When it comes to cosmetic oils and hype, argan oil is for sure leading the way. Dubbed as the "liquid gold of Morocco", we have to admit we have some trouble determining why this oil enjoys such a special miracle status. Not that it's not good. It is good, even great, but reading the research about argan and a bunch of other plant oils we just do not see the big unique differentiating factor (though that might be our fault not reading enough, obvs.)
So argan oil comes from the kernel of the argan fruit that comes from the argan tree that lives only in Morocco. The tree is a slow-growing one and getting the oil is a hard job. The traditional process is that the ripe argan fruits fall from the tree, then goats eat it up and poop out the seeds. The seeds are collected and hit with a stone to get the kernels inside. This part is the hard one as the seeds have extremely hard shells. Once the kernels are obtained, the oil is pressed out from them (the kernels contain about 50% oil).
As for skincare, argan oil is loaded with lots of skin goodies (but so are many other plant oils): it contains 80% nourishing and moisturizing unsaturated fatty acids, mainly oleic (38-50%), linoleic (28-38%) and palmitic (10-18%). It also contains a relatively large amount of antioxidant vitamin E (600-900 mg/kg, about twice as much as olive), small amounts of antioxidant phenols (including caffeic acid, ferulic acid, and epicatechin), as well as some rare sterols with soothing and anti-inflammatory properties.
Thanks to all the above goodness in argan oil, it can greatly nourish and moisturize the skin and hair. It's also claimed to be able to neutralize collagen-damaging free radicals, help reduce scars, revitalize and improve skin elasticity. You can even read that argan might help acne-prone skin, but being a high oleic oil, we would be careful with that.
All in all, argan oil is a real goodie but we do not fully understand the special miracle status it enjoys.
- European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology, Apr 1, 2011, Argan oil and other argan products: Use in dermocosmetology
- European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology, Jul 1, 2008, Argan oil: Occurrence, composition and impact on human health