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What Is It: Argan Oil

May 11, 2012 Reviewed by Marta 13 Comments

Josie Maran sells a bottle of 100% argan oil for $43. I presume it is cosmetic grade because, generally, argan oil is consumed much as one might use olive oil in cooking. And there is the rub, so to speak. There is plenty of research on argan oil's nutritional value, but none that I could find on its cosmetic effectiveness – despite all the claims about its high vitamin E potency.

Argan oil comes from the seeds of the fruits of the argan tree, grown only in south western Morocco. The fruit itself is considered to be inedible and is relegated to goat fodder. Getting the seeds is fairly arduous (shells must be broken and then the seeds toasted) and hence argan oil is relatively rare and expensive.

There have been clinical trials demonstrating that the high proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E in argan is beneficial in lowering cholesterol and preventing cardiovascular disease. The main components of argan oil are:

Palmitic - 12.0%
Stearic - 6.0%
Oleic - 42.8%
Linoleic - 36.8%
Linolenic - <0.5%

The only skin study I have come across is not an independent one; it was conducted by Aveda for its new Green Science line that will be launching soon.

  • January 3, 2014

    by Sara

    Real argan oil is quite orange in its color I have never seen it on the western market I think those must be all diluted, no one can get the real deal oil

  • August 24, 2013

    by Ricky

    OK, now I'm confused...
    When I started to seriously take care of my facial skin, I would look for a brand of products and I woould read the ingredient list and if there was an ingredient I didn't know about, what it's main purpose is, then I would "Google" it and research it from the articles that Google listed regarding the ingredient.
    I spent close to 3 months "self-educating" myself on skin care ingredients so if I seen or heard of a product, I would read the ingredient list and if it made sense to me then I would purchase it.
    I had been using products that had peptides in them, mainly Matrixyl 3000 and Argirline, and also poven Humectants and Emollients to help soften and rid my face of the few beginnings of fine lines I was gettting around my eyes and on forehead.
    These last 3 months I had been searching and using products that utilized Hyaluronic Acid and also products with Argan Oil because I had read many articles that "Bragged" about the benefits of Argan Oil, so I searched for a facial moistutizer with Argan Oil and now from reading this article, the"benefts" of Argan Oil are "non conclusive" ...???
    I had read that it (Argan Oil ) was rich in EFA's, mainly Omega 6 and 9, Vitamin E, Ferulic Acid which was said to be a Super Anti-oxidant that is more effective at fighting free radicals than vitamin E, vitamin A or vitamin C, and also Phytosterols, which are stated to " lend anti-aging benefits by promoting new collagen production that is lost from sun exposure and aging". THEN I see Adrien Arpel on HSN ( the Home Shopping Network ) BOAST about the tree in Morocco and how much Argan Oil is produced from it every year and I think if it only produces so much Argan Oil and then the PROCESS of getting the Argan Oil from the nuts that the tree grows, MY thought process is that all that work and since there is only ONE place on this entire Earth where Argan Oil comes from, then it HAS to be expensive and that an Argan Oil serum which states it is "100% Pure Moroccan Argan Oil -- 1 fl oz for only $9.99," THEN I have reservations about the EFFICACY and VALIDITY of Pure Argan Oil...IF in fact that the list of ingredients states that the product is 100% PURE Argan Oil...I mean the FDA can't allow these companies to make false claims....or are they making these claims BUT are they under the radar of the FDA ???
    So NOW I am back to just concentrating on PROVEN ingredients in skin care products with Hyaluronic Acid, Peptides, Emollients and Humectants ( NO Mineral Oil, Parabens, Phthalates, NO Animal testing and also Gluten Free ) to help achieve the look of youthful, toned, healthy, moisturized skin.

    With what I have written, what are YOUR opinions regarding Argan Oil ...???

