not too much, or rinse it out after a while.
However, it is far better to add a little heat to help the oil soak into your scalp better. There are two ways to add this heat to it on your scalp.
The first is to heat the apricot oil first before you apply it to your hair.
A microwave should never be used to heat a beneficial oil since it will kill some of the beneficial parts of it. Instead, put some of the oil in a small bowl or container.
Then, set that in a larger container with hot water in it to heat up the oil.
You want the apricot oil to be warm but not too hot. Once the kernel oil reaches that stage, rub it into your hair.
You can put a cap or something on over the apricot oil so that some of the warmth stays in for as long as possible.
The other way to use some heat with the oil is by applying the heat after the apricot kernel oil.
First, prepare a hot towel in whatever way works best for you. Either set it in the oven or microwave but dampening it is good for keeping it hot.
Apply the apricot oil however you please, then cover your head with a cap of some kind. Put the hot towel on top of the cap. Your head should feel warm, but not uncomfortably so. Use the apricot oil like this 2 to 3 times per week.
The Pros And Cons
First, positively, apricot kernel oil is natural and good for you. It is much healthier than putting chemicals on your hair to help it grow.
Apricot kernel oil is good for so much besides your hair. Since it uses something that would otherwise go to waste, it is good for the environment.
The first of the negative things about apricot oil is that you have to be careful about which type you get. Even though the oil from the bitter pits is frequently used, it still has some cyanide in it.
If you are using this to help with your hair loss, you definitely don’t want any of this to go on your hair.
Oil made from the bitter apricot kernels can cause things like headaches, nausea, and general dizziness if it gets into your system. Though it doesn’t happen often, you may need a carrier oil since some people’s skin finds this oil to be a little too harsh.
Also on the plus side, apricot oil can be used for other things besides your hair. Any excess apricot oil can be smeared onto your skin.
Since it helps reduce blackheads and relieves dry skin, you may want to do this regardless.
Other uses include relieving sunburn and itching thanks to its cooling effects, as well as making a great make-up remover.
In addition, getting apricot oil into your system can help prevent cancer thanks to the Vitamin B17 and other features.
Finally, with apricot kernel oil being used for aromatherapy, it is obvious that inhaling it is good for you.
Since you will obviously be smelling it some as you are putting it on your hair, you will be getting some of the beneficial effects, like supporting your immune system, that is the result of using it for aromatherapy.
How To Make Apricot Kernel Oil
It is very costly and time-consuming to make your own apricot kernel oil. However, it is possible to make the oil yourself at home if you have the proper tools.
First and foremost, make sure that the apricots you use are of the sweet variety and are not bitter.
You will need to have about 500 grams of sweet apricot kernels to make a small amount of oil.
If in doubt, the oil from sweet apricot pits will have a taste similar to that of almonds. Soak the kernels in water for about 20 minutes to soften them as much as possible.
Then, either crush the kernels with a mortar and pestle or use a blender. Try to get it as close to a powder-like state as possible.
It might be helpful to pre-chop the apricot kernels first. Then, add about 20 ml of water to the crushed kernels to make a paste.
Next, you will need a spot on your stove to heat up a tablespoon of coconut or olive oil. Put the kernel paste in the pan and gently cook it to evaporate some of the water to make it more oily.
Next, you will need to apply a lot of pressure to the paste.
By a lot of pressure, you will need to have a cheese press or something similar. The more pressure that the press can apply, the better.
Cover everything you can with some plastic wrap so that you can collect every stray drop of oil possible.
The tiny drops of oil that will come out of the apricot kernels will seem to move slowly. You may get the impression of sap coming out of a tree.
The amount you will get will vary and should be stored in a cool, dark place.
One thing that you want to look for when choosing an apricot oil is quality. You don’t want an apricot oil that is made from apricots that had pesticides used on them.
Your hair will likely get the most out of apricot kernel oil by putting it directly on your scalp.
However, you can eat the oil and use it in aromatherapy. You can even use apricot oil as a bath additive if you want to. Adding a small amount of apricot oil to shampoo or conditioner is another option you have.
Apricot oil is a nice, light oil that won’t buildup on your hair while smelling great.
Non-refined apricot oils are the best to use in salad dressings and things that won’t cook the goodness out of it.
Feel free to use apricot oil as a substitute for almond oil in recipes.
However, refined variants can be used for cooking, added to frying oil, or any number of other things. You should know, though, that these two have different flavors, with the non-refined oils having a stronger taste.