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There are many argan oil uses that people in the Western world are now discovering. But argan oil, also referred to as ‘liquid gold’, has been around since ancient times, and Phoenicians recorded the use of argan oil for its healing and beautifying purposes in as early as 1500 BC.
Swedish model Frida Gustavsson is an advocate of organic and natural products, stating that she tries ‘to be as organic and natural as possible when it comes to make up, so I always carry around coconut oil for removing and jojoba or argan oil as a moisturiser’.
The great thing about argan oil is that it’s suitable for all skin types, so everyone can benefit from its nourishing and anti-aging properties.
Keep reading to find out what the argan oil uses are, so that you can reap all the benefits of this glorious, golden oil.
A Brief Introduction
The argan tree, scientifically called arganica spinosa originates on Morocco’s Haha Coast and has been part of the culture and tradition of the Berber people of Morocco for centuries, and it continues to be at the heart of their communities to this day. The argan tree is drought-resistant and can contribute to the slowing down of desertification.
Its oil is used for beauty and culinary purposes, and the practice of harvesting and producing the oil has been passed down through the generations. The argan tree is the livelihood of many women and their families, and continues to be a significant part of the Moroccan culture.
Food-grade argan oil is often used to dip into bread at breakfast, or it’s drizzled on couscous or pasta.
The Fatty Acids of Argan Oil
The two main fatty acids are oleic acid (46 – 48 percent) and linoleic acid (31 – 35 percent). The other two fatty acids found in argan oil are palmitic acid (11-14 percent) and stearic acid (4-7 percent). Oleic acid penetrates deeply into the skin’s surface so that lost moisture can be replenished. It also stops the moisture from evaporating, so it’s great for keeping skin cells plump.
Linoleic acid is an ideal ingredient for skin prone to acne, as mentioned below. Palmitic acid is often used in moisturisers as a great emollient. Stearic acid acts as a surfactant, helping to remove dirt, sweat, and excess sebum from the skin and hair.
Argan Oil Uses
Argan oil is extremely moisturising with antioxidant properties and essential fatty acids. Aging skin can benefit from its vitamin E content. In fact, this oil has almost twice as much vitamin E as olive oil, and is also rich in linoleic acids. Vitamin E fights against free radical damage to fight against aging. In Morocco, its nourishing effects help support the skin to counteract the effects of age or weather.
As argan oil has a smaller molecular size, it will sink into the skin quicker to provide optimal nourishment. There are many argan oil uses, but its overriding property is that it’s anti-aging, and can be used for youthful complexions and healthy, luscious hair.
One of the most common argan oil uses is as a moisturiser for the face and body. Back in 2015, argan oil became the new miracle oil, and for good reason because it has incredibly nourishing ingredients, with a high vitamin E and fatty acid content. The antioxidant properties of argan oil help the skin fight the effects of oxidative stress.
Traditionally, it has always been used as a hydrating and softening moisturiser for smooth, soft skin. As argan oil contains sterolins, healthy skin cell metabolism is promoted, which helps the skin to keep more moisture.
The Berber women smooth argan oil on their hair to protect it against the harsh, arid weather conditions. This is one of the most well-known argan oil uses, as argan oil is in many haircare products on the market today after becoming the latest buzzword a few years ago.
But now argan oil has proven it’s more than a buzzword, and actually lives up to its hype. By smoothing argan oil onto the ends of your hair after shampooing, it can be a great leave-in conditioner and one of the best argan oil uses, for smooth, shiny, healthy hair.
Fighting acne is one of the most unknown argan oil uses, but it’s true that argan oil could potentially help improve acne-prone skin. It’s important to note that it may not help your acne at all, as different treatments work for different people. It may be worth experimenting for a few weeks to see if there are any results.
