Argan oil is an oil extracted from the kernels of the argan tree. The oil is highly valued for its many cosmetic, therapeutic and medicinal properties. Among other ailments, argan oil is an effective treatment for dry skin, psoriasis, eczema, wrinkles, stretch marks and acne.
One of the hottest sellers in the natural skin care industry, argan oil is particularly gentle on the skin, and for this reason, is recommended for consumers with naturally dry skin and/or sensitivities to common skin care products.
Where does argan oil come from?
Argan oil comes from a 10,000 square mile UNESCO-protected biosphere in southwestern Morocco, and can only be extracted from trees grown in this area.
Used for at least 3,500 years by the Berber people of this region, the oil was traditionally processed by hand, in a laborous process, in which a single litre of the oil took two days of manual labor.
In the early 1990s, argan oil production shifted from the Berber people to modern factories in Casablanca, though government agencies and NGOs have redirected much argan production back to the Berber women.
What’s in argan oil?
Argan is high in antioxidants, squalene oil, polyphenols, essential fatty acids, oleic and linoleic acids and has at least 200% more vitamin E than olive oil.
What makes argan effective for anti-aging?
The antioxidants in argan oil fight free radical damage and can protect against aging from the sun. The fatty acids enhance cellular health, with the collagen and elastin required to keep skin young and healthy.
Does argan have other applications?
Argan oil makes an effective hair conditioner. You can add argan to your hair, whether wet or dry, and it’s an ideal remedy for dry hair or split ends. Experiment a little; a few drops can add shine to hair and improve its appearance.
You can also use argan oil to strengthen your nails. Mix one part each argan oil and lemon juice, paint it on your nails with a brush and leave it on for fifteen minutes.
In addition, argan oil can be used for cooking, though cosmetic argan is made with a different process than product meant for cooking and should therefore be used for that purpose only.
Are there side effects with argan oil?
You’ll find that argan oil is very safe. In fact, it’s recommended for people with skin sensitivities and irritations to common skin care products. There are no known wide spread side effects with argan oil, but if you have specific concerns regarding argan, it’s best to speak with your physician.
What’s this about argan oil and fair trade?
Upon efforts from two German government agencies and several non-government organizations, much production of argan oil has shifted away from modern, foreign-controlled factories in Casablanca and large cities and back to the local Berber women who perfected the extraction process over thousands of years.
The issue of argan oil products manufactured in large-scale factories has not disappeared completely. In particular, argan products with preservatives and packaged by some major cosmetic brands have origins in such industrial workshops.
Fortunately, the global interest in ethical consumerism has contributed to fair trade cooperatives, in which women extract and process argan oil in their traditional manner, with competitive wages, flexible working conditions, health care and educational opportunities.
Should I buy pure argan oil or just an argan-based product?
Buy argan oil in its pure state. This preserves the integrity of the beneficial nutrients in argan oil, for maximum benefits, be they cosmetic or otherwise.
Additionally, pure argan oil is more likely to have been processed in a fair trade cooperative than a factory and by a manufacturer that claims to share the benefits of argan production with local Berber women but fails to do so.
Look for an argan oil product manufactured by a small or mid-sized skin care company. They’re more likely to extract their products ethically, in a fair trade co-op, than the larger brands. Look for a commitment from the company that it’s been processed in this manner. One example? Skinception Cold Pressed Cosmetic Argan Oil.