You’ve probably heard of argan oil: the new “miracle” ingredient in DIY natural cosmetics. You may know it’s made in Morocco, where it’s something of a national treasure. You may also know it’s beneficial for your hair, body, and even as a food ingredient.
However, you may not know any specific argan oil benefits — that studies suggest it accelerates burn healing and fights cancer and diabetes.
In this post, I’ve compiled the last 20 years of research on argan oil benefits, Now you can get the real deal about all its benefits without the hype and sales pitches.
Many people making homemade, DIY cosmetics, or looking for non-toxic beauty or health care ingredients, get lost in a sea of available information online... If you’re one of them, use this as a quick reference.
How is Argan Oil Used?
Now let’s see exactly what the liquid gold does and doesn’t do.
Argan oil is only found in southwestern Morocco. Numerous attempts have been made to grow it in other parts of the world with no success, It is mainly used in two very different ways First of all, the oil is used as a gourmet delight because of its nutty flavor and apparent health benefits.
Secondly, it is used as a powerful ingredient in many health and beauty products. It is rich in vitamin E and contains many antioxidants. In fact, the Berbers who populate this region of Morocco have been using the oil for hundreds of years, and it has been particularly valuable in protecting and conditioning hair and skin.
Between June and August, the Moroccans harvest the mature fruits of the argan tree. These fruits are dried for many weeks, the most labor intensive part of oil extraction is removing the pulp and crashing the hard shell nut which contain one to three oil rich kernels.
These kernels are then pressed using traditional extraction or mechanical extraction or chemical extraction to obtain culinary-grade oil, the kernels needs to be roasted before pressing.
Sebum Level Correction
In Morocco, where the Argania tree grows in the semi-desert Sous valley, people have long used argan oil to fight spots, oily skin, acne and other skin problems. In recent years, science has given us hard evidence that explains why.
Here’s the deal. Your body produces a natural, oily substance that waterproofs and lubricates your skin. This substance is called sebum, and it protects you from injury, sunburns and other nasty stuff. Even your ear canal has sebum.
The problem is, the modern lifestyle can mess with your natural sebum levels. Air pollution, unhealthy food and even hormone levels can confuse the body. As a result, many people today have.
• Too much sebum - oily skin, whiteheads, blackheads, acne, pustules
• Too little sebum - dryness, skin injuries and tears, itching and redness, acne
Having too much sebum is a common and dangerous problem. This makes hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin, leading to all kinds of yucky skin conditions. Unfortunately, most oils, including olive oil, can’t stabilize your sebum levels.
The reason for that is, your skin isn’t very good at absorbing vegetable products, which is why many people complain about olive and sunflower oils greasing skin to the point it leaves stains on clothes and furniture.
Argan oil works differently. A 2007 study had volunteers apply a cream with Argania spinosa oil base for 4 weeks. The results took the researchers aback.
Sebum regulation improved in 95% of the volunteers. Areas covered with oily spots were reduced by 42%. The number of active sebum glands stayed level, proving that argan oil fixes your sebum levels naturally instead of messing with your body.
Researchers believe that Vitamin E and linoleic acid (omega-6) are the specific ingredients in argan oil that create this effect. Vitamin E is a unique, fat-soluble antioxidant essential for healthy skin. Omega 6 is a fatty acid that stimulates skin and hair growth.
Argania Spinosa oil may be so good at de-greasing oily skin and moisturizing dry skin because it’s rich in both - another one of many argan oil benefits.
Accelerate Burn Recovery and Reverse Skin Damage
That’s right: a study confirmed that argan oil application can greatly accelerate recovery from burns and other injuries! Didn’t think you’d see this way to use argan oil for skin care, did you? Argan oil significantly speeds up wound healing by almost 50%! as shown in a clinical experiment.
That’s why it’s used for all kinds of exposure injuries in Morocco since a long time ago. It is widely known to heal sunburn, puncture wounds, frostbite, hot and cold burns, etc.
The one question that’s still open to debate is how and why Argania Spinosa oil works to heal the skin. Although we don’t know all the answers, a study has shown why the oil specifically speeds recovery from sun damage.
Melanin - the pigment in our skin that protects us from ultraviolet rays and decreases the risk of cancer - is critical to say the least. Having too much or too little of it can lead to a higher risk of cancer, skin disorders and other problems. Studies have shown that argan oil is an elective melanin biosynthesis inhibitor. This means that argan oil normalizes skin cells that have too much melanin, keeping you healthy and safe from UV rays.
Slows Cell Aging and Oxidation
Argania Spinosa oil is rich in spinasterol and schottenol: naturally occurring compounds that have been clinically proven to protect cells from both oxidation and aging. As an added bonus, they help your body maintain Vitamin E. Since Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, this gives your immune system an extra kick when it comes to fighting cancer.
