Argan oil is a prized beauty product that has been used for centuries by the Berber women of Morocco. Native to the arid regions of Morocco, argan oil is extracted from the kernels of the argan tree (Argania spinosa). This uniquely North African oil contains an impressive mix of fatty acids, antioxidants, and other skin-nourishing compounds. While argan oil has long been a staple of Moroccan beauty rituals, the rest of the world is just now discovering its remarkable benefits. In this blog post, I will discuss argan oil’s chemistry and uncover the scientific reasons why it works wonders on skin and hair. I’ll also explore its therapeutic properties and growing popularity as a multi-purpose natural remedy. My goal is to provide an in-depth look at this precious oil and help unlock the secrets behind its revered status in natural skin and hair care.
The components that give argan oil its prized qualities come down to its unique fatty acid profile and antioxidant content. Let’s take a closer look at argan oil’s key chemical constituents and how they contribute to its therapeutic effects.
- Oleic acid (40-50%): Monounsaturated fatty acid that is a major component of many nourishing plant oils. It helps maintain theskin’s protective acid mantle and keeps moisture locked in.
- Linoleic acid (30-40%): Essential polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid that supports skin health and hydration.
- Palmitic acid (10-15%): Saturated fatty acid that enhances the skin’s permeability barrier.
- Stearic acid (3-8%): Saturated fatty acid with emollient properties that soothe and condition skin/hair.
This fatty acid profile makes argan oil highly moisturizing and able to effectively penetrate skin/hair without clogging pores. The high oleic acid content is similar to olive oil, giving argan oil its acclaimed skin reparative abilities.
Argan oil contains four forms of vitamin E (alpha, beta, gamma, and delta tocopherols) that act as powerful antioxidants. Tocopherols neutralize free radicals and environmental stressors to prevent premature skin aging. They also support collagen production for youthful, supple skin.
Phenolic compounds including catechins, epicatechins, and gallic acid make argan oil a very stable antioxidant. These phytonutrients have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that keep skin clear and healthy.
Argan oil rivals olive oil in its high squalene content, averaging 7-9%. Squalene is a precursor to healthy sebum production that maintains skin’s acid mantle and elasticity. It locks in moisture and protects against oxidative damage as well.
Plant sterols like beta-sitosterol support the skin’s natural repair mechanisms, reducing dryness, scaling, and itching. They calm inflammation and irritation.
In summary, argan oil’s unique combination of fatty acids, vitamins, polyphenols, squalene, and sterols give it unmatched nourishing, protective, and regenerative powers for skin and hair. This chemical profile explains why argan oil delivers such dramatic results.
With its emollient, anti-aging, and regenerative properties, argan oil offers a multitude of impressive skin benefits:
- Moisturizes and Softens
Argan oil’s fatty acid content and ability to penetrate skin make it one of the most hydrating natural oils. It restores suppleness and relief to dry, irritated skin.
- Reduces Appearance of Scarring and Stretch Marks
Argan oil boosts collagen production and cell regeneration to improve the texture and pigmentation of scars and stretch marks over time.
- Protects Against UV Damage and Premature Aging
The high antioxidant levels in argan oil protect against sun damage and neutralize free radicals responsible for sunspots, wrinkles, and dark spots.
- Fades Stubborn Age Spots and Discoloration
Regular application of argan oil helps gradually fade existing hyperpigmentation due to its skin-lightening and restorative properties.
- Soothes Eczema, Dermatitis, and Psoriasis
Argan oil’s anti-inflammatory activity and skin-repairing fatty acids relieve redness/flakiness of irritated skin conditions.
- Controls Breakouts and Reduces Blemishes
Its antibacterial compounds and non-comedogenic nature make argan oil ideal for oily/acne-prone skin without clogging pores.
- Heals Cracked Heels and Cuticles
Argan oil penetrates to moisturize severely dry, hardened areas and protects against tearing or fissuring.
- Improves Stretch Mark Appearance After Childbirth
When massaged consistently into maturing stretch marks, argan oil helps improve their texture and fade discoloration over time.
As you can see, argan oil handles a wide range of skin challenges with minimal effort. Its nourishing, restorative chemistry and antioxidant protection give radiant, youthful-looking results. No wonder Moroccan women have trusted it for centuries!
