What is argan oil and what are its benefits to hair?
If you're ever lucky enough to travel to Marrakech or another part of southern Morocco and take a trip into the sun-beaten countryside, you'll almost certainly, at some point, see a goat up a tree. At first, you'll think you're going crazy – how can a goat climb a tree? Then you'll see another. Then another. Then perhaps a whole family of goats up a tree. Dozens of them. Five, six, even ten metres up.
No, you're not imagining it. The goats are up there for a reason. They're nibbling on fruit and leaves from the Argan Tree (Argania Spinosa). And they're usually doing so at the behest of a goat herder because money, for the shepherds of Morocco, does indeed grow on trees. Okay, maybe not money, but something equally precious: beauty gold.
That’s because those goats are harvesting a crop; the argan nut which lies inside the fruits of the Argan Tree. And every nut contains argan oil, which has become one of the most sought-after oils in modern beauty.
So, what is argan oil?
The remarkably agile goats gorge on the fruits – and this is the bit where you can look away – before defecating and expelling the undigested nut in the form of manure. Having the fruity flesh removed by the goat makes it easier for the herder to collect the bounty. Perhaps, it's not something to dwell on. Let's just say it's an ingenious method of farming, or a sensible health and safety precaution if you prefer. After all, climbing trees can be very dangerous for humans.
Anyway, once the nuts have been retrieved (and cleaned thoroughly!) the kernels inside are extracted, often by hand, then roasted, cooled, ground and pressed to release unfiltered argan oil – a golden wonder. *
Argan oil benefits for hair
Moroccans use argan oil, much like olive oil, in cooking – for dipping bread, dressing salads and so on – but they have also been using it as a beauty elixir for thousands of years, largely as a cosmetic oil for hair and skin.
And that's where the 21st century beauty industry has taken an interest. Because when you’re not transfixed by tightrope walking goats you may have noticed that Moroccan women often have amazing skin and incredibly beautiful hair: thick, luxuriant and glossy. It’s no coincidence. Argan oil, cosmetic scientists have discovered, is jam-packed with goodies. Pure argan oil – never accept pale imitations – is full of vitamin E and composed almost entirely of essential fatty acids.
As most of us know, the general rule of thumb for beauty is hydration and moisture retention - to prevent dryness which can cause skin to flake or crack and hair to become brittle and split. Argan oil is renowned for its ability to nourish and care for dry skin and hair.
Argan oil hair treatments
At Garnier, the team of hair care experts behind Ultimate Blends have created Argan Richness. Inspired by the wonders of argan oil, this range promises up to 72 hours of softer, shinier, fairy-tale hair.
Our Argan Richness Moroccan Argan Oil is produced by a cooperative of several hundred women in south-west Morocco and is combined with almond cream, creating a new ultimate blend for very dry, unruly hair that needs a little extra love and care. The range features an argan oil shampoo, an argan oil conditioner and a restorative argan oil hair mask.
You’ll also find argan oil blended with camellia oil in the exotically fragranced Argan Oil & Camellia Oil range that forms the Marvellous Transformer set – named for its transformative effect on dry, dull hair, giving it a gleaming shine, whilst leaving it feeling soft and supple.
Within the range, you might also try the high-performance Ultimate Blends Marvellous Glow Oil, which nourishes and perfects the look of hair. Apply it before styling – just one or two drops is enough – to protect against heat damage up to 230°C, or between washes to provide a perfect, glistening finish.
So, next time you’re wondering ‘what is argan oil?’, remember it has something to do with gravity-defying goats and centuries-old Moroccan beauty rituals.
* We should point out that not all argan nuts are harvested by goats. There are different ways of harvesting and Argan Richness by Garnier Ultimate Blends is a vegan formula that does not contain animal derived ingredients or by-products.