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How to Argan Oil for Your Hair (the Secret Ingredient For Healthy, Shiny Strands)

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Photo by Anna Efetova / Getty Images

In the beauty world, it doesn’t take long for argan oil to enter the chat when it comes to the topic of hair that’s smooth, healthy, and full of bounce and shine. In fact, argan oil is so popular for its allover transformative properties that it’s sometimes referred to as "liquid gold." When extracted from Morocco's argan trees, argan oil can be used as a nourishing body oil and hair oil that addresses a mountain of skin concerns (and it’s commonly used as cooking oil too). Argan oil is good for you inside and out, which is what makes this hydrator such a boss in the beauty ingredient world.

While argan oil has been a staple in Africa for centuries, the Western world has recently become particularly fond of the mega multitasker thanks to its ability to give hair a serious glow-up. How? “Because it's high in antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and vitamin E, argan oil helps to hydrate and soften hair," says Giovanni Vaccaro, Glamsquad’s Artistic Director. It restores the hair's elasticity and shine, minimizes frizz, and can even soothe a dry, itchy scalp. Argan oil can be easily found on shelves as a pure oil without having to do much searching. Plus, this good oil plays nice when added to other hair products and when it’s mixed with oils like coconut oil, jojoba oil, castor oil, and more.

Wondering what argan oil can do for your hair? The better question might be “What can't it do?” We chatted with three hair experts for the scoop on all there is to know.

About the Experts:

Giovanni Vaccaro is a professional hairdresser and the co-founder and chief brand officer of Glamsquad.
Deanne Robinson, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist in Connecticut.
Bradley Leake is an LA-based hairstylist and owner of BRDY JAY hair care and salon.

What Makes Argan Oil Good for Hair? Here Are 7 Reasons

1. It Nourishes Hair Inside & Out

“Internally, argan oil moisturizes and soothes, but on the outside it protects strands and skin from oxidative damage and, according to some studies, may also provide UV protection,” says Deanne Robinson, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Connecticut. It’s all because of the way argan oil is built. “Compared to other oils, argan oil has smaller sized molecules, making it more likely to penetrate the hair cuticle,” Dr. Robinson tells us.

Bradley Leake, an LA-based hairstylist and owner of Brdy Jay haircare and salon, agrees. He says argan oil is “fantastic as it is both restorative and preventative, meaning it both provides incredible moisture and defends against common damage such as breakage or split ends.” He uses it on his clients as a hair treatment while their hair is still damp to reap the best benefits.

2. It Can Help With Dandruff

"Argan oil is rich in antioxidants, so it's great for scalp treatments," Vaccaro says. "If your scalp is inflamed and prone to itchiness, argan can be a great solution." Argan oil helps to reduce inflammation and can relieve dandruff-inducing oxidative stress, an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body.

3. It Soothes other Scalp Conditions

Dealing with eczema and psoriasis? While it won’t be a cure, argan oil can help ease the ouch and itch. “Argan oil has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties that make it beneficial to dry scalp, psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis,” says Dr. Robinson. As a soothing treatment, she recommends using a pure form of argan oil. “If you have a dry, irritated, or dandruff-prone scalp, you can massage the pure oil directly onto your scalp. Then, put on a shower cap and let it sit there for 20 to 30 minutes before shampooing,” she recommends.

4. It Makes Your Hair Shinier

Argan oil is famous for adding a major mirror-like shine to dull, damaged hair. “It’s packed with vitamin E, so it keeps your hair and scalp healthy, leaving you with a shiny and full head of hair,” Leake says. This is primarily thanks to the high concentration of essential fatty acids found in the oil. Worried about weighing your hair down? Consider your hair type. “Thick, coarse hair types will benefit most from higher concentrations of argan oil,” Dr. Robinson tells us. “If you have fine, slippery strands, then a lighter formula containing argan oil [vs. pure argan oil] will be a better fit. Almost anyone can tolerate and benefit from a dime-sized amount on their ends.”

5. It Prevents & Helps Repair Hair Breakage

“Argan oil is loaded with nourishing fatty acids as well as hydrating and healing benefits of antioxidants, namely vitamin E,” says Dr. Robinson. That’s because the vitamin E in argan oil helps to increase hair's elasticity. How? Dr. Robinson says that it “helps improve dryness by moisturizing the actual hair shaft, making strands stronger, more flexible, and less likely to break.”

