Although Argania spinosa trees were once found throughout North Africa, today the species grows exclusively in southwestern Morocco. The endangered trees are now protected by UNESCO and other conservation efforts that monitor the cultivation of oil. An ecosystem restoration project insures that the argan trees will continue to grow, produce oil and create work opportunities for local women who are responsible for extracting the oil and benefit from its sale. All argan oil is produced by these cooperatives which distribute profits among the Berber tribe.
Argan trees produce almond-sized fruits that contain the precious oil. Traditionally, Berber women extracted the oil by collecting undigested argan pits from goat waste. The pits were then ground and pressed to produce oil. While this traditional method is still used in some areas of Morocco, most argan oil for sale today is extracted using modern harvesting technologies.
Pure argan oil is one of the rarest oils in the world and is revered for its rich concentration of vitamins and minerals. The oil contains high levels of tocopherols,powerful antioxidants that are vital for healthy skin and hair. High levels of carotenes, phenolic acid, squalene and phenols also contribute to the oil's cosmetic value. The oil is composed of 42.8% oleic fatty acids and 36.8% linoleic fatty acids, both of which contribute to its healing and moisturizing properties. Argan oil also contains squalenes that help protect collagen and make skin softer. Phenolic compounds found in the oil help protect the skin from harmful free radicals that contaminate skin and leave it dull, lifeless and dry.
Cosmetic-grade argan oil is high in fatty acids, making it an intense moisturizer that will leave skin softer. Apply the oil at night and let it work its magic while you are sleeping. Dab a small amount of the oil on a cotton ball and massage into the face using upward strokes.
Argan oil can be used to moisturize the whole body as well. Gently massage the oil into skin after showering or bathing. You may also mix a small amount of the oil with body moisturizer to use on hands and feet. Skin will be nourished, moisturized and velvety smooth.
The oil also has a soothing effect on acne scars, rheumatic conditions and other skin problems. The high concentration of vitamin E found in the oil can relieve symptoms of eczema and psoriasis. Applying argan oil regularly can also reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
The oil can also be used in the morning before applying makeup. Argan oil is quickly absorbed by the skin and only a few drops are necessary to reap the maximum benefits. No oily residue will be left behind, and argan oil is safe to use around the eye area.
Argan oil can also be used to strengthen brittle or weak nails. Mix equal parts of lemon juice and argan oil to create a formula that will reduce nail breakage and soften cuticles. You will feel results and nails will appear more radiant after soaking in this solution for just ten minutes.
The oil is particularly useful for restoring a glossy shine to hair and repairing split ends. Apply a generous amount of argan oil to dry hair and wrap in a warm damp towel. Let the oil sit for at least 30 minutes before washing. The oil can also be massaged into the roots to eliminate dandruff and other scalp ailments caused by dry skin. Dry, frizzy hair can be calmed by rubbing in just a few drops of the oil. Used twice weekly, argan oil will transform dry, dull hair into shiny and healthy tresses.