Argan oil is the best oil to soothe sensitive skin and is used in skin creams for eczema, psoriasis, rashes, dermatitis, skin aging, and rosacea. The best argan oil products are moisturizing anti-inflammatory serums, oils or face creams.
Argan oil is soothing and hydrating because of the fatty acids it contains. Linoleic acid is one of the strongest natural soothing ingredients to look for in oils.
It is a desirable ingredient because it is rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds as well as hydrating unsaturated fatty acids and creamy saturated fatty acids.
Argan oil also contains stearic acid – one of the best fatty acids to repair the skin barrier.
The trees the kernel is harvested from are mainly grown in Morocco.
The type of argan oil with the most antioxidants is the “first press” from the argan nut. Roasted argan oil has a nutty flavor and is used for cooking or in salads but does not have as much antioxidant activity as the unroasted argan oil.[i]It is the unroasted argan oil that should be used on the skin, not the edible form.
Argan Oil Uses in Skin Care Products:
Acne - It helps get rid of the red marks left after pimples clear and is non-comedogenic.
Dry Skin-Has moisturizing fatty acids so is one of the best oils for dry skin. Look for it in barrier repair moisturizers.
Sensitive Skin- Soothing and calming due to the types of fatty acids it contains.
Rosacea- Calms facial redness and soothes stinging skin.
Psoriasis- Helps smooth and soothe itchy skin from psoriasis.
Razor rash- Calms razor rash.
Insect repellant - It has camphor and 1,8-cineole in the fruit pulp that keeps insects away.
Virgin edible argan oil exhibits a longer shelf-life compared to virgin beauty argan oil used topically on skin. When stored at 77°F (25°C), the edible variety can remain usable for up to two years, whereas the topical oil has a significantly shorter shelf-life, lasting only three to four months.
You can keep your argan oil in the refrigerator to extend the shelf life.
Argan oil has many unsaturated fatty acids.These help give it powerful skin benefits. For example, linoleic acid reduces inflammation. Many of these fatty acid lipids in Argan Oil hydrate skin by strengthening the skin barrier and providing an occlusive effect.
It also is an emollient that smooths the skin's surface, helping it reflect light and make the skin glow.
It is an oil, so can make oily skin look shiny. or greasy. It is best for dry skin types. Oily skin types may think it feels too heavy on the skin
Clogged Pores and Comedones
It can rarely cause skin allergy and should be avoided if you have a tree nut allergy. A single case of anaphylaxis was reported in 2010 in a tree nut allergic individual. (19)
Argan oil is not known to affect hormones or cause any endocrine dysfunction or fertility issues.
It is safe to use when pregnant, breastfeeding, and trying to conceive.
Research Studies on Argan Oil Containing Skin Care Products
In one study by Dobrev (3), the efficacy of a sebum control cream containing saw palmetto extract, sesame seeds, and argan oil was evaluated on 20 healthy volunteers, 16 with oily skin and four with combination skin. Over four weeks during the winter, the test formulation was applied twice daily to their faces, and assessments were made using both clinical evaluations and instrumental measurements before and after the study period. Questionnaires were also completed by the participants to subjectively evaluate efficacy, tolerance, and cosmetic qualities.
The results indicated that all volunteers tolerated the product well. In 95 percent of the participants, a visible sebum-regulating or anti-sebum effect was observed. Clinical evaluation scores, casual sebum levels, and areas covered by oily spots significantly decreased after one month of treatment. Dobrev concluded that this particular formulation, containing argan oil, effectively reduced greasiness and improved the appearance of oily facial skin.
However, it's worth noting that the mechanism of argan oil's effects on sebum production remains perplexing and questionable, as further research on argan oil alone is required. Additionally, this single open-label study does not provide substantial support for the use of argan oil as an anti-aging or anti-inflammatory product, despite its frequent application for such purposes. It is important to mention that there are no other published studies on topical argan oil listed in PubMed. Further research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits and mechanisms of argan oil in skincare.
Effects on The Environment
The argan tree faces endangerment due to the harsh environment and overexploitation. To safeguard it, Moroccan law initially provided protection, and in 1998, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) extended its protection further. This led to its inclusion in the World Heritage List in 1999, where it was designated as a bioreserve.
These trees hold significant importance for the region as their roots play a crucial role in preventing the Sahara desert from encroaching further. Additionally, local communities utilize the fruits, leaves, and wood for various needs, while the oil extracted from the tree serves culinary and cosmetic purposes, providing essential income for the local Berber women. Sadly, about one-third of Morocco's argan forest has disappeared in the past century.
To address these challenges, a local economic interest group was established to promote the forest's development, preservation, and value. Collaborations have been forged to harvest argan oil sustainably, ensuring its long-term viability. The "argan forest" in Morocco has been recognized as a crucial factor in combating desertification, and efforts towards its sustainable development have been ongoing since 1995.
Chemical components in Argan Oil
Find Skincare Products
The best references and scientific publications on argan oil as a cosmeceutical ingredient:
- Baumann, L. in Ch 38 Anti-inflammatory Ingredients in Skincare. Baumann’s Cosmetic Dermatology (McGraw Hill 2022).
