Argan oil is not exactly a new beauty secret. In fact, it’s one of the oldest cosmetic ingredients recorded, with some sources dating its use back to around the 12th century BC – meaning it really has stood the test of time.
But only in relatively recent history has the oil evolved from little-known natural remedy to a mass-marketed must-have used by celebrities across the globe.
What is argan oil, and where does it come from?
Argan oil comes from the argan tree, endemic to Morocco, which explains why it sometimes is also called Moroccan oil – and of course, cult brand Morrocanoil uses it as the foundation ingredient in every product.
The argan fruit from the tree is dried, the nut and kernels extracted and then pressed by hand or through a machine. But don’t be fooled if this sounds like a quick and easy process; for ten hours of work and 30kg of fruit, only one litre of oil is produced.
What are the benefits of argan oil for hair?
Why use argan oil for hair?
When it comes to hair care, some of the world’s favourite celebrities including Kim Kardashian and Scarlett Johansson have all sung the praises of argan oil, an ingredient which is now sometimes referred to as ‘liquid gold’ – an accolade that surely needs no explanation.
The late David Babaii, who was formerly Johansson’s hair stylist, even used it to create her famous updo for the Iron Man 2 premier, sharing with Teen Vogue “I started with wet hair, working in Moroccanoil Intense Curl Cream (£25.45, Feelunique) for gentle hold, and to create a texture that was soft and smooth.”
Is argan oil expensive?
The best news is you now don’t have to shell out much cash for the ingredient, which comes in cheap if you know where to look. For under £6, the 100% organic cold-pressed argan oil from The Ordinary is quite the steal (£5.90, Cult Beauty).
How do you use argan oil on your hair?
Argan oil has a multitude of uses, so buying an organic, 100% naturally-derived one like The Ordinary’s will allow you to use it over your face, body and hair with ease (and without concern for your bank balance!). But when it comes to looking after your locks specifically, there are a few different ways to go about it.
Use an argan oil hair mask
The first way is to make a little argan oil hair mask; whether using it on its own or with coconut or olive oil, this is one of the easiest and ‘cleanest’ ways to use the ingredient as all you need is a bottle of pure argan oil.
How to make an argan oil hair mask
- Simply place around ten drops of oil (i.e. the one by The Ordinary) in your palms, massage into your scalp and continue from hair root to end – you may need to add more oil as you go, depending on your hair length and type.
- Then, wrap your hair in a cotton T-shirt, microfibre towel or bonnet.
- Leave the product overnight and wash it off in the morning. This can be done on either wet or damp hair, depending on how comfortable you are with not blow-drying.
Use argan oil shampoo and conditioner
If you’re after a quick and easy approach, then opting for a shampoo and conditioner with argan oil in the ingredients list is also a fail-safe choice and won’t disrupt your usual haircare routine.
I swear by the We Are Paradoxx Moisture Shampoo (£18, Cult Beauty) and Conditioner (£20, Cult Beauty), but there are a huge number of alternatives out there, including the more affordable Luminizer Moisture Boost Shampoo by Fudge Professional (£13, Lookfantastic).
Use argan oil on its own as a finishing serum
Finally, for those days when a quick-fix is needed, using a leave-in conditioner in-between washing and drying – such as the one from Morrocanoil (£22.65, Lookfantastic) – or a styling product like the Typology Nourishing Hair Oil (£20, Typology) and the brilliant one designed for curls by Bread Beauty Supply (£13, Cult Beauty) can really work wonders to add extra shine, tone down frizz and protect from heat styling.
What should you look for when buying argan oil?
For the best and purest quality of argan oil, look for wording such as ‘100% pure argan oil’ or ‘argania spinosa kernel oil’ (its official, scientific name) and try to make sure it’s cold-pressed, meaning no heat has been used when collecting the oil, which can alter and sometimes spoil it.
When it comes to testing how pure it really is, smell is one of the biggest factors; argan oil should have a faint nutty smell. If it’s too strong or a bit ‘chemically,’ then it may have exceeded its lifespan, which is usually around 24 months when stored properly and even once opened, as long as you put the lid back on properly.
If it feels sticky or watery to the touch instead of smooth, silky and oil-like, then it may be off so it’s best to invest in a new bottle as you’ll get very few benefits and even sometimes irritation.
Buy from a fair-trade brand
Finally, as with any naturally-derived product, it’s always worth double-checking to see if it’s fair trade too. Argan oil has been linked to issues including poor wages, deforestation and gender inequality, so it really is important to do a little bit of research into the company you’re buying from beforehand.
If sourced correctly through dedicated co-operatives protecting women’s rights and wages (as the likes of Lush do), the community gets further education and women are more financially independent.