What Is Argan Oil?
Argan oil is a golden yellow oil with that natural nutty scent that comes from the kernels of the argan tree. Originating in south west Morocco, the argan tree (argania spinosais aka argania spinosa) was cultivated for centuries by native people for the oil which served health, culinary and beauty purposes. The thorny tree bears a fruit that contains a nut with kernels. The kernels inside the nut produce the oil. The oil is mainly a product of Morocco, but it is also cultivated from argan tree orchards in Israel.
In Morocco, women of the Berber tribe traditionally harvest and prepare argan oil. They collect the nuts and use sharp stones to crack the shells to remove the kernels. The harvesters then place the kernels between two slabs of rock and grind them into a paste. They knead the paste by hand to begin the oil extraction. The collected oil is sent to local factories where a press extracts additional oil. These traditional methods are still practiced today for the collection of argan oil, although some manufacturers use machines. The production of true Moroccan argan oil comes from traditional cooperatives run primarily by women.
The argan tree is endangered and under the protection of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The sale of argan oil helps encourage the healthy cultivation of the argan tree and helps protect the endangered species.
Argan oil compares to jojoba oil, coconut oil and shea butter in terms of its compatibility for skin and hair. The nongreasy oil penetrates skin without leaving a residue and is non-comedogenic for scalp health. The oil’s high content of vitamin E and essential fatty acids give it excellent moisturizing qualities for dry or damaged hair. It can also seal the hair cuticle to prevent moisture loss, prevent split ends and impart shine. The oil also provides good slip for detangling hair. The natural nutty scent of the oil does not linger in hair and fades quickly.
Argan oil works well on straight, wavy, curly and African hair. Only a small amount of the oil is necessary for all hair types to improve hair appearance and health.
Using Argan Oil on African Hair
Argan oil can be used on African hair as a daily moisturizer and finishing product. The oil is an effective daily moi sturizer that can prevent moisture loss. Small amounts of the oil can als o smooth away frizzies and add shine to a hair style. It can also lubricate the scalp when used for massages and for conditioning locs or braids.
Here are some tips for using argan oil on natural hair:
- Mix a drop of argan oil with conditioner. Apply the conditioner and oil mixture to freshly washed hair. Let the oil and conditioner mixture sit on hair for 10 minutes and then rinse with warm water.
- Add a favorite essential oil to the argan oil to create enjoyable scents. Use the scented oil to massage the scalp. Use some of the oil in a spray bottle with distilled water to moisturize hair during the day.
- Coat fingers with the argan oil before fingercombing hair to make it easier to detangle and to prevent breakage.
- Seal moisture in hair by applying argan oil over a leave-in conditioner.
- Use argan oil on braided hair styles or locs each day to prevent dryness and provide shine.
Tips for Buying Argan Oil
Be sure to understand what you are buying before purchasing argan oil. Not every oil labeled as “100 percent argan oil” is genuine. Pure argan oil should be yellow with a slight reddish tint, making it a golden color and have a distinctive nutty scent.
Due to the complex process to manufacture argan oil and limited distribution, the 100 percent or pure argan oil is expensive. Many argan oil products are mixed with other oils or included in hair serums or conditioners. Many of these mixtures are quality products but just be sure that it doesn’t contain harsh chemicals, such as drying alcohols. The food grade oil can also be used on hair and skin, but tends to have a strong scent. Cosmetic grade argan oil has a milder scent than the food grade version.
Buy argan oil from reputable sources, such as Moroccan cooperatives, known hair websites and established retailers to ensure oil quality. One great source is right here – the NapShop sells Argan Oil Pure and Argan Hair Serum.