Argan oil is made from the kernels of the Argan Tree (or Moroccan Ironwood) and used to nourish and hydrate hair and body products. The Argan tree is indigenous to Morocco where it grows in the semi-desert. The deep roots of the tree help to prevent the destruction of the desert and preventing soil erosion. They also provide shade for pasture and other agricultural products and the leaves and fruit provide food for animals. The tree can grow up to 10 m and can become 125-140 years old. The nutty oil is edible and used in Moroccan cuisine, e.g. in Amlou, a mix with almonds and honey and in Lamb Tagine.
The growing demand for Argan oil as a ‘superfood for the skin’ has helped to protect the Argan trees from being cut down and becoming extinct. The oil moisturises and replenishes the skin. It contains elevated levels of Omega 6 and 9 essential fatty acids, oleic acid and natural antioxidants recommended for the prevention of premature ageing.
The scientific name Argania spinosa is derived from the Sussian word ‘Argan’ (Sussian being a Berber language in Western Morocco) and is probably derived from Argana, a rural commune northeast of Agadir, Morocco, from where the tree probably originates.