Everything You Need to Know About Argan Oil

There is a good chance at least a bottle of Argan oil will end up in your suitcase on the way back home from Morocco. Mine backpack certainly  was loaded with Argan oil mini stock and ever since I got hooked on it. Since the oil is not cheap here are some tips for spotting pure Argan oil!

From Argan Tree to Liquid Gold – Interesting Facts About Argan Oil

moroccan argan oil ecocert argania spinosa

  •  Known for centuries by the Berber tribes for its gastronomic and cosmetic properties, Argan oil is produced by female-owned cooperatives in the Agadir region.
  • Argania  (Argania Spinosa) is endemic tree to south west Morocco.
  • Argan trees can live from 150 to 200 years.
  • Argan forests cover about 800.000 hectares in Morocco hosting approximately 21 million trees.
  • In 2014, Argan trees were given UNESCO protection as a “biosphere reserve”.

On average each Argan tree produces 140 kilos of fruit per year. Amounts may vary and are highly dependable on rain fall. Seventy kilos of fruit will yield around five kilos of kernel. Five kilos of kernel will result in only two litres of  Argan oil.To sum up, each tree will produce an average of four litres of Argan oil annually.

The Difference Between Culinary Argan Oil and Argan Oil for Cosmetic Use

argan oil shopping morocco tips

Although culinary and cosmetic Argan oil both come from Argan kernels, the process of production is slightly different.  Virgin organic culinary oil is cold pressed from roasted argan nuts while cosmetic oil is cold pressed from non roasted nuts in semi-mechanical cold-pressing machine.

You can’t use the edible kind of Argan oil for your face and hair or vice versa. Culinary grade Argan Oil has pleasant mild  nutty smell and taste. Cosmetic Argan Oil has very subtle smell almost non detectable.

Where to Buy Argan Oil In Morocco

There are many options. From Souqs to cosmetic shops or supermarkets.  Best advice I can get  you is  – buy from the source. Quality certified organic argan oil should be traced from the tree to the bottle.


Personally I would avoid buying any kind of Argan oil on souqs or from herboriste  or berber pharmacy. There is high chance of impropriate storage conditions as well as possibility the Argan oil sold is adultered with other oils.

Go, find a store that is speciliesed in Argan Oil only, has a Ecocert certificate and staff allows you to test the oil on skin or taste the edible oil.  Other option are local Argan Cooperatives, you can visit.

Along  the route to Essauira and Agadir there are literally dozens of small coops that are easily accessible with car. On site it is possible to taste / test the products, even see  the manufacturing process and check out certification documents. Once you have an idea of good organic Argan oil, trust your nose and taste.

Health Benefits of Culinary Argan Oil

Due to high phytosterol content, Argan oil has been shown to be effective in reducing inflammation and lowering the level of bad cholesterol. Regular use of oil also has a good effect on digestion and protects our cardiovascular system.

Do not use culinary Argan oil for cooking on high temperatures. Edible oil is a great addition to dishes, both for health (reduces bad cholesterol levels) and gastronomic reasons. Many  Moroccans dip bread into Argan oil   for breakfast, it is  good in salads, smoothies.


Benefits of Using Cosmetic Argan Oil

When it comes to use of Argan oil on skin there are numerous benefits. On general due to chemical composition, Argan oil has  anti-inflammatory and anti bacterial properties.  Below is just short list of benefits on skin. Officially Argan oil is great for mature, dry skin but being so gentle basically goes well on all types of skin.

  • Anti aging properties  and great for  fighting Age Spots and Pigmentation issues  – with regular use (and personally can confirm) reduces age spots, fine wrinkles and lines, improves skin elasticity
  • great for  curing acne, scars, bruises
  • helps to treat dermatitis and psoriasis
  • Prevents stretch marks
  • Great for insect bites – reduces swelling
  • Rich in omega 3 and omega 9 fatty acids  great for hair treatment. As a leave in conditioner repars splitted hair ends  and adds natural shine to hair
  • Great as massage oil for Arthritic and Rheumatic Conditions  and sore muscles
  • With regular  use skin is soft and radient
  • Non comedogenic which simply means Argan oil doesn’t clog the pores
  • Natural emollient

Simple Ways to Tell if Your Argan Oil is Impure

Below are some simple ways to tell if Argan Oil is impure and other things to keep in mind on the hunt for pure Argan oil in Morocco.

Look for  Argan Oil Sold in Dark Glass Bottles

Argan oil (both types)  should be packed in dark glass bottles. Sunlight can destroy the amazing properties Argan oil is known for by breaking down its particles. Stay away from plastic see through bottles, stay away from oils that are exposed to strong lighting in the shops or even exposed in the sunlight outside. My experience, it is hard to find Argan oil in dark bottles.

Check for The Colour and Texture of Argan Oil

Cosmetic Argan oil should be smooth and silky, non-sticky, and not over-watery. It also shouldn’t leave an obvious oily cast on your skin after a few minutes as it absorbs in the skin completely. If  the oil you are about to buy is acting differently (oil feels too sticky and feels heavy on the skin, or feels almost like water) it certainly isn’t pure.

