The Argan Tree and Its Oil

 

The Argan Tree and Its Oil

Tales Of Goats And The Argan Tree….

What Do The Moroccan Argan Tree And Moroccan Mountain Goat Have In Common?

These days not a lot but it is said that once upon a time it was common for Tamri goats, also known as the Moroccan mountain goat, to feast upon the fruits of the Moroccan argan oil tree.  Such was their love for this delicacy that they thought nothing of climbing right up into the argan trees to pick the fruit themselves.  The goats’ digestive system absorbed the soft fleshy exterior of the fruit but the hard seeds passed through unscathed.  Argan tree oil producers would then pick up the now denuded argan seeds to use for making their argan oil.  Unfortunately for tourists, but probably fortunately for the argan oil industry, Moroccan law now prevents goat herders allowing their charges anywhere near argan trees that are being used for argan oil production.

Argania Spinosa, or argan tree for those of us who prefer to stick to less complicated nomenclature, are a species of tree native to southwestern Morocco and they’ve been around since the Tertiary era.  More specifically, they’re native to the Souss Valley and have been known to live for 200 odd years with very little cultivation or care.  They’re a hardy, thorny, drought tolerant tree, rather similar to an olive tree in appearance only bigger, around 35 feet or 12 metres on average.   Although well adapted to the harsh environment of their native habitat and once prolific over much of North Africa, the argan tree is now surprisingly rare and is classed as an endangered species thanks in no small part to the efforts of humans who have been using it for a variety of things for a very long time, not all of which have been related to relatively harmless oil production.  The species is now protected by UNESCO.

Ironically, the argan tree is not only valuable for the oil it produces but also holds the key to preventing the continued northern encroachment of the Sahara desert, a process known as desertification.  It has a deep root system and thrives in semi-arid soils, making it invaluable as a buffer against soil erosion.  The Arganeraie Biosphere Reserve, a 2,560,000 hectare reserve in the Atlas Mountain region of Morocco, now provides sanctuary to one of the last remaining natural forests of argan trees left on earth.  The trees are protected from over exploitation by humans (and goats!!) whilst still being used for non-threatening commercial purposes like argan oil production.  They are also preventing the Sahara Desert from extending any further north.   Argan trees are also found in Algeria and Israel but even so argan oil remains one of the rarest oils on earth.

Argan Oil – What Is It?

What Does Argan Oil Come From And How Is Argan Oil Produced?

Argan oil comes from the seed kernels of the argan tree and it isn’t called ‘liquid gold’ for nothing.  It is also commonly referred to as Moroccan Argan Oil in reference to its origins.  Argan oil is still very rare largely due to the limited number of mature argan trees still alive but that’s not the only reason for its rarity.  Argan trees don’t begin producing fruit until they’re 30 to 50 years old and then each crop of fruit takes over a year to mature.  When fully ripe, which is usually around July each year, the round, yellow-green fruit drops off the tree and is collected by hand.  The fruit is then sun dried until the fleshy outer rind shrivels up and can be peeled off, leaving the inner seedpod intact.  The dried rind is used as stock feed and the kernels in the seedpods are crushed to produce argan oil.  Whilst open air drying is by far the most common method of removing the flesh, some producers have managed to mechanise this part and can remove the flesh without the need to dry it first.

The third reason argan oil is rare is because, although attempts have been made to mechanise parts of the argan oil making process, they haven’t been overwhelmingly successful to date and so argan oil production remains a hugely labour intensive process.  Once the dried fruity layer has been removed, the oil-rich kernels inside the hard seedpod, or nut, have to be extracted and this process is still done by hand because no one has yet been able to come up with a more successful mechanised way to do it.  The nuts are cracked open by placing them between 2 stones and the kernels carefully extracted, also by hand.  It’s been done like this for centuries by local Berber women, who have the process down to a fine art but even so, it’s hugely labour intensive.

Once the kernels have been extracted, they are either roasted lightly before being ground to produce culinary grade arganoil for eating or ground raw for cosmetic grade argan oil.   For modern cosmetic production this difference is important because roasting darkens the kernels and produces a nutty flavour and smell in the resulting oil.  Whilst desirable for cooking and edible argan oil it’s not so desirable in argan oil based cosmetics and beauty products.  The two products are not interchangeable anymore either; you can’t use culinary argan oil on your skin and hair or drizzle cosmetic argan oil over your salad!!  Traditionally however the kernels were always lightly roasted and the oil used for both cosmetic and culinary purposes.

Once the kernels have been roasted, or not roasted if they’re for cosmetic argan oil, they need to be ground so that the oil can be extracted.  This part of the production line is becoming increasingly mechanised because it produces a purer oil product in a fraction of the time.  The oil also keeps for a lot longer (12 – 18 months is standard) and mechanisation extracts more oil from the kernels.  Oil yields range from 30% to 55% depending on the type of extraction process used.

