Argan Oil - The Dermatology Review

Argan Oil



Many people are aware of the hair benefits of argan oil since it is a very common ingredient in products like shampoo and conditioner. But did you know that you can also use argan oil for skin? If you want to start incorporating argan oil into your skin care routine, but aren’t sure where to start, keep reading below for 7 ways to use argan oil for skin. 

What is argan oil?

Native to Morocco, the argan tree (Argania spinosa) produces a small, round fruit that contains a hard-shelled pit, which is encased in a layer of pulp. A kernel lies within the pulp, which is where the “liquid gold” known as argan oil is found. Extracting these kernels can only be done by hand, making it no easy task! Skilled laborers crack open the fruit and then grind and press the kernels until oil is produced.

Traditionally, natives of the argan woodlands in Morocco have used this precious oil as a dietary supplement, for wound treatment and rash relief, and to improve the look and feel of skin and hair. In addition, culinary argan oil is used for its toasted, creamy, nutty flavor. Today, argan oil is used around the world by both men and women to achieve healthier skin and hair. 

Argan oil nutrition facts

The reason why argan oil is called “liquid gold” is not because it is gold in color, but because like gold, it is very valuable and has a lot of benefits. These benefits are due to its rich supply of nutrients, such as fatty acids, tocopherols, polyphenols, and more. Below we’ll discuss each of these argan oil nutrients in more detail. 

Argan oil contains several beneficial fatty acids that promote skin health, including oleic acid, linoleic acid, palmitic acid, and stearic acid. Oleic acid is an omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acid that functions as a penetration enhancer by disturbing the skin barrier. Linoleic acid, an omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid, possesses anti-inflammatory properties and also replenishes the skin’s barrier function. Palmitic acid and stearic acid are both saturated fatty acids that also aid in replenishing the skin’s barrier function. 

While argan oil is mainly composed of unsaturated fatty acids (80%), the unsaponifiable fraction (1%) is full of antioxidants, notably gamma-tocopherol. Gamma-tocopherol is a form of vitamin E that is very efficient at scavenging free radicals. Free radicals are unstable, highly reactive molecules that contribute to signs of aging, such as fine lines, wrinkles, sagging skin, and age spots. 

Argan oil also contains a rich supply of polyphenols that provide numerous benefits, including UV protection, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and free radical scavenging properties. Argan oil is particularly high in ferulic acid, a polyphenol that plays a key role in the plants’ protection and self-preservation. Other important components in argan oil include triterpene alcohols, phytosterols, and squalene. 

7 ways to use argan oil for skin

Now that you know argan oil is packed with fatty acids, vitamin E, and other beneficial nutrients, you’re probably wondering how you can use argan oil for skin. Below we have 7 ways you can incorporate argan oil into your skin care routine. 

1. Skin moisturizer 
You can use argan oil as a skin moisturizer because of its rich supply of fatty acids. The fatty acids we discussed in the previous section are extremely beneficial when applied to the skin because they help to maintain skin hydration by keeping the skin barrier intact. 

The skin’s natural barrier can be thought of as a “brick and mortar” system. The bricks are the corneocytes (dead skin cells) and the intercellular lipids (ceramides, cholesterol, fatty acids) represent the mortar. Without these lipids, the skin barrier is weakened, just like without mortar a brick wall would be weak and unstable. The result is skin that can easily become dry, itchy, or irritated. The fatty acids in argan oil help to strengthen the skin barrier and therefore prevent these issues. 

Another way argan oil helps to keep skin soft and moisturized is due to squalane. Squalene is found in plants, animals, and even our own sebum. In humans, squalene is the biochemical precursor to cholesterol and the whole family of steroid hormones in the human body. It is produced by the oil glands in the skin, and plays an important role in skin lubrication and protection. However, the amount made and retained in the skin decreases over time. It peaks in our teens and then starts to decline in our 20’s, leaving skin rough, dry, and vulnerable. By strengthening the skin’s barrier with squalene, argan oil can help to prevent these problems.

Lastly, when vitamin E in argan oil is delivered to your skin through the sebaceous (oil) glands, it provides a protective barrier and helps to reduce transepidermal water loss. Using argan oil for face and body helps to promote moisturized, healthy skin. 

2. Soothe inflamed skin
In addition to keeping your skin soft and moisturized, argan oil can help to soothe inflamed skin. Argan oil provides anti-inflammatory effects thanks to its supply of linoleic acid. Specifically, linoleic acid reduces inflammatory responses of neutrophils and macrophages. In addition, the triterpene alcohols found in argan oil are known to help decrease inflammation. Due to its ability to reduce inflammation, argan oil is sometimes recommended as a natural remedy to relieve the inflammation, itchiness, and redness of psoriasis or eczema. Of course, you’ll want to check with your doctor before using argan oil for psoriasis or eczema.

