From high-end toners to conditioners, argan oil has become synonymous with skin and hair health. Since its introduction, this “liquid gold” oil has quickly become a staple ingredient and is used around the world. So what is argan oil, and what makes it the “it” product of the health and beauty world?
A Brief History of Argan Oil
Argan oil is derived from the Argan nut, which grows inside the fruit of the Argan tree. It’s also referred to as “Moroccan oil,” since the Argan tree only grows naturally in a small area of Southwestern Morocco.
This amber-colored oil has been used as a moisturizer and hair conditioner since as early as 600 BCE, when Phoenicians recorded the use of Argan oil in their beauty routines. Argan oil made its way to Europe in the early 16th century, and became popular among the upper class for skin care, first aid, and cooking. Today, it is found in many beauty products, and is used as a facial cleanser, hair product, lip-gloss, and more.
Argan oil was originally handmade by Berber women, who would work in cooperatives to hand-crack the argan nuts between stones. The Argan kernels were then hand-ground in a stone grinder, then hand-kneaded and cold-pressed into oil. Often, it could take one woman three days to make one liter of oil. Because of this lengthy process, and because the argan tree only grows in a small region, in 1998 UNESCO placed the biosphere where the argan tree grows under protection.
Although argan oil manufacturing has changed somewhat with its growing popularity, indigenous Berber women still hand-crack the argan nuts in fair trade cooperatives, and it is estimated that 5,000 women are able to make a living producing argan oil. (source)
Uses for Argan Oil
Argan oil has several potential health benefits— it is a source of antioxidants and contains essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. However, it is most often used as a facial cleanser, moisturizer, and hair product.
One of the most popular uses for argan oil is as a facial cleanser. Although the idea of cleansing your face with oil seems counterproductive, it can actually help to balance oil production on your face. Often when we use harsh cleansers on our face, it can strip the natural oils, so our bodies may produce extra oil to compensate. Using an oil can help to dissolve and lift away dirt, makeup, sunscreen, and other impurities without drying or irritating skin.
To cleanse your face using oil, simply pour a quarter-sized amount of argan oil into your palm, and work it into your skin in circular motions, starting from the outside edges and moving toward your t-zone and eye area. Massage for one to two minutes, and then gently rinse with warm water. If you want, you can follow this step with a gentle gel or foam cleanser.
100% pure argan oil from Now Foods, is a great option. It’s cold-pressed and Certified Organic. It’s perfect when paired with this gentle foaming cleanser from 100% Pure. This cleanser is designed for combination skin, and has a relaxing lavender and honey scent.
Argan oil can also be used to hydrate and tone your face. You can massage a few drops into your skin before you go to sleep, or mix with your favorite toner. It can also be used to soften cuticles and to nourish cracked heels. Try Moroccan Argan Oil from Aubrey Organics, which promotes skin hydration and can be easily added to your favorite beauty products for extra moisture.
Argan oil is also used in multiple ways for hair health. You can add a few drops to your hair in the shower to moisturize and nourish the ends, or you can apply it to dry hair to create shine and smooth frizz. It also makes a great beard oil, and helps to condition and add shine.
One of our favorite uses is as an ingredient in at-home hair treatments. Whether you choose a hydrating hair mask, a sea salt spray, or a heat protector, argan oil works to condition hair and promote overall health. If you’re adding argan oil to your hair products, we love this Moroccan Argan Oil Coconut from Acure. In addition to the argan oil, this product adds a subtle coconut scent, and is perfect when combined with shea butter and essential oils to make a hydrating leave-in conditioner.
Have you used argan oil? Do you have any favorite recipes? Let us know in the comments!