The traditional method of extracting oil involves using a rock grinder, called a R’ha, to grind the kernels into a thick oily liquid.  This liquid is mixed with warm water and hand kneaded for some considerable time to bring the oil to surface so that it can be decanted off.  The oil is then allowed to sit for several weeks so that any sediment in it drops to the bottom, allowing for further refining.  The ‘dough’ or Zegmouna, that remains after the oil has been extracted is very high in protein and has traditionally been used as cattle feed or in cosmetic recipes.

Mechanical extraction, or cold pressing, grinds the argan nut kernels into a powder and then directly presses the resulting dough to extract the oil without adding warm water, hence the term ‘cold press’ or ‘cold pressed argan oil’.  Oil yields, particularly from raw kernels for the cosmetic industry, is higher than the traditional method and is claimed to be purer as well.  The entire process also takes a fraction of the time and a litre of oil can be produced in a couple of hours instead of a couple of days!!  The protein-rich by-product is again used predominantly as cattle feed.

Chemical extraction is also used although this is somewhat contentious amongst ‘purists’ and certainly comes across as a bit of contradiction in terms – ‘chemically extracted pure, natural argan oil’ doesn’t really sound quite right somehow!!  The process involves mixing the ground argan kernels with chemical solvents to extract the oil but just how much of the chemicals remain in the resulting product is debatable.  Nevertheless, this method does produce the highest oil yields of the 3 methods.

With sediments or without sediments – which is best….  There are several differing opinions on this.  Some claim that sediments are a natural part of the best pure argan oil and an indicator of just how natural and undiluted the product is whilst others state that sediments shorten the life of the oil and give it an odour which detracts from its value as a cosmetic product.

Whatever your view, the oil does need to be refined at least to a degree and there are several ways this is done.   Each has its detractors and champions (of course!).  The most natural method is either by filters or centrifuges.  Filters strain the oil through 1 micron sized holes; any particulates in the oil larger than 1 micron are trapped and removed.  A centrifuge machine separates the oil from any solids that are suspended in it by rotating the oil at high speed.  Both these methods are chemical free and produce some of the best pure argan oil available.

Did You Know – Interesting Sidenotes About Argan Oil !!!

A single argan tree produces 30 kilograms of fruit, which translates into 1 litre of argan oil, just another reason for its rarity.  There are 1.8 billions litres of olive oil produced around the world annually compared to just 4 million litres of argan oil.  One litre of argan oil takes 15 to 20 hours to produce using the cold press method.  It takes 3 days to produce 1 litre via the completely traditional method

For good measure, and as an indication of just why argan oil is touted as the latest marvel in culinary and cosmetic health, here’s a breakdown of the fatty acid components in argan oil:

Fatty acid                               Percentage

Oleic (Omega 9)                      42.8%

Linoleic (Omega 6)                 36.8%

Palmitic                                   12.0%

Stearic                                     6.0%

Linolenic (Omega 3)               <0.5%

Moroccan Argan Oil And The Berber Women Of Morocco

Argan Oil Production – Helping Berber Woman, Their Communities And The Environment.

There is no doubt that since the rest of the world sat up and started taking notice of the humble, unassuming Moroccan argan tree and its amazing oil, life has become a whole lot better for many Berber women and their families.  Not necessarily in terms of labour because traditional argan oil production is highly labour intensive and not all of it has been, or can be, mechanised so Berber women are still as hard working as ever.  The difference is that now they receive fair compensation for their labours and the conditions under which they work have also vastly improved.  Fair-trade co-operatives have been set up to provide reliable steady employment for Berber women and the benefits have had a flow on effect throughout their communities.  It’s given women self-respect, improved their social status, enabled them to provide for their families in ways that were previously reserved for the men folk and opened up a range of alternatives for them.

Collecting and drying the argan fruit still involves entire families but when it comes to hand cracking the shells it is the women who have it down to a fine art perfected by centuries of practise.  Today the argan oil production industry supports over 2 million people in the main argan oil-producing region of Morocco, many of them women.

And it isn’t all bad for the humble argan tree either these days.  Once a predominant feature of the North African landscape, constant exploitation by humans for its oil and timber has brought it almost to the point of extinction.  With the booming interest in argan oil globally it is now a valuable resource with an assured future.  New areas are being planted for sustainable argan oil production and this has had an inevitable flow on effect on the environment.  Its root system helps with soil stability and reduces erosion, the canopy provides shade for livestock and improves pasture grasses and the leaves and fruit are a valuable source of food for birds and animals.

Why Use Argan Oil?

The Real Nitty Gritty About The Health Benefits Of Argan Oil ….

What is Moroccan Argan Oil Used For?

Good question and the answer is that there are many uses of argan oil.  It’s been touted as the oil of a thousand uses and for good reason.  From the kitchen to the bathroom cabinet, its health benefits are only just starting to be revealed to the western world.  It also isn’t out of place in the medicine chest either.

