Wednesday, July 3, 2013Ingredient of the month

Prunus armeniaca: apricot from head to toe

© Thinstock

What do you do when eating an apricot? You eat the flesh and throw the kernel away. The cosmetic industry works exactly the other way! It almost does not use the fruit as such, and apricot kernels are the source of active ingredients widely used in our beauty products.

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Prunus Armeniaca, a local fruit

Apricot is the fruit from the apricot tree, Prunus armeniaca being its botanical name, a tree from the Rosaceae family, which is grown in France, along the Mediterranean coast. There are several varieties of apricots, depending upon the production area: Bergeron, Lambertin, Rouge du Roussillon, Orangé de Provence, Royal … All mature in July and August, making the apricot a summer fruit, linked with the notions of summer holidays, sun and Southern France. However, in the cosmetics world, there is no specific season for the apricot. All the year-long it works, for our skin's benefits and well-being.

The kernel, the kernel only, but the entire kernel

The fruit’s flesh is rarely used, in face-care creams. The apricot tree leaves are even less present in our beauty products. All in all, clearly the kernel only is interesting for cosmetics, for more than one reason.
In fact, when speaking of the apricot kernel in cosmetics, it deals with two very different parts, which provide two ingredients that are also much different. It occurs that the shell of the kernel, once grounded to powder, becomes an exfoliating active ingredient, while the nut, once dried and pressed, delivers a precious oil, fragrance-free and with a beautiful yellow-orange colour.

The exfoliant powder

The first ingredient, mainly used in organic and natural cosmetics. Grounded to powder and micronized, the shell of the kernel produces what is called an abrasive agent, after the official categories list of cosmetic ingredients; more usually, we talk of exfoliating ingredients. This is the basis for an efficient exfoliation, on face or body.
Right, some cosmetologists come with some reservations about these exfoliants from kernels, be they apricot or other nuts: they fear that some sharp edges stay after micronization, which could aggress skins. They prefer the perfect spheres of the micro-balls, such as those manufactured from jojoba esters. Very sensitive skins may indeed prefer the latter.

The oil for mature skins

Letting aside the shell, let us go deep inside: we find the seed and its oil, this second ingredient, the properties of which the cosmetic industry has learnt to exploit.
All the oils have nourishing and emollient (which smoothens the skin and makes it supple) properties, thanks to their richness in essential fatty acids. The apricot seed oil is no exception to the rule, while, further to this property common to all the vegetable fatty ingredients, it comes with a high content in vitamins: this helps it in an anti-free radical and regenerating active ingredient role. Thus, it is the ingredient of choice for hydrating and anti-ageing care, as it is all the more renowned for making our skins satin-soft and for reviving skin radiance. This is why it is often found in face-care creams, and even more in oil-blends-based serums or in silky-textured make-up removers designed for mature skins.

The oil for young … even very young skins

Thanks to its mild, slightly oily texture, apricot seed oil easily penetrates without letting an oily film on the skin. This makes it particularly suitable to combination to oily skins, the hydration of which it makes possible without any excess of fats.
Another major advantage, this very gentle oil is also very well tolerated by our epidermis; furthermore, though it comes from nuts, it seems to have no noticeable allergenic potential. Thus, it is found in entire programmes of products for babies!
From the grand-mother down to the grand-son, everyone finds advantages in using this nice oil, which, incidentally, provides noteworthy benefits on dry hair, and is perfect for massages!

In French, the verb “abricoter” (which could be translated by “to apricote”, a neologism in English), means “to brush a dessert with a thin layer of jam or jelly”. It could be used in cosmetic also, as, to test all their properties, we are ready to apricote our bodies with the apricot active agents!

Some of the apricot active ingredients

Apricot kernel amino acids : for skin-care
Hydrogenated apricot kernel oil
Prunus armeniaca fruit extract : Apricot fruit extracts astringent
Prunus armeniaca fruit water : Apricot water
Prunus armeniaca juice: Apricot flesh juice (hydratant)
Prunus armeniaca kernel extract : Apricot kernel extracts (skin-care)
Prunus armeniaca kernel oil : Apricot kernel oil (emollient, masking agent)
Prunus armeniaca kernel oil unsaponifiables : Apricot kernel oil unsaponifiables (skin- and hair- care)
Prunus armeniaca leaf extract : Apricot tree leaf extract
Prunus armeniaca seed powder : Apricot kernel powder (abrasive agent, exfoliant)

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