Soon after I turned 18, my downright crazy cousins dragged me along on a trekking trip much against my will. After my board exams, all I had wanted was to lie around like an alligator snoozing and letting my bones rust. Instead, I was practically caught by the scruff of my delicate little neck and made to trundle along the Old Hindustan Tibet Road with a bunch of people who I still bear a grudge against for childhood bullying. Towards the end of the trip, the eldest cousin (who prides himself on his directional skills), got us lost somewhere in the Sangla valley. Considering it was evening already, it was decided to kip under one of the many apricot trees that line the valley landscape. Everyone thought it was a great adventure. I still think it was the dumbest thing that my family has ever done. I probably would have died of fear (I’m a chicken that way) if I had not prayed to the Great Apricot in the Sky and eaten enough fruit to cause a stomach ache in the morning. All I wanted was to last safely through the night without dying of cold or being murdered by evil, traveller-hating spirits who probably want to trek on the route themselves. This episode was enough to keep me off that fruit and its smell.
Old traumas aside, let me get to the point. Back in February, the same cousin who led the aforementioned trip came back from his posting in Ladakh and brought dozens of bottles of something called apricot kernel oil saying it was a great body massage oil. Still rankling under the nearly four-year old grudge, I tossed the bottle aside where it lay around ignored until I ran out of my hand moisturiser one night. Since I did not want my hands to wither away and die during the cold night due to dryness, I picked up the oil and massaged them with it. By morning, I was screaming “OH MY GOD!” like one of those bimbotic minions who flanked “Poo” in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham. Apricot kernel oil is what rappers and wannabe teenaged boys with their jeans falling off the bums would call “teh shite!”. I won’t be surprised if Madonna or Demi Moore or one of these crazy Hollywood celebrities known for stuff like leech detox and placenta facials don’t declare apricot kernel oil as their HG product soon and thus cause an invasion of the whole apricot growing belt from the Middle East to Northern India by greedy Americans.
Trying to get over my old prejudice, I decided to give the oil a chance. I started using it as a facial moisturiser for the night (yes, I gamble with my skin sometimes) and I think my skin has found its true soulmate. I am expecting it to pop the question to the bottle of apricot oil any day now. Once I had recovered from the state of shock and awe (it was “awwwww” in case of my skin), I decided to research a bit more on this oil.
Since it is one of the first commandments of the Cult of IMBB to share any beneficial skin care facts with the rest of the gang, I am enumerating all the benefits that apricot oil imparts.
The silly apricot tree is a member of the pretty little rose family (who’da thunk it?). Its fruit (yuck!) has kernels which resemble almonds. The oil is cold pressed and refined from these kernels and shares properties with almond oil. It is light yellow to deep golden in colour and has a nutty smell.
Where You May Have Encountered It:
Your mother must have massaged your bum with baby moisturisers. All of them contain apricot kernel oil because being hypoallergenic, it is extremely gentle in nature and is hence the best oil for baby skin care (not that they need any – the little monsters have smoother skin than airbrushed porcelain models).
Why Your Skin Needs A Dose Now:
Apricot kernel oil is used in manufacture of creams, balms, lotions and cosmetics. A lot of creams which claim to be “natural”, “organic” and similar jazz use this oil. Just like sweet almond oil, it is also swimming in Vitamin E and of course, you DO know what Vitamin E does to the skin, right?
It also contains fatty acids like oleic and linoleic acids which act as Ninja Turtles against skin-
inflammations and harmful sebum. They are soothing to skin and hair follicles and act as powerful anti-acne agents. A platoon of whiteheads which seems to emerge from nowhere in particular is usually associated with a linoleic acid deficiency in the skin. I am happy to report that this oil has wiped off the white fiends from my chin and it is back to its smooth self. As an aside, these acids are released by cockroaches upon death to prevent their fellow roaches from throwing a “let’s-eat-our-dead-brother” party. (My mother tells me that if I keep spouting mindless trivia like this, someone will poison me someday. Hmph. She is only jealous of my coolness, I am sure.) :smug:
Apricot kernel oil is also loaded with Vitamins A and C. Basically, it contains all the magical elements needed to repair prematurely aged, dry or irritated skin, and keep it glowing and happy. Thanks to this oil, the skin maintains its elasticity levels (thus saving you a lot of money that would have gone on Botox :P) and sensitive skin also responds well to it. We’ve all seen the onslaught of scrubs containing crushed apricot kernels that claim to soften the skin. It’s not a hoax. They generally do make the skin smoother. However, you don’t need to blow up money on St. Ives or similar companies and scrub your skin until it’s raw and red like the soul of Lord Voldemort at King’s Cross Station. Apricot kernel oil does the same job with much less effort.
I am not the legendary Yellow Emperor and do not know much about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). However, TCM claims that apricot kernel oil is anti-asthmatic and can be used to treat tumours. Not sure about that claim but it definitely does calm the inflammations and the irritation caused by eczema and dermatitis.
Due to its moisturising, nourishing and revitalizing properties, apricot kernel oil is widely used for
massage therapy. I tried it for a pre-bath body massage in the winter. It turned out to be as moisturising and relaxing as olive oil minus the pungent smell.
How You May Use It:
You may use it for massaging your hair by mixing it with a variety of other oils like coconut, amla and olive. It is practically a perfect cure for dry, flaky scalps and is easy to wash off. It is also excellent for damaged or chemically treated hair and restores shine. My hair which is now recovering from a perm got its original shiny quality back with the regular massage of a mixture of apricot and amla oils.
It can be used as a moisturiser on extra dry parts like elbows, knees, feet and hands. It can also be used as an after-bath oil although it may not suit people during hot summer months.
It can be used the same way the we use olive oil and almond oil in homemade scrubs. Just mix it with plain/brown sugar and scrub away to reveal pretty new skin.
The best use that I have discovered for this oil is as a super effective night moisturiser. I mix it with a suitable essential oil in 70:30 proportions and massage my cleansed and toned face with it before going to bed every night. It has solved a lot of my problems including clogged pores and an occasionally shiny nose, and it has normalised my dry skin to a very tolerably normal sort of skin type.
Where You May Find It:
It is easily available at major Khadi outlets. There are two brands which they have. One is the usual brand which sells stuff like scrubs and moisturisers in round flip-cap transparent bottles. The other is a new one which they have introduced and I believe it’s called “Khadi Mauri.” Otherwise, you may order it online. Easiest of all, just ask anyone who is going to Ladakh to get you a few dozen bottles.
The Pledge You Must Take Before Using It:
I solemnly swear that I am not a fan of the apricot fruit.
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