Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil

A fatty oil from Moroccan argan tree kernels commonly used as an occlusive moisturizer and emollient. Its uniqueness comes from its compounds: vitamin E, phospholipids, phenolic compounds, and rare phytosterols with antioxidant and emollient effects.
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Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil

Overview

Argania spinosa kernel oil is a fatty oil usually cold-pressed from the kernels of the Argan tree (Argania spinosa), which is a tree endemic to Morocco. The oil is commonly used in skincare products for its beneficial composition and as an occlusive moisturizer and emollient.

The production of argan oil is very specific in several ways.

Firstly, the argan trees grow almost exclusively in Morocco and Algeria. The argan fruits take almost a year to mature and they must be hand-processed to extract the oil: the soft outer pulp of the fruit is removed and the hard shell of the nut is cracked (usually between two stones).

The shelled nuts are then pressed, with optional roasting of the kernels, which gives the oil a distinctive nutty flavor. The roasting is usually not done for cosmetic-grade oil in order to avoid an excessive aroma. This entire process is done on a small scale and usually by women, although in recent years there has been a surge of manufactures with suitable mechanical processing.

Practices and know-how concerning the argan tree have been a part of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage since 2014.

Argan oil, having an excellent chemical composition for cosmetic purposes, is not very different from other oils, such as peanut, soybean, or sunflower oil, when it comes to its fatty acid profile.

It is mainly comprised of monounsaturated oleic acid (40%), polyunsaturated linoleic acid (35%), and various saturated fatty acids. Its uniqueness comes from its minor compounds.

Argan oil contains vitamin E, phospholipids, phenolic compounds, and very specific phytosterols – it contains no sitosterol, but rare schottenol and spinasterol are abundant. These special compounds have antioxidant and emollient effects.

You can find argan oil in many different skincare products sold worldwide.

It is always a good idea to check if the manufacturer of your argan oil product uses reputable and ethically sourced argan oil. This helps the local women of Morocco to achieve the funds necessary for their livelihood, some degree of independence, and the means to provide education for their children.

Women-owned cooperatives producing handmade argan oil have been receiving international support for several years now.

Science

1
Lucarini, M., Durazzo, A., Nicoli, S. F., Raffo, A., Santini, A., Novellino, E., … Vita, C. (2020). Cold pressed argan (Argania spinose) oil. Cold Pressed Oils, 459–465.