- Baumann L. Ch. 10 Argan Oil in Cosmeceuticals and Cosmetic Ingredients (McGraw Hill 2015).
- Dobrev H. Clinical and instrumental study of the efficacy of a new sebum control cream. J Cosmet Dermatol. 6:113, 2007.
- Charrouf Z, Guillaume D. Should the amazigh diet (regular and moderate argan-oil consumption) have a beneficial impact on human health? Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 50:473, 2010.
- Monfalouti HE, Guillaume D, Denhez C, et al. Therapeutic potential of argan oil: a review. J Pharm Pharmacol. 62:1669, 2010.
- Cabrera-Vique C, Marfil R, Giménez R, et al. Bioactive compounds and nutritional significance of virgin argan oil—an edible oil with potential as a functional food. Nutr Rev. 70:266, 2012.
- Cherki M, Berrougui H, Drissi A, et al. Argan oil: which benefits on cardiovascular diseases? Pharmacol Res. 54:1, 2006.
- Guillaume D, Charrouf Z. Argan oil. Monograph. Altern Med Rev. 16:275, 2011.
- Charrouf Z, Guillaume D. Ethnoeconomical, ethnomedical, and phytochemical study of Argania spinosa (L.) Skeels. J Ethnopharmacol. 67:7, 1999.
- El Babili F, Bouajila J, Fouraste I, et al. Chemical study, antimalarial and antioxidant, and cytotoxicity to human breast cancer cells (MCF7) of Argania spinosa. Phytomedicine. 17:157, 2010.
- Naik A, Pechtold LA, Potts RO, et al. Mechanism of oleic acid-induced skin penetration enhancement in vivo in humans. J Control Release. 37:299, 1995.
- Tanojo H, Bosvan Geest A, Bouwstra JA et al. In vitro human skin barrier perturbation by oleic acid: Thermal analysis and freeze fracture electron microscopy studies. Thermochimica Acta. 293:77, 1997.
- Das UN. Essential fatty acid metabolism in patients with essential hypertension, diabetes mellitus and coronary heart disease. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 52:387, 1995.
- Conti A, Rogers J, Verdejo P, et al. Seasonal influences on stratum corneum ceramide 1 fatty acids and the influence of topical essential fatty acids. Int J Cosmet Sci. 18:1, 1996.
- Khallouki F, Younos C, Soulimani R, et al. Consumption of argan oil (Morocco) with its unique profile of fatty acids, tocopherols, squalene, sterols and phenolic compounds should confer valuable cancer chemopreventive effects. Eur J Cancer Prev. 12:67, 2003.13. Amzal H, Alaoui K, Tok S, et al. Protective effect of saponins from Argania spinosa against free radical-induced oxidative haemolysis. Fitoterapia. 79:337, 2008.
- Jiang Q, Christen S, Shigenaga MK, et al. Gamma-tocopherol, the major form of vitamin E in the US diet, deserves more attention. Am J Clin Nutr. 74:714, 2001.
- Drissi A, Girona J, Cherki M, et al. Evidence of hypolipemiant and antioxidant properties of argan oil derived from the argan tree (Argania spinosa). Clin Nutr. 23:1159, 2004.
- Harhar H, Gharby S, Ghanmi M, et al. Composition of the essential oil of Argania spinosa (Sapotaceae) fruit pulp. Nat Prod Commun. 5:935, 2010.
- Astier C, Benchad Yel A, Moneret-Vautrin DA, et al. Anaphylaxis to argan oil. Allergy. 65:662, 2010.
- Stussi I, Henry F, Moser P, et al. Argania spinosa – how ecological farming, fair trade and sustainability can drive the research for new cosmetic active ingredients. SÖFW-Journal. 131:35, 2005.
- Harhar H, Gharby S, Kartah BE, et al. Long argan fruit drying time is detrimental for argan oil quality. Nat Prod Commun. 5:1799, 2010.
- Derouiche A, Cherki M, Drissi A, et al. Nutritional intervention study with argan oil in man: effects on lipids and apolipoproteins. Ann Nutr Metab. 49:196, 2005.
- Cherki M, Derouiche A, Drissi A, et al. Consumption of argan oil may have an antiatherogenic effect by improving paraoxonase activities and antioxidant status: Intervention study in healthy men. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 15:352, 2005.
- Samane S, Noël J, Charrouf Z, et al. Insulin-sensitizing and anti-proliferative effects of Argania spinosa seed extracts. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 3:317, 2006.
- Belsito, Donald V., Ronald A. Hill, Curtis D. Klaassen, Daniel C. Liebler, James G. Marks Jr, Ronald C. Shank, Thomas J. Slaga, and Paul W. Snyder. "Plant-derived fatty acid oils as used in cosmetics." Final Report (2011): 1-100.
- Drissi A, Bennani H, Giton, F, et al. Tocopherols and saponins derived from Argania spinosa exert an antiproliferative effect on human prostate cancer. Cancer Invest. 24:588, 2006.
- Bennani H, Drissi A, Giton F, et al. Antiproliferative effect of polyphenols and sterols of virgin argan oil on human prostate cancer cell lines. Cancer Detect Prev. 31:64, 2007.