Argan oil is grown in such a hostile environment that Moroccan Argan Oil used to be the only one available. It is claimed that the oil can give human skin and hair the ability to thrive in a hostile environment too.
I suspect that the tree might grow quite well in Death Valley in the USA, but most places are too hospitable for the tree to grow.
This goat herder is not a good advert for face cream, but he is obviously a survivor in the hostile land you can see in the background. The spiny branches of an argan tree are just behind him.
You could never persuade Americans to crack the nuts by hand however – it takes several days to crack enough for 1 liter of oil, so imagine what that would cost with American wages!
What is Argan Oil?
Botanically the fruit is a drupe (like a mango) with a very thick rind, and the argan tree is called Argania spinosa (spinosa means spiny for obvious reasons)
I would hate to be a harvester picking fruit from the thorny trees. It takes about 4 weeks to pick all the fruit from one tree (about 60 Kilos) and you wouldn’t need to have a fear of heights, with the trees growing to the height of a four-storey building.
Pure argan oil is extracted from the kernel inside the fruit (skin, pulp, nut shell, kernel). You can read more investigations of it’s benefits at
The tree is an excellent investment, because it lasts about 200 years and needs absolutely no cultivation, so is “organically grown” – well, why pour on expensive chemicals when you don’t need them because the bugs can’t survive?
However you couldn’t pay me to live in the harsh environment that these trees love!
Here are some argan oil reviews of three harvesting methods. Note that nuts still have to be cracked by hand, however much the extraction becomes mechanized.
OK, so modern harvesting collects the fruit. The skin and pulp are removed the shell is removed separately, and the oil is pressed out of the kernel. The residue after pressing out the oil is combined with the pulp to make stock feed. The shells are burned as fuel.
But that’s not how it was until recently, and the old tradition is still followed.
Goats must be crazy! They climb those thorny trees to a height of a 4-storey building to eat the fruit. You won’t catch me joining them, and I have two good hands. They only have hoofs.
They can’t digest the nuts, which are then collected from their droppings.
Nuts are then cracked by placing each one on a large stone and hitting the nut with a stone about the size of your hand. Remember the 60 Kg of fruit (the weight of a teenager) from one tree each year? Well it takes 16 to 20 hours (depending on skill) to crack that many nuts, and you get only 2 Kg of kernels from it.
Kernels are then ground to a paste with water, and about a week later you get the oil.
The only trouble is that the oil only lasts about 3 months, so the local cooks just keep a stack of nuts an a shed, and make small amounts of oil as needed.
They haven’t found a quick and economical way to crack the nuts, so teams of women do the job. Then the kernels are pressed dry. Because no water is needed, the process takes only about two hours to make one liter, and the resulting oil keeps for up to a year and a half. Warning – after the use-by date it is likely to stink. If you’ve just bought it – return the stuff for a refund.
Nasty Chemical Process
Chemical extraction gets more oil out of the kernel than any other method, but is no longer Organic, and the oil is worthless even for skin cream.
Why is it called Moroccan argan oil?
The photo on the right shows the unripe fruit and tiny flowers arrowed.
Until it became commercialized fairly recently the tree only grew in Morocco, and possibly Algeria, and was threatened with extinction.
Now that it is becoming popular it is being cultivated in Algeria, Spain, Canary Islands, Tunisia, Israel. I wonder if it would grow in the Australian deserts?
Increasing plantations are being encouraged in Morocco too now that experts are beginning to realize the environmental benefits as well as the commercial benefits.
Just think of these things…
- Roots grow very deep and prevent erosion. So the semi-desert is not converted to desert.
- Needs no expensive cultivation so all the oil starts off as organic argan oil, which is of course the best argan oil
- Needs no expensive sprays
- Very few crops can be grown in semi-desert
- Sustain herds of goats
- Produces oil in the increasing quantities in demand, especially by the French (Why are they always the first to discover great cosmetics?)
- Supplies employment to teams of women who crack the nuts by hitting them with a stone. The job is less boring if you can have a good chat while you’re doing it.
What’s in Pure Argan Oil?
