The almond is a useful tree native to an area in in southwest Asia, from the Middle East to Pakistan's Indus River Valley. It has two scientific names, the main one is Prunus dulcis but Amygdalus communis is also used. The main use for the tree is the production of almonds, its edible seeds.
Ancient farmers domesticated almonds by breeding only the sweet varieties. The method used to differentiate them from the bitter ones is not known but it is certain that almonds have a long history of domestication. Bitter almonds are toxic and extremely dangerous, due to their content of cyanide. However, bitter almond oil has some limited uses. Every almond grown and sold on the US market is part of the sweet variety, which is safe to consume.
Even if they are poisonous, bitter almonds can be used to produce oil that is sometimes used under strict medical supervision. The cyanide content in bitter almonds is removed and the remaining oil has useful properties as an antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, antispasmodic and anti-itching agent.
There are a number of different cultivated varieties of almonds. Most of the US production is centered in the state of California. However, a Spanish type of almonds named Marcona has lately become extremely popular on the US market, threatening local production. The Marcona almonds have a number of advantages over regular ones; they are sweeter and bigger, with a moist texture. Besides these differences, all sweet almonds have the same nutritional content. Depending on the variety, the taste is vaguely different in the oil as well.
Unsurprisingly, almonds are the raw material used in the production of almond oil. There are two main types of almond oil, even if the number of almond varieties is a lot bigger.
Bitter almonds have a very bitter taste and generally considered inedible. Most varieties are poisonous and only a few are safe to consume. Bitter almond oil can be pressed from their kernel. These almonds and their oil must be used with extreme caution, since they contain the very toxic hydrogen cyanide. Even a small amount causes people to faint and a few almonds are enough for a deadly dose.
By contrast, sweet almonds are edible and can be consumed safely. They are used to produce sweet almond oil, which inherits their pleasant taste. It is actually considered among the natural oils with the best flavour.
Almond oil maintains moisture in the skin, being a great emollient agent. Applying it on your skin after a shower will retain the water and prevent dehydration. Almond oil works great against dry skin in general and is a good choice as massage oil. Applying it on the skin for a few weeks will eliminate flaking and heal any cracks caused by dehydration.
The same effect happens if you apply the almond oil on your lips. It is a lot more effective than a chap stick against very dry lips. Other natural oils provide the same benefits. However, almond oil has a very pleasant and sweet taste, unlike most other healthy oils, such as the olive one.
Applying almond oil regularly on your skin will significantly improve its aspect in time. It makes it extremely smooth, with a balanced texture and better elasticity. Its glow is improved as well, providing a younger look.
Among the natural oils used for massage, almond oil is widely considered the most popular choice. Every massage professional has it in his inventory. It has many advantages, with a light texture and reduced viscosity that allows it to spread quickly. A limited amount can cover a large surface of skin. Almond oil penetrates the skin slowly, so applying it again is not needed.
Almond oil can also be applied directly on the face. A gentle massage will get rid of some loose skin and reduce wrinkles but it is the most effective against the dark circles around the eyes. A few drops and a slow massage on the under eye skin is enough to eliminate them; you can even leave the oil to work while you sleep. During the night, it will cleanse the skin of many toxins and impurities. The almond oil stimulates your eyes to clean themselves and improves blood circulation in the area. It is an excellent natural eye rejuvenator that will reduce the stress on them with constant application.
The skin benefits of almond oil are equally potent when it is applied on the hair. Many people have dry scalps that cause a lot of dandruff, an unpleasant condition. Due to its moisturizing qualities, almond oil will quickly eliminate the flakes. A small amount of oil can be applied and massaged directly on the scalp, in order to penetrate to the hair roots. Let it work for about 30 minutes, and then you can rinse it off. Three applications are usually enough to cure dandruff.
Scalps can get very patchy and rough if they are too dry; this is where almond oil really shines. For some people, hair oils are a must in order to avoid extreme dehydration. Only a tiny amount of almond oil applied on hair shafts is enough to make them glossy, with a healthy shine. For best results, apply the oil after a shower, when the hair is wet. Don"t use large amounts, or the hair can become greasy.
The almond oil also acts as a natural conditioner and can solve the issue of tangled hair. Hair that is tangled can even lead to baldness and it becomes extremely difficult to comb. At the same time, even a very small amount of almond oil can repair hair shafts and prevent split ends.
Another reason why almond oil is an effective cosmetic agent is the high amount of vitamin E, which boosts the healing rate of stretch marks and scars. It is very useful to eliminate the signs of surgery.
Stretch marks are actually caused when the dermis tears and loses its normal structure. The two layers of the dermis and epidermis start moving at different speeds, so collagen can no longer fill the gaps while the skin stretches. They heal on their own in time, but almond oil can significantly speed up the process and allow the skin to fill these spaces. You just have to massage the area of the stretch marks with a small amount of almond oil. For the best results, apply the oil immediately after a shower and use a brush to remove excess skin from the area. The unpleasant marks will be gone in record time.
Compared to other natural oils, the almond one has a remarkably light texture. As a result, it can penetrate deeper into the skin and cleanse it of toxins or impurities. It is absorbed faster than other oils. It can be extremely effective against acne because the vitamin A in its composition reduces acne outbreaks and the oil cleans the debris that causes this condition.
Eye bags and dark areas around the eyes are difficult to remove by conventional cosmetics but almond oil works great against them. Let it penetrate during the night and the bags will be gone in two weeks.
Almond oil can keep the skin constantly moisturized and prevent dehydration, which is essential against conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. In addition, it is also a natural hypoallergenic agent. Skin rashes are usually treated with creams based on zinc that are prescribed by doctors. However, almond oil can be a better choice than these products, since it has high zinc content and no side effects.
Premature skin aging can be caused by a number of external factors, such as dehydration or exposure to smoke and sunlight. Almond oil can reverse these issues and allow the skin to age at a normal speed.
Due to its light texture, almond oil can easily penetrate even the hardest skin in areas such as cracked feet, nourishing the deeper tissues. It works slowly, so you should allow it to stay on the skin during the entire night. As an additional benefit, any fungal infections will be eliminated as well. Use lukewarm water to wash off any remaining oil the next morning.