6. It Detangles, Seals Split Ends, & Smooths Frizz

Because argan oil has smaller molecules than most other hair oils, it can penetrate the hair cuticle more effectively. When the oil's nutrients are absorbed better, the hair is softer, making it less prone to tangling. Vitamin E and the omega fatty acids found in argan oil provide moisture and protection to frayed or damaged hair shafts. The former strengthens the hair, while the latter soothes frayed ends and frizz.

7. It Protects Hair from Heat Damage

Been going heavy on the heat styling? Argan oil can help with that too. "It can be used to shield your hair from hot tools and blow dryers," Vaccaro says. He notes that because argan oil can withstand higher temperatures than other hair oils, it can be an ideal styling product to use to protect hair from heat damage, breakage, and split ends.

Ready to add argan oil to your hair care routine? Here’s how.

DIY Argan Oil Hair Mask

Step 1: Mix Argan Oil with Another Hair Oil

You can definitely do an argan oil hair mask using only pure argan oil; however, Vaccaro notes that this product also mixes well with other oils—even essential oils. If you're looking to get creative, try mixing argan oil with coconut oil to increase shine benefits—or with castor oil to promote hair growth. You can then add a few drops of essential oils like lavender, peppermint, or rosemary, all of which smell great and have been associated with hair and scalp benefits.

Step 2: Apply Argan Oil to Your Hair

When applying the hair mask, "saturate your hair with pure argan oil from roots to ends," says Vaccaro. Be sure to use a generous amount. The hair shouldn't be dripping in oil, but it should be generously coated.

Step 3: Allow the Hair Mask to Work its Magic

Allow the hair mask to soak into your hair for 15 to 30 minutes. For an intensive hair treatment, keep the hair mask in overnight. Pro tip: To sleep in an oil-infused hair mask without causing a mess, try wrapping it up in a microfiber hair towel while you snooze.

Step 4: Shampoo & Condition as Usual

"Shampoo and condition your hair as you normally would. You’ll feel how silky and soft your texture is," Vaccaro says.

DIY Argan Oil Scalp Treatment

Step 1: Rub Argan Oil in Your Palms

Whether you're suffering from dandruff, hair loss, or a dry scalp, this hair treatment is an easy way to improve the overall health of your scalp. When doing an argan oil scalp treatment, begin by applying a few drops of argan oil to your palms.

Step 2: Massage the Oil into Your Scalp

Next, separate your hair into four equal sections and thoroughly massage the oil into the scalp area of each section. Unlike the hair mask method, you should only focus on applying the oil to the scalp. Spend a good amount of time massaging the oil in, ideally five to 10 minutes. This will stimulate blood circulation and help to regulate oil production in the scalp.

Step 3: Rinse with Shampoo

After the oil has been massaged into the scalp, allow it to sit for about 10 minutes. Then rinse with shampoo. Repeat this treatment weekly if your scalp is irritated, and then begin to do so less frequently as scalp health improves.

DIY Argan Oil Leave-In Treatment

Step 1: Work with Wet Hair

Wash your hair as you normally would, and then towel-dry your wet hair. When argan oil is applied to wet hair, you can really reap the oil's detangling and heat-protection benefits before blow-drying and styling.

Step 2: Apply Argan Oil to Your Hair.

“Rub a few drops of argan oil between your palms and then comb your hands and fingers thoroughly through damp hair to use it as a leave-in conditioner. Leave it in and style as desired," Vaccaro says. Be sure to concentrate on the ends of your hair, as the heat-protecting properties of argan oil can be particularly helpful in preventing split ends.

DIY Argan Oil Hair Smoother

When applied to dry, styled hair, argan oil is great at fighting frizz, boosting shine, and providing protection against UV rays and free radicals. Place a few drops in your palms and comb through the hair with your fingers. "Generally, argan oil is great for medium to thick, coarse hair," Vaccaro says. "It’s also great for frizzy hair." However, if you have fine, thin hair, Vaccaro advises using a super small amount or avoiding argan oil altogether because finer hair might get too weighed down with oil.

