When I was 19 and starting to feel the fallout of chemically straightening my hair, the one thing that kept my strands from completely breaking off was argan oil. Between castor oil, jojoba oil, and all of the other oils we're constantly drenching our hair in, most can agree that the most beneficial one for our strands is argan.
Extracted from the core of the argan tree, this popular beauty elixir is a common addition to our hair regimens—found in everything from masks to gels—that's brimming with potential benefits. We know it's rich in antioxidants and vitamins, but what exactly is it and what does this do for our hair?
Meet the Expert
- Andrew Fitzsimons is a celebrity hairstylist and TIGI brand ambassador.
- Kevin Hughes is a bicoastal celebrity hairstylist and the artistic director at Moroccanoil.
- Mark Blake is a certified trichologist and member of the International Association of Trichologists. He is an internationally recognized trichologist and thinning hair specialist who has worked in the hair industry for over 40 years.
To find out exactly what it is about argan oil that makes it wildly beneficial for our precious locks, we tapped into two celebrity hairstylists Andrew Fitzsimons and Kevin Hughes, as well as certified trichologist Mark Blake. Below, they're breaking down everything there is to know about this miracle oil and all of the things it can do (spoiler alert: there's a lot).
What is Argan Oil?
Argan Oil is derived from the kernels of the argan tree, and can be used in the kitchen (as it typically is in Morocco, where its tree is native to) or for cosmetic reasons. The oil itself can be found in its pure form, and because of its slew of beauty benefits, it can be applied topically to the skin, nails, and hair to hydrate and nourish.
While it can be easy to treat argan oil like a miracle worker (because let's face it, in some cases, it really is), it shouldn't be used as the primary remedy for conditions of serious hair loss—in cases like these, it's best to visit your doctor. Despite that, it has plenty of uses to help your hair look healthy, shiny and full of volume. Scroll down to learn all about argan oil hair benefits.
Type of ingredient: Hydrator
Main benefits: Moisturizes, adds shine, protects hair, protects from breakage and increases elasticity.
Who should use it: In general, full strength argan oil can be used on thicker or curly hair, while lighter versions can be used on all hair types.
How often can you use it: It is safe to use every day.
Works well with: Other moisturizing oils, like jojoba, castor oil or coconut oil.
Don't use with: No known contraindications. Be aware that argan oil has tree nut oil, so discuss with your doctor before use if you have allergies.
Benefits of Argan Oil for Hair
Both Hughes and Fitzsimons agree that much of argan oil's magic stems from its composition: It's rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. If you're looking to make hair softer and more manageable (aren't we all?), this can be your go-to oil as it has a slew of benefits, according to experts.
- Hydrates and softens: "Argan oil is an age-old beauty secret that has many uses, namely helping to hydrate and soften the hair," says Hughes.
- Increases hair elasticity: "With its high content of antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and vitamin E, the benefits of argan oil naturally help to increase hair's elasticity and consistently restore shine to dull, lifeless hair," explains Hughes.
- Prevents breakage: Fitzsimons agrees with the power of argan oil, adding that the vitamin E it contains is crucial to the health of our hair, as he says its rich antioxidant properties help neutralize hair damage from free radicals and other elements. "Whether we realize it or not, we put our hair through a lot of damage with everyday pollution, chemical treatments, and hot tools," he says. "Vitamin E—which argan oil is high in—helps keep your follicles free from damage all while helping to prevent splitting and breakage."
- Protects hair from mechanical stress: Blake says that argan oil "helps protect hair from mechanical stress" which means it stays looking healthy. The composition of argan oil may help to keep your hair healthy, even with hair styling and using the hair dryer and curling iron.
- Increases shine: "Argan oil promotes shine, smoothness and definition," says Blake. It also helps protect hair from mechanical stress (hair styling) and coloring.
Hair Type Considerations
Argan oil can generally be used on most hair types, however you may need to apply it differently or use a different type of argan oil depending on your needs. “Full strength argan oil is ideal on thick, curly or heavily colored hair,” says Blake. If you have fine hair or hair that tends to get oily, full strength argan oil can weigh your hair down if you don’t apply it sparingly. You can also look for products with argan oil instead of the pure oil. “A blended or light weight version is ideal on most types of hair,” he says. Use a light touch when applying argan oil and focus it on the ends of your hair and away from your scalp.
How to Use Argan Oil for Hair
Depending on what your needs are, there are a number of ways to experience the goodness argan oil provides. "I would recommend it as a conditioner or as a styling product on the mid lengths and ends of your hair," says Blake. "Some argan oils are a bit heavy, so look for ones that have been blended to make a perfect combination."
Watch Now: How to Apply Argan Oil to your Hair
- Use as a nourishing conditioner: "Argan oil is rich in nutrients and vitamins such as vitamins A, C, and E; antioxidants; linoleic acid; and omega-6 fatty acids. Because of this, it's a great ingredient for conditioning. The combination of all these super-nourishing ingredients leaves the hair strands softer, shinier, more manageable, and frizz-free," says Fitzsimons.
