Reviewed by Jaye

I was very glad to have the opportunity to try Melvita’s Huile d’Argan during the past month or so as it’s arrival in my mailbox dovetailed with an argan oil I’d already been testing off and on for nearly two months. Having two different brands of oil on my make-up table made me feel so awash in this precious liquid that I could slather it on without considering the cost.

By now the history of Argan oil is well known to most beauty junkies. It comes from a (now protected) tree primarily found in Morocco - though orchards are now being grown in places like Israel - that can survive up to 250 years against drought, intense heat, and poor, rocky soil. Despite this environment, the tree produces a fruit, the fruit contains a pit, and inside the pit are seeds from which the oil is extracted. You can imagine how healthy those small seeds are to support the life of the tree for so long in such harsh conditions.

The virgin oil is a powerhouse of unsaturated fatty acids, sterols, squalene, and phenolic compounds which, combined, deliver big doses of Vitamin E, vital omegas, micronutrients, lubrication, antibacterial properties and protection against free radicals. If it had a built-in SPF of 30, it would be truly indispensible as a skin treatment. Moroccans have been using Argan oil for centuries to treat their skin & hair and have been eating it as a regular part of their diet, but in that culture they are using the raw, virgin oil that they extract themselves, by hand. You would be surprised to learn from whence the original harvests came. It involves goats and is similar to the tale of the world’s most expensive coffee.

All modern Argan oils are not created equal, at least not those created for export, and some are diluted with other oils like safflower and sunflower. There are several commercial methods of extracting the oil and manufacturers decide how much further processing they will use. Some producers deodorize the oil as the natural nutty scent does not appeal to everyone. Some companies cold-press the seeds, others roast them, or not and use a different heat source. Local Moroccan women’s work cooperatives remove and crush the seeds by hand for some companies, whereas other producers gather the pits and mechanically remove the seeds. All of these various processes influence the cost and the look and the retained health benefits of the final product. As consumers, we have to read the labels, trust the sources, and make a judgment on the integrity of the oil.

So far, I’ve found Argan to be a pleasing, though not miraculous, oil. The Melvita Argan seems to be more polished than the other brand I’ve been using, which I’ll call Brand X. Both are yellow and devoid of any strong scent, however, the Melvita is silkier going on the skin. When applying both oils on skin still damp from bathing, both slide on in the same way. But when spreading the oil on dry skin, Brand X drags while the Melvita has more slip. The Melvita also absorbs faster and leaves a nice light sheen on my skin with no greasiness whatsoever while Brand X stays tacky longer.

I also prefer the Melvita for my face where I have some flakies. As a moisturizer used with socks for dry feet and rough heels, Argan was not an overnight sensation like good ole vaseline; it did soften dry cuticles and erased the white cast of dry skin but needs to be used daily to maintain this result. The fact that it’s a natural product with no chemicals makes it worth the extra effort. One thing is sure: pure Argan oil agrees with my aging skin and it plays nicely with all of my other products. It makes my skin look naturally moisturized and is a perfect undercoating for my powder foundation.

I have not had any success with the oil as a hair treatment, but I’m not done with all the tests I have in mind and I have very difficult hair. I had recently acquired some new shampoos and conditioners which preempted an objective and complete trial of the oil. To date, I’ve used Argan on towel dried hair (with a few familiar shampoos & conditioners), before blow drying, and saw no dramatic difference. Then I put it sparingly on dry hair several hours before using a curling iron to give it time to sink in, and it had a slight setting lotion effect rather than giving my porous hair the smooth swing I’m always after.

One very hot, humid day when my hair frizzed out completely, I rubbed the oil between my palms and lightly stroked the residue over my hair; it calmed down the frizz, but made my hair feel stiff. I plan to try a pre-shampoo, hour-long oil treatment as soon as I figure out the effects of my new shampoos so that I can factor those into the results. I also want to try the oil as a pre-tint treatment because I’ve read that it counteracts the drying effect of peroxide if you put hair color on top of it.

Overall, Argan has enough performance for me to continue using it and experimenting with it and the Melvita brand is excellent. It is pure, certified organic, cosmetically elegant and from a company that has a track record of honest products.