3. Argan oil for acne
You can use argan oil for acne since it is non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores. In fact, argan oil can actually be very beneficial for those with oily and acne-prone skin. One study  examined argan oil’s anti-sebum powers (sebum is the skin’s natural oil) and found that using a topical argan oil cream twice a day for four weeks was linked to reduced sebum levels and a less shiny complexion. Plus, remember that argan oil provides anti-inflammatory effects, which can help to reduce redness and inflammation associated with existing blemishes. Overall, argan oil is considered to be a great moisturizer for those dealing with oily, acne-prone skin. 

4. Makeup remover
You can use argan oil as a natural makeup remover to gently remove all traces of face and eye makeup. When you use argan oil (or any oil) to remove oily makeup and sebum, you’re employing the chemical principle called “like dissolves like.” Basically, oils will dissolve other materials that have a similar chemical structure.

5. Reduce fine lines and wrinkles
Using argan oil for face wrinkles and fine lines is effective thanks to the antioxidants and phytosterols found in argan oil. Antioxidants limit oxidative damage caused by free radicals. This is important because free radicals are unstable, highly reactive molecules that contribute to signs of aging, such as fine lines, wrinkles, sagging skin, and age spots. 

The phytosterols in argan oil help to reduce fine lines and wrinkles by inhibiting collagen degradation caused by sun damage. There’s also research that suggests phytosterols can stimulate the production of new collagen in the skin. Collagen is an important protein that is responsible for keeping the skin strong, firm, and youthful. Since collagen levels decrease with age, it’s important to use ingredients that help replenish collagen levels. 

6. Carrier oil
Another way to use argan oil for skin is as a carrier oil. The function of a carrier oil is to dilute other essential oils to make them safer for use on the skin. Argan oil is an excellent carrier oil because it is non-greasy and absorbs into the skin quickly. 

7. Boost effectiveness of sunscreen
Using argan oil for face and body not only keeps the skin soft and moisturized, it may also boost the effectiveness of your sunscreen. This benefit is due to the high amount of vitamin E in argan oil. There is evidence that topically applied vitamin E provides photoprotective activity against acute UV-induced skin damage, such as erythema (redness) and edema (swelling). Additionally, vitamin E can protect the skin from responses to chronic UVA and UVB exposure, such as wrinkles and skin cancer. Plus, when argan oil is applied after sun exposure it can even repair UV-induced skin damage, one of the main causes of premature skin aging. Of course, argan oil cannot replace sunscreen; it should always be used in combination with a broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen if you’re going to be in the sun for a prolonged period of time. 

How to use argan oil for face

As you can see, there are so many ways you can use argan oil for skin. If you’d like to use argan oil for face treatment, we have a few tips you can try out. The following procedure should be followed while applying argan oil for face treatment:

  • Start by heating the argan oil until it is warm, but not too hot.
  • Cleanse your face with a gentle cleanser and pat dry with a cloth until damp. It is important to remember that argan oil benefits are maximized when it is applied to damp, not dry skin.
  • Take a few drops of argan oil and apply gently to the face and neck in circular motion. 
  • Keep the argan oil on face and other treatment areas for a couple of minutes for the skin to absorb it and follow up with your usual skin care routine.

If you’d like to use argan oil as a makeup remover, simply take a few drops on your hands and apply it all over your face and eyes. Then take a cotton ball or tissue, wipe it off, and ta-da! It works like magic and the makeup comes right off. 

Another way to use argan oil for face is as a moisturizer for oily and acne-prone skin. After cleansing and toning, apply a few drops of argan oil and spread evenly over face. However, if you have moderate or severe acne, you may want to consider using a skin care product with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.

Additional ways to use argan oil

We’ve discussed how you can use argan oil for face and body, but there are so many other ways you can incorporate argan oil into your beauty routine. Below we’ll briefly describe how you can use argan oil for hair, dry scalp, massage, and nails.

Argan oil for hair

Argan oil is well known for its ability to promote shiny, healthy hair. Since argan oil is an emollient, it can be applied directly to the hair to help give it a smoother, shinier texture. Once argan oil is incorporated into your hair care routine, you may also notice that your hair is easier to comb through and style. Lastly, argan oil can help to strengthen and repair hair, thereby making it less prone to breakage and split ends.

Argan oil for dry scalp

Since argan oil can help to restore the skin’s barrier function, it is often recommended to be used as a treatment for dry, flaky scalp. It may also help with dandruff. 

Argan oil for massage

Since there are so many argan oil benefits for skin, this carrier oil is frequently used during massages. It is so popular for massages because it spreads easily and isn’t greasy, therefore making it a good massage medium to use to help spread the oil and essential oil mixture, while still allowing time for a massage before it is absorbed by the skin.

Argan oil for nails

You can use argan oil for nails during an at home manicure or simply as part of your nightly routine to promote stronger nails. Argan oil contains vitamins and healthy fats that can strengthen and restore your nail health. When argan oil is massaged into the nail, the nail is coated with protection from nail peeling, cracking, dryness, and breakage.

Is argan oil safe?

Argan oil is a very mild oil that is safe for nearly all skin types, including dry, oily, and even sensitive skin. However, argan oil may not be safe to use if you have a tree nut allergy since allergens can be contained in argan oil.

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