8. Argan Oil Products You’ll Love

1. Best For Dry Scalps: MOROCCANOIL Dry Scalp Treatment

MOROCCANOIL Dry Scalp Treatment

This scalp soother helps nix flakes, ease itchiness, balance moisture, boost shine, and fluff up flat strands in one five-minute treatment—and our expert is a fan. “I like the MOROCCANOIL Dry Scalp Treatment, which contains argan oil alongside salicylic acid to help gently exfoliate the scalp and prevent build up and dandruff,” Dr. Robinson says.

2. Best For All Hair Types: MARC ANTHONY Nourishing Argan Oil of Morocco Oil Treatment

MARC ANTHONY Nourishing Argan Oil of Morocco Oil Treatment

Got thick hair, fine hair, or hair that’s somewhere in between? This nourishing oil treats all types and textures while helping to seal in nutrients, moisture, and shine. It’s formulated with a hydrating blend of Mediterranean olive oil and Moroccan argan oil that easily penetrates your hair strands to improve strength and elasticity while also softening strands.

3. Best for Frizzy Hair: BRIOGEO HAIR CARE Farewell Frizz Rosehip, Argan & Coconut Oil Blend

BRIOGEO HAIR CARE Farewell Frizz Rosehip, Argan & Coconut Oil Blend

Feel like you're constantly fighting frizz? This blend of rosehip, argan, and coconut oils tames and diminishes frizz, whether your hair is naturally that way or just misbehaving. While coconut oil locks in moisture, argan oil conditions, restores shine, and nixes frizz. Finally, rosehip oil protects the hair from UV and free-radical damage—a major must during those sun-soak summer months.

4. Best Pure Argan Oil: SHEAMOISTURE 100% Pure Argan Oil Head to Toe Smoothing

SHEAMOISTURE 100% Pure Argan Oil Head to Toe Smoothing

Looking for an affordable, high-quality argan oil that you can use for anything? This head-to-toe oil can be used for all your beauty needs. Here, the ingredient list is as minimal as it gets, featuring only 100% pure argan oil. Use it throughout your hair care routine and try incorporating it into your skincare routine as well.

5. Best for Fine Hair: JOSIE MARAN 100% Pure Argan Oil

JOSIE MARAN 100% Pure Argan Oil

If you're a fan of argan oil, allow us to introduce you to JOSIE MARAN, a beauty brand that uses this "liquid gold" in every single one of its formulas. In this hair serum, argan oil is blended with other nourishing oils like jojoba oil and avocado oil as well as vitamin E. Plus, bergamot and geranium essential oils make this serum smell divine.

6. Best for Curly Hair: MOROCCANOIL Curl Defining Cream

MOROCCANOIL Curl Defining Cream

Want to fully revitalize your curls? Try this bestselling argan oil-infused curl defining cream. The formula features heat-activated technology that provides curl memory, keeping your curl pattern consistent. Of course, it also fights frizz and hydrates to create soft, supple, bouncy coils.

7. Best Argan Oil Hair Mask: BUMBLE & BUMBLE Hairdresser's Invisible Oil Mask

BUMBLE & BUMBLE Hairdresser's Invisible Oil Mask
Courtesy of BUMBLE & BUMBLE

Don't feel like doing a DIY hair mask? This luxe mask from BUMBLE & BUMBLE makes this weekly part of your hair care routine easy peasy. Formulated for all hair types, it blends argan oil with ingredients like hydrating shea butter, coconut oil, and grapeseed oil to soften, boost shine, detangle, and defrizz. You only need to let this sit in your hair for three to five minutes to reveal fully refreshed, healthy hair.

8. Best for Hair Extensions: HIDDEN CROWN Argan Oil Serum

HIDDEN CROWN Argan Oil Serum
Courtesy of HIDDEN CROWN

Leake loves this argan oil serum for his clients who have hair extensions. “Not only will it do wonders on your locks, it works great on extensions too,” she says. “Its moisturizing effects will help detangle, nourish, and prevent damage to your hair.”

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About the author
Elizabeth Denton
Elizabeth is a freelance beauty writer. Previously, she was a beauty & fashion editor at Time Out New York, Seventeen, & Allure. She has more than a decade of experience in the beauty and fashion world, writing for Nylon, StyleCaster, Cosmopolitan & more.
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Article Last Updated July 6, 2023 12:00 AM