By repairing the skin’s hydrolipidic film and regulating sebum production, argan oil can fight acne. It can also prevent the skin from drying out if harsher medical acne treatments are being used. You can apply to affected area or use as a moisturiser. Some people may prefer to use only at night if worried about looking too oily, however, this shouldn’t be a problem as argan oil absorbs into the skin quickly.
Argan oil contains the magic ingredients when it comes to acne: linoleic acid. Acne-prone skin has been found to have smaller levels of linoleic acid in their skin. When linoleic acid is regularly applied, it promotes healthy skin cell turnover in order to prevent clogged hair follicles.
It aids in cell regeneration too, and has been known to improve the appearance of acne scars. You can use argan oil either during the day or at night. Incorporate it into your routine in whatever way you prefer.
One of the most useful argan oil uses is as a make-up remover. Changing your make-up remover to one that is natural with less harsh ingredients to make the skin red is one of the changes you can make when you are switching to purer, less toxic products. There will be no stinging or burning sensations here. Argan oil can rejuvenate your skin whilst doing the job of removing your make-up. Can all make-up removers do both of these? In short: no. And never to the level of nourishment argan oil can give.
It doesn’t matter if you have oily, dry, combination or sensitive skin – argan oil can remove your make-up and leave it supple, soft and clean. To use, take a few drops and massage into your face over your make-up in gentle, circular motions. You can then take a dry towel, dry tissue, or cotton wool pads and wipe it off until it’s all removed.
Alternatively, after massaging over your face, you can use a muslin cloth soaked in lukewarm water to gently wipe away your make-up in circular motions. Keep rinsing the wringing out the cloth so that you’re not rubbing the make-up back on your face. Repeat until all make-up has gone.
For Strong, Hard, Healthy Nails
Argan oil is known to strengthen nails and make them shine! Rub argan oil into your cuticles to soften dryness and cracked parts for beautiful, healthy nails.
Stretch Marks During Pregnancy
Stretch marks are a fact of pregnancy most women hate. They often appear on hips, legs, bellies and breasts. The high vitamin E and fatty acid content can aid in improving and diminishing the appearance of stretch marks.
As long as the argan oil is certified organic and natural, argan oil is a safe option for pregnant women to use on their skin and will be free from parabens, petrochemicals, phthalates, GMOs, sulfates, synthetic fragrances and triclosan.
This study shows the positive effect argan oil can have on the prevention and treatment of stretch marks.
Natural Lip Balm
With the cold winter months rapidly approaching, argan oil is needed more than ever for the lips. Using argan oil as a lip balm is one of the many argan oil uses that are just so handy. Many lip balms on the market can be full of ingredients that aren’t necessarily that great for us. Everything we put on our lips, we end up ingesting, and using argan oil as your lip balm is nourishing, hydrating and safe.
Why Cold Pressed is Best
In South-Western Morocco, women’s cooperatives have been started in order to be able to produce argan oil of high-quality. In these cooperatives argan oil is produced by mechanically cold-pressing argan kernels. After 13 hours of work by one person, 4 – 6 litres of oil can be obtained from 100kg of dry fruit by using this technology.
The quality of the argan oil is greatly influenced by the origin of the fruit and how the oil is processed. Therefore, these cooperatives take great measures to ensure argan oil of the highest quality is being produced. Instead of hand-pressing and mechanical fruit peeling, mechanical pressing is used.
Using cold pressing as a method ensures that the antioxidants are protected from damage that would occur with the use of heat. Oils lose their nutritional properties when they’re exposed to too much heat.
Sustainability of Argan Oil
There are now a number of organisations to protect the argan tree. These ensure that the tree numbers don't diminish. The Argan forest, which is the biosphere where the Argan tree grows, is now more than 800,000 in size. Every year, more trees are planted. The government has plans to plant 200,000 hectares of trees by 2025.
Whilst these organisations are working towards sustainable development, these tree are really looked after by the local people. Deforestation and goat grazing meant that the number of argan oil trees declined. The locals were the first to successfully replant the trees and make sure that they were protected from seasonal bans on goat grazing, which was destroying the trees.
