The humble almond has powerful antioxidant and moisturising properties.
In the Victorian era, ladies pinned a sprig of almond blossom to their blouse to represent hope. In China, the almond is a symbol of both beauty and sadness. In cosmetics, almonds mean beautiful skin.
Almond oil is one of the most commonly used natural oils in the cosmetics world because it is sustainable (the oil comes from the nuts, so the tree is not damaged to obtain it) and every nut contains a combination of two essential fatty acids, which help to create healthy, supple skin. Almonds are also packed with antioxidants, including vitamin E and a variety of protective plant chemicals.
Almond oil is ideal for use in cosmetics because it is very light. You can wipe it over eyes to remove make-up without leaving an oil slick behind or massage it into skin as a moisturiser without it leaving a greasy residue.
You can buy sweet almond oil from pharmacies or health-food stores. Cosmetic companies have also found hundreds of uses for this versatile nut, from skin-cleansing pastes to mascara.
What is in an almond?
- Antioxidants: When plants are left out in the elements, they have to protect themselves, so they produce phenols, protective chemicals that serve as antioxidants to repair sun damage or produce a bitter taste to dissuade bugs from eating them. These plant phenols also help protect people against diseases including heart disease and certain cancers. They also offer protection when applied to skin.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: In the diet, omega-3 acids help regulate blood sugars, reduce blood pressure, help reduce body fat, maintain muscle mass, support the immune system and increase energy levels and skin radiance. Your body can’t make these essential fatty acids and, after walnuts, almonds are the best nut source, so keep them on your desk or kitchen bench.
- Protein: This is the building block of skin and almonds are a particularly rich source.
- Vitamin E: A strong antioxidant which also helps the oil last for longer without preservatives.
- Magnesium: In addition to helping cells produce energy and protein, magnesium is believed to counter the effects of stress hormones, which can make you age faster and exacerbate acne.
- Calcium: This mineral helps your cells to absorb nutrients.
Almond oil and almond milk are lovely moisturisers for any part of your body. Apply sweet almond oil straight out of the bottle after a shower or indulge yourself with a prepared cream or oil.
You can use sweet almond oil on your face for taking off your make-up or as a moisturiser. Try making your own almond face scrub. Soak a handful of raw almonds in water for a few hours, then grind them with a mortar and pestle, add some milk or yoghurt to form a paste and use it as a face scrub. Do a patch test first.
Professional manicurists swear by almond oil for moisturising hands, nails and cuticles. Use sweet almond oil straight from the bottle or try a hand-and-nail cream that contains almond oil. Almond milk is also a rich source of antioxidants and protective plant chemicals and is found in several hand creams.