Do you know how to spot a real argan oil?

The popularity and success of argan oil on the international market has created a need for a new legislation to protect the consumers purchasing argan oil. Considering booming markets for Moroccan argan oil, there are three questions that are generally asked by the consumers:

  • Is my argan oil pressed (and will it continue to be) from the kernels collected exclusively in Morocco?
  • Is my argan oil 100 % pure or is it diluted with other, cheaper vegetable oils?
  • Is my argan high-quality argan oil? 

Is my argan oil pressed (and will it continue to be) from the kernels collected exclusively in Morocco?

Although the argan trees are endemic in Morocco, the idea of cultivating argania in other sub-tropical countries has developed years ago, mainly for economic reasons. Uncontrolled cultivation of argania could lead to the production of argan oil of unverified quality, which could also affect the business of argan oil in Morocco and possibly even eliminate all efforts to preserve the argan forests. In 2009, argan oil received a geographical indication, therefore its quality, reputation and other characteristics can only be attributed to the geographical area of southwestern Morocco.

Is my argan oil 100 % pure or is it diluted with other, cheaper vegetable oils?

Unfortunately, the high price of argan oil has also caused many frauds and scams on the market. One of the most common frauds is the dilution or replacement of argan oil with cheaper, more easily accessible vegetable oils (e.g. sunflower oil). As a cosmetic manufacturer, we are obliged to buy argan oil from a trustworthy supplier, offering only certified and geographically indicated argan oil. Fortunately, there are also empirical methods that enable us to check the quality of argan oil, determine its specific composition and the sterol content that is specific to it. The identification methods enable us to check the purity of the argan oil with 95 % probability.

Of course, consumers do not have the opportunity to verify the quality and purity of argan oil using empirical methods. Nevertheless, there are rules that are worth considering before buying an argan oil.

Read the label first.

A pure argan oil must contain only argan oil and no other substances, so before purchasing you need to pay attention to the composition of the product. In the cosmetic industry the international cosmetic nomenclature of cosmetic ingredients INCI is established, which ensures that the same name is used for each ingredient. Argan oil is therefore always labeled as the Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil in the cosmetic industry. If you are looking for a pure argan oil, then this is the only ingredient you should find under the ingredients list. If other ingredients are present, this is a clear indication that the product in not pure argan oil. Most often, argan oil is diluted with other, cheaper vegetable or even mineral oils and silicones.

The price is important.

The fact is that argan oil is not cheap. It is even considered one of the most expensive vegetable oils in the worlds. A suspiciously low price is usually the first sign that we need to be careful when we are buying pure argan oil. The high price of argan oil is a result of low yields (for 1 kg of argan oil up to 40 kg of argan kernels are needed) as well as the method of production, which should result in the price being commensurate with the working hours brought by Berber women into production. A production of argan oil is a long-lasting process, so you need to have in mind, that a lot of time, work and effort is put into the whole process before the final product is delivered.

What does argan oil actually smell like?

The aroma of argan oil can vary, so it is important to know what type of argan oil you are buying. Argan oil for the cosmetic purposes has a different smell as an edible argan oil. The reason is that argan kernels intended for cosmetic argan oil are not roasted before pressing. Consequently, the cosmetic argan oil has a less intense nutty scent, which is a bit unusual or even unpleasant for many people. Therefore, the cosmetic argan oil can also be purchased deodorised, which is totally odorless. If the argan oil is deodorised, it is far more difficult to see if the oil is truly the argan oil, so it's worth to choose a credible supplier that guarantees quality.

Also make sure whether argan oil is perfumed. It is true that the fragrance covers the natural aroma of argan kernels, but it is also possible that it covers the possible oxidation and rancidity of argan oil, which is of course not recommended.

Does argan oil differ in color?

The answer is of course yes – the culinary argan oil is darker, golden brown due to the roasting of argan kernels, while the cosmetic argan oil is golden yellow. If the argan oil is too light, it's almost crystal clear that you are probably dealing with diluted or processed argan oil or even a fake one. Among the fakes, there is even possible to find vegetable oils, colored with paprika to look more authentic and similar to real argan oil, that's why you need to pay attention also to its color.

How does argan oil act on your skin?

Pure argan oil absorbs quickly and does not leave an oily residue, softens the skin and makes it silky smooth. It offers immediate relief to very dry skin. When applied there should be no skin tightening and even burning. This could be an indicator of added chemicals in argan oil or your hypersensitivity or allergies, so in this case it is best to visit your dermatologist.

Shelf life – less is more 

Before purchasing or using argan oil check the shelf life. If the shelf life is suspiciously long – more than two years, then you can reasonably suspect that this argan oil is not a pure argan oil at all. Argan oil contains a high concentration of linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated fatty acid, which dues to its structure is more affected by the lipid oxidation processes than unsaturated or saturated fatty acids, so it would be naive to expect that a pure argan oil has a shelf life of 3 years or even more.