Argan Oil: Morocco’s ‘Liquid Gold’


  • Argan oil is made from the seeds of the small fruit of the argan tree (Argania spinosa). It is one of the natural, plant-based oils that can be beneficial for your skin
  • This is one of the natural, plant-based oils that can be beneficial for your skin, as it can potentially help repair the natural skin-barrier function. Topical application of this oil may help boost cell production, making your skin healthier and providing ample moisture
  • A study has found that argan oil may reduce sebum levels in people with oily skin — meaning it can potentially help minimize the appearance of acne
  • Get to know more about this oil’s nourishing and rejuvenating benefits, and why having a bottle at home may be a wise health decision

What Is Argan Oil?

Argan oil is made from the seeds of the small fruit of Argania spinosa, a slow-growing tree that’s native to Southwestern Morocco and in the Algerian province Tindouf, located in the Western Mediterranean area.The argan fruit appears like a shriveled golden apple, with a thick peel and a fleshy and bitter pulp. The seeds are almond-shaped, resembling a dried olive. Each seed contains one to three oil-rich kernels.


As mentioned above, tree goats were essential in argan oil production in the past. The fruit, which accounts for as much as 84 percent of their diet, is eaten whole by the goats. However, the nuts are not digested, and are instead excreted in the goat’s feces. The droppings were then gathered by locals and opened to get the seeds inside. The seeds were then cracked, roasted and ground to produce the oil.


However, local co-ops no longer rely on this method, as they seek to deliver only high-quality argan oil, good enough for export. Instead, they now collect the fruit from trees and manufacture the oil by hand, peeling the fruit to extract the seed. This method, albeit much more difficult, yields a higher quality oil for export.


To make argan oil, locals hand-crack the nuts in between two stones, to get the raw kernels out from within the hard shell. These kernels are then hand-ground using a stone grinder, and placed in a mill with water to produce a dough-like mixture. This dough is then hand-kneaded for hours to extract the oil. Because of this tedious process, each worker takes as much as three days to make a single liter of argan oil — no wonder it can fetch a very high price, selling for around $300 or more per liter.


The increase in demand for argan oil has led to a surge in oil-making co-ops. In 1999, there were only three argan oil co-ops; in 2010, the number had risen to 150. Nevertheless, this has definitely helped the economic landscape of Morocco. According to one analysis, the “argan boom” has helped increase the number of Moroccan girls attending secondary school.

To ensure the sustainability of the oil, and to protect the eco-region on which more than 1,200 other plant and animal species thrive, UNESCO designated the argan forest in Southwestern Morocco as a biosphere reserve in 1998.

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