Noelle needs to know: I read your post regarding coconut oil penetrating hair. How about argan oil? It seems to be the new cosmetic hype, with several brands launching their “miraculous” argan oil-based hair treatment for 45 dollars or more.. (Ahem) Is there any kind of research providing evidence that argan oil can restore health and shine to the hair? They say that argan oil has been used for centuries by Moroccan women to restore skin, hair and nails. Does this Moroccan oil really work?
Could argan oil be the new coconut oil? Let’s take a look.
What is argan oil?
Argan oil is produced from the kernels of argan tree fruit. These trees only grow in a few regions, like Morocco, so this oil is one of the rarest in the world due the small supply and the limited growing area – hence the high price and the hype.
Traditionally the oil is produced by hand. First the soft pulp is stripped from the nuts which are then laid out in the sun to dry. Stones are used to crack open the dried nuts so the seeds can be removed. Next, they’re gently roasted to give the oil a rich, nutty flavor. A little water is added to the roasted seeds and they are ground into a thick paste which is squeezed by hand to extract the oil.
Legend has it that there’s another way to produce this precious oil: Breaking open the nut shells is really hard work and the Moroccans have found that it’s easier wait for their goats to eat the fruit (yes, goats are big fans of argan fruit. They’ll even try to climb trees in search of this succulent treat!) The seeds pass through the goat’s digestive track and emerge on the other end a bit softer since they’re partially digested. So, all the Moroccans have to do is follow the goats around and wait for the seeds to… uh, reappear. The good news is that the post-goat seeds are much easier to break open. The bad news is that they are tainted with the distinctive odor of goat intestines which is less than ideal by most standards.
Is this legend true? Probably not, according to several of the comments we’ve received on this topic. But we never pass up the opportunity to make a goat poop reference.
What is argan oil used for?
Regardless of how it’s made, chemically speaking argan oil consists of a blend of fatty acids (over 70% oleic and linoleic acids.) It is also rich in vitamin E, phenols, and carotenes. Historically argan oil has been used in cooking for dipping bread, on couscous, or on salads. But since it’s so rich in essential fatty acids, there’s no reason it couldn’t be used in skin or hair treatments. In fact, there has some research that indicates that argan oil may be an treatment for psoriasis. And Pubmed references at least one study that shows argan oil reduces sebum production. (We couldn’t find any specific research on argan oil in hair care.)
The only downside to using argan oil in cosmetics, besides the potential lack of supply and high cost, is the fact that it contains a lot of oleic acid which is highly comedogenic. So while it may be good for oily skin and psoriasis, it could clog pores and cause inflammatory acne. You might have to arm yourself with an anti-acne device like Thermaclear.
The Beauty Brains bottom line
If you don’t mind using a cosmetic oil that’s seen the inside of a goat intestine (just kidding!), then argan oil may be for you!
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