The argan tree is a small tree native to Morocco. Argan oil is extracted from the kernels of this tree's fruit.
Argan oil has been used as an aid to beauty for thousands of years. The ancient Phoenicians are known to have used it as far back as 1550 BC, and it was thought to be the secret behind the beauty of the Berber women of southern Morocco.
The argan tree is protected by UNESCO under its Man and Biosphere scheme, and much of the oil produced today is still extracted by Berber women using traditional methods.
Argan oil is rich in antioxidants and in linoleic and oleic fatty acids. It also contains high levels of tocopherols, the constituents of vitamin E, which boost its power to protect against free radical damage. When consumed as part of the diet, the plant sterols and phytochemicals in argan oil are thought to enhance cognitive health, stabilise blood sugar and promote healthy digestion.
However, argan oil is best known for its nourishing properties when applied to the skin, hair and nails. The vitamin E in the oil helps to boost cell production in these areas when applied topically, and also soothes inflammation and moisturises.