Argan oil comes from the argan tree, indigenous to southwestern Morocco’s dry, rocky environment. The argan tree is endemic to Morocco, so only the country that produces the oil. The argan tree’s fruit is harvested, and the oil within it is extracted by cold-pressing, which protects the oil’s freshness and nutrients.
Cold-pressing is a slow, labour-intensive process, which lends argan oil its price tag. Some small companies in Morocco can cold-press argan oil cheaper than large companies, but the results are still superior.
The oil is pressed from the nut of the Argan tree, and it can be found in three forms: raw, semi-refined and ultra-refined. Natural argan oil is how argan oil originally came from Morocco. It’s unrefined and has not been filtered, deodorized, or bleached.
Raw argan oil is the most expensive and is favoured by cosmetic and medicinal manufacturers for its powerful antioxidants.
Semi-refined argan oil is infused with a small amount of argan kernel oil, giving it a nutritional boost while preserving the purity of the oil.
Ultra-refined argan oil, which has less than 1% antioxidants, is used primarily as a base for other products. Argan oil is most commonly added to body moisturizers, lip balms and hair conditioners. The quality of argan oil is also determined by its fragrance.