When I started looking at brands of avocado oil, I thought that it would be a breeze. What could be difficult about finding the best avocado oil?
Then, I read the labels and got thoroughly confused! If you’ve had a similar experience, I hope this article will give some clarity.
Things to Look for When Buying Avocado Oil
What to look for depends on whether we want avocado oil as a food and nutrition choice or as a cosmetic choice for skin and hair.
Avocados are rich in minerals, vitamins, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. So, the best edible oil needs to retain as many of these health benefits as possible. For high-temperature cooking, the best oil will have the highest smoke point.
Avocado oil easily penetrates the skin and the hair shaft. Therefore, you will be looking for pure oil, with no chemicals. Vitamin E content is important.
So far, this seems quite straightforward. However, I soon realized I should know the difference between raw, natural and organic avocado oil. And what about organic, pure organic, raw organic, natural organic, certified organic? Does food grade vs. therapeutic grade mean anything? Which is better - refined or unrefined? What are extra virgin, virgin, pure and blends? Can you use the same oil for your hair and skin and also use it to fry your potato chips or in your mayo recipe?
Here’s what I found out.
What Determines the Quality of Avocado Oil?
The three most important factors are source, extraction method and refining method.
Other factors such as "food-grade" or "therapeutic grade" are often just an attempt to make a product sound better than it is.
Source of Avocado Oil
Organic vs. certified organic
Organic means that the farmer has not used synthetic fertilizers, insecticides or herbicides. Unfortunately, the word organic is unregulated, so people use it loosely. You need a "certified organic" label to be sure of the standards. Anything genetically modified (GMO) is not organic.
Organic vs. natural
Natural food is any food from plants or animals that have not been altered by chemicals or processing. It may or may not be organic. However, because there are no standards, manufacturers tend to use the term indiscriminately.
At last, we can now look for the best brands to buy.
The Best Avocado Oil for Cooking, Skin or Hair
I've selected two products that are for food use, one that is for cosmetic use and two that are multi-use.
Purpose: Food use
This is the ultimate oil for foodies. It’s advertised as "from drizzle to sizzle," so can be used for all your food needs (the smoke point is 482°F so it should work for your potato chips!)
This brand doesn’t just make claims – it has the seals to prove them. It is certified organic and certified non-GMO, which makes me very happy. I like to know that I’m getting what I’m paying for.
It’s the top grade of cold-pressed avocado oils – extra virgin – and it’s unrefined. So, this oil has all the health benefits of the avocado fruit plus its green color and rich buttery taste and aroma. The avocados come from Kenya, and the oil is bottled in California.
The label is informative. Although the shelf life is 12 months, it recommends that you finish it within three months of opening, and, of course, that you store it away from direct light (but not in the refrigerator).
I think that after trying this Avohass avocado oil, I might struggle to go back to cheaper or more refined oils.
- The full house of quality – certified organic, extra virgin, cold pressed, unrefined
- Certification for organic and non-GMO
- A reasonable price for such high quality
- Dark glass
- Useful information on the labels
Purpose: Food use
It was a pleasure to see a product that stated its purpose so clearly. It isn't trying to be everything for everyone. Very clearly, it is for food use, and specifically for high-temperature cooking.
This oil has been made from Hass avocados (they say there are 15 avocados in every bottle of oil!) It has been cold pressed and then refined. But this company has its own, unique, low heat refining process. It retains 80% of the beta-sitosterol and 60% of the Vitamin E that you would usually find only in unrefined virgin oil. Beta-sitosterol is good for heart health and is very effective for prostate cancer.
At the same time, it has the benefits of refined oil. It is safe for high-temperature cooking, and the smell and taste are milder than unrefined avocado oil. The smoke point is 500°F – so it will be excellent for fries – but can also be used for dressings, sauces, marinades, baking, barbeques, and so on.
Their website showed certifications as non-GMO, and for Kosher, Paleo and Vegan diets.
- Their unique natural refining process
- Lack of clutter on their label – clear information
- Packed in glass
- Zero chemicals or solvents (including hexane)
- The benefits of both virgin and refined oil
- Versatility of the oil for all types of cooking
- Great price
- Not certified organic
The description of the product above pretty much says it all. This is a certified organic, cold-pressed and unrefined oil for skin and hair. There is a warning not to ingest it.
It just misses the full house of our criteria for best oil, because it is not extra virgin.
What struck me was the picture of the dropper. You use only a few drops at a time, so perhaps what seems to be quite a high price may be worth it. It isn’t greasy or sticky and apparently is odorless. I’m usually hesitant to use oils on my face, but this one may be worth trying.
I was interested to see that it could be used to relieve itching, redness, and inflammation from acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Another idea that was new to me was to use it to soften and moisturize beard hair for men.
The manufacturers are so confident that they guarantee a full refund if you use the whole bottle and don’t see an improvement in your hair or skin.
- High quality – 3 of our four criteria for best oil
- Clear about its purpose
- Good “how to” information on the label
- A little goes a long way
- Money back satisfaction guarantee
- Certification as non-GMO
- Dark glass bottles with a special safety seal
- A bit pricey
Purpose: Multi-use – food use and cosmetic
This is such an interesting brand. La Tourangelle is a family owned company, with the goal of being the "best artisan oil producer, dedicated to making carefully crafted, sustainable, natural products." They use old style French processes to extract the avocado oil, then lightly filter and "polish" it. The company says that it takes between 15 and 20 avocados to make one 8 oz tin of oil – yes, tin. They believe that food-grade tin is better than glass as it completely cuts out the light. As a result, shelf life is two years if unopened and six months once opened.