Color wise, cosmetic Argan oil is golden yellow in color while culinary oil shades from orange-ish,  golden brown or brandy alike color and can have a little bit of sediment at the bottom. A lot depends on roasting procedure.

Labels – Take Time to Read Ingredients on The Bottle of Argan Oil

Pure organic Argan oil should only have one and only ingredient: Argania Spinosa. Nothing else! Other ingredients listed are chemical composition of oil itself like linoleic acid, oleic  acid, stearic acid, palmitic acid, squalene, vitamin E and so forth.

argan oil ecocert Morocco

Also look for batch number and expiration date. Certified oils have also certificate name and number printed on the label. Shelf life of argan oil is up to two years when stored in cool, dark and dry place.

Why is reading ingredients on labels important when buying pure Argan Oil online or in shop?

If you are on the hunt for pure Argan oil online, it is good to know that many cosmetic products that only  contain a fraction  of argan oil  and might have many other ingredients, many times olive oil, perfume etc market products with Argan oil.

This list of ingredients is an example I found online,  which I  personally find misleading. So, here it is, so called beauty Argan oil written on the label of product found online.

Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride , Coco-Caprylate/Caprate , Olea Europaea Fruit Oil/Olea Europaea  Fruit Oil , Undecane , Tridecane , Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil (Skin Conditioning Agent – Emollient), Parfum/Fragrance (Fragrance), Tocopherol , Coumarin (Fragrance Ingredient), Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil/Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil .

This is example of not pure Argan oil. Since ingredients are always listed from the most used ingredient to the least,  you can get an idea how much Argan oil contains a product in this example. Argan oil (Argania Spinosa Kernel oil) is on 7th place. So, read the labels! In this case first ingredient are  combination of plant sugars and fatty acids derived from palm and coconut oils, then olive oil, etc…  It is an ok product, but not for someone looking for pure Argan oil.


Check Certification of Quality – Look for EcoCert  Ceritifcate

You should know there are many marketing labels that  you can find on cosmetic products, like Pure Argan Oil, Made in Morocco, Product of Morocco, Bio Eko but none of them doesn’t guarantee you the  actual quality  and purity of Argan oil. Serious manufacturers in Morocco have ECO CERT certificate and this is the thing you should always check.

EcoCert  is one of the world’s most respected international certifications of organic products. Think of it as an additional guarantee from an unbiased third party that the Argan Oil you have is a top quality, environmentally-friendly organic product produced in controlled clean environment.

They have very strict standards and close supervision of the entire production of the organic product as well as regular quality control checks. EcoCert certified Argan Oil guarantees that the oil is organic and pure and that it was created from Argan trees using environmental-friendly cultivation and harvesting techniques.

morocco ecocert argan oil buying tips

Argan Oil that  meets the EcoCert  standards and requirements for Organic cosmetics, means that it has:

• A minimum of 95% vegetable and natural ingredients, out of which at least 10% ingredients are organic.

• Only 5% maximum of synthetic ingredients which are not included in the negative list.

Argan Oil  with EcoCert certification does NOT contain the blacklisted dangerous substances like silicone, mineral oil, parabens, Fatty alcohols or acids, Propylene Glycol etc..

Get Close and Personal with Argan Oil – Smell it!

Culinary grade Argan oil has delicious nutty aroma and taste!  Be wary of Argan oil that smells like absolutely nothing.No need to mention that  awful or rancid smell is a red alarm. Cosmetic Argan oil has very subtle smell, personally I find it a mix between light note of nuts and  popcorn, while some other people compare it to rubber band.

Prices of  Pure Argan Oil

There is no such thing as cheap pure Argan oil! To produce 1 liter of  oil,  40kg of kernels and 16 hours of work are needed. This pretty much explains the prices along with all the health and beauty benefits of Argan oil.

 Argan oil used for cooking is typically produced in larger quantities and priced more affordably than cosmetic oil. If buying on Moroccan souqs, there is no fixed price and haggling will be necessary.

Culinary Oil is packed in bottles of 100 ml, 250 ml, 500 ml or liter.  100 ml of culinary virgin Argan oil costs 10 EUR.  Liter of culinary Argan oil can vary anywhere from (approximate prices) 30 EUR to 50 EUR.

Cosmetic Argain oil is most commonly available in smaller quantities, ranging in bottles from 50 ml, 60 ml, 100 ml, 150 ml. When I was shopping in Essaouira  I found  prices of 100 ml organic eco certified Argan oil ranging from 80 MAD to 180 MAD (approx.. 8 Eur to 16 EUR).

 Still a bargain if comparing to sellers out of Morocco charging for liter of Argan oil between 80 to 100 or more Euros.I didn’t shop for Argan Oil in other cities in Morocco, but expect to pay more in cities like Fez or Casablanca, Marrakech, which are out of Argan region production.

You need to make sure that you are buying the real deal to ensure that you will reap the benefits. With the mentioned warning signs and tips of knowing whether the Argan oil is 100% pure, you will be able to get the genuine product. Happy shopping!


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