Topical application and oral use of argan oil do not have the same therapeutic characteristics. The cosmetic properties attributed to the topical oil application are primarily based on traditional claims. Beside moisturizing and anti-aging effects argan oil is also known for its anti-inflammatory activity, as it has been used to treat acne and inflamed skin, as well as in treating psoriasis (topical application) and rosacea (oral use). Traditionally, argan oil is also used to soothe atopic dermatitis and itchy, red skin.
Moisturizing and anti-aging effect on skin
Argan oil is most commonly used for more intensive moisturizing of the skin, especially dry skin, which is why it is often found in lotions, soaps and hair care products. Argan oil is also found in products that prevent premature aging of the skin – anti-age effect. A small clinical study involving women in the postmenopausal period demonstrated that the daily consumption and/or topical application of argan oil have an anti-aging effect on the skin and improve skin elasticity. Argan oil reduces transepidermal water loss and increases the water content of the epidermis.
Argan oil protects from sun damage
Hyperpigmentation is one of the visible signs of aging and can be caused by sun damage. Moroccan women traditionally use argan oil to protect the skin from sun damage and preserve light complexion. A practice was demonstrated by a 2013 study, which showed that antioxidant activity of argan oil protects the skin from the harmful effect caused by the sun, prevents sunburn and hyperpigmentation. The study showed the inhibitory effect of argan oil on melanin biosynthesis in B16 cells, which prevents the action of the enzyme tyrosinase, which is reflected in a lower concentration of pigment in the skin.
Anti-sebum activity of argan oil
The anti-sebum activity of topical argan oil was demonstrated in a 2016 study on 17-to 50-year-old women with oily facial skin. The participants applied face cream containing argan oil topically twice a day. After four weeks of using argan oil face cream, a significant reduction of sebum secretion and improved appearance of oily skin were demonstrated.
Argan oil prevents stretch marks
Stretch marks are depressed lines or bands of thin, reddened skin, which later become white, smooth, and shiny, affecting almost half of adolescents and young adults, especially pregnant women. They occur most commonly on the abdomen during and after pregnancy and on the breasts after lactation. They also occur on the buttocks and thighs, the inguinal areas, the posterior zone of the arm, and over the knees and elbows in children during the growth spurt of puberty. The formation of stretch marks can also result in a sudden weight gain or loss.
During the early stage of stretch marks, there are a few options to improve the appearance of stretch marks, such as peeling, microdermabrasion and laser therapy. However, when stretch marks become white, it is extremely difficult to remove them, so it is important to know how to prevent them. Prevention is based on a topical application of products that preserve elasticity and moisture of the skin.
A study from 2016 showed that an emollient W/O cream containing argan oil significant increased skin elasticity, which could prevent early stretch marks.