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In the hair and beauty world, plant oils are becoming more mainstream. Hundreds of products claim they do wonders for your skin and hair.

But are there real benefits, or is it just hype?

Read on to learn more about argan oil and why it’s beneficial for skin and hair.

Argan oil comes from the seeds of fruit produced by the argan tree. Argan trees grow in Morocco. The oil is also known as Moroccan oil.

To get the oil, the large pit is removed from the apricot-sized fruit. The remaining thick, pulpy fruit is sometimes used as food for livestock, like goats.

Inside the pit are three small kernels. These are where the oil comes from. In order to get to the kernels, the pit must be cracked open.

After they’re taken from the pit, the seeds are lightly roasted. This is what gives argan oil a nutty smell and flavor. Workers then add a bit of water and begin the process of grinding and pressing the seeds by hand to release the oil.

For many years, Moroccans have used the oil to treat skin conditions and nourish hair.

Here are seven ways your hair and skin can benefit from using argan oil.

A combination of fatty acids, vitamin E, and other natural plant compounds work together to help repair dry skin. The oil can also reduce inflammation and flakes that result from dry skin.

Argan oil’s high vitamin E content may play a role in protecting skin from damage over time. Vitamin E’s an antioxidant. Antioxidants help to protect your body from cell damage due to free radicals. Free radicals are what contribute to the aging process, the development of cancer, and chronic diseases. Topical vitamin E may help reduce sun damage and decrease inflammation.

Argan oil has a large amount of the omega-6 fatty acids, oleic acid, and linoleic acid. These fatty acids are what really work to help skin and hair lock in moisture. Vitamin E also helps to stimulate skin cells. This can help you restore a healthy layer of skin, making skin look shinier and fresh.

Eczema and psoriasis can cause itchy, dry, and flaky skin. Argan has the ability to add moisture and help skin retain it, so the oil may also help relieve irritating symptoms.

But while argan may be a good way to add moisture, it shouldn’t be your only treatment. Eczema and psoriasis typically also require medical treatments supervised by a doctor.

Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, founder and director of Capital Laser and Skin Care, says, “It can help with hydration, but shouldn’t be used on its own.”

For dry hair, argan oil can improve its look and feel by adding moisture from fatty acids. As hair retains moisture, it gets a shiner, healthier appearance.

Many people use argan to help soften coarse hair. The oil makes it more manageable and easy to style. The added moisture supplied by the fatty acids allows hair to become easier to bend and shape.

Argan oil is also believed to help shield hair from sun damage. This is probably because of its antioxidant properties. The plant sterols in Moroccan oil may also have a protective effect against cancer.

Like any product that becomes popular, there are bound to be cheaper, less effective knock-offs. For argan oil, this means being cut with water or other oils and chemicals to dilute the product. But there are ways you can make sure what you’re buying is high quality.

Take a close look at the packaging. Is argan oil the first ingredient of only a few listed, or is it at the bottom of several ingredients? Argan oil is more expensive, so manufacturers try to cut costs by using the name, but including less of the oil.

Is the container clear, or does it block light? Argan oil can break down in sunlight, so clear bottles mean the product inside probably isn’t the highest quality.

Dr. Tanzi says, “Argan oil is expensive, so be skeptical of cheap products.”

Here are some products that measure up:

“The best argan oil is freshly made argan oil, which is handmade and not refined/deodorized,” says Tammie Umbel, creator of Shea Terra Organics. “Once applied to the skin, the oil should feel somewhat thick. When rubbed into the skin, there should be a nice slide and the oil should not start to drag on the skin until it is completely absorbed.”

Argan oil can offer several benefits for hair and skin. But be sure to look for high-quality oil when buying the product. Watch out for any allergic reactions your skin might have. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about using argan oil.