Dermatologists Love Avocado Oil for Skin—Here's Why

avocado oil

 Stocksy/Cristina Cianci

We're willing to bet avocados already play a major role in your everyday life. Whether you eat the creamy green goodness on toast or cook with its oil, the uses of avocado are far from limited. As it turns out, avocado oil is just as impressive when applied topically as it is when you eat it, and if avocado is the magical fruit, consider avocado oil the magical juice. As if you weren't already obsessed with avocados enough, we're here to give you even more reason to believe it really is a top-notch ingredient for your overall health and your skin. To get all the facts, we consulted board-certified dermatologists Julie Russak, MD, of Russak Dermatology Clinic, and Marie Hayag, MD, founder of 5th Avenue Aesthetics. Keep reading to find out the benefits of the natural ingredient and the many reasons avocado oil deserves a spot in your daily diet and in your daily beauty routine.

Avocado Oil

Type of ingredient: Antioxidant, emollient, and anti-inflammatory.

Main benefits: Helps the skin maintain hydration and minimizes damage from free radicals.

Who should use it: Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, Russak recommends avocado oil for anybody who has eczema, acne, seborrheic dermatitis, or psoriasis.

How often can you use it: Avocado oil is safe to use daily in a dilute form. If it is included in a product’s formulation, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Works well with: Russak recommends combining avocado oil with retinol. “The most absorption of the retinol happens with a fat-soluble content,” Russak explains. “Combining it together with an oil will increase absorption and decrease the irritation from it.” Although avocado oil has moisturizing properties, Hayag says it also would be beneficial for maximal moisture to use it in combination with a humectant like hyaluronic acid in order to draw water into the skin.

Don’t use with: There are no ingredients that contraindicate with avocado oil, but Russak suggests refraining from using the oil with other oils, such as vitamin K. “You’re really just creating too much of the lipids on the surface of the skin, and lipids start competing in terms of how they penetrate into the skin, so it will decrease the efficacy of whatever you’re trying to do,” Russak explains.

What Is Avocado Oil?

Avocado oil is derived from–you guessed it–an avocado. You're probably already obsessed with eating the healthy fat for its many vital nutrients, but we'll give you a refresher on what those are just in case. Russak breaks it down: Avocado has very, very high fiber, low sugar, and it has all the multivitamin cofactors that we need (potassium, sodium, magnesium, vitamins A, C, and K, folic acid, vitamin B6, and niacin). It also has a very strong antioxidant activity and a high concentration of monounsaturated fat. Avocado oil helps the skin in many ways (keep reading to find out what those benefits are), and for that reason, you'll find it in various masks, creams, and moisturizers.

When purchasing avocado oils, Hayag stresses the importance of finding products that are organic, unrefined, and cold-pressed. "This would ensure the consumer that they are purchasing avocado oil in its purest form, which would provide its maximum benefits," Hayag says. And not only should you look at how it’s processed, but also where it’s processed from. As Russak points out, avocados from different regions have a slightly different composition in terms of avocado oil, so it’s helpful to know how your product is being sourced.

Benefits of Avocado Oil for Skin

When applied topically, avocado oil has many cosmetic benefits, such as:

  • Promotes and affects total collagen content: Although more studies are needed to show whether avocado oil increases collagen or not, Russak says researchers do know that it decreases all the pathways that break down your collagen more. As Russak explains, "What they noticed is that there is some increase in soluble collagen content, and there’s inhibition of the enzyme lysyl oxidase, which also breaks down collagen."
  • Minimizes damage: Russak points out that avocados and avocado oil are excellent sources of antioxidants, such as vitamin E, which help to absorb free radicals so we can protect ourselves from environmental damage.
  • Increases metabolic energy process in mitochondria: Even mitochondria function is better when you take avocado oil. "It does that by decreasing the free radicals and by decreasing lipid peroxidation," Russak explains. "We want the energy production up in the skin because we want the cell renewal. Lipid peroxidation is protection of the lipid cell membrane of the cells, so we want that from the skin also."
  • Helps skin maintain hydration: According to Hayag, avocado oil can act as an emollient and has occlusive properties. “What this means is that it both softens the skin and traps humectants and emollients onto skin,” Hayag explains.
  • Minimizes inflammation: You might think that you wouldn’t want to put oil on acne-prone skin, but in this case, Russak recommends putting avocado oil on everything from eczema and psoriasis to seborrheic dermatitis and acne because of its anti-inflammatory properties. "It’s not going to clog your glands and cause more acne because, in reality, acne isn’t just clogged glands," Russak explains. "It’s a little bit more of an inflammatory process, so using anti-inflammatory properties would be great for it."
  • Treats scalp dryness and flakiness: Hayag adds that avocado oil also has been proven to improve a dry and flaking scalp. As Russak explains it, the seed oil has fungicidal and antibacterial activities, which is beneficial for someone who has seborrheic dermatitis where there is an imbalance of the microbiome on the surface of the skin (if you regulate the microbiome on the surface of the skin, you decrease inflammation). However, Hayag stresses that avocado oil is not a replacement for medications that address conditions like psoriasis or seborrhea. With that being noted, the combination of medication, as well as the moisturizing benefits of avocado oil, can help relieve symptoms of those conditions. 