In just 4 years the number of products on the US market containing argan oil jumped from 2 in 2007 to over 100 in 2011.  Argan oil products range from pure, organic argan oil products to those containing an argan oil component to enhance other ingredients in the product.  There are argan oil creams and moisturizers, argan oil lip balms, argan oil serums, argan oil facial and restorative masks, argan oil lotions, argan oil shampoos and conditioners, argan oil soaps and argan oil sprays.  And the uses for argan oil products are touted to be many and varied – for nails, treating skin conditions like acne, eczema and psoriasis, reducing wrinkles, scars and stretch marks and in makeup.

What Is In Argan Oil?

Argan oil contains tocopherols (vitamin E), natural phenols, carotenes, squalene and fatty acids, 80% of which are unsaturated.

So Why Use Argan Oil?

Why indeed.  Apart from being the latest ‘fad’ in health and beauty, argan oil is also extremely beneficial when taken internally and applied externally.  The health benefits of using argan oil are numerous and have been widely touted in the media so it shouldn’t come as any great surprise to learn that it is very high in vitamins and minerals, anti-oxidants and essential fatty acids.

Argan Oil Is High In Vitamin E.

More specifically it’s high in Vitamin E, which is a blanket term for eight different naturally occurring fat-soluble antioxidants – 4 tocopherols and 4 tocotrienols.  All of these are found in our daily diet to varying degrees.  Alpha-tocopherol has been the most widely studied to date because of its known antioxidant effects and is the one most commonly used in dietary supplements but research into its little known relative gamma-tocopherol is uncovering some surprising facts.

Gamma-tocopherol, a potent but nowhere near as common supplemental form of Vitamin E has, as it turns out, some pretty unique properties.  Like the rest of the Vitamin E family, it has powerful antioxidant activities but studies have found that in combination with DHA, an omega-3 fat, it also has rather powerful anti-inflammatory effects because it neutralizes toxic reactive nitrogen oxides like nitrogen dioxide and peroxynitrite which accumulate during some inflammation processes and are responsible for initiating several degenerative inflammatory diseases.

That’s not all they’ve discovered about gamma-tocopherol!

Insulin resistance is becoming a big problem in today’s society largely thanks, scientists believe, to increasing levels of obesity and decreasing levels of physical activity.   Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that assists liver, muscle and fat cells to remove glucose (natural form of sugar) from the blood and stimulates them to store excess glucose as glycogen.  Glycogen is then used by the body as a source of energy, particularly during exercise.  When someone becomes insulin resistant it means the cells that absorb glucose are no longer as responsive to normal levels of insulin as they should be and are not able to absorb glucose as efficiently so the pancreas has to start producing more insulin.  So long as the pancreas can produce enough insulin to keep the cells absorbing glucose properly, blood glucose levels will remain normal.  Once the pancreas can no longer keep up with the increasing demand for insulin, blood glucose levels rise leading to Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes.  The good news is that insulin resistance can be reversed before it reaches the stage of becoming full-blown diabetes; the bad news is that many insulin resistance sufferers are not aware they have it until they have full-blown diabetes.

However, help may be at hand because research by Australian scientists indicates that insulin resistant muscle cells have greater glucose uptake and improved insulin signaling after exposure to gamma-tocopherol.   In other words, gamma-tocopherol appears to help restore the glucose absorbing capabilities of muscle cells, which in turn reduces blood glucose levels.  This has massive implications for helping people manage blood sugar and insulin levels.

And what has this to do with argan oil?  Well, 75% of the Vitamin E component in argan oil is gamma-tocopherol.  A study done in 2005 by Hilali et al discovered that the levels of tocopherols in argan oil is four times higher than in olive oil and twice as high as in hazelnut oil, making it an ideal source of dietary gamma-tocopherol.

Most commercial Vitamin E supplements are predominantly made up of alpha-tocopherol but it’s been found that taking excess amounts of alpha-tocopherol lowers blood plasma levels of gamma-tocopherol with accompanying health implications.  Aging for instance is associated with a decline in gamma-tocopherol levels in plasma.  So, if you’re taking a commercial Vitamin E supplement you really should consider balancing it out with something that is high in gamma-tocopherol, like argan oil.

Bottom line – the anti-inflammatory, anticancer, cardio protective and anti aging properties of gamma-tocopherol definitely warrants its consideration as an important component of an overall nutritional plan, especially if you want to stick around for a long time.  Add a bottle of edible argan oil to your pantry and use it as a salad dressing or as a way of adding flavour to some of your cooking.

Phenols And Polyphenols In Argan Oil – Important Role Players In Our Health

Natural phenols and polyphenols are another component of argan oil.  Natural phenols are a group of organic compounds found naturally in a lot of the foods we eat like fruits, vegetables and nuts and are believed to play an important role in cancer prevention.  A polyphenol is simply a string of different phenol molecules joined together.