Here’s what’s really interesting. Normally, antioxidants act by scavenging free radicals: uncharged molecules that are believed to cause aging and aging-related diseases. What antioxidants can’t do is slow down the level of oxidation in your body.
Argan oil is different, because it tackles the free radical problem at the root. It reduces the rate of oxidation in your body, actually stopping your body from creating these particles. In fact, Argan oil has 3 mechanisms that have been shown to specifically fight skin aging and wrinkling. It keeps cells young, protects them from cellular stress, and stimulates new skin growth and the regeneration of old skin.
Improved Skin Elasticity
As you already know, Moroccan oil is a powerful antioxidant. It’s rich in vitamin E and omega 9: the 2 things your skin needs to stay healthy, elastic and hydrated. That’s why Moroccans use it to prevent wrinkles, premature aging and crows’ feet. What does research tell us about its measurable effects on the skin?
Well, in a human subject experiment, a group using argan oil as a skin product for 30 days was shown to have significantly improved skin hydration compared to the placebo group.
Since moisture loss is one of the main reasons for skin aging, this is significant. Hydrated skin loses less collagen and is protected from heat, cold and the sun. Wrinkles may be impossible to reverse, but making sure your skin cells and membrane have enough water prevents signs of aging from happening in the first place.
The evidence doesn’t lie. In another study, 30 postmenopausal women were asked to apply argan oil every night for 2 months. The amount was tiny: 10 drops. The assessments used to measure the oil’s effect were TEWL (transepidermal water loss) and WCE (water content of the skin).
After two months of argan oil use, there was a measurable improvement in the skin’s ability to retain water. It could also “lose” more water without drying, meaning this wasn’t just a cosmetic effect; this was a real, cell-level change.
The proof’s in the pudding: even a tiny amount of Moroccan oil added to a skin product can improve hydration and the elasticity of skin without “trapping” water inside cells and making the user feel bloated.
How Important is the Purity of Argan Oil?
As mentioned above, argan oil is expensive because it’s only produced in one place on earth: Morocco.
Although the Moroccan government plans to triple argan production output in the next few years, and the trees have already been planted, it’s still a premium product.
To save money, manufacturers and retailers have sometimes added other oils to what is labeled as “argan oil”. (This is what doctors hypothesized as the reason for the severe reaction of allergic contact dermatitis.)
If you don’t use pure argan oil, you won’t get its full benefits. In cosmetic products, you risk diluting the nanoparticles that make it so easy to absorb to the point where all the goodness is gone. When consuming it, you risk putting whatever was used to dilute the oil in your body. You probably don’t want that.
So how do you recognize Organic Pure Argan oil?
Real, pure, authentic oil often has a tiny bit of sediment at the bottom of the bottle and appears a bit “cloudy”. It’s also pale yellow in color. If your oil is clear, and has no sediment at all, you’re probably getting a fake.
Argan oil should also have a luxurious, nutty smell! If yours doesn’t have a smell, it could be old, or worse, “deodorized” by extreme heating processes... If it’s even Arganoil at all. The good news is, studies show that even a few drops of pure oil can help you get these wonderful argan oil benefits.
Using Argan Oil Correctly
As a supplement. So, you want to live longer, stay younger, and protect yourself from diseases like diabetes and cancer. In other words, you want some argan oil in your life! A very easy way to get its nutritional benefits is by using it as a supplement.
Argan oil does the most for your lipid levels and insulin sensitivity when consumed with food. 3-5 ml taken with 1 or 2 meals every day will do wonders for your skin and overall health. Many people also report that moroccan oil reduces hunger pangs, and consume it before bed to avoid the night munchies!
In your DIY recipes. When you use pure, natural products in your DIY skincare recipes, you only need a few things to make a great formula you will swear by. Whether you make stuff for personal use, or to sell, argan oils many benefits and low required dosage make it a godsend in cosmetics.
If you want to make that DIY shaving cream, or body butter, or handmade soap, or facial mask, just add 10 drops or so to the formula. Even 1 drop of pure argan oil will have a noticeable effect on dry and oily skin, stretch marks and all skin types - just make sure to warn people with nut allergies!
As a stand-alone product. Argan oil is very rare, even in Morocco, where it’s made. Fortunately for Moroccan women, you only need a tiny bit to get its benefits. Traditionally, locals use argan oil before bed, applying a few drops to their face and hair as part of their night-time beauty routine. You can do the same — it’s so rich you’ll find it easy to make just a little last you a long time!
As a food ingredient. The last (and tastiest) way to use argan oil is in your food. Just use it instead of butter or olive oil and share it with your friends and family members so they get the benefits, too. As another option, you can use it as a great bread dip ingredient, either pure or mixes with a little balsamic vinegar, Italian-style, for a delicious treat!
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not attempt to replace the advice of a medical expert.
Elena Julian is an aspiring farmer, mother, beauty DIYer. Join Elena aver at OilYit. Watch her press argan oil on Youtube, and follow along on Twitter.
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