  • November 9, 2009

    by Jennifer

    Hi Marta,

    I wish to comment on your entry about Argan Oil because it appears that there may be some misconceptions. The French Company, Serobiologiques Laboratories and Dr. Zoubida Charrouf, a French trained chemist, have published papers regarding the topical health benefits of argan oil. These papers are published in French and in English. The Argan Oil forest can produce approximately 4 to 2 million kilograms of fruit a year depending on the rain. It takes approximately 33 kg of fruit to produce a liter (33.8 ounces) of argan oil. If you purchase pure argan oil Fair Trade through a Berber women's cooperative it might cost between 30-40 Euro and it is certified pure. Therefore, its entirely possible that pure argan oil might be sold for $45 an ounce by a cosmetic company, or diluted with outher complimentary oils such as jojo, rose hip, or olive oil to make massage and hair products. Due to Argan Oil's exceptional content of unsaturated fatty acids, it helps in the restoration of the hydro-lipidic film of the skin. Linoleic acid, which is one of the omega-6 fatty acids is present at the level of 3 times higher than olive oil. It plays a key role in preserving cell integrity. Argan Oil is far from being a hoax. It is a real oil with genuinely restorative properties. It will not make an 80 year old look 20 again, but it does provide a age-defying assistance to the skin. Derivatives are being created now which will intensify its properties for use in cosmetics. And the truly nice thing about using the oil, as opposed to any other oil or product, is that it helps rural women in Morocco become emancipated and allows them to educate their children. In a fair trade situation, only Berber women in the cooperatives are allowed to make the precious oil, and as a result, when the cooperative sells the oil, it directly reaps the economic gain for that community. Yes - rose hip and olive oil are cheaper - but they are not as dense and rich in anti-oxidants, and the purchase of the oil does not benefit anyone except the industrial manufacturer of the oil.

  • November 6, 2009

    by girlsodeadly

    I watched a documentary on the french channel )TV5Monde) about naturals in cosmetics. They talked about argan oil, which has become a major hoax in recent years since argan oil production is extremely limited, 90% of argan oil, even the bottles sold to tourists in Morrocco is fake. Cosmetic companies cannot sell real argan oil at only $45 an ounce!

  • July 31, 2008

    by marta

    <p>Now that is interesting. I have had good results with argan oil on my neck. But I shall now have to look into rosehip.</p>

  • July 31, 2008

    by Mike626

    <p>Marta, I wholeheartedly agree with you. Case in point, Janna M.'s comment above is the sort of marketeer comment that I love to read. If biased, it is informative and articulate--ultimately adding to the conversation.</p>

    <p>Over at Skin Actives, there was a discussion on Argan Oil that I found informative. In general terms, any oil used for cosmetic purposes can be analyzed by the fatty acids that compose the oil. Argan's Fatty acid breakdown looks like this:</p>

    <p>Palmitic - 12.0%<br />
    Stearic - 6.0%<br />
    Oleic - 42.8%<br />
    Linoleic - 36.8%<br />
    Linolenic - <0.5%</p>

    <p>Compared to a much more affordable alternative, Rosehip Seed Oil:</p>

    <p>Palmitic - 3.17%<br />
    Stearic - 0.83% <br />
    Oleic - 15.91%<br />
    Linoleic - 40.68% <br />
    Linolenic - 39.41%</p>

    <p>Hannah Sivak, biochemist at Skin Actives, sees no advantage of Argan over Rosehip.</p>

  • July 31, 2008

    by marta

    <p>The mission statement (<a href="http://www.truthinaging.com/truth-in-agings-mission-s.html)" rel="nofollow">http://www.truthinaging.com/truth-in-agings-mission-s.html)</a> does say that marketers can contribute comments as long as they are being genuinely informative and not trying to pass themselves off as consumers. This one is somewhat borderline and, perhaps, should be penalized for the appalling grammar. But on balance, I would let it go. If, however, others in the community agree with you Mike, I'll revise the policy. </p>

  • July 31, 2008

    by Mike626

    <p>Marta, I hope you won't have to start vetting and approving comments to avoid these subtle advertisements.</p>