The primary phenols and polyphenols identified to date in both edible and cosmetic argan oil include caffeic acid, oleuropein, vanillic acid, tyrosol, catechol and resorcinol with (-)-epicatechin and (+)-catechin also being found in cosmetic argan oil.  Syringic acid, 4-hydroxy benzyl alcohol and p-hydroxybenzoic acid are also present in small amounts.  Incidentally, the press cake (residue left over after removing the oil), leaves and fruit pulp of the argan tree have been found to have an equally as impressive array of phenols and polyphenols.

You’ve probably heard of the many benefits of caffeic acid in coffee and green tea but it’s also one of the primary phenols founds in argan oil.   Caffeic acid is found naturally in a great many other plants as well; it’s an organic compound that is known to be a powerful antioxidant.  Antioxidants reduce the harmful effects of oxidation in the body by removing the free radicals that are produced by the oxidizing process.  Many antioxidants are also carcinogenic inhibitors and they play an important role in reducing coronary disease.

Oleuropein, one of the main phenols in argan oil, has been used for centuries as a natural healing agent due to its natural antibiotic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral agent as well as helping to boost the body’s immune system.   It’s also a powerful antioxidant.  The traditional source of oleuropein until now has been olive trees, most notably extracts made from the olive tree leaf but olive oil also contains many of the same beneficial agents.  Oleuropein is not only useful for helping skin problems like acne, eczema and psoriasis but has also been indicated as a natural source of healing and preventative medication for a range of ailments including:

  • Fights colds and flus
  • Yeast Infections
  • Heart Disease
  • Lowering Bad Cholesterol or Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL)
  • Lowers Blood Pressure
  • Increases Blood Flow
  • Treats Epstein-Barr Disease
  • Treats Shingles
  • Prevents / treats Cold Sores and Herpes
  • Helps Lower Cholesterol
  • Combats Viruses
  • Possesses Anti-Fungal Properties
  • Possesses Anti-Bacterial Properties
  • Maintains A Strong and Balanced Immune System

Tyrosol is another antioxidant found in many fruits, vegetables and grains but most notably in olive oil, wine, green tea and of course argan oil.  Populations who have traditionally consumed large amounts of tyrosol rich foods are proven to have the least incidences of cancer, strokes and heart disease.  It has even been attributed to helping prevent Alzheimer’s and repair blemished skin caused by scarring and stretch marks.

Resorcinol,a chemical compounddiscovered in argan oil during a 2005 study, has disinfecting and antiseptic properties and is widely used in the pharmaceutical industry to produce a range of disinfectants and antiseptics.  It is a component in many ointments and creams used to treat skin diseases and disorders like eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis and acne.  Some anti-dandruff preparations contain resorcinol as well.  Wart, corn and calluse removing creams may also contain resorcinol as it helps to remove tough, scaly skin.

Catechol is a natural compound found in small amounts in some plants and vegetables; it was discovered in argan oil during the same study in 2005 that located Resourcinol.  Catechol is associated with an enzyme that causes it to oxidize (turn reddish brown) when it comes into contact with oxygen.   The most common examples are the browning reaction you see on some fruits and vegetables like apples and potatoes when they’re cut open and left exposed to oxygen.

Epicatechin is yet another naturally occurring antioxidant found in a range of plants, most notably cocoa which is made from the beans of the cacao plant.  Studies done on Kuna Indians living on a chain of islands in Panama who drink a lot of cocoa found that they have significantly lower incidences of heart failure, strokes, cancer and diabetes compared to their tribal relatives living on the mainland who don’t drink the cocoa based drinks.  This has been attributed to the epicatechin found in the cocoa which is likely responsible for improving the heart health of the Panama Kuma Indians and as they also had fewer cases of diabetes, indicates that it probably also acts as an insulin mimicking agent to assist with the absorption of glucose by various tissue cells.

Catechin is also a natural  antioxidant and like Epicatechin, is found in cocoa.  It’s also found in acai palm oil as well as argan oil and in stone fruits, berries, vinegar, red wine, rhubarb and unfermented green tea which has the highest concentrations currently known.  It’s potential primary value as a food source lies with its proven ability in mice to reduce the effects of brain damage caused by strokes when administered within a certain time of the stroke.

Argan Oil – Yet More Antioxidants….

Carotenes, including beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and lycopene are a group of powerful antioxidants that may help to prevent diseases like heart disease and cancer.  Alpha-carotene has also been linked to longevity of life.

And An Immune Stimulator

Squalene, or Omega 2 oil, traditionally extracted from shark liver oil but also found in some plant oils like olive and palm oil and now argan oil, is a powerful anti-oxidant and immune stimulator.  Small amounts also occur naturally in most species of plant and animal life, including humans.  Testing indicates that it may be a natural cancer inhibitor and could explain why sharks have been found to have exceptionally high resistance to cancer, even after exposure to high levels of radiation.  The high levels of squalene found in olive oil is also believed to be the reason for the low incidences of cancers like breast cancer amongst populations who traditionally consume a lot of olive oil.

