Of all the natural remedies to be discovered in a traditional Moroccan pharmacy, from amber sticks to ward off bugs to poppy powder to redden lips, argan oil dominates the coveted goods in the Berber arsenal. Often referred to affectionately as liquid gold, argan oil is a super rich antioxidant full of essential fatty acids, with more than double the vitamin E found in olive oil. Plus, the extremely rare oil is produced by government-funded female cooperatives under UNESCO protection, so the benefits of choosing argan stretch well beyond great hair, skin and nails. While it's worth a trip to Marrakech to stock up, many brands have been incorporating the raw oil into products made all over the world. Here are six liquid gold picks.
Unless you're going for a "wet look", or just applying it to split ends, pure argan oil is a bit heavy to apply directly to hair. While many products claim to contain argan oil, most use only a scant amount diluted with loads of chemicals. The beauty experts at La Bella Figura have devised Bohemia Verde ($25), an aromatic hair elixir that combines just the right amount of argan oil with organic ingredients like camellia seed oil, avocado oil, and rose geranium oil. It's light enough to use every day, and will infuse your hair with pure moisture and a lovely Mediterrean scent. Just a few drops is needed on wet or dry hair for all-day conditioning and softness.
When it comes to tired eyes, sometimes you need more help than a simple moisturizing cream. Découverte Under Eye Repair Serum ($115) plays the superhero against fine lines, wrinkles and dark circles. Made with argan oil and Barbary fig seed oil, this powerful serum packs a double punch of Omega-3 and E vitamins to tighten and smooth the skin around your eyes, resulting in the most moisturizing eye product we've ever tried. Comprising 60% linoleic acid, Découverte simultaneously brightens eyes and diminishes age lines. Added coffee bean oil will make you feel rested throughout the day.
Many products for acne-prone skin dry out the face in order to work effectively. Kahina Facial Cleanser ($56) combines naturally anti-bacterial argan oil with anti-inflammatory willow bark to cleanse away impurities without stripping skin of its natural moisture. Lightly scented with delicate neroli flower oil, the non-lathering cleansing lotion tones and exfoliates even sensitive skin, leaving the face soft and renewed. As with all Kahina products, founder Katharine L’Heureux donates 25% of all profits back to Berber women working at the cooperative where she sources her oil, and decorates each product's packaging with marks from each of the women's signatures.
Combining collagen-producing argan oil with silicia-rich rhassoul clay straight from the Atlas mountains, Kahina's Antioxidant Mask ($62) detoxifies and firms at the same time. This translucent mask will exfoliate and tone skin, leaving it looking brighter and softer after just 10 minutes. The energizing mint and eucalyptus scent, combined with anti-aging pomegranate extract, will have you feeling like you've just came back from the spa—the company also claims that when used weekly, the mask can replace your monthly facial. Plus, like the rest of the Kahina line, the majority of ingredients used are organic.
Cosmetics infused with argan oil help to moisturize, rather than damage the skin. Josie Maran has taken advantage of such beneficial properties to create a line of makeup with high-impact, yet natural colors. The Argan Beautiful Eyes palette ($36) offers five coordinating colors of the eyeshadow that's significantly smoother than anything we've worn. The nutrient-rich powder infuses argan oil with floral and fruit extracts, and the resulting shadows not only glide effortlessly onto the eyelids, but last a long time.
Besides her makeup, Maran has developed a complete argan-based skincare line, manufacturing the best pure oil we tested. As a rule of thumb when it comes to your face, it's best to use a product with one ingredient only. With that in mind, replace your daily moisturizer with a drop or two of 100% Pure Argan Oil ($48). It's great for dry skin, wrinkles, acne blemishes and scar tissue, without feely greasy or heavy. 100% Pure Argan oil can also be used as a body moisturizer or to strengthen nails and soften cuticle beds. Argan oil is sure to help give you skin a golden glow, while helping to minimize the number of products in your medicine cabinet.