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Prostaglandin inhibition, antioxidant, barrier disruption and barrier repair, penetration enhancer

Important Chemical Components:

Major: Oleic acid, linoleic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid1

Minor: Polyphenols (caffeic acid, vanillic acid, syringic acid, ferulic acid, tyrosol, catechol, resorcinol, (−)-epicatechin, (+)-catechin, p-hydroxybenzoic)

Sterols (stigmasta-8,22-diene-3-ol, spinasterol, schottenol, stigmasta, 7-24-diene-3-ol)

Tocopherols (α-, β-, γ-, and δ-tocopherols)

Squalene, carotenes, and triterpene alcohols1–4

Origin Classification:

This ingredient is considered natural. Organic forms are available.

Personal Care Category:

Antioxidant, moisturizing, anti-inflammatory

Recommended for the following Baumann Skin Types:

All dry types and sensitive types will benefit from this ingredient but it is best for DRNW, DRPW, DSNT, DSNW, DSPT, and DSPW.


Argan oil is derived from the fruit of Argania spinosa, which is a slow-growing tree native to the arid climate of southwestern Morocco (where it is the third most common tree regionally) as well as the Algerian province of Tindouf in the western Mediterranean area.5,6


For more than 800 years, native Moroccans and explorers to the region have cited the health benefits of argan oil consumption and topical use.2 Traditionally, the vegetable oil has been prescribed for reputed cosmetic, bactericidal, and fungicidal properties and as a treatment for infertility and heart disease.4,6 Argan oil has been used as a treatment for acne, dry skin, dry hair, hair loss, psoriasis, wrinkles, skin inflammation, and joint pain.6,7


The ω-9 monounsaturated fatty acid known as oleic acid makes up a large proportion of the oil (43–49 percent) and has been found to be a penetration enhancer by disturbing the skin barrier.8,9 An ω-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid known as linoleic acid (29–36 percent of the oil) is integral in the biosynthesis of inflammatory prostaglandins through the arachidonic acid pathway.4,10 The presence of linoleic acid may help prevent or decrease inflammation. Linoleic acid is also a component of ceramide 1 linoleate, which is decreased in dry skin. Topical application of linoleic acid can increase ceramide 1 linoleate levels in skin, thus reducing xerosis.11 Argan oil also contains the saturated fatty acids palmitic acid (11–15 percent) and stearic acid (4–7 percent).5

Though argan oil is mainly composed of unsaturated fatty acids (80 percent), the unsaponifiable fraction (1 percent) is rife with antioxidants, including sterols, saponins, and polyphenols.1,2,4,12 It is the polyphenolic constituents, mainly γ-tocopherol, that are thought to be primarily responsible for the antioxidant effects (Table 10-1).1,2,12,13

TABLE 10-1Pros and Cons of Argan Oil

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