Fatty Acids – Argan Oil Is Over 80% Unsaturated Fats

Fatty acids, the other component of argan oil, are a very important part of a healthy diet.  Fatty acids keep the largest organ in the body, our skin, healthy.  They help slow down the aging process and prevent our arteries from getting clogged up with cholesterol, they assist with the movement of oxygen through the bloodstream and are important in the development of cell membranes, strong healthy tissues and body organs.  They also aid thyroid and adrenal gland function, regulate our blood pressure, ensure our blood clots properly and help to control inflammation.  In other words, they’re something we can’t really do without!  The most common fatty acids are Omega 3 and Omega 6.

The Many and Varied Uses for Moroccan Argan Oil

Argan oil use can broadly be categorized into 4 main areas:

  • Dietary – uses edible argan oil.
  • Skin – uses cosmetic grade argan oil either as pure argan oil or as a component in skin care products
  • Hair – also uses cosmetic grade argan oil either as pure argan oil or as a component in shampoos, conditioners and other hair care products
  • Medicinal – cosmetic grade argan oil often with other complimentary pharmaceutical agents present

Edible Argan Oil – Great Tasting And So Good For You Too!!

So right about now, argan oil with its high concentration of all those things that are so good for you, must be starting to sound pretty good.  Anything that is ‘highly likely’ to be helpful in preventing cardiovascular diseases, obesity and certain types of cancer has to be seriously worth taking a look at if you’re wondering ‘why use argan oil’.  So the fact that it’s actually very good for you is one good reason right off the bat if you’re wondering what to use argan oil for.

It must be said however that a lot more research is needed to verify many of the claims being touted about the health benefits of consuming argan oil as much of the research to date has been sponsored by cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies with a view to using argan oil for topical ie external applications.

Moroccans have been using argan cooking oil in the kitchen and argan cosmetic oil as a beauty product for aeons and when you look at what’s in it you can see why….  argan oil is packed full of vitamins (E in particular) and minerals, anti-oxidants and essential fatty acids – 80% unsaturated fats in fact and that’s a very good thing for an oil to be.  It also doesn’t have any toxins or harmful parabens.

How do you use argan oil on the menu?  In Moroccan kitchens it’s traditionally been used for dipping bread, as a salad dressing, on dishes like couscous and so on.  Because the kernels used in culinary grade argan oil are roasted prior to being crushed the oil has a pleasant nutty taste, which may or may not take a bit of getting used to.  Using argan oil for cooking is also a great way to add some unique flavours and plenty of goodness to a range of dishes – Sweet Potato & Caraway Soup with Argan Oil (yum).  Argan oil is not suitable for frying food however because it has a low smoking point so is best used to add flavour to dishes and as a dressing.

A very popular argan oil recipe is a dish called Amlou, which looks something like peanut paste and is made from a mixture of ground roast almonds, argan oil and honey.  Variations on this recipe use other types of nuts and sugar instead of honey.  It’s used as a dip for bread.

Although argan food oil is a deliciously healthy alternative to traditional oils, it’s in the cosmetic and skin care industry where its use has really taken off.  Moroccan women have known about the beauty secrets of argan oil for centuries but it’s taken the rest of world a lot longer to cotton on to the oil’s value.  In 2007 there were just 2 products with argan oil in them on the US market.  By 2011 that number had jumped to over 100!!  Fortunately it seems we’re quick learners….

Argan Oil For The Skin And Face:

Argan Oil – Moisturizer And All-Round Wonder Serum Without Peer!

It isn’t a co-incidence that argan oil has plenty of benefits for the skin.  Argan oil is a rich source of natural antioxidants, essential fatty acids like Omega 9 and Omega 6, tocopherols (Vitamin E), natural phenols and Omega 2 (squalene).  The Berbers have been using it for centuries for keeping their skin and hair supple and soft even in dry, debilitating heat and also for medicinal purposes to help soothe irritated skin and protect and heal skin infections.

One of the greatest values of argan oil is that it can be used 100% pure or it can be added to other beauty products to enhance them.  The ‘purists’ will tell you that it should be pure organic argan oil for best results and they’re probably right but you’d need to make sure you’re buying certified pure organic argan oil in that case.  Argan oil is also a dry oil which means it’s absorbed readily by skin and hair and doesn’t leave an oily residue.

Using 100% argan oil – pure argan oil is quite dense so a little bit goes a long way and it’s always better to start off with too little and add more.

