Here’s what I’m guessing you know about argan oil: It’s an oil, and, uh, people use it for…beauty…stuff. Which, hey, you’re not wrong! Argan oil is one of those ingredients that you see in every product, read about in every article, and yet still have no clue as to why, exactly, it’s so awesome. And I’m here to change that.
Well, me and my buds, Josie Maran (yes, the one-and-only founder of the cult-favorite Josie Maran cosmetics, which uses argan oil as a key ingredient in all of its products) and New York City dermatologist Patricia Wexler, M.D. Together, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about argan oil, and serving up a few of our favorite products, so you can get in on the glow-maker everyone loves.
First up: Not all oils are created equal.
Alright, so you know there’s a major difference between canola oil and motor oil, but what about skin oils? As it turns out, every face oil has a different formulation, weight, and absorption rate, making some better suited for certain skin types and concerns than others. Castor oil and grape-seed oil, for example, decrease excess oil on acne-prone skin, while coconut oil and avocado oil act as incredibly rich moisturizers for dry skin.
Argan oil, however, falls in the middle of the spectrum—it’s not too heavy, not too light—making it perfect to use on all skin types. It’s packed with omega fatty acids, vitamin E, and linoleic acids, all of which work to lightly moisturize your skin, soften dry patches, and even reduce acne. “It’s essentially nature’s protective, nourishing superfood for your skin,” Maran says.
Yes, argan oil can actually help breakouts.
Whaaa? It’s true: Slathering oil on oily, broken-out skin can actually be a good thing, says Dr. Wexler. Oftentimes, people break out not because of they have naturally oily skin, but because their skin barrier is dry, damaged, and inflamed from a regimen of harsh acne products. That damaged skin barrier then overcompensates by producing even more oil, which can clog pores and trigger breakouts. Argan oil, however, can help break the cycle.
Not only does the vitamin E in argan oil act as a major anti-inflammatory for red, reactive skin, “but it also helps control your skin’s oil production by balancing out your sebum levels, so you’ll have fewer breakouts and less irritation than before,” says Dr. Wexler. Plus, all of the antioxidants naturally found in argan oil are known for helping soothe eczema and fade scars. Starting to understand why everyone loves it?
No, it won’t clog pores.
I mean, sure, technically anything can clog your pores if your skin has a natural sensitivity to a certain ingredient, but unlike certain oils that are known to be highly comedogenic—a fancy way to say “pore-clogging”—like coconut oil and olive oil, argan oil is on the low end of the risk scale.
In fact, argan oil has a zero rating on the comedogenicity rating scale (yes, that’s a thing, even it is a bit flawed), which is more than you can say for the majority of ingredients currently sitting in your face cream and makeup.
It’s also easy as hell to use.
Technically, oils are not moisturizers. Stay with me. Oils are considered “occlusives,” an annoying word that basically means they act like a barrier to keep moisture from evaporating out of your skin (like the tinfoil that keeps your food warm). So it’s best to apply oils on either slightly damp skin—to trap all that water in your pores—or massage it on over your moisturizer (to lock in all of the hydrating ingredients). Make sense?
Because argan oil is relatively lightweight, it sinks in and absorbs rather quickly, so you’ll be left with a subtle, glow-y sheen, rather than an oil slick. If you’re worried about looking shiny during the day, though, try applying oils after washing your face at night, instead. Sure, your pillowcase might be left with some oil marks (I suggest light-colored linens), but they’re worth it when you’ve got a hydrating, nourishing, softening, acne-fighting, scar-fading, lightweight, non-clogging miracle in a bottle.
Now, it’s time for you to board the argan oil express, too. Check out my personal favorites, below, and get ready for glowing, perfect, holy-wow skin.