Not only is argan oil excellent for skin, it also works wonders on hair due to its ability to penetrate the hair shaft. Here are some notable benefits:
- Hydrates and Softens Hair
Argan oil deeply moisturizes hair, leaving it silky, shiny and manageable without residue or greasiness.
- Reduces Frizz and Flyaways
The oil forms a barrier on hair to seal in moisture and protect against environmental damage that causes frizz.
- Strengthens and Promotes Growth
Essential fatty acids in argan oil nourish follicles for thicker, stronger hair that grows faster and to a healthier length.
- Prevents Split Ends
Argan oil seals cuticles so hair fibers aren’t compromised from daily abuse like heat styling or brushing.
- Smooths Cuticle Layers
Leading to a visibly smoother, sleeker texture by eliminating friction between hair strands.
- Adds Sumptuous Shine
Antioxidants protect hair color from fading while the oil’s high vitamin E content leaves hair with a glossy sheen.
- Repairs Damage From Over-Processing
Its restorative properties reconstruct broken bonds in over-bleached, color-treated, or heat styled hair.
- Fades Brassy Undertones
Argan oil’s natural pigments reduce unwanted tones caused by over-lightening or toners going wrong.
By treating hair with argan oil regularly, you give it staying power against the daily damage we subject it to. Hair stays hydrated, protected and left with a silky quality that shampoos and conditioners alone can’t provide.
Argan oil’s skin and hair benefits are well-known, but it also boasts promising therapeutic applications thanks to biologically active compounds:
- Anti-inflammatory and Antibacterial
Argan oil’s phenolic compounds work to reduce redness and soothe irritation from insect bites, cuts, rashes and minor burns. Its antibacterial properties speed wound/cut healing by preventing infection.
- Stress-Fighting Antioxidants
Oil massage eases tension, and argan oil’s high vitamin E and phenolic content protect against cell-damaging oxidation associated with stress. This nourishes the adrenals.
- Heart Health Promoter
Studies show argan oil consumption supports cardiovascular health by lowering LDL cholesterol and blood pressure when included in a balanced diet.
- Anti-Diabetic Properties
Argan extracts may aid insulin sensitivity and help regulate blood sugar levels based on animal findings hinting at anti-diabetic effects.
- Enhances Brain Function
Vitamin E from argan oil is essential for nervous system health. Research also suggests its sterols impact cognitive decline and mood-related disorders like depression.
In the future, argan oil has potential to impact conditions like eczema, psoriasis, acne and skin cancer once more clinical trials are conducted. But already it has proven anti-aging benefits for whole-body wellness when used topically or taken orally in moderation. Its therapeutic powers are becoming more recognized with scientific research.
Once a little-known secret outside Morocco, argan oil is fast gaining a footing in the international natural products market as its benefits circulate. Here are a few notes on its rising popularity:
- Cosmetic Industry Adoption
Prestige beauty brands have championed argan oil due to its beneficial properties without harsh chemicals. It shows up in everything from cleansers to hair masks.
- Health Food Store Availability
As interest grows in natural remedies, argan oil can now be found at most health food stores in major regions, increasing accessibility.
- Online Exposure and Reviews
Promotion through word-of-mouth, articles and customer testimonials spreads information quickly online about this miracle oil.
- Artisanal Cooperatives in Morocco
More sustainable harvesting has boosted production through fair trade sourcing by cooperatives to meet market demand.
- Nail and cuticle health – Argan oil can be massaged into nails and cuticles to keep them moisturized and flexible. This prevents cracking or hangnails.
- Lips – Its hydrating formula makes argan oil a good natural lip balm. It protects and softens lips.
- Massage oil – Due to its gliding texture and absorption, argan oil makes an excellent carrier oil for aromatherapy massage. It soothes sore muscles.
- Wood conditioner – A few drops rubbed into wood furniture or cutting boards conditions and protects the material from drying out.
- Beauty tool cleaner – It removes buildup and conditions materials like cosmetic brushes, nail files or wood hair tools without harsh chemicals.
- Bath oil – Float a few drops in warm bath water for a soothing soak that moisturizes all over. The skin is left soft.
- Household lubricant – WD-40 has competition – argan oil lubricates squeaky hinges and locks with a natural formula.
- Health elixir – Some add a dropperful of argan oil to smoothies or other recipes for nutrient/antioxidant boost.
- Candle making – It can extend the burn time of homemade candles while adding a subtle glow.
- Food flavoring – In Morocco argan oil is drizzled over tagines, soups and couscous for richness.