Argan oil is a plant oil produced from the kernels of the Argan tree (Argania spinosa L.) that is endemic to Morocco. There, this oil has been traditionally used as a food and a cosmetic.
Uses and Benefits
Argan oil contains high levels of linoleic and oleic acids, and tocopherols. Linoleic acid is critical in the development and maintenance of a healthy skin barrier. The skin barrier function is a multitasked process that involves providing a first line of defense of the body to keep harmful chemicals out of our systems and keep in moisture and essential nutrients. Rich in highly beneficial plant sterols that are believed to be unique to this plant, Argan has a regulating effect on sebaceous glands, making it particularly beneficial for oily and imbalanced skin. In addition, it is highly rejuvenating and helps prevent irritation, making it a valuable skin care ingredient, particularly in the treatment of seborrhea and acne. This essential oil helps in reducing wrinkles and softening the skin. It has also shown to increase the elasticity and tightening of the skin. Benefits for skin also include regeneration of the skin by revitalizing the cell functions that prevent early skin aging due to sun, pollution, stress, smoking, etc. Argan oil has skin moisturizing properties stronger than Olive oil as well as Shea butter. Argan oil health benefits for the skin also include reduction of skin irritation and inflammation. If you are suffering from acne or chickenpox scars, application of Argan oil will help reduce these blemishes. It also has antimicrobial as well as pH balancing properties that helps in reducing acne.
The fruit of the Argan tree is small, and round, oval, or conical. A thick peel covers the fleshy pulp. The pulp surrounds a hard-shelled nut that represents about 25% of the weight of the fresh fruit.
The nut contains one to three oil-rich Argan kernels. Extraction yields from 30% to 50% of the oil in the kernels, depending on the extraction method.
Extraction is key to the production process. To extract the kernels, workers first dry Argan fruit in the open air and then remove the fleshy pulp. Some producers remove the flesh mechanically without drying the fruit. Moroccans usually use the flesh as animal feed. There is a tradition, in some areas of Morocco, of allowing goats to climb Argan trees to feed freely on the fruits. The kernels are then later retrieved from the goat droppings, considerably reducing the labor involved in extraction at the expense of some potential gustatory aversion. In modern practice the peels are removed by hand.
The next stage involves cracking the Argan nut to obtain the Argan kernels. Attempts to mechanize this process have been unsuccessful, so workers still do it by hand, making it a time-consuming, labor-intensive process. Berber women often engage in this arduous task.
The decanted Argan oil is left to rest about two weeks so that solids suspended in the Argan oil settle to the bottom. The clearer Argan oil is further filtered, depending on the required clarity and purity. Pure Argan oil may contain some sediment.