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Virgin Avocado Oil: food for my skin

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Virgin Avocado Oil: food for my skin

Avocado (Persea Americana Mill.) oil is well known for its moisturising, anti-wrinkle and healing properties. I was first introduced to this oil about 10 years ago and have continued to use it. The reasons that I love this oil so much is due to its amazing nourishing properties.

It’s rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E, lutein.
It’s rich in skin loving fats e.g. monounsaturated fatty acids, lecithin, phytosterols (this has the same penetrating abilities into the skin as lanolin).
It’s thick but not sticky and it doesn’t irritate my skin.
There is some evidence that avocado oil has the highest skin penetration rate compared with olive oil and almond oil (Swisher, 1988). I also find that avocado oil doesn’t dry out quickly and stays longer on my skin. This makes avocado oil highly moisturizing and soothing, therefore, ideal for dry and mature skin.
A potential natural sunscreen but I think more research is needed into this. In the UK sunscreen products have to be tested and scored a sun protection factor or SPF. This tells you the amount of protection the sunscreen gives against UVB radiation. National guidelines and the Cancer Research UK recommend using at least factor 15 (the higher the better). Avocado oil is reported to have a low SPF value (no more than 10) and so on its own will not provide the recommended minimum protection.  [You can read more about this topic here and here].

Which do I prefer, unrefined (virgin) or refined oil?
I have tried virgin and refined avocado oil and while they both exhibit emollient properties, I actually prefer the virgin oil as it’s more likely to retain a lot of its natural goodness that I have mentioned above. Avocado oil is one of the few oils not derived from seeds and nuts. My virgin avocado oil is extracted from the fleshy pulp of the avocado and cold pressed whereas the refined oil has undergone further processing e.g. bleaching, deodorising, winterization.

The virgin oil is emerald green due to the presence of chlorophyll so can stain clothes if not careful. The other drawback due to the high chlorophyll content is the oil highly prone to degradation when exposed to light. For this reason the oil must be supplied in dark bottles.
I should also mention that the virgin oil has a strong characteristic aroma. I really don’t mind the smell as it’s not unbearable nor does it linger.
In contrast the refined avocado oil is much more stable and more cosmetically accepted. It is a pale colour and doesn’t have the strong aroma of virgin oil but it has been stripped of the healthy nutrients. I guess like most things we can’t have it all!

How do I use my virgin avocado oil?
1. To boost the emollient effects of my skin cream at night. The skin on my lower legs and my heels are more prone to dryness. Mixing my daily skin cream and avocado oil works a treat on these areas. The key to achieving really soft skin is to re-apply the emollient regularly and generously. I apply the emollient a couple of hours before going to bed to ensure that my skin has soaked it up. If you would like to try this but worried about the colour of the virgin oil then try using refined oil instead.

2. As a bath emollient. Whenever I fancy a nice soak in a hot bath, I apply a generous amount of avocado oil to my body before getting into the bath. I find this helps to keep my skin soft as it minimises the drying effect of bath soap.

3. Beach holidays. Sea water can have a drying effect on my skin so I always take a bottle of virgin avocado oil to the beach and I apply it to exposed skin. It leaves my skin feeling silky soft.

Remember: buy quality avocado oil from a trusted source. If it’s bright green then it’s probably not 100% natural! I normally buy my virgin avocado oil from Naissance. If you do decide to buy virgin avocado oil, it is recommended that the oil is stored away from direct sunlight so inside the bathroom cabinet is fine.

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Guest Thursday, 14 December 2017