What Are The Benefits Of Argan Oil For Skin:

A lot more testing is required to discover the full range of skin care uses for argan oil but to date it has been implicated in a wide range of beneficial activities including:

  • Moisturize and nourish skin
  • Helps control sebum production.  Sebum is produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin to help protect hair and skin from drying out and for waterproofing the skin.  It’s quite oily and when produced in excess can lead to skin disorders like acne and keratosis (tiny, hard bumps on the skin).
  • Anti-aging (both internal and external use).  Decreased levels of gamma-tocopherol in blood plasma, generally brought on by excessive supplementation of alpha-tocopherol, are directly linked to increased aging.  Gamma-tocopherol and alpha-tocopherol are two of the 8 compounds referred to as Vitamin E.  Argan oil has been proven to be one of the highest sources of natural gamma-tocopherol currently known.   The fatty acids in argan oil also help to improve elasticity and cell strength in the skin.
  • The combination of antioxidants, Vitamin E and essential fatty acids in argan oil, especially when used pure, can help prevent damage and aging from the elements like UV and pollution.
  • Helps preserve collagen and promote new collagen growth.
  • High absorption rate – absorbed quickly into the skin without leaving an oily residue.

How To Use Pure Argan Oil On Skin

For best results when using argan oil on your skin, warm the oil before using it and apply it to clean, damp skin rather than dry skin.  You only need a few drops because it spreads easily and is readily absorbed.  Use a circular motion to massage the oil in and pay particular attention to areas where wrinkles and fine lines are.

Argan oil face moisturizer – to use pure argan oil as a face moisturizer, massage a few drops daily into your skin until evenly absorbed.  The natural sterolins in the oil help your skin to retain more moisture. It will work wonders for your complexion, rehydrating, softening and smoothing your skin.  Application first thing in the morning is best for this.

A note of caution – make sure you don’t get any oil in your eyes.  If you do, don’t rub your eyes.  Flush them immediately with clean water and if irritation persists, consult your doctor.  Another great face moisturizer is equal parts argan and almond oil with a tiny bit of rose oil – you only need a few drops of each type of oil.

Argan oil body moisturizer – to use as an all-over body moisturizer application just after a shower produces the best results.  As for the face, rub it evenly into your skin.  A little goes a long way so you won’t need a lot.  Alternatively, add a few drops to your body lotion to enhance its effects.  You can also add a few drops of argan oil to bath water and it’s safe to use with babies as well.

Argan oil lip balm – apply a few drops of pure argan oil straight onto your lips for a great moisturizer or mix with other known natural ingredients such as aloe vera, honey, mango butter or oil or coconut butter or oil.

Argan oil exfoliating and moisturizing face scrub – a few drops of argan oil mixed with sea salt or sugar makes an excellent exfoliating scrub.  You only need a couple of tablespoons of sea salt (or sugar for sensitive skin – either white or brown is fine) with 4 or 5 drops of pure argan oil.  For lips, use a few drops of pure argan oil mixed with soft brown sugar and a drop or two of vanilla extract.

Argan oil hydrating toner – a few drops of argan oil added to Rose or Orange Blossom water makes a great home-made hydrating toner.  Just rub evenly into your skin.  You can also add a couple of drops of argan oil to your commercial toner.

Argan oil serum – massage a few drops of pure argan oil into your skin before bed and then apply your usual night cream over the top.  This is a great way to help counter the effects of aging on your skin too.

Argan oil face mask – rejuvenate and brighten your face by adding a few drops of argan oil to a commercial face mask or make your own with lemon juice (1 tablespoon), yoghurt (Greek-style is best – around 3 teaspoons should be enough), honey (a tablespoon) and a few drops of argan oil.  Apply, leave on for 10 minutes then rinse off with warm water.

Argan oil for anti-aging – keeping skin moisturized, supple and hydrated is one of the key components to reducing the appearance of aging.

Argan oil soap – there are a range of natural and organic soaps on the market with argan oil added in varying amounts.  You will need to read the packaging to see how much there is in any particular product.  The soap is beneficial not only for moisturizing the skin but also in helping to treat skin conditions and irritations.

Add a few drops of argan oil to your makeup – add luminosity and glow to your liquid foundation.

Makeup remover –  argan oil is also an effective makeup remover and will moisturize at the same time.

Moisturizer for hands and nails– our hands cop a pounding every day and are one of the first parts of the body to start showing wear and tear.  A daily application of argan oil – just a few drops, will have them looking smooth and supple again in no time.  Don’t forget your nails and cuticles whilst you’re about it – argan oil works well to restore moisture to those too and reduces brittleness and splitting.

Repair cracked heels – rub argan oil into your heels and feet at night then put on a pair of socks.

The Benefits Of Argan Oil For Different Skin Types

Dry skin is caused through insufficient sebum production and is often flaky and itchy as a result.  Argan oil helps to restore natural sebum production and stimulates the skin’s moisture retaining ability as well as providing additional moisture and hydration.  This helps to reduce the itchiness and flaking.

Sensitive skin – pure argan oil is totally natural so it shouldn’t cause too many problems with sensitive skin but always test new products before application.  This will also detect any allergies you may have to the product.

Oily skin is caused by too much sebum being produced and skin conditions resulting from blocked pores, like acne, can be the result.  Whilst argan oil has been proven to help restore normal sebum production, care should always be taken using oil-based products on oily skin.

