Natural beauty product: Pure argan oil

Sunday, August 18, 2013

argan tree from which argan oil is extracted
Argan tree
source: Johnny Greig / Wall Street Journal
Argan oil has gotten a lot of attention over the past few years as a sort of miracle all-purpose beauty ingredient. It's the basis of the MoroccanOil brand hair products, the Josie Maran line of argan oil beauty products, and now a dozen or more drugstore shampoos, conditioners, treatments and stylers. But in truth, these products contain very little pure argan oil.

Argan oil is extracted from the kernels of the argan tree, which is found mainly in southwestern Morocco. Apparently the Argan genus once covered much of North Africa but has become endangered and is being overlooked by UNESCO. However, the popularity of argan oil in recent years has not gone unnoticed, and the Moroccan government has allegedly planned for increased production and preservation, which has led to more jobs, particularly for women.

Through topical application, argan oil is typically used to hydrate the hair and moisturize the skin, as well as a treatment for juvenile acne and flaky skin. I've used it as a facial moisturizer, cuticle oil and de-frizzing "serum" for my hair. I've heard of people adding it to their daily conditioner for extra conditioning, and to their bath water as a bath oil. Argan oil smells like most other plant oils -- a little nutty, but otherwise mostly undetectable and non-offensive.

And like coconut oil, argan oil is also used in cooking. It's used often as a dip, like olive oil, for bread and drizzled on salads and the like. Some health benefits from consuming argan oil are said include: lowering cholesterol, increasing vitamin E in blood levels, and some say that it might help prevent heart disease. The oil is said to contain vitamin E (an antioxidant), linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid), oleic acid, and palmitic acid.

Experts say that argan oil is easily absorbed and non-comedogenic (does not clog pores), but I've found that it takes longer to absorb than some other oils, such as jojoba oil. It's quite light in weight and color, and its shelf life is about 12 to 18 months. Experts also say that argan oil really does not really perform better than some of its counterparts, like olive oil or vitamin E, but I personally like the fact that it's so multi-functional. Above all, I like that it's all natural. It might not smooth my hair like some drugstore or salon products, but those products often contain silicones and other chemical additives.

I've seen argan oil on sale for what I consider to be exorbitantly high prices and thought that it's no wonder people are turning to drugstore products containing argan oil instead. But you can find 100%, pure argan oil for reasonable prices online. For example, I purchased 2 ounces of pure argan oil for around $5 or $6. I probably wouldn't pay more than $10 or $12 for a 2 ounce container of 100% argan oil, though a little bit of argan oil really goes a long way.

Have you tried any argan oil beauty products, or pure argan oil? Do you think it's a "miracle" treatment or just a fad?

Helpful links:
Paula's Choice: Argan oil
Wall Street Journal: Hard nut to crack: Beauty and antioxidant oil
Discovery Fit and Health: Can argan oil help my skin?
Fox News Magazine: Argan oil: What's 'oil' the fuss about?


In the video above, I compare the effectiveness of 100% pure argan oil to that of MoroccanOil brand hair treatment. In this video, you can get a closer look at the viscosity of both the MoroccanOil treatment and pure argan oil.

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