Argan oil has become the beauty industry’s new anti-aging miracle ingredient, but argan has been a beauty secret of Berber women for centuries. While it kept the skin supple and soft even in a dry, semi-desert climate, it wasn’t just used for cosmetic reasons. Argan was used as a topical ointment for medicinal and therapeutic purposes to soothe the irritated skin of infants, for various skin ailments, and to protect against skin infections. It was also used in traditional cuisine.
Argan oil comes from a fruit of the argania spinosa tree, indigenous to southwestern Morocco. Goats would climb the trees to get to the small fruits. The Berber women would collect the undigested argan pits from the waste of the goats and then pound the nuts with rocks to get to the kernels from which the oil is extracted. (Note: The extraction process is a lot more sanitary now!)
Skin Care Benefits
Argan oil is comprised of a lot of good-for-you nutrients and antioxidants, such as oleic acid (omega 9) and linoleic acid (omega 6), which help reduce inflammation, as well as mono-glycerol, tocopherols (vitamin E) and squalene, which helps make the skin soft and fights against the loss of elasticity and firmness. Sterols and polyphenols fight against free radicals. Simply put, all of this gives argan oil an abundance of nourishing and protective properties. It protects against premature aging due to the sun and the environment. It softens and moisturizes the skin. It is also believed to have health benefits when taken internally, although there haven't been enough scientific studies to verify this.
Argan oil is now used in hair products and facial and body moisturizers because of its strengthening effect on hair, nails and skin. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, argan oil can be used for burns and bruises and inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, and to soften and heal dry skin and dry patches.
In addition to being beneficial for dry skin, it also helps with oily skin conditions. It regulates sebum production in the skin and on the scalp. It is also used to help heal acne blemishes, reduce scarring (with regular use), to heal existing blemishes and prevent occurrence of new breakouts and the appearance of brown and dark marks.
New moms and moms-to-be can use argan oil before and after pregnancy to prevent or reduce stretch marks. In addition it is believed to help reduce cellulite, wrinkles, and crow’s feet and fine lines under the eyes.
Buying and Using Argan Oil for Skincare
There are a lot of beauty products that include argan oil in the ingredients, but it could be just a very small amount. If you are looking for pure argan oil, it should say 100% argan oil or 100% argania spinosa kernel oil. (Moroccan oil could mean any oil from Morocco). Nothing else should be listed. The oil should be in dark cobalt or amber glass bottles and have a nutty scent. (The scent will disappear in about 15 minutes). If you don’t smell the nutty oil, it might have been heated. Look for cold pressed argan oil as heat will break down some of the beneficial properties. Raw, cosmetic grade oil is made from the unroasted nuts and is more difficult to extract, therefore pricier. It shouldn’t feel too oily and will absorb quickly. If it remains oily once applied, it might be the culinary type or it could be mixed with olive oil or sunflower oil.
DIY Argan Oil Treatments
Facial Moisturizer: Use equal parts argan oil and sweet almond oil, with 1 to 2 drops of rose oil.
Nighttime Moisturizer: You can use 100% argan oil as a nighttime treatment. Lightly massage the oil into the face, 2-3 times a week in the evening before bedtime. Note: With argan oil you only need to use a small amount.
Acne Treatment: Cleanse your face and apply to pimples with a cotton swab before bed.
Breast Booster: It’s not scientifically proven that applying pure argan oil to the breasts will make them firmer and more toned, but it can’t hurt.
Exfoliating Body Scrub: Mix 2 tablespoons of sea salt (or white/brown sugar if you have sensitive skin) with 4-5 drops of argan oil.
Cuticle Oil and Nail Brightener: Mix equal parts lemon juice and pure argan oil into a bowl. Dip fingers into the mixture up to the cuticles for about 10 minutes.
Overnight Hand Treatment: You can also use argan oil alone to soften and condition cuticles. Massage the oil into cuticles (and the hands, if you’d like). Cover with gloves and wear overnight. Do this 1 -2 times a week or when dry, cracked hands need special care.
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