What’s the deal with argan oil? A few years ago, thanks to someone, argan oil busted on to the beauty scene and now just about every brand has some form of argan oil blend that is better than any other brand. My first argan oil was probably a bottle from Josie Maran and then I really started learning more about it thanks to SkinOwl and Annie Tevelin.

Well guess what? Years later, argan oil is a staple in the beauty universe and I can tell you why.

On a recent visit to Morocco, I investigated this supernut first hand, which is really a foundation of beauty and culinary regimens there. Yes, argan is a nut! The oil is cold-pressed from the fruit/nut of the Moroccan Argan Tree (Argania spinosa). And it only comes from here.  Nowhere else on the planet!

goats climbing argan nut tree, which produces argan oil

This is the same tree that goats climb just to get to the fruit and eat it.  It’s quite a sight, as you can see from the pictures. The trees live a few hundred years and are only located in a few regions in Morocco. That is it.  So if you find argan oil from elsewhere, that is suspicious at best, fraudulent at worst!

The fruit is picked and dried and the fleshy part (kind of like an olive) is removed and fed to animals. Some argan oil producers have machines to remove the outside but many rely on manual labor, usually done by women (there are so many things I could say here…but I’ll hold off).  Next the “nut” is cracked to get the kernels out. The argan kernels are roasted (sometimes for cosmetic use, they are not roasted otherwise the scent is a bit too nutty) and as they cool, the women grind and press them.

Argan oil has skin, beauty and health benefits.

The ground up argan kernels look like peanut butter and pure, unfiltered argan oil is extracted and poured into containers.Decanted argan oil sits for a few weeks, so any remaining solids fall to the bottom and can be strained out.production of argan oil in Morocco involves crushing the nut and pureeing it.

Argan oil has been in use for thousands of years for healing, medicinal and beauty purposes. The ancient Phoenicians used argan oil and for centuries, native Moroccans (usually women) have pressed the nut to extract the oil, which is used as a dietary supplement, to heal wounds and for nourishment of skin and hair.

It is rich in many vitamins, including A,C and E and antioxidants, linoleic acid and omega-6 fatty acids. Further, argan oil helps boost cell production, which is a huge benefit for those seeking anti-aging effects!

Here are some of argan oil’s specific benefits:

1) Reduces oil production of our own skin – For those with oily skin, applying an oil sounds…well, crazy. But it may not be. Sebum is naturally produced by our skin and keeps skin and hair lubricated.  Argan oil can actually reduce the amount of oil our own skin produces – wow! Great for those with oily skin! (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17524128)

2) Anti-inflammatory and healer of damaged cells and tissue. Linoleic acid (Vitamin F) is an anti-inflammatory and also provides healing and moisture support, while fighting acne, softening skin and enabling the penetration of antioxidants, because of their ability to penetrate the skin barrier. It is found in oils, like safflower, grape seed, poppy seed, sunflower and hemp oil as well as almonds, egg yolks and cocoa butter.

3) Reduces premature aging – 80% fatty acids. Need I say more? Well, I will, because fatty acids may not exactly tell you why its so great for anti-aging. Argan oil is rich in Omega 6 (linoleic acid) and Omega 9 (oleic acid)., which are both essential fatty acids that protect cellular integrity and help prevent loss of moisture from the skin. They also are critical to the formation of prostaglandin, which is a natural anti-inflammatory, which we all need more of…You can also find ferulic acid, very high concentrations of vitamin E and Squalene, which is the new super-oil.

Moroccans have used it for centuries to prevent premature aging as well as erase signs of aging like age spots and crows feet. I am a bit skeptical of this because few topical products can do that, but I am open to digging deeper into it (which I will do). That said, I definitely don’t dispute other benefits like hydration, brightening skin, etc.

4) Protection against environmental toxins – Argan oil is rich in natural tocopherols (vitamin E), which has many roles in the body, including protecting other vitamins and essential fatty acids, maintaining hydration, and more. Argan oil also normalizes skin cells that have too much melanin, which can keep your skin healthy and safe from UV rays. Melanin imbalances can cause lots of problems, including higher cancer risk. (http://europepmc.org/articles/PMC3723062)

5) Preventing stretch marks – Now I find this to be totally true but also true of other oils, like avocado and jojoba. Argan oil, like many other oils, keeps skin hydrated and improves its elasticity, preventing the dreaded stretch marks that occur when your dry (or less elastic) skin expands too quickly for whatever reason (i.e. baby growing inside of you).

6) Argan oil is a heart-healthy oil and has been shown to lower cholesterol. It’s far better than many other oils, but that doesn’t mean we should all run out and drink buckets of it, expecting lower cholesterol tomorrow. Just in case you were wondering….

Hopefully you learned something – I know I did. Argan oil may not be the fountain of youth, but its definitely worth adding to your regular beauty routine and you can do so at a variety of price points from $10/oz to over $100/oz.

Here are a few of my favorites, depending on what your needs are:

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