There are so many different lotions and potions available to care for your hair and skin these days that it’s difficult to choose the right one. If you take a trip into your local drugstore, you will be greeted by row after row of shelves full of various products, all promising to work wonders and create miracles. I think really the only way to find out which products are right for you is to experiment and try for yourself. One of my favourites that I’ve been using for a while now is argan oil.
Sometimes referred to as ‘liquid gold’, it is a natural product, extracted from the kernels of the argan tree which is native to Morocco. It is often used as a moisturiser as well as in products to care for your hair. This is due to the fact that the oil has a high nutrient content and is rich in fatty acids, anti-oxidants and vitamin E which is vital for healthy skin and hair. It is also renowned for making hair soft, silky and shiny and to help make frizzy hair more manageable. Other reported benefits of argan oil for hair include the promotion of healthy hair growth, prevention of scalp dryness and itching and the restoration of dry and damaged hair. As a non-greasy, easily absorbed oil it is often used as a skin moisturiser which can benefit dry skin in particular. It is also known for it’s anti-ageing properties and many advocates of argan oil have stated how it has helped their skin conditions such as acne and eczema. I have used argan oil to help treat dry skin on my elbows and knees and it worked very well for me and left my skin beautifully soft and smooth with no irritation.
Because of it’s beneficial properties, celebrities including Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Kylie Minogue, Madonna and Taylor Swift are all users of argan oil to help care for their hair and skin. It’s even beginning to appear in mascara formulas as it’s claimed it helps to make your lashes longer and more lustrous. My hair is very dry and has a wiry texture (it almost feels like fine fishing line) and the oil in it’s pure form really helps to add moisture and softness to my hair. Even if you are lucky enough to have naturally soft hair, argan oil is a nice finishing touch to add extra gloss and shine.
Although finding shampoos, conditioners, hair styling products and skincare products containing argan oil is easy, due to the oil’s rarity they come at a relatively high price. As I mentioned before, the oil is extracted from the argan tree which is found in southern Morocco. The traditional method of extracting the oil was to collect argan fruit, dry it, extract the nuts, crack them to reveal the kernels and then to crush them to release their oil. The process was done by hand and took fifteen hours of labour and thirty two kilograms of fruit to produce just one litre of oil! These days the kernels are mechanically cold pressed (heat damages the oil’s chemical properties). The tree is rare, extracting the oil is labour intensive… hence the high price. However, the good news is a little oil goes a long way.
The scarcity of the argan tree is where the problem lies. There are so many products on the market now which contain argan oil or are marketed as ‘argan oil’ or ‘Moroccan oil’. But if you examine the label, there are often other ingredients (such as silicon) in larger quantities than the actual argan oil. Cosmetic companies need to work hard to ensure that the supply of argan oil is sustainable and of a high quality, untainted by other oils or substances.
So how do you know you are getting the real deal? If you are buying a product containing argan oil – check the ingredients. Look out for ‘argania spinosa kernel oil’, it should be high up the ingredients list and ideally, the product should contain as few ingredients as possible. The more ingredients that the oil is mixed with, the less effective the oil will be. If you are buying pure argan oil, make sure it is in a dark coloured bottle as the light passing through a clear bottle can break down the oil’s chemical properties. Some products that are marketed as argan oil also contain a carrier oil such as olive or sunflower oil. Also be aware of the price you are paying. Argan oil doesn’t have to cost a fortune but at the same time, it is a rare oil that is labour intensive to produce and so isn’t usually sold at a ‘giveaway’ price. The best argan oil product isn’t necessarily the most expensive but remember the saying, ‘you get what you pay for’.