Moroccan oil has been gaining in popularity and has gotten rave reviews for its conditioning properties. But is it worth the hype? Lets take a closer look at the benefits of Moroccan oil and how it works.
What is Moroccan oil?
Moroccan oil is another name for argan oil and is made from the kernels of the argan tree fruit that grows almost exclusively in Morocco. This oil is one of the rarest in the world due to the small supply and the limited growing area - hence the high price and the hype. Traditionally, the oil is produced by hand. First the soft pulp is stripped from the nuts, which are then laid out in the sun to dry. Stones are used to crack open the dried nuts so the seeds can be removed. Next, they're gently roasted to give the oil a rich, nutty flavor. A little water is added to the roasted seeds and they are ground into a thick paste which is squeezed by hand to extract the oil.
Chemically speaking, argan oil consists of a blend of fatty acids (over 70% oleic and linoleic acids.) It is also rich in vitamin E, phenols, and carotenes. Historically, argan oil has been used in cooking, but since it's so rich in essential fatty acids it has been found to be beneficial for hair and skin.
What are the benefits?
The fatty acids in Moroccan oil make it an excellent moisturizer. It can improve the appearance of dry hair and skin and add shine to hair. In fact, there has been some research that indicates that argan oil may be a treatment for psoriasis (more research needs to be conducted though).
Is there a downside?
The only downside to using argan oil in cosmetics, besides the potential lack of supply and high cost, is the fact that it contains a lot of oleic acid, which is highly comedogenic and means it could clog pores and cause inflammatory acne. Also, some Moroccan hair care lines use silicones as their primary ingredients (which isn't so bad because silicones are very effective conditioners like I said in yesterday's post). However, if you are looking for argan oil as the primary ingredient be sure to look at the label and make sure that it is one of the first three ingredients listed.
Are there alternatives to argan oil?
While argan oil is an effective ingredient, it is quite expensive due to its limited supply. Coconut oil has been shown to penetrate hair and help improve hair's strength and flexibility. Plus, it's more readily available and less expensive than argan oil and offers an excellent alternative.
Moroccan (argan) oil is a great way to treat dry and damaged hair and skin. However, its cost can be prohibitive for some and coconut oil is an excellent option that provides very similar benefits. Just be sure to look at the labels to be sure you are getting the oil you want and not a watered-down version.