The Ultimate Guide to Argan Oil


The Ultimate Guide to Argan Oil: Unlocking the Secrets of Nature’s Liquid Gold

Discover argan oil, Morocco’s beauty secret. Learn about its origins, benefits, uses, production process, and how to buy and use real pure argan oil.


For centuries, the women of Morocco’s Berber tribes have been unlocking the remarkable benefits of a special ingredient indigenous only to their land – argan oil. Derived from the nuts of the knobby argan tree, this aromatic golden-hued oil has long been valued as a versatile beauty elixir and culinary favorite. Dubbed “Morocco’s liquid gold”, argan oil contains a potent blend of nutrients like vitamin E and essential fatty acids that has made it a coveted component of natural skincare routines and kitchen pantries around the world.

Yet the global argan oil trend is still rooted in the traditions of Moroccan women. Generations have passed down the art of hand-extracting and refining this liquid gold, providing economic empowerment along the way. Beyond its alluring sunny color and smooth texture, argan oil provides a conduit to Morocco’s rich cultural heritage.

This guide will unlock all the secrets of argan oil – from its origins to uses, production methods, and beauty benefits. You’ll learn insider tips on experiencing argan’s magic with a visit to a traditional women’s cooperative. We’ll also provide guidance on spotting quality argan oil and properly using it in your own skincare and culinary creations. Discover why Morocco’s beauty elixir deserves its growing acclaim. Let’s uncover the remarkable properties of nature’s gift – argan liquid gold.

Origins and History of Argan Oil

Native only to southwest Morocco, the argan tree and its oil have a rich history:

  • Grows only in the Sous Valley region – nowhere else on earth. Endangered species.
  • Berber people discovered argan oil’s culinary and cosmetic uses centuries ago.
  • Production process and benefits traditionally passed down amongst Berber women.
  • Provides employment for local women in cooperatives producing argan products.
  • Referred to as “Moroccan liquid gold” for its deep golden color and value.
  • Argan oil put on global map in early 2000s once exports increased worldwide.
  • In 2020, UNESCO granted argan cultivation protected status as important “intangible cultural heritage”.

Benefits and Nutrients Found in Argan Oil

Argan oil provides a wealth of nutrients and bioactive compounds that benefit skin, hair, nails and overall health:

  • Loaded with vitamin E, an antioxidant that nourishes skin and protects against aging.
  • Rich in essential fatty acids like oleic acid to deeply hydrate skin and hair.
  • Contains ferulic acid which reduces sun damage and evens skin tone.
  • Has phenols that act as anti-inflammatories to soothe skin and joints.
  • Packed with carotenes to shield against UV radiation and smooth wrinkles.
  • High linoleic acid content helps reinforce cell membranes in skin and hair.
  • Works as an effective moisturizer and emollient due to its quick absorption.

The unique properties make argan oil a nourishing part of skincare and edible oil routines.

Culinary Uses of Argan Oil

Beyond cosmetics, argan oil is also used culinarily in Morocco, valued for its rich taste:

  • Has a subtle, nutty flavor that enhances many dishes. Does not overpower.
  • Most commonly used for dipping bread, drizzled over couscous, and salad dressings.
  • Mixed into spice blends like the delicious Moroccan rub ras-el-hanout.
  • Adds smooth nutty essence to dips like zhoug sauce and hummus.
  • Increases aroma when drizzled on vegetables, lentils, grilled meats and fish.
  • Used sparingly due to its expense – just a small amount provides big flavor.
  • Toasted variety has a darker color and smokier taste. Cold-pressed is milder.

Cosmetic Uses for Argan Oil

For skincare and haircare, argan oil can be used in many ways:

  • Apply as a moisturizer to hydrate face, hands and body. Non-greasy.
  • Use as a nourishing overnight facial oil – wakes up plump, glowing skin.
  • Soothes irritated skin and eczema when used as a daily moisturizing treatment.
  • Make a reparative hair oil mask to smooth flyaways and condition dry ends.
  • Rub on cracked heels and cuticles to soften and repair.
  • Mix with sugar or salt to create an exfoliating body scrub.
  • Add to shea butter or coconut oil to make a hydrating hair styling pomade.
  • Massage on nails and cuticles to condition and stimulate growth.

The versatility makes argan oil a favorite for DIY beauty concoctions.

Buying and Using 100% Pure Argan Oil

To reap argan oil’s benefits, quality matters. Here are tips:

  • Look for 100% pure argan oil with no added ingredients. Cold-pressed, unrefined is best.
  • Should have a rich golden hue. Dark yellow = toasted variety. Light yellow = cold-pressed.
  • Smell for a light nutty aroma. Avoid odorless, clear, or murky oil.
  • Only buy from reputable sources like direct sellers, co-ops, or organic brands.
  • Check for certification seals from organizations like Ecocert to verify purity.
  • Store in a cool, dark place in a tinted glass bottle to maintain freshness.
  • Use within 6 months once opened for maximum potency. Discard if smell turns rancid.
  • A little goes a long way – use sparingly as a finishing oil for best results.

Experiencing Argan in Morocco

Visiting Morocco provides the opportunity to discover argan oil at its source:

  • Visit women’s cooperatives in the Sous Valley to observe traditional production.
  • Tour argan plantations to see the knobby argan trees firsthand.
  • Shop for high quality oil and products at local souks and markets in the south.
  • Look for authentic argan soaps, scrubs, cosmetics at pharmacies and spas.
  • Try argan-infused Moroccan specialties at restaurants.
  • Get spa treatments like argan oil massages and facials using pure, fresh oil.
  • Stay at a riad that incorporates argan into its upscale hammam and spa.

Experiencing argan culture in Morocco takes using this beauty oil to the next level.


With its dazzling golden color and incredible nourishing properties, argan oil clearly lives up to its nickname “Morocco’s Liquid Gold”. This beauty elixir’s ability to hydrate, repair, and protect both skin and hair makes it as good as gold in any skincare or culinary routine. Yet beyond its benefits, argan oil provides a window into Morocco’s rich cultural traditions around this natural treasure. Learning the deep roots of argan cultivation to cooperatives still producing it today adds even more meaning to incorporating it in your own life.

So take your argan experience beyond just what you buy in the bottle. Immerse yourself in its origins on a visit to Morocco’s southern region. See the women carry on generations-old practices, creating an economic lifeline from the “Tree of Life”. Whether you savor its nutty essence drizzled on a Moroccan salad or massage its softening benefits into your hair, you’ll be enjoying both argan’s nourishing properties and cultural story. Discover for yourself why argan will always be cherished as Morocco’s natural liquid gold.

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Where does argan oil come from?

Argan oil comes from the kernels of the argan tree, which is endemic to southwest Morocco. It is produced primarily by Moroccan women’s cooperatives.

How is argan oil made?

Argan oil is handmade by Moroccan women through a labor-intensive process of cracking argan nuts, manually grinding kernels, and cold pressing them.

What are the benefits of argan oil?

Argan oil is rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and fatty acids that provide hydrating, anti-aging, and healing benefits for skin, hair, nails and overall health.

Is culinary argan oil the same as cosmetic?

Yes, the same pure argan oil can be used both for cooking and cosmetics. The oil is not chemically processed.

How can I use argan oil?

Argan oil has many uses including as a moisturizer, hair oil, massage oil, nail and cuticle treatment, makeup remover, shaving cream, lip conditioner, and edible culinary oil.


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