- Use as a protective spray: "When working on clients, I have to really make sure that their hair is in peak condition, so I look for ingredients like silk proteins to make sure the hair is as protected as possible while I'm using hot tools," he adds. "I like argan oil as an ingredient in heat protection products because it's very nourishing and conditioning for the hair, and it provides great slip that makes styling easier."
Argan oil can be used on areas other than hair. Prone to dry patches on your face, body, or cuticles? Applying a few drops of argan oil may provide all the hydration you need.
- Use as a hydrating hair mask: "An argan oil hair mask is amazing particularly if you have damaged hair. The vitamin E in the oil helps smooth frayed hair shafts and seal split ends while the omega fatty acids work to strengthen your hair. Leave it on for 15 to 30 minutes to reap the oil's full benefits," says Fitzsimons.
- Use as a shine-inducing hair oil: "High-quality oil-infused products are essential to maintaining shiny, healthy hair because hair oils are made to penetrate into your strands (as opposed to serums, which usually sit on the surface of the strands)," notes Hughes. Use this if your strands are seriously parched.
- Use as an effective styling product: "Argan oil provides excellent shine to the strands and has major anti-frizz benefits," says Fitzsimons. "For those with textured hair, it can be used to help define the curls."
- Use as a relieving scalp treatment: "Because argan oil is rich in antioxidants, it's an effective scalp treatment," advises Fitzsimons. "It can help reduce the scalp inflammation that leads to dandruff, itchiness, and other scalp issues." To note though, it's important not to leave any kind of oil on the scalp for a prolonged period of time, as the potency might lead to scalp sensitivity and inflammation over time. 20-30 minutes should be plenty of time to absorb the benefits.
The Best Products With Argan Oil
Argan oil is lauded for being a haircare wonder, but how can you tell if you've landed a quality one? With the pure oils, looking at color (should be a golden hue), scent (slightly nutty), and potency (labeled as 100 percent argan oil) will help you identify real versus fake, quality versus refined. When it comes to using the oil in shampoos, conditioners, and other hairstyling products, you'll know if argan is the star if it's listed as one of the first ingredients on the label.
Ready to incorporate argan oil into your haircare routine? Here are our favorite argan oil hair products to add to your wish list.
"I love Moroccanoil's Dry Texture Spray because there are so many ways to use it," says Hughes. "It's a dry argan oil-infused texture spray that lets you create effortless, undone styles with long-lasting hold. I can use it as a finishing spray for styles with carefree, textured volume, or I can also use it as a prep spray to provide foundational grip for no-slip braids and updos."
"I'm obsessed with this edge cream," says Fitzsimons. "It has an amazing hold for even the most stubborn edges, is totally flake-free, and the argan oil provides so many nourishing benefits to the hair, so I feel good about using it on my clients."
This lush and creamy shampoo features a mix of argan, rose-hip, and coconut oil meant to not only repair damage, but also keep tresses hydrated and strong.
"I have a couple of clients who prefer when I use cruelty-free products, so I've been testing this new hair oil infused with argan stem cells (in addition to argan oil), which sounds so futuristic and cool," says Fitzsimons. "This is a really great oil because it totally smooths out frizz and adds amazing shine."
This 100% pure natural and organic argan oil doesn't discriminate against skin type—anyone from the oiliest to the driest and even the most sensitive may find it healing. Best part? It's multi-use and can be applied anywhere you're lacking moisture. When buying pure argan oil, make sure its a quality product. While hand-pressed argan oil will have some differentiators when it comes to smell, pure argan oil will almost always have a nutty scent. Its texture should also be smooth, not watery.
Made up of argan oil derived from the Mediterranean argan tree, this conditioner is chock full of strand-loving properties. Vitamin E and antioxidants are meant to smooth out hair while also giving it a protective barrier from future damage.
This multi-functional leave-in does it all: detangles, eliminates frizz, induces shine, promotes strong strands, and restores hydration.
What color should pure argan oil be?
Authentic argan oil should be a golden yellow hue. If it's too pale, it's likely that it's either been mixed with other oils or has been filtered (which won't do much for your hair).
Is argan oil good for hair growth?
There have been no studies showing that argan oil can promote hair growth. It does, however, moisturize your hair and may help protect against mechanical damage from styling to prevent split ends, shedding and hair breakage.
Should pure argan oil be refrigerated?
You can refrigerate argan oil, but it is recommended to just store it in a cool, dark place away from bright sunlight or heat. If you refrigerate it, make sure you warm it back up before using.
Lin TK, Zhong L, Santiago JL. Anti-inflammatory and skin barrier repair effects of topical application of some plant oils. Int J Mol Sci. 2017;19(1):70. doi:10.3390/ijms19010070
Faria PM, Camargo LN, Carvalho RS, Paludetti LA, Velasco MV, Gama RM. Hair protective effect of argan oil (argania spinosa kernel oil) and cupuassu butter (theobroma grandiflorum seed butter) post treatment with hair dye. Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications. 2013;03(03):40-44. doi:10.4236/jcdsa.2013.33a1006