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What can't it do?
Argan oil may be the "it" ingredient in skincare and haircare products, but don't expect this one to be a flash-in-the-pan beauty trend. There's good reason New York dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe calls argan oil "liquid gold." Start with the ingredient's origin story in Morocco, where argan oil is extracted by hand—it can take hours to get just a few ounces. "It's a painstaking process to harvest it, but it's a beautiful, elegant oil," says Dr. Bowe. "It can seal the hair shaft and hydrate skin while providing age-preventing antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, too."
Here, we talked to experts and perused the latest scientific studies to discover at-home argan oil tips that deliver major beauty benefits.
"I'm a fan of using argan oil as a face moisturizer because of its anti-inflammatory quality and its antioxidants," says Dr. Bowe. "Antioxidants are important because we're exposed to oxidative stress all day long, through pollution and UV rays, and that can cause free radical damage." Look for 100% pure argan oil, or go for a reputable brand—Dr. Bowe suggests checking the label of argan oil-containing products for the word "non-comedogenic," which means it won't clog pours and trigger an acne breakout.
Argan oil is also a popular food ingredient in its native Morocco. It's said to have a subtle nutty flavor that's also a touch toasty (roasting happens to be part of the extraction process). While the Western medical community continues to research and validate the health claims of culinary argan oil, some early studies have suggested it can improve skin hydration and elasticity from within—and prevent heart disease. It also doesn't hurt that the oil's rich in vitamin A, which is correlated with eye and immune system support. To give it a taste, find a high quality culinary argan oil (you'll have the best luck finding it online rather than at a grocery store) and take a cue from Moroccans by using it as a bread dip or drizzling a little bit on couscous.
When it comes to adding shine to hair, argan oil is stellar. "It's lightweight, so it's a fantastic conditioner for most hair types," says Kimberly Snyder, Los Angeles-based clinical nutritionist and author of The Beauty Detox Solution. "The fatty acids, vitamin E, and antioxidants are the perfect combination for strengthening the hair and promoting a healthy scalp." Enjoy these benefits by using both a shampoo and conditioner containing argan oil extracts, like Garnier Whole Blends Moroccan Argan and Camellia Oils Illuminating Shampoo and Conditioner.
Pour a capful into your next relaxing bath to quickly soothe and hydrate dry skin all over your body. "Oil is extremely hydrating and very effective at moisturizing skin," says Dr. Bowe. "Plus, when you soak in water, skin becomes more receptive and you get enhanced penetration, so even a couple drops in a warm bath go a long way." A word to the wise: pop a grippy rubber mat at the bottom of your tub, or, at the very least, make sure you have a mat just outside your bath—it will get slippery.