When argan oil became the new buzzword in the West, the argan tree became much more highly valued. The production of argan oil now brings more than $6.5 million into Morocco’s economy per year.
The trees are now under the protection of UNESCO and in a ‘biosphere zone’. Not only are they vital for the economy, but environmentally too. Zoubida Charrouf is a professor at Mohammed V University who wanted to save the argan tree forests and believed in saving the argan tree for both the environment and to empower the rural Berber women so that they could access employment and education.
Charrouf said in an interview with CNN that the argan trees are ‘the last curtain in front of the desert’. They are essential to protecting the environment as they have deep roots that absorb water and provide soil stabilisation. Desertification in the local environment can be fought with the planting of the argan tree.
Why is Buying the Right Argan Oil Important?
It’s official: argan oil has now arrived in the Western world and it looks like it’s here to stay. There are now TONNES of argan oil products on the market. It’s an ingredient found in many hair and beauty products. Many companies sell pure argan oil in bottles. However, argan oil is a product you have to be very cautious about. The popularity of argan oil is something that some sellers have seen and exploited. Many bottles of argan oil are diluted, over-processed or fake.
With all the promises of the world these companies make, what they are actually selling is argan oil of poor quality. This means that many of the beauty benefits you can gain from pure, organic argan oil are not gained. And many customers are left feeling disappointed with their purchases.
And the poor quality of these products is only one aspect of it all. To make this oil, it requires labour intensive and time consuming work. This is why people should be wary of cheap argan oil, because it often means short cuts have been taken and quality has been compromised, or it’s so diluted that it can’t even be called argan oil.
When you buy a bottle of pure, cold-pressed argan oil that is certified organic by a certifying body like the Soil Association, you are guaranteeing that you are supporting the lives of the women in Morocco who harvest and produce this oil. Life for a woman in Morocco cannot exactly be called easy. If you’re buying from a company who are not transparent about their ethics or certified organic, then you might be endorsing poor working conditions without knowing it.
By buying from a company certified organic by the Soil Association, you can be assured that the money earned through the ethical cooperatives producing argan oil in Morocco is shared between the women who work for them. This contributes towards health care, education and allows these women to support and provide for their families.
Look for the Soil Association logo on the packaging of your product, or see if the company states they are certified by this association on their website. You can also search up the company name in the Soil Association directory to confirm that they are certified by them. You will then know for sure that the argan oil has been produced ethically, sustainably and unprocessed.
Another thing to note is that if a company is truly ethical and organic, they will often be transparent on their website about where their ingredients originate from and how they were produced.
Checklist for Finding a Top Quality Argan Oil
These are important factors to consider to make sure that your argan oil is of the top quality.
- A short ingredients list means that the argan oil is pure with no nasty added stuff.
- Buying a product with a dark coloured glass bottle (or stainless steel/aluminium bottle) will ensure that the nutrients of the oil are protected and not destroyed by the light.
- Any overpowering, horrible scent should send alarm bells ringing. This means that it’s most likely of poor quality. On the other hand, argan oil with no scent at all is probably fake or diluted.
- Ultimately the oil has a nutty aroma, but batches can sometimes vary slightly in scent.
- The texture should definitely not be slimy or stick. It should have a smooth, silky texture to indicate good quality. It shouldn’t feel unpleasant when applied to the skin!
Precautions and Warnings
When consuming and storing argan oil, please take into consideration these precautions and warnings.
- Do not use argan oil if you’re allergic to nuts, as it might not be safe for you to use.
The argan tree grows a stone fruit. The oil is produced from the nut.
- Protect the nutrients of argan oil from being destroyed by the light by storing in a cool, dark place.
Will you be benefiting from these argan oil uses? Is argan oil one of your favourites? Feel free to get in touch. We would love to know your experiences with this ‘liquid gold’.
Written by Jess Burman
BA (Honours) in Writing