Combination skin is where some areas of the face are oily and the rest is normal or dry.  The oily areas are usually the forehead and nose.  As it does for dry and oily skin, argan oil helps to balance out the sebum production across these different areas.

Argan Oil Uses for Hair:

What Are The Benefits Of Argan Oil On Hair:

The benefits of argan oil for hair are similar to those for skin – it is readily absorbed into the hair to soften, moisturize, add shine and protect the hair shafts and help keep your scalp healthy.

How To Use Argan Oil On Your Hair:

Using argan oil on your hair is simple and easy.  It’s usually used as a conditioner to restore moisture and shine but you can add a bit to your shampoo for washing as well.

Treat dry, split ends – rub a few drops of pure argan oil in your hands then apply to the dry or frizzy ends to help repair them.  It adds moisture and shine and you only need a few drops.  And, even if you’re hair isn’t dry and frizzy it still works an absolute treat!

Hair moisturizer / leave in conditioner – use pure argan oil as a total hair replenishing and rehydrating treatment; apply just after you’ve washed and towel dried your hair for best results.  To apply, put a few drops of pure argan oil on your hands then rub into your hair and scalp, paying particular attention to any dry frizzy areas.  You can also add a little bit of argan oil to your commercial conditioner to provide extra bounce and shine.

Deep hair treatment – rub pure argan oil into your hair and scalp last thing at night then wrap and leave on overnight.  When you wash your hair in the morning, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful, soft, shiny, bouncy hair.  It will do wonders for your scalp as well.  This is a great way to restore hair that has been damaged by constant styling and blow-drying.

For even better results, heat the oil a bit, apply it to your hair and scalp then wrap a hot damp towel around your hair.  The heat will help with the oil absorption.  Then wash and shampoo your hair.  This is a good way to restore moisture and shine to dry coarse hair.

Styling – to use argan oil for styling your hair, just add a few drops to your hands then rub it into your hair to reduce frizziness and add shine and bounce.

Scalp treatment – you can apply pure argan oil directly to your scalp by adding it to your hair and rubbing into your scalp.  Leave it for half an hour to an hour before washing it out.  Or, you can apply the oil directly to affected areas with a cotton wool ball, then proceed as above.  If you have a particularly dry scalp wrap your head in a warm moist towel after applying the oil; this opens the pores and allows the oil to penetrate right into the skin.  After an hour or so wash your hair with warm water.

Medicinal Argan Oil Uses:

The Healing Benefits Of Argan Oil:

It’s probably the pharmaceutical benefits of argan oil that have garnered the most attention because it’s a far wider and more substantial market than the purely cosmetic and beauty sector.  The various properties found in argan oil, some of which have now been confirmed by testing, make pure argan oil one of the most interesting and potentially also one of the most valuable products in the natural health care market.  Obviously a lot more testing is required but sometimes centuries of cold hard proof speaks just as loudly as the most thorough of scientific testing.

Argan oil for acne – overproduction of sebum blocks the skin’s pores creating an ideal breeding ground for the bacteria that causes acne.  Successful treatment of acne involves not just clearing up the infection by eradicating the bacteria that cause it but also treating the underlying catalyst, which is the overproduction of sebum.  Pure argan oil has been successfully used to treat sebum production disorders.  The Oleuropein in argan oil is a natural antibiotic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral agent and Resorcinol, which is also found in argan oil, has disinfecting and antiseptic properties and is widely used in the pharmaceutical industry to produce a range of disinfectants and antiseptics.  It is a component in many ointments and creams used to treat skin diseases and disorders like eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis and acne.

To apply argan oil for treating acne, ensure your hands are clean.  Use a couple of drops of oil and rub it gently onto the affected areas.  It’s highly penetrative so will get absorbed rapidly without leaving an oily residue.  It may take several weeks of twice daily application before noticeable improvement occurs and in some cases it may even take several months.  Argan oil will also gradually reduce the scarring left behind by the acne.

Opinions differ as to whether pure argon oil on its own or added to a combination of other essential oils such as tea tree, lavender, rosemary and lemon work best so its probably best to consult a naturopath or try a few combination to find what works best for you.

Argan oil for eczema – some eczema sufferers have reported great results using argan oil on its own for treating their eczema and others have said it’s done nothing at all or that it works better in combination with other essential oils.  One of the biggest issues with eczema is dry itching skin and stopping the itching and providing moisture are the keys to starting the healing process.

Argan oil is rich in Omega 6 and Omega 9 essential fatty acids, both of which are known to sooth and heal skin irritations.  Combined with the proven anti inflammatory properties of Vitamin E, or more specifically the extremely high levels of gamma-tocopherol (one of the 8 compounds generically called Vitamin E) argan oil has some pretty powerful weapons with which to start fighting eczema.

Application of argan oil to treat eczema is similar to application for acne treatment.

