Benefits and Uses of Argan Oil
Argan oil has been a culinary staple in Morocco for centuries — not only because of its subtle, nutty flavor but also its wide array of potential health benefits. This naturally occurring plant oil is derived from the kernels of the fruit of the argan tree. Although native to Morocco, argan oil is now used across the globe for a variety of culinary, cosmetic and medicinal applications.
Contains Essential Nutrients
Approximately 29–36% of the fatty acid content of argan oil comes from linoleic acid, or omega-6, making it a good source of this essential nutrient. Oleic acid, though not essential, makes up 43–49% of the fatty acid composition of argan oil and is also a very healthy fat. Found in olive oil as well, oleic acid is renowned for its positive impact on heart health.
Additionally, argan oil is a rich source of vitamin E, which is required for healthy skin, hair and eyes. This vitamin also has powerful antioxidant properties. Summary, Argan oil provides a good source of linoleic and oleic fatty acids, two fats known to support good health. It also boasts high levels of vitamin E.
Has Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Properties
The various phenolic compounds in argan oil are likely responsible for most of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacities. Argan oil is rich in vitamin E, or tocopherol, a fat-soluble vitamin that serves as a potent antioxidant to reduce the damaging effects of free radicals. Other compounds present in argan oil, such as CoQ10, melatonin and plant sterols, also play a role in its antioxidant capacity.Summary, Multiple compounds in argan oil may help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, though more research is needed.
May Have Anticancer Effects
Argan oil may slow the growth and reproduction of certain cancer cells. One test-tube study applied polyphenolic compounds from argan oil to prostate cancer cells. The extract inhibited cancer cell growth by 50% compared to the control group. In another test-tube study, a pharmaceutical-grade mixture of argan oil and vitamin E increased the rate of cell death on breast and colon cancer cell samples. Although this preliminary research is intriguing, more research is needed to determine whether argan oil could be used to treat cancer in humans.
May Reduce Signs of Skin Aging
Argan oil has quickly become a popular ingredient for many skin care products. Some research suggests that dietary intake of argan oil may help slow the aging process by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. It may also support repair and maintenance of healthy skin when applied directly to your skin, thus reducing visual signs of aging. Some human studies show argan oil to be effective for increasing skin elasticity and hydration in postmenopausal women.
May Treat Some Skin Conditions
Argan oil has been a popular home remedy for treating inflammatory skin conditions for decades — especially in North Africa, where argan trees originate. Although there’s limited scientific evidence supporting argan oil’s ability to treat specific skin infections, it is still frequently used for this purpose. However, current research indicates that argan oil does contain several antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, which may be why it seems to treat skin tissue.
May Moisturize Skin and Hair
The oleic and linoleic acids that make up the majority of argan oil’s fat content are vital nutrients for maintaining healthy skin and hair. Argan oil is often directly administered to skin and hair. In one study, topical applications of argan oil improved the moisture content of the skin in postmenopausal women.
Often Used to Treat and Prevent Stretch Marks
Argan oil is frequently used to prevent and reduce stretch marks.
Used to Treat Acne
Argan oil’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds may support reduced redness and irritation of the skin caused by acne. The oil also may contribute to skin hydration, which is important for acne prevention.
Whether argan oil is effective in treating your acne likely depends on its cause. If you struggle with dry skin or general irritation, argan oil may provide a solution. However, if your acne is caused by hormones, argan oil will not likely provide significant relief.
Easy to Add to Your Routine
As argan oil has become increasingly popular, it's easier than ever to add it to your health and beauty routine.
Argan oil is usually used topically in its pure form but also frequently included in cosmetic products like lotions and skin creams. While it can be applied directly to your skin, it may be best to start with a very small amount to ensure that you won’t have any adverse reactions.
You can apply argan oil directly to damp or dry hair to improve moisture, reduce breakage, or reduce frizz.
It is also sometimes included in shampoos or conditioners. If it's your first time using it, start with a small amount to see how your hair responds. If you have naturally oily roots, apply argan only to the ends of your hair to avoid greasy-looking hair.