Overview

Argan oil is made from the kernels that grow on the argan trees native to Morocco. It’s most frequently sold as pure oil, which can be directly applied topically (directly to the skin) or ingested in order to provide several health benefits. It comes in supplement capsule form to be taken by mouth. It’s also commonly mixed into a number of cosmetic products like shampoos, soaps, and conditioners.

Argan oil has traditionally been used both topically and orally to improve the health of skin, hair, and nails. It contains a number of different beneficial properties and vitamins that form a powerful combination to boost skin health.

Benefits of argan oil for skin

1. Protects from sun damage

Moroccan women have long used argan oil to protect their skin from sun damage, a practice was supported by a 2013 study.

This study found that the antioxidant activity in argan oil helped protect the skin against free radical damage caused by the sun. This prevented burns and hyperpigmentation as a result. Long term, this may even help prevent against the development of skin cancer, including melanoma.

You can take argan oil supplements orally or apply the oil topically to your skin for these benefits.

2. Moisturizes skin

Argan oil is perhaps most commonly used as a moisturizer. This is why it’s often found in lotions, soaps, and hair conditioners. It can be applied topically or ingested orally with daily supplements for a moisturizing effect. This is largely thanks to its abundance of vitamin E, which is a fat-soluble antioxidant that can help improve water retention in the skin.

3. Treats a number of skin conditions

Argan oil contains a large number of healing properties, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Both help reduce symptoms for a number of different inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis and rosacea.

For best results, apply pure argan oil directly to patches of skin affected by psoriasis. Rosacea may be best treated by taking oral supplements.

4. Treats acne

Hormonal acne is often the result of excess sebum that’s caused by hormones. Argan oil has anti-sebum effects, which can effectively regulate amounts of sebum on the skin. This can help to treat several different types of acne and promote a smoother, calmer complexion.

Apply argan oil — or face creams containing argan oil — directly to your skin at least twice a day. You should start to see results after four weeks.

5. Heals skin infections

One of argan oil’s traditional uses is to treat skin infections. Argan oil has both antibacterial and fungicidal properties. This gives it the capability to help treat and prevent both bacterial and fungal skin infections.

Apply argan oil to the affected area topically at least twice per day.

6. Improves wound healing

Antioxidants are clearly a powerful force. The strong combination of antioxidants and vitamin E found in argan oil can be used to help wounds and cuts heal faster. You can take argan oil supplements regularly to experience this benefit throughout your body.

7. Soothes atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is a common skin condition with symptoms like itchy, red skin. Research has found that applying argan oil topically to the affected area can help treat symptoms. Vitamin E and the natural inflammatory properties found in argan oil can both lead to this soothing effect.

One study was conducted treating dermatitis patients with placebo or oral vitamin E, which is in abundance in argan oil. The researchers found that participants who received the vitamin E saw a significant decrease in symptoms.

8. Has anti-aging effects

Argan oil has long been used as an anti-aging treatment. Though it was only ever supported by anecdotal evidence, a recent study with postmenopausal participants was able to back up this claim. Researchers found that a combination of oral and cosmetic argan oil led to a significant increase in elasticity of the skin. This provided an effective anti-aging treatment.

You can get these benefits by applying argan oil directly to the skin, taking oral supplement regularly, or both.

9. Reduces skin’s oiliness

Some of us have naturally oiler skin than others. Those who do often go out of their way to get rid of the oily sheen that can occur. Thanks to argan oil’s sebum-reducing capabilities, it can help decrease total sebum and reduce oiliness of the skin.

One study found that a twice-daily application of cream that contained argan oil reduced significant sebum activity and oiliness within just four weeks.

10. Prevents and reduces stretch marks

Stretch marks are particularly common during pregnancy, but anyone can experience them. One 2016 study found that a water-in-oil cream containing argan oil improved skin elasticity. This helped prevent and treat stretch marks early on.

Apply argan oil directly to the affected area at least twice per day. Do this as soon as you suspect you may see or start to see stretch marks for best results.

Side effects and risks

Argan oil is generally considered safe for most people to use. Some individuals, however, may experience minor side effects as a result of its use.

When used topically, argan oil may irritate the skin. This can cause rashes or acne to form. This may be a more common reaction with those who have tree nut allergies. Even though argan oil comes from a stone fruit, it may aggravate those with such allergies. To avoid this, you should test argan oil on a small, easily hidden patch of skin to make sure that it won’t irritate your skin.

When ingested orally, argan oil may cause digestive upset including nausea, gas, or diarrhea. It may also cause loss of appetite or bloating, and some people may experience skin reactions like rashes or acne breakouts.

In very rare cases, people may experience more severe side effects to the argan oil oral supplement. These include confusion, difficulty sleeping, general malaise, overexcitement, depression, and agitation. If you experience any of these symptoms, stop taking argan oil immediately.

The takeaway

Whether used topically or ingested orally, argan oil is safe for most people to use. It has powerful skin benefits thanks to several healing properties and vitamins that it contains.

If you’ve been using argan oil for several weeks, however, and see no changes in the condition you’re trying to treat, you can make an appointment to see your healthcare professional. They may recommend other treatment options — including prescription medications — to help resolve any conditions you’re experiencing.