Liquid Gold: The health benefits of argan oil
Oct 07, 2015 12:06PM ● Published by Becca Newell
Derived from the fruit of the Argania spinosa tree, argan oil is typically extracted by hand. This traditional method preserves the oil in its purest state, unlike more recent methods involving stainless steel presses and chemical solvents.
For decades throughout Morocco, argan oil has been a kitchen staple. Yes, the same stuff you’re probably accustomed to seeing advertised in facial moisturizers and leave-in conditioners, has been drizzled over couscous and used as a dip for bread.
Moroccans have long praised the golden oil for its high nutritional value that assures health benefits in the same vein as olive and almond oils. But that’s not to say they don’t also revel in its cosmetic ability to minimize scars and soothe skin—coveted properties that led to its prominence in the United States’ beauty industry over the last few years.
From hair products to skincare lines, this antioxidant-rich vegetable oil is everywhere, promising silky hair, radiant skin, thicker lashes, and more.
And with high-praising testimonials for Morocco’s pantry item fast filling up the blogosphere, there’s undoubtedly some truth in those claims. Even recent studies measuring the effectiveness of the oil’s nourishing, reparative, and anti-aging capabilities seem to agree.
A 2015 study on postmenopausal women found that the topical application of argan oil improved the elasticity of skin, helping to alleviate wrinkles and fine lines. Another study combined the oil with palmetto extract and sesame seeds to create a facial cream that, when applied twice, daily, over a four-week period, improved the appearance of oily skin. And another month-long study concluded the topical treatment of argan oil enhanced skin hydration.
While a solid scientific basis may not yet exist, it’s safe to say the wonder elixir is certainly a top contender in today’s beauty market—at least in our book!
It takes over a decade for the Argania spinosa to bear fruit ready for harvesting. The fruit’s pit contains one to three kernels that, upon hours of pressing, wield a small amount of oil. This labor-intensive process, along with the endemic nature of the tree to southwestern Morocco (and one region in the western Mediterranean), earned argan oil its reputation as “the most expensive edible oil in the world.”
Products We LoveThe region in Morocco saturated with Argania spinosa trees—almost 10,000 square miles—has been protected under a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve for conservation and research purposes since the late 1990s.
1. Elizabeth and James Nirvana White Body Oil
$60 - Sephora.com
2. Wonder’Lash Mascara with Argan Oil
Available at major retail stores, Rimmellondon.com
3. Jason and the Argan Oil Shampoo Bar
$9.95 - Lushusa.com
4. 100% Pure Argan Oil Light
$48 - Josiemarancosmetics.com
5. Renew: Ambrusca Wash & Scrub
$32 - Moltonbrown.com
Over the last few years, women’s collectives have been established to ensure safe working conditions and fair pay for oil accumulation. Additionally, these collectives protect against deforestation and over-harvesting of the Moroccan region.