Argan oil; product for skin and hair

Argan oil has become one of the most popular cosmetic oils. For many different reasons, argan oil has even gained a superior reputation. The properties of argan oil are widely praised. It is sometimes even difficult to find a product that would not contain this substance, also called miracle oil. That’s why I decided this time to thoroughly explore the secrets of argan oil. Where argan oil is produced, what it is used for and what its power is based on.

Goats love the fruit of the argan tree
Photo jacqueline macou Pixabaystä

The roots of argan oil can be found in Morocco

Most of the Morocco’s land area is quite dry and rocky land. Much of it is located in the Sahara Desert. There is also some plants growing in the desert. The plants of the deserts of southwestern Morocco includes Argania spinosa, the argan tree. The area is called Arganeraie. This area has a unique biosphere with endemic (only present in the area) plants. Argan tree is a traditional plant in the area.

Argan tree is a unique plant in the world

Argan tree has adjusted to extremely dry conditions. Argan tree cultivation is completely dependent on the area’s sensitive ecological system. Therefore, the whole Arganeraie region with its biosphere is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Argan tree produces fruit with a hard-shelled nut inside. The fruit flesh is removed and used for animal feed.

The oil is obtained from the seeds of the argan tree, which are inside the hard shell. The hard shell of the nut must be crushed by hand. Mechanical seed peeling has not been tried without success. Argan tree seeds are usually peeled by poor Berber women in remote Moroccan villages.

Argan oil production also has an environmental socio-economic purpose.

The socio-economic aspect of argan oil cannot be overemphasized. The production of argan oil provides a livelihood for many poor Berber women.
Photo Ross Cains Pixabaystä

The population of the Arganeraie region lives on sheep farming and agriculture. Argan oil production is a major source of additional income for local residents. Argan oil is traditionally used in the Arganeraie region for cooking, ointments and cosmetics. Argan tree is also used as firewood.

It rains only five days a year in the area. The surface of the soil is particularly dry. Argan trees effectively prevent desertification and take care of the area’s poor groundwater resources.

Why is the argan oil is so popular in cosmetics?

This is a question that has been on my mind for some time. Argan oil feels quite oily on the skin at first. It is not an easily absorbed, light oil. The greasy impression of argan oil is due to its heavy fatty acids.

  • Oleic acid 43-49%
  • Linoleic acid 29-36%
  • Palmitic acid 11-15%
  • Stearic acid 4-7%

As you can see, based on fatty acids, this is a fairly conventional oil. In terms of oleic acid, argan oil is mainly similar to almond oil or avocado oil. Based on fatty acids, argan oil could be recommended for aging and very dry skin. However, fatty acids are not the reason why argan has become such a popular cosmetic oil.

Argan oil is rich in active ingredients

The secret of argan oil lies in the plant chemicals it contains. First of all, argan oil is particularly rich in tocopherol. That is vitamin E. Argan oil is rich in a variety of phenolic compounds such as

  • Carotenoids; antioxidant, strengthens the skin’s UV protection
  • Squalene; the sebaceous glands of the skin produce squalene. It is a very important lipid that protects the skin
  • Caffeic acid; antioxidant, antibacterial agent, anti-cancer agent
  • Oleuropein; a bitter substance found in green olives whose medicinal properties are being studied
  • Vanillic acid; a vegetable chemical that is especially abundant in argan oil. Vanillic acid has among other things antibacterial properties.
  • Tyrosol; strong antioxidant effect. In addition to argan oil, tyrosol is abundant in olive oil
  • Catechols; Used in the perfume industry
  • Resorcinol; a very valuable and rare compound found only in argan oil. Resorcinol is used in haircare products to give colour to hair. It is also an antioxidant.
  • Catechin; antioxidant

As you can see, argan oil is very rich in a variety of antioxidants. Studies have shown that the phenolic levels of argan oil are clearly higher than other oils.

Many of the plant chemicals contained in argan oil are very rare. They occur in other plants only in modicum or not at all. These rare plant chemicals are the reason why argan oil beats other oils used in cosmetics.

The benefits of argan oil for the skin

Argan oil has a great many positive effects on skin care. Indeed, all of its effects are not even known yet. My advice is; if you have a skin problem, try genuine, good quality argan oil.

Effects of argan oil on skin and hair

  • Brightens the skin
  • Reduces redness
  • Works anti-microbial agent
  • Reduces signs of aging
  • Treats scar tissue
  • Promotes wound healing
  • Can help treat some skin conditions (no inclusive information available, just try)
  • Moisturizes the skin
  • Moisturizes hair; use argan oil in haircare products such as emulsion-based conditioners

Make sure you get good quality argan oil

The quality of argan oil depends of the oil extraction process. Local people living in the argan tree area use argan oil mainly for food. they dip the bread in argan oil as we sometimes dip the bread in olive oil. For edible argan oil, the seeds are first lightly roasted to create a nutty flavour. Such argan oil is not suitable for cosmetics use.

Argan oil used for cosmetics is squeezed from fresh argan tree seeds. The fruits of the argan tree are dried. To get one litre of argan oil about 40 kilograms of dried argan fruit is needed. The seeds are removed from the dried fruit. Before pressing into oil, the hard shell is removed from the seeds by hand. Now the seeds are ready to be pressed.

Unfiltered argan oil is brownish red and thick. The oil is poured into decanters to separate the dregs from the oil. After the oil has got brighten for about two weeks, the clear oil is bottled.

However, the oil can be decanted many times. This gives a particularly clear, beautiful oil. The oil that has been filtered many times no longer has so many active ingredients left. The colour of argan oil tells us about the quality of the oil and the production methods.

Argan oil is still produced very traditional way

Poor Berber women in the southwestern part of Morocco still make argan oil according to old traditions. Berber women could not keep up with the growing demand of the oil. Industrial production of argan oil began. The advantages of industrial production are standard quality and large production volumes. The downside, on the other hand, is that the profits go to big business. Local residents remain unemployed. Money talks. Industrially extracted argan oil costs less than half the price of oil produced by Berber women.

The international cosmetics giant L´Oreál has shown its humanity. L´Oreál is committed to buying all the argan oil it uses from small Berber cooperatives. This is a very fine thing and a great social act.

Valuable argan oil is a particularly counterfeit product

Argan oil has gone the same way as olive oil. It has been counterfeited. The oil is mixed with cheaper oils and sold as genuine argan oil. The Moroccan government has been active in blocking the export of counterfeit oils. Argan oil shipments have been tested frequently to solve the problem.

Look for responsibly produced argan oil from a reliable supplier

Pure Moroccan argan oil is of the highest quality
Photo Paco Rodriguez Pixabaystä

Argan oil is a great product that you should definitely buy. It is a very preservative oil. Argan oil has been found to oxidize even more slowly than olive oil. However, it is worth to study carefully where argan oil comes from and how it is produced. It is not easy for the average consumer to find out the origin of oils. I recommend buying only from a shop where they know the origin of their products.

Have you used argan oil in your homecosmetics? Share your experiences in the comments section!

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