Argan oil for psoriasis – the basis for claiming that argan oil is useful for treating psoriasis is based on reasonably recent research which suggests that natural plant based antioxidants like polyphenols could have beneficial effects on the inflammation characteristics of this disease.  Argan oil contains a number of polyphenols with powerful antioxidant capabilities, hence the claim that it helps this condition.  To date however a lot more research is required to substantiate, or unsubstantiate, this claim.  In the meantime application of argan oil either on its own, or in combination with other natural sources of antioxidants, probably doesn’t do any harm and may well help to alleviate some of the symptoms as per the research findings to date.

Argan oil for scars – it’s been known for a long time that vitamin E applied topically to the skin is one of the most effective healing and scar tissue preventative agents available, which is why dermatologists have been recommending it to their patients for equally as long.  Argan oil is extremely high in vitamin E.  It is also very high in Omega 6 or Linoleic Acid, which is known to be another very effective anti-inflammatory treatment for skin conditions, particularly when applied topically.  Reducing inflammation in the skin also helps to reduce subsequent scarring, an important consideration with conditions like acne, chicken pox and with stretch marks.  The other attribute argan oil possesses which many other topical treatments lack, is the ability to hydrate and moisturize the skin which is also important in reducing or preventing scarring.

To treat scar tissue with argan oil first ensure that you have a genuine 100% pure product and then precisely follow the treatment instructions provided.  Most scars may take several months of treatment before a visible difference is noted.

Argan oil for stretch marks – stretch marks can occur for a number of reasons but excessive weight gain and pregnancy are probably the most common causes.  Applying topical treatments like argan oil that are rich in vitamin E and Omega 6, which are proven to assist with maintaining optimum skin health and to reduce the inflammation in the skin that leads to scar tissue forming, will also help to prevent, or minimize, stretch marks.  The moisturizing capabilities of argan oil also help the skin retain suppleness and elasticity which are equally as important in helping to minimize stretching damage.  It can be applied like ordinary skin cream.

What To Look For When Buying Argan Oil

Sprinkle Over Salad Or Dabble On Skin – How To Tell What Type Of Moroccan Argan Oil You’re Looking At ….

Because culinary or food grade argan oil and cosmetic grade argan oil are not intended to be mixed and matched it does pay to check which one you’re looking at.  Argan oil intended for the kitchen has been roasted so is darker in colour with a fragrant, nutty smell and flavour.  Cosmetic argan oil should be almost odourless with no flavour and is lighter in colour.  It also generally comes in smaller bottles than the cooking oil.  Mind you, the bottles or containers should be clearly labelled as well so double check before purchase to make sure you’re buying the correct product.

Buying and Using Argan Oil for Skincare

Common Warning Signs When Purchasing Pure Argan Oil.

With over 100 products on the market in the US alone claiming to contain argan oil or be pure organic argan oil, it’s easy to get conned into buying something that is probably not what it’s purported to be.

Warning sign # 1 – a price tag that is really too good to be true.  Cheap argan oil is a contradiction in terms, especially if it’s meant to be 100% pure genuine argan oil.  Pure argan oil is pricey because it’s rare and it’s labour intensive to produce.  So expect to pay a bit for real argan oil, especially pure, organically certified argan oil.  Culinary grade argan oil may be a little cheaper but not a lot.

Warning sign # 2 – over time the properties in argan oil can become degraded by certain spectrums of light so genuine argan oil is sold in brown or blue bottles as these colours block out the harmful light

Warning sign # 3 – check the ingredients.  If you’re buying 100% pure authentic argan oil then that’s the only ingredient that should be on the label!  Look for 100% argan oil or 100% argania spinosa kernel oil on the label.  If you’re buying a product which has an argan oil component then make sure the other ingredients are bad stuff like sulfates, mineral oil or parabens.

Warning sign # 4 – if it doesn’t smell a little bit nutty, at least initially, then it could have been heated, which destroys some of the beneficial properties.  If it smells really nutty then it could be culinary or food grade argan oil, which is roasted lightly prior to being crushed to extract the oil.

Warning sign # 5 – if the oil doesn’t absorb into your skin quickly or retains an oily feel, and you haven’t used too much of it, then it may be mixed with another oil like sunflower or olive.  Or it could be culinary grade oil.

Warning sign # 6 – for the best quality argan oil, look for cold pressed argan oil but traditionally pressed argan oil is equally as beneficial.  Some suppliers even prefer it

Warning sign # 7 – if you’re chasing certified organic pure argan oil then make sure it has the labelling to back up the claim.

So I’m Hooked – Where Can I Find Argan Oil?

You can buy argan oil online, which is probably easiest in many ways because you can check out a wide range of argan oil suppliers and compare prices, ingredients etc.  Just do a search online for argan oil for sale or if you’re wanting a product with an argan oil component and not necessarily pure, specify what you want it for ie argan oil face serum, organic argan oil hair treatment, argan oil penetrating oil and so on.

Otherwise, you’ll find argan oil and argan oil based products in natural food stores, chemists, possibly major department stores in the beauty or health section and in speciality beauty stores.