This aromatic plant oil comes from the seeds/kernels of the Argan tree also known by its scientific name, the Argania spinisa. Over the last couple of years, Argan oil has become so sought after that it has become known by another name—Liquid gold.
To get to the kernel, the fleshy part is tore away from the nut and then it’s cracked open.
Extraction of the kernel is done by hand and is a very time consuming process. The shell is fifteen times harder than the average hazelnut. Once the kernel is free, it is then grounded into a thick paste, which is squeezed to produce the oil. The paste that remains is used as animal feed or to make soap.
About thirty kilograms of the fruit yield two kilograms of kernels.
The reason for its popularity is that argan oil is very high in antioxidants and is used for cosmetic, culinary and medicinal reasons.
The components of Argan oil
• Vitamin E or Tocopherol is abundant in Argan oil. It helps to heal damaged skin, tightens the skin and maintains hydration in the overall body system.
• Squalene is an antioxidant with anti-bacterial properties and heals/treat a variety of skin conditions. It anchors itself to the membranes of the body cells and helps to get rid of toxins from the body.
• Polyphenols are known for their anti-aging, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic properties and are found in good quantities in Argan oil.
• Ferulic acid helps to prevent or reduce the damage caused by ultraviolet light.
• Essential fatty acids enable cells to get nutrition and also to remove waste from the body. They are antioxidants and also have moisturizing properties.
Where did it originate from?
The Argan tree is native to south western Morocco, in North Africa, and in the deserts of the country and nowhere else. It is said to have been in use for the last 3500 years but has only just being discovered by the rest of the world.
Berber women of the Moroccan dessert have harvested this oil for thousands of years and women in the country have been the custodians of the Argan oil.
Uses of the Argan oil
• Argan oil helps to reduce body inflammation and also the intestines from absorbing cholesterol.
• It helps with managing arthritis and rheumatism
• The oil stimulates circulation within the body and works to strengthen the body’s natural immunity.
• It is used to treat and manage skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, acne and chicken pox. In pregnancy, it can be used as a preventative measure against stretch marks.
Argan oil is very versatile and has no adverse effects, and a bottle of the pure oil can be used in its pure form for the uses highlighted below:
• When applied to your hair, Argan oil hydrates it and leaves it naturally shiny, without being greasy. It makes a wonderful hair conditioner and treats common problems like a dry, itchy scalp and split ends.
• It’s also used as a styling agent due to its ability to tame frizzy hair. It helps the hair to become more manageable, especially if it gets easily tangled.
• Massage the oil into your hair and scalp, and wrap it overnight. In the morning, wash your hair and the result will be soft shiny hair.
• If you suffer from dry hair, put a little oil in the palms of your hands, and run your hands through your hair. Just a small amount of Argan oil will be enough to create shine in your hair.
• Because of the high levels of Vitamin E in Argan oil, it is great as a skin care product. It protects the skin from the loss of elasticity (the cause of wrinkles), reduces inflammation and keeps the kin well hydrated. It is free of preservatives and other chemicals found in skin care products.
Its benefits when applied to the skin include:
• It moisturises and nourishes dry and flaky skin
• It also helps to manage oily skin by regulating the production of sebum, so that excess oils are not produced and released to the skin.
• Acne occurs when the skin pores are clogged up due to excess oil. In managing the production of sebum, Argan oil helps to treat acne.
• Aging occurs when the skin loses its elasticity. Argan oil is known for its anti-aging properties, in that it stimulates the growth of skin cells while boosting the elasticity of the skin.
• Argan oil is also great for your nails because it provides them with vitamins, mineral and antioxidants. It gets absorbed easily thereby promoting the wellness of the nails. It softens the cuticles and gives your nails a natural, appealing shine. Massage a few drops to your finger cuticles. For the feet, apply the oil on the cuticles as well as on the whole feet. Wear socks to bed and come morning, you’ll notice the softness of your feet.
• Use the oil in your bath as bath oil. It provides the same benefits to your skin as when you apply it directly to the skin.
• In the cold winter months, or in extremely dry periods, when the lips become cracked and dry, applying Argan oil on the lips ensures that lips stay soft and supple. It works better than commercial lip balms which sometimes work in the opposite way by making the lips drier.
When used in food, Argan oil:
- Improves blood circulation in the body
- Strengthens the immune system
- Lowers cholesterol
- Stabilizes blood sugar
- Helps to manage rheumatism and arthritis
- Protects from heart disease
- Lowers the risk of some cancers
A word of caution
Many products are labelled ‘Moroccan oil’ to lure buyers into thinking that it’s Argan oil. More often than not, this Moroccan oil is made with a lot of artificial preservatives and dyes and actually contains very little Argan oil. When purchasing the oil, ensure that it is 100% argan oil.