Well+Good

Why so many women are reaching for argan oil in their haircare routines

Photo Taken In Ukraine, Odessa

“When you think of Moroccan beauty, what comes to mind?”

A group of beauty editors and I were sitting in the back of a natural beauty cooperative in the middle of the Marrakesh Medina when our tour guide, Stephanie Flor of Around The World Beauty, posed the question.

Argan oil,” we all responded without missing a beat. In Morocco, women have used the natural, nut-based oil for centuries, slathering it on their skin and hair for an added layer of softness and shine. Personally, I’ve been slicking the liquid gold through my strands since middle school, loving how silky it left them. One thing that I didn’t realize, despite the dozens of bottles that I’ve poured through in my lifetime, it can help prevent hair breakage and keep strands strong, too.

As I learned during my trip, women who wear headscarves—which many in Morocco do—tend to deal with hair loss from the fabric rubbing up against their strands. To help with re-growth, they use a mask made from a mixture of argan oil and olive oil, plus nigella and fig.

While there are no studies directly linking argan oil to hair growth, its natural vitamin E content does help prevent breakage and split ends, which may result in fuller, thicker hair over time,” says Hien Nguyen, co-founder and chief science officer at Function of Beauty.  While the verdict may still be out on argan oil specifically, research has shown that vitamin E can help promote hair growth and impede hair loss when ingested.

As for what a dermatologist has to say on the matter? “There is no specific data that shows the association between argan oil and hair growth but it can be used as a powerful moisture-enhancing product and moist scalp is important for optimal conditions for healthy hair,” explains board-certified dermatologist Nava Greenfield, MD, of Schweiger Dermatology Group in Brooklyn, NY.

So, in short, for hair growth the answer is pretty much that it won’t hurt, but don’t be super surprised if it doesn’t help the situation tons, either. Likely, however, you’ll likely notice that your strands are all-around happier doing their thing. In addition to this, however, argan oil can do some other pretty cool things for your hair. Keep scrolling to find out more about what.

Argan oil does other powerful things, too

The nut oil can help the overall look and feel of the hair. “With its high content of antioxidants, essential fatty acids and vitamin E, argan oil is able to naturally help increase the hair’s moisture content and elasticity, combat frizz, and also protect the strands from damage that causes split ends and breakage, making it an especially potent ingredient in hair care,” says Nguyen. Kevin Hughes, the artistic director of Moroccanoil, which uses argan oil as the prominent ingredient in its haircare line, adds that the oil also contains high levels of fatty acids to hydrate hair and give it an “incredible shine.” 

While any hair type can benefit from the stuff, Nguyen notes that it’s especially powerful for people with dry or frizzy hair types. “Its restorative properties can help smooth, soften, and hydrate the strands so that the hair appears healthier and more manageable,” she explains. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory, which “reduces the inflammation that causes things like dandruff, dryness, and irritation,” says Nguyen.

Is there a “right” way to use argan oil?

Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, there are a few different ways you can work argan oil into your haircare routine. To take advantage of its scalp benefits, Nguyen suggests applying a few drops to your hands and massaging it into your roots. “I also recommend applying it at night and sleeping with the oil in your hair/on the scalp and then rinsing it out with cool water in the morning,” she says.

As a styling tool, argan oil works as a heat protectant when you apply it before using a blow dryer or hot tool (which, for what it’s worth, is how I’ve been using it for over a decade), or as a way to tame flyaways or frizz once hair is already dry. Rub two to three drops into your hands and comb through strands with your fingers.

And of course, there are plenty of products out there that are formulated with argan oil. Shop some of our favorites below.

Another way to help your hair grow? By using a scalp serum. Plus, the powerhouse adaptogen blend Amanda Chantal Bacon wants you to know about for your strongest strands yet.