I loved their description of the versatility of this oil: "Cook, bake, dress, dip or moisturize your skin & hair, La Tourangelle Avocado oil can do it all!"
Unrefined and refined oils are blended so that the taste and aroma are mild. The oil is bright green. It’s light and pure, so beneficial for skin and hair care, and for homemade cosmetic recipes.
I think the spray container is such a good idea. It's easy to spray onto pans or griddles before cooking, or over a salad, if you want just a light dressing. The best use, in my view, is for leave-on hair treatment. For those with very curly or African hair, a quick spray, run your fingers through to spread it evenly and have shiny, controlled hair for the day.
- Handmade using a natural refining process
- Retains antioxidants, potassium and Vitamin A
- Blend of refined and unrefined oils to get the benefits of both
- Certification as non-GMO
- A reasonable price for such high quality
- Packed in food-grade tin, guaranteed BPA free
- Spray container
- Not organic
Purpose: Multi-use – Cosmetic and food
This Tropical Holistic avocado oil ticks many of the boxes for high quality. It is organic, cold pressed and 100% pure. The dark amber-colored glass bottle prevents oxidation and rancidity. Although it is not certified organic, the manufacturer’s 100% money back guarantee gives some reassurance.
It is light yellow and almost odorless. I like this because I don't want to smell like a salad if I use oil as a leave-on hair treatment or body moisturizer.
I was not convinced by the marketing of this oil for both cosmetic and food use. You can see some of my concerns in the table below. I would probably use it only for skin and hair.
- Good quality
- Dark glass container
- No additives, GMOs, solvents or preservatives
- Expiry date provided
- Misleading label – e.g., lists vitamins in avocado fruits as if they were in the oil.
- “Food grade” presented as if it means that it is safe to eat
- No indication of smoke point – important if to be used for cooking
- Not certified organic or non-GMO
- Not extra virgin or virgin
- Rather pricey
The best avocado oil is extracted from the best avocados.
Extraction Methods for Avocado Oil
The way the oil is extracted determines the final quality and potential uses of the avocado oil.
Mechanical and chemical extraction
Avocado fruits are dried and pressed at high temperatures, and solvents (usually hexane) remove the oil. Another way is to break down the cells mechanically – sometimes called expeller-pressed. This method gives better-quality oil than the chemical method, but it can be costly. This avocado oil is good for cooking and skin and hair, but must be refined.
Cold pressed extraction
Cold pressing uses temperature of less than 50°C (122°F), and only water and enzymes. Refining isn’t necessary. Cold pressed avocado oil is very good for you. It retains the green color, the smell, and buttery or mushroom-like taste of the avocado, together with its phytonutrients and some of the vitamins.
Cold-pressed oil is best for vegans who want raw oil (oil that has not been heated above 115°F).
Refining Methods for Avocado Oil
Unrefined avocado oil can be cloudy, but it retains the health benefits of the avocado. The source must be organic, to avoid having pesticides in the oil. Shelf life is short, so it’s best to buy in small sizes. Use it for salad dressings or low-heat cooking. You can also use it for skin and hair for deep moisturizing treatments. Some people find the avocado smell and taste overpowering.
Refined avocado oils are clearer, more stable, have a longer shelf life and a higher smoke point so can be used for high heat cooking. They are odorless and light yellow.
The refining method affects quality:
- Naturally refined oils are very well strained and filtered but without chemicals. They lose some color, smell, taste and nutrient value.
- More aggressive refining can include extreme heat, chemicals, bleaches and even preservatives. These oils are fast and cheap to manufacture and have a good shelf life. However, they may have little nutritional or cosmetic value. Nonetheless, they may be an option if you are on a tight budget.
How Can We Rate Avocado Oils?
Some people have proposed using the terms extra virgin, virgin, pure and blends to indicate different grades of cold pressed avocado oil. Some of their characteristics are in the table
Method of extraction
Cold or expeller press
Must match claims on the label
Quality of fruit used
Sound, but may not be perfect
Odor and taste
Avocado flavor and smell above 40 on 100-point scale
Avocado flavor and smell above 20 on 100-point scale
Depends on the blend
Green with yellow tone
Depends on the blend
Characteristics of avocado oils available on the market.
If we integrate all the information, then it’s clear that the healthiest and best avocado oils are those that are:
- Certified organic.
- Extra virgin.
- Cold pressed.
- Either unrefined or naturally refined.
So … Which Avocado Oil Was My Favorite?
The Avohass Avocado Oil is hard to beat. It met all four of our criteria for best oil:
- Certified organic
- Extra virgin
- Cold pressed
Second on my list is the Organic AVOCADO OIL Skin Moisturizer by Renewalize. It met 3 of our best-oil criteria, just missing out on the extra virgin one. I particularly liked their customer satisfaction money-back guarantee.
The third is Avocado Oil Spray, 5 Fl. Oz. by La Tourangelle. It met most of the quality criteria (missing on organic), and it also is such an interesting brand. It claimed to be multi-purpose and showed why it could be used for cooking as well as for skin and hair.
Well, after all my research, I will certainly know what to look for when I am shopping for avocado oil. I hope you feel the same.
If you are interested in tea tree oil or argan oil, you may like to read the articles below.
What did you think? Please let me know by adding your comments. Also, please tell me what criteria you might have used for selecting the best oil.
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