Argan oil is the beautiful, nutritious oil that comes from the seeds of the argan tree, which grows almost exclusively in southwest Morocco. Argan oil is extracted from the kernels of the argan fruit, which resembles a large, brown olive or a nut.
Traditionally, Moroccans applied argan oil topically to treat everything from eczema and psoriasis to wrinkles and hair loss.
You’ll find argan oil primarily in two forms: the edible, food-grade argan oil, which comes from roasted argan kernels and can be ingested and used for cooking, and cosmetic argan oil, which is extracted from unroasted kernels, and is intended to be applied directly to the skin or hair.
Nutritionally speaking, argan seeds have many health benefits. They’re chock-full of monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants, and contain more vitamin E than olive oil. This helps give argan oil its skin- and hair-boosting benefits. Historically, Moroccans used it mainly to treat hair loss. Recent research suggests it can, in fact, help repair damaged hair.
Argan oil is comprised primarily of fatty acids, along with a variety of phenolic compounds. Other compounds found in argan oil, such as CoQ10, melatonin and plant sterols, also play a role in its antioxidant capacity.
One of the most attractive benefits of argan oil is that when applied to skin, it helps to ease inflammation while at the same time moisturizing and nourishing the skin. Argan oil is a rich source of vitamin E, which is a fat-soluble antioxidant that can help improve water retention in the skin.
Argan oil is high in linoleic acid, which can help to reduce inflammation caused by acne (as well as rashes, infections and bug bites), while simultaneously helping to soothe damaged skin cells. This is why argan oil can also help to improve acne. Hormonal acne is often the result of excess sebum, which is an unpleasant side effect of changing hormones. Argan oil has anti-sebum effects, which can effectively help to regulate amounts of sebum on the skin. This supports the treatment of several different types of acne and can promote a smoother, calmer complexion.
Atopic dermatitis is a common skin condition that causes itchy, red skin. Research has found that applying argan oil topically to the affected area can help treat the symptoms of atopic dermatitis. Vitamin E and the natural anti-inflammatory properties found in argan oil can lead to a soothing effect.
Argan oil can also be applied directly to your skin to reduce inflammation caused by injuries or infections. In fact, treating skin infections is one of the traditional uses of argan oil. Because argan oil has both antibacterial and fungicidal properties, it can help treat and prevent both bacterial and fungal skin infections.
Argan oil may accelerate the healing process of wounds. Research indicates that argan oil may help reduce inflammation and improve the elasticity of skin, which could be why many people report success when using it on stretch marks. One study suggests that argan oil may prevent and treat stretch marks in their early stages.
Argan oil has long been used as an anti-aging treatment. Until recently, this practice was only supported by anecdotal evidence. However, we now see from current studies that argan oil may support, repair and maintain healthy skin when applied directly to your skin, possibly reducing visual signs of aging.