Side Effects of Avocado Oil

Because there’s always a possibility of an allergic reaction when trying new products, it’s important to patch test avocado oil when first using it. However, Russak says the monounsaturated oil is generally well-tolerated, even for those with eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, and acne. Russak says not only is the avocado oil typically added to the products in a very dilute form, but they’re also designed for very dry, sensitive, or problematic skin, so there’s little concern about the possibility of overdoing it.

How to Use It

Avocado oil can be used in its pure form and also included in the formulation of skincare products. You’ll most commonly find avocado oil used in masks, in which case, it's best to follow the manufacturer's instructions. If you’re interested in DIY beauty treatments, Russak says you can also make your own hydrating and nourishing mask with the flesh of the avocado combined with organic honey, which also has strong anti-inflammatory properties. If you choose to use straight-up avocado oil, Russak recommends diluting it first or using it in the bath.

Other Forms

Avocado oil has many different uses, ranging from lowering cholesterol to improving dry skin. Typically, avocado oil is ingested or applied topically, but the method of use would depend on the benefits the consumer is hoping to gain. For overall health benefits, the antioxidant and heart-healthy monounsaturated fat is best absorbed in the body by ingestion. “People would gain the nutritional benefit more so from consuming avocado whole or adding unrefined, cold-pressed, and organic avocado oils to their meals,” Hayag says. But for skin benefits? Russak says both oral and topical forms of avocado oil would be effective. "It’s always multifactorial—you need to support your skin from the inside out and the outside in," Russak explains.

The Best Products With Avocado Oil

Sweet Essentials Virgin Avocado Oil
Sweet Essentials Organic Unrefined Avocado Oil $7
Shop

This product is the purest of its kind in the market, and for that reason, it comes highly recommended by Hayag. It’s organic, unrefined, and cold-pressed to give you the maximum benefits of the avocado oil. Hayag recommends using this product both topically and orally to moisturize the skin and also to add nutritional benefits to your food.

ArtNaturals USDA Organic Avocado Oil
ArtNaturals USDA Organic Avocado Oil $15
Shop

This cold-pressed, organic avocado oil quickly absorbs and doesn’t leave a greasy residue behind. You’ll love it so much that you’ll want to apply it from head to toe—Hayag recommends using it on your hair as a moisturizing mask as well as for skin moisturizing benefits. 

vitner's daughter active botanical serum
Vitner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum $185
Shop

This serum, one of Russak's top picks, might be known for its 22 botanical ingredients, but the avocado oil in the formula deserves some of the attention too. "That’s what gives it a lot of hydration and helps the rest of the botanicals to penetrate—the synergistic effects of fat-soluble ingredients," Russak explains.

glow recipe avocado melt retinol eye sleeping mask
Glow Recipe Avocado Melt Retinol Eye Sleeping Mask $42
Shop

One ingredient Russak recommends using in conjunction with avocado oil is retinol, and this eye mask by Glow Recipe, a favorite of Byrdie's editorial director, has both. The encapsulated retinol (which is a gentler form) paired with the nourishing avocado oil makes this formula ideal for treating the sensitive eye area.

kiehl's Avocado Nourishing Hydration Mask
Kiehl's Avocado Nourishing Hydration Mask $45
Shop

Another top recommendation by Russak, this mask uses both avocado oil and avocado fruit extract to moisturize the skin and lock in the added hydration. If you don't have an avocado nearby, this thick, creamy mask feels like the next closest thing.

origins Drink Up™ Intensive Overnight Hydrating Mask with Avocado & Swiss Glacier Water
Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Hydrating Mask with Avocado & Swiss Glacier Water $26
Shop

If your face could use all the moisture it can get, this overnight mask will do the trick. One of Byrdie's favorites, this formula combines avocado oil with mineral-rich Swiss glacier water, as well as niacinamide to replenish the skin while you sleep.

peter thomas roth Mega-Rich Intensive Anti-Aging Cellular Eye Creme
Peter Thomas Roth Mega-Rich Intensive Anti-Aging Cellular Eye Creme $65
Shop

This eye cream is jam-packed with all the best ingredients for targeting fine lines, wrinkles, improving firmness, soothing, and protecting the skin. It's got peptides like argireline, moisturizers like allantoin and shea butter, and antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E, and avocado oil.

Up next: I ate two avocados a day to see if it would improve my hair.

Related Stories