Argan oil is my signature beauty product. My approach to beauty is lazy; I like versatile and easy to use products. The oil comes exclusively from southwest Morocco, where UNESCO has created a designated biosphere to protect the trees and indigenous tribes that live from them. By creating this zone, UNESCO is further researching the many uses of the Argan tree while protecting the indigenous Berber women coops that harvest and process the oil often by hand.
Argan oil is packed with vitamins, fatty acids, healing compounds and antioxidants. The oil feels light and silky on the skin. It is not greasy or sticky.
Thanks to this versatile oil, I am able to throw out a third of the products in my medicine cabinet. Here are my 9 beauty argan oil uses:
- Skin moisturizer. I use argan oil both on my face and body. I keep some in a small spray bottle in the shower to moisturize my skin after I shower, while my pores are still open. The oil gives my skin a nice sheen.
- Acne treatment. My teenage daughter uses argan oil on her skin after washing with the highly drying medicated acne treatments. The argan oil seems to not only gently hydrate her skin without clogging her pores, but also soothes the redness and inflammation she sometimes experiences.
- Leave in hair conditioner. I have coarse, frizzy hair. While my hair is damp after a towel dry, I will run argan oil through it. My hair dries silkier and less frizzy without looking greasy.
- Hair touch up. Try some oil on your dry hair as needed to smooth the frizzies at the root or to tame dry ends.
- First aid. Argan oil works really well on burns or cuts. After treating a burn with ice or cleaning a cut, dab a little argan oil on the injury. The oil reduces redness and swelling, soothes the skin and speeds healing. Add a drop of lavender to your argan oil to dramatically increase your skin’s healing powers.
- Lip balm. Here is my recipe for argan lip balm. Keep a bit of argan oil, combined with a drop of peppermint oil, in a small lip gloss jar in the refrigerator. The refrigeration hardens or congeals the oil, making it easier to apply. This homemade lip balm is also wonderfully soothing for chapped skin or when treating a mild burn.
- Dandruff treatment. Heat up a bit of argan oil and apply it to your scalp. Lather, relax and wash off. The oil is wonderful for soothing your dry scalp. To create an extra strength treatment, add a drop or two of tea tree oil to the argan oil.
- Exfoliator. Rub a generous amount of oil on your feet, elbows or problem area. Scrub with a wet loofah or pumice to slough off the dead skin cells. Or mix with your favorite exfoliating ingredient like sugar, create a paste, apply and gently scrub your dry flaky zones. As another option, the Body Shop makes a solid argan oil moisturizer that is great for elbows and dry, problem areas.
- Signature fragrance. Like my great grandmother Tita would do, I add a few essential oil drops to my argan oil. I have a secret combo of oils I use. Depending on your preferences, try bergamot, lavender or jasmine. I apply my signature combo to my inner wrists and rub them to warm the oil. I then dab my wrists behind my ears and neck as a custom natural perfume.
A note on the care and purchase of argan oil
Because of the way it is harvested and processed, argan oil is relatively expensive. Buyer beware: a giant bottle of argan oil for $10 is probably not the real deal! Depending on where you purchase it, you will spend a minimum of $15-$20 minimum for 2 to 4 ounces. Don’t be disheartened, a drop of oil goes a long way! You are also supporting the livelihood of tribal women, who have been producing this oil for thousands of years.
For best results, be sure you are purchasing high quality, pure, organic, cold pressed oil. For use as a beauty product, be sure to buy the cosmetic, not food grade version. The cosmetic grade is the color of honey, while food grade argan oil, which is less expensive, is a darker, red amber color. It is perfectly normal for the oil to appear slightly cloudy or with some sediment collected at the bottom.
True 100% pure argan oil will read on the label as 100% argan or its latin name of Argania Spinosa. There is no need to mix it with any other oils. It should be packaged in a darker glass bottle to prevent it from light exposure, which could cause it to spoil quickly. The scent should be lightly nutty. Because it is a natural, perishable product that can go bad if exposed to sunlight or oxidate over time, if the scent is strong or pungent, or the oil is sticky, don’t buy it! Lastly, the oil should NOT be colorless or scent free. If the oil is clear and scent free, it is probably over processed, a blend or imitation.