What Is Avocado Oil?
Avocado oil is the oil derived from avocado. It has recently increased in popularity for use in skincare and cosmetic products. This increase in popularity is due to its high fat content and the presence of vitamins and minerals such as vitamins C, B6, A and K, folic acid, niacin, magnesium, sodium and potassium. Avocado oil is also thought to have potent antioxidant properties that may help to protect the skin from free radical damage.
It’s important to remember when purchasing an avocado oil to look for an unrefined and cold pressed product. This is because when the avocado oil is refined or extracted with heat it can damage the vitamins and minerals present in the oil, which undermines the benefits of the avocado oil. On this point avocado oils can differ in vitamin and mineral content based on the region and soil in which the avocados are grown. Keep this in mind when selecting a brand or product.
the good:Avocado oil is an antioxidant, natural emollient and may have anti-inflammatory benefits to the skin. Avocado oil may help to maintain the skin’s natural moisture levels, support the skin’s natural barrier and protect the skin from free radicals.
the not so good:Avocado oil, like any plant-based ingredient, actually contains a complex mix of compounds, it isn’t just one ingredient. While this can be a good thing, it can make it difficult to identify what is causing irritation or breakout if you experience either of these things with using avocado oil.
Who is it for?All skin types except those that have an identified allergy to it.
Synergetic ingredients:Works well with most ingredients but is thought to work with retinol as it may help to decrease the irritation that is associated with retinol use.
Keep an eye on:Keep an eye out for more research on this ingredient.
What Are The Benefits of Avocado Oil?
Avocado oil can help improve the appearance of dehydrated skin, helping to maintain a healthy skin barrier as well as providing the skin with antioxidant protection against free radicals.
Avocado oil has both emollient and occulisve properties which means that it acts as a protective barrier on the surface of the skin. This barrier helps to protect the skin from transepidermal water loss or TEWL. TEWL occurs when the skin’s natural barrier isn’t able to retain its normal water levels, this often occurs as we age or when the skin barrier is disrupted by harsh products or skin conditions such as dermatitis or eczema. The water from the skin is lost to the environment, causing dehydration and dullness.
Avocado oil is thought to have natural antioxidant abilities due to the vitamins that are present in the oil. Antioxidants help to prevent free radical damage. Free radicals are produced by a natural process in the body called oxidative stress, however, environmental factors such as UV rays, smoking, diet, and pollution can increase the number of free radicals in the body. This increase can be detrimental as free radicals have been linked with damage to the body’s cells and studies suggest that they may be linked to aging. The ability of avocado oil to work as an antioxidant may provide the skin with a little extra protection.
Some recent studies have suggested that avocado oil may reduce the breakdown of collagen in the skin. Initial studies have indicated that avocado oil may inhibit the enzyme, lysyl oxidase, which breaks down collagen. The studies also suggest that avocado oil may increase the levels of soluble collagen as well. It is important to remember that a small number of studies does not indicate a causational relationship. As always keep in mind that studies may be looking at much higher concentrations of the ingredient when analysing in and often in studies using animals. Not all animal studies are transferable to humans.
Avocado may have some mild anti-inflammatory benefits to the skin as well. This may be beneficial for acne prone skin types. While acne prone skin types are often warned about using products that are occlusive or protective, for inflamed acne, avocado oil may be a good thing to use short term as it is able to help maintain moisture levels and may help to soothe irritation and redness.
Is Avocado Oil Safe?
With all plant-based ingredients there is a risk of reaction as they are complex ingredients made up of many components. Avocado oil is also not well researched, as its popularity and benefits are only just beginning to be investigated. So if you have sensitive skin or skin that has a history of being reactive be mindful of potential sensitivity or reaction if you are wanting to give avocado oil a go.
The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel, a group responsible for evaluating the safety of skincare and cosmetic ingredients has reviewed a number of edible oils, including avocado oil. The available data suggests that there is a small risk of reaction to avocado oil but that mostly it was considered to be safe and non-sensitizing.
References:Lin, T, Zhong, L, & Santiago, J, 2017. ‘Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils’, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, vol. 19, is. 1, pp. 70.
Flores, M, Saravia, C, Vergara, C, Avila, F, Valdés, H, & Ortiz-Viedma, J, 2019. ‘Avocado Oil: Characteristics, Properties, and Applications’, Molecules, vol. 24, is. 11, pp. 2172.