Just a cautionary note here. “Pure” does not mean chemically pure because it’s a mixture like all plant products. It means that there are no chemicals added. Be very careful if the advertiser says “Contains pure…” because if a skin cream has only 0.1% oil in it, it still contains the oil!
- Oleic- 48.4%
- Palmitic- 12.6%
- Palmitoleic- 0.1%
- Stearic- 5.4%
- Gadoleic- 0.3%
- Arachidic- 0.2%
If you’re a non-chemist like me I’ve discovered that the things that make up fats are called fatty acids.
But that’s not all – there is three times as much antioxidant power as you would expect in olive oil.
OK, it sounds good, but is it worth buying?
It’s been used for centuries as cooking oil, but you couldn’t afford it for that purpose now.
Traditionally it’s been used for hair, face, and skin treatments – for instance to get rid of pox or acne scars, and wrinkles in your skin. That last one needs some research, because the photo of the Moroccan goat herder displays very wrinkled skin! However, here are some argan oil reviews by users.
Ripe argan fruit in tree.
Gabrielle Mooningham says that she ruined her hair with bleaches and tints, so she is now trying to get back to good hair again. She’s tried everything including spells, but nothing worked like pure argan oil and it’s cheaper than all the cremes etc.
There is a good reason for that! All your skin and hair care products are designed to make things worse…so you’ll use more product because it’s not working very well. Visit this poisons directory and look down the list of poisons to see how many are in your shampoo or body lotion.
Gabrielle goes on to emphasize what I’ve just said – fillers make anything except 100 pure argan oil worse than useless. It smells good, is quickly absorbed, gives extra color to her hair, and cuts down on hair breakage.
She walks barefoot a lot, so her heels get very rough skin. She sprayed them with 100 argan oil and slept with socks on. Next morning the rough heels had improved to an amazing extent. I myself have the same problem, but I don’t care. When I tread on broken glass, the tough skin deflects it and I hardly ever get a cut.
Hadjitou succumbed to pestering by vendors during her visit to Morocco, so she bought some morocco argan oil to keep them happy, just as a souvenir. While hiking she had a terrible allergic reaction to something, leaving her face swollen and scarred. Then she remembered her souvenir. A week later her face was as good as new.
Ali Julia is another satisfied customer, but she has a little tip for you. The bottle is glass (plastic leaches chemicals) and gets slippery when oil dribbles down it, so she keeps a paper towel handy to wipe off the oil.
I have a suspicious nature, so I wondered if all the comments were paid for by the manufacturers, but I did find some minor complaints, buried among the praises for the pure oil doing such amazing things.
Some users disliked the pump-action spray which is there because the oil is no longer pure once you put in gas to make it spray without pumping. Of course if you get oil on the outside of the bottle it might slip, and though you don’t weep over spilled milk, a broken bottle of Moroccan Argan oil might be expensive enough to make you weep.
Debbie Lee Wesselmann is a blonde and the oil darkened the areas where it stuck. I’m wondering – how many additives were in her shampoo? Other people have commented that if they spray their hair at night, it is absorbed so fast that it doesn’t spread to the pillow.
- This post is about organic argan oil, so it doesn’t apply to impure products. The more additives there are, the worse.
- Floor tiles are great in the bathroom…except when your bottle of best argan oil slips out of your hands. Wipe off the oil with a paper towel.
- Use home-made soap to wash, because you know what you put into it. Don’t blame the oil for disasters caused by your shampoo.
- There are too many happy users telling how the oil is better than advertised to mention here. Apparently it strengthens and moisturizes hair, so that less is washed down the drain, moisturizes skin and removes wrinkles, removes scar tissue after several months, removes wrinkles round the eyes.
- I had difficulty finding negative user comments, almost all caused by using additives.
If you decide to buy some (I can’t advise you to because I’m a seventy-three year old man and nothing will take the wrinkles out of my face, so I hide behind a beard.) don’t expect miracles, but my research shows that the pure products are very promising.
If you live in Canada or the USA or the UK there are some special trial offers so you can try-before-you-buy but even if you live elsewhere I think you will agree that pure organic argan oil is cheaper than most skin care products, and it doesn’t contain poisons designed to damage your skin.
Straight offer of the best oil
Canadian trial offer
USA trial offer
UK trial offer