The argan tree is one of the oldest species of tree still alive and is endemic to south-west Morocco, specifically to Souss valley and surrounding Anti-Atlas slopes. Argan trees cover only about 8000 km2 of land. This means the trees and consequently the oil is rare and therefore very expensive.
There are two main types of Argan oil on the market.
1. Argan oil for culinary purposes which is extracted from previously roasted kernels
2. Argan oil for cosmetic purposes which is extracted from unroasted kernels and can be either pure cold pressed or cold pressed and steam deodorised. Both of them are allowed in organic cosmetic products.
These two oils are different even in its organoleptic properties - culinary oil is copper-colored and cosmetic oil is golden colored. Roasted argan is a nice culinary oil but I don’t recommend its use in cosmetics. Unless, of course, you have a desire to smell of roasted meat or salad.
Cold pressed argan oil is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, linoleic acid and vitamin E which explains its medicinal value and its reputation in reducing the appearance of wrinkles, scars, stretch marks and acne.
The remarkable properties of the Argan oil evaluated and confirmed by numerous laboratories are:
● restoration of the skin water–lipid layer
● increase of nutrients in the skin cells,
● stimulation of intracellular oxygen,
● neutralization of free radicals, and
● protection of the conjunctive tissue.
So what is Argan oil best used for?
Anti-ageing and skin hydration
Topical application of Argan oil has proven anti-aging effect on the skin due to high levels of antioxidant flavonoids called polyphenols, compounds known to prevent UVB–induced wrinkle formation and photo-aging caused by collagen destruction. High content of omega-6 fatty acids and naturally occurring vitamin E limits tissue and cell damage caused by body toxins and pollutants. In addition, Argan oil, shows excellent moisturizing effects on the skin with no side effects observed and it is mostly due to the high content of linoleic acid in argan oil. Beneficial effect of linoleic acid on improvement of skin hydration is achieved by the activation of certain hormone in the skin which leads to restoration of the skin barrier function and decreased transdermal water loss.
Several studies, also, show that regular twice a day application of Argan oil containing cream, results in significant reduction of greasiness and improved appearance of oily facial skin. Don't get me wrong, Argan oil should not be the first choice for oily skin care but above mentioned studies only show its versatility and possibilities.
Argan oil may be used on any hair type. It is available in shampoos, conditioners, and leave-in products. I have found that argan oil is beneficial for patients with curly hair, particularly those of African or African-American descent, because it helps to reduce frizz and adds shine. A small amount may be applied to the scalp if dry. In people with fine hair, too much oil can be greasy and may weigh curls down.