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 that's brimming with benefits. We know it's rich in antioxidants and vitamins, but what exactly does this do for our hair?
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. 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).
Meet the Expert
Scroll down to learn all about argan oil hair benefits.
What Is Argan Oil?
Derived from the kernels of the argan tree, argan oil 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 (more on that later). 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.
The Benefits of Argan Oil
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. "Argan oil is an age-old beauty secret that has many uses, namely helping to hydrate and soften the hair," says Hughes. "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."
Fitzsimons agrees with the power of argan oil, adding that the vitamin E it contains is crucial to the health of our hair, as 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."
What to Look For in an Argan Oil Product
Argan oil is lauded for being a haircare wonder, but how can you tell if you've landed a quality one? Looking at color, scent, and potency will help you identify real versus fake, quality versus refined.
- Color: 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). Its texture should also be smooth, not watery.
- Scent: While hand-pressed argan oil will have some differentiators when it comes to smell, pure argan oil will almost always have a nutty scent.
- Potency: To reap the full benefits, use argan oil in its purest form (meaning, the product is labeled as being 100% argan oil). 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.
How to Use Argan Oil
Depending on what your needs are, there are a number of ways to experience the goodness argan oil provides.
Watch Now: How to Apply Argan Oil to your Hair
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- 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 is plenty of time to absorb the benefits.
Our Favorite Argan Oil Products
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 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 will find it healing. Best part? It's multi-use and can be applied anywhere you're lacking moisture.
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.
We do a number on our hair when we regularly rely on hot styling tools. To protect it from hot temps, use an argan-infused heat protectant spray on damp hair. If you want extra shine, spritz some post-styling.
This multi-functional leave-in does it all: detangles, eliminates frizz, induces shine, promotes strong strands, and restores hydration.
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