    <p>My take: If you are searching through blogs for a mention of a product your company sells, just to leave a comment that boils down to a sales pitch, the community can probably do without your input. Sheesh.</p>

  • July 30, 2008

    by YAELLE

    <p>At www.Lasultaneshop.com, you'll discover a world of pampering and relaxation. We sells a variety of products with oil, and the most product is Argan oil known as “liquid gold”. Moroccans slather it on their faces, hand and even their children’s skin. This argan oil which extremely high in vitamin E it helps keep your skin looking young, and works as a treatment for wrinkles, dry skin, acne and eczema.</p>

    <p>This week we are introducing our new product line exclusively at Argan skin care and body products- Aores by Charme d’Orient comes to us from Paris, and it is truly the best argan oil based skin care line available!!</p>

  • April 28, 2008

    by mouzna

    <p>For more information about argan oil:<br />
    www.arganoils.com</p>

  • April 28, 2008

    by mouzna

    <p>For more information about argan oil:<br />
    www.arganoils.com</p>

  • April 13, 2008

    by Marta

    <p>Janna, you get a Truth In Aging award for combining a genuinely useful comment with a very subtle plug for your company. I am definitely inspired to give argan a try. Thank you.</p>

  • April 12, 2008

    by Janna M

    <p>You raise some good points. But to take it a bit further regarding cosmetic applicability, the evidence will not be found in cosmetic testing/research as this is organic oil and is not reformulated or enhanced artificially. Since it is "benign" in terms of skin applications, the FDA is not going to require independent studies. Their concern is in preventing harm. They don't actually care if it eliminates wrinkles or works better than olive oil. Ingested oil that makes health efficacy claims is the turf of the FDA, which is why you see medical studies regarding argan oil you eat. The chemical composition of argan oil is known and the main active ingredients all are routinely used in skin care. This is achieved via a fairly simple process called spectroscopy. My firm has independently analyzed the chemical properties of argan oil and find they are consistent with that which is already published. </p>

    <p>Generally speaking, major skincare firms do not make their fortunes from simply reselling botanical ingredients -- not only is it expensive, it is not proprietary. Instead they seek to chemically replicate the active ingredients to come up with a patentable combination -- one that gives them a leading edge and is inexpensive to reproduce. Testing is necessary here because the manufactured chemical combinations may not truly mimic nature.</p>

    <p>My point is that lack of cosmetic testing means very little in terms of evaluating the effectiveness of a true botanical product. If you want to have fact-based proof that argan oil works, you only need to look at its ingredients – unsaturated and monosaturated fatty acids -- oleic-linoleic acids with a high content of tocopherols (vitamin E), phytosterols, and pheonolic compounds. All of these can be independently tied to specific research studies in the fields of dermatology or human biochemistry. As an example, Argan oil is particularly rich in the essential fatty acid, linoleic acid. This acid is converted in the body in other fatty acids, which leads to the production of prostaglandins. How do we know this occurs without the ingestion of Argan oil? This skin is actually the body's largest organ. It has the ability to absorb elements, good and bad, from the atmosphere around it. If there is any doubt to the truth in this statement i.e. that skin is porous, then absolutely no skin care product - including sunscreen - would have any effect on us. In general, prostaglandins act in a manner similar to that of hormones, by stimulating target cells into action. However, they differ from hormones in that they act locally, near their site of synthesis, and they are metabolized very rapidly. Also, the same prostaglandins act differently in different tissues. Prostaglandins synthesized from linoleic acid in the argan oil act to stimulate circulation via vasodilatation, as well as act to strengthen the body's natural defenses, and suppressing inflammation.</p>

    <p>This is not "made up" science to spur the sales of argan oil; it has worked in skin care and therapeutic applications for thousands of years. With the increased awareness of chemical additives and unknown long-term heath effects, the beauty industry has renewed focus in organics and botanicals. It is good to be a skin care skeptic. But argan oil is truly a natural wonder. Josie Maran products or other leading brands using 100% organic argan oil like Kaeline are very competitively priced…and they work!<br />
    </p>

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