Argan oil is harvested from the fruits of the argan tree (Argania spinosa).
Each fruit will contain 2-3 kernels rich in oil. This tree once grew widely in many parts of North Africa but is now confined mainly to semi-arid regions of Morocco – especially in the Sous Valley in south west Morocco.
Hence, it is also popularly called ‘Moroccan Oil’. Argan oil is a powerful antioxidant.
It contains vitamin E, linoleic and oleic acids which are unsaturated fatty acids, squalene, polyphenols and other natural antioxidants.
Ways to distinguish between pure argan oil and impure oil
With the growing interest and demand for argan oil, North Africa, especially Morocco has seen a spurt in its cultivation. Since its harvesting is confined only to a few areas, pure argan oil can be quite expensive.
This means that there are many fakes in the market and you need to find ways to identify pure oil from impure oil.
- Country of Origin: Argan oil is produced only in small quantities in Morocco. A lot of the production is manual adding to the cost. Add manufacturing and shipping costs and this oil is quite expensive. Several sellers try to offer oil at competitive prices and any quantity too. Beware for these could be scammers. A 2oz bottle of pure oil could cost $58. Argan oil for cooking could be slightly less expensive compared to cosmetic version.
- Ingredients: Argan oil should be pure for you to get the best benefits. Sometimes additives are added to certain lotions or shampoos. Check the quantity of argan oil in the product. Only small percentages will not offer any benefits. The best
product is one that says 100% argan oil and nothing else. No fragrances, preservatives, water etc.
- Bottle: Do not buy argan oil in plastic or clear, transparent containers. This will only cause deterioration of the oil. Instead make sure the oil is in dark colored opaque bottles preferably in cobalt blue or amber. This will ensure integrity of the oil.
- Color and Texture: Argan oil should be smooth and golden yellow in color. It should not be dark and slimy or watery. When applied on the skin, the oil should be easily absorbed. Authentic argan oil should be slightly cloudy and have a bit of sediment at the bottom. If it is clear and without any sediment it means that the oil is highly refined and filtered which will not offer many benefits. It could also be fake oil.
- Scent: Pure argan oil has an aromatic nutty smell. Strong smelling oil could be rancid. If the oil does not have a smell also one should be suspicious. Fragrant argan oil is probably meant for cooking so be careful about the type of oil you buy and its uses. Some users say that pure argan oil smells like ‘popcorn’ or a ‘rubber band’. However, aroma of genuine hand-pressed argan oil will vary with different batches.
- Seller: It is always good to buy argan oil from established sellers who are registered companies that have the right certifications and licenses to import argan oil from proper sources. Companies registered with USDA, Ministry of Agriculture and certified by ECO CERT could offer good quality, genuine argan oil. If you visit Morocco, make sure you do not buy argan oil from street vendors or strangers. There is also no such thing as Chinese Argan oil. It is just Moroccan oil routed through China.
So make a note of these tips to identify pure argan oil from fake ones.