Olinia Argan Oil 100ml – cold pressed, organic certified by Ecocert
I’ve been hearing a lot about Argan oil (from the Argania Spinosa tree in Morocco) and the opportunity to buy some presented itself recently, so I decided to see what all the hype was about. As a regular user of a variety of oils, I’m quite content and so wasn’t in a rush to try Argan oil, which is why I’ve left it until now but two main factors persuaded me to go for it; firstly the price (£8.38 from eBay) and secondly the brand was a Vegan Society registered one. Now I know it’s just a single ingredient oil and before I buy any cosmetic the prerequisite is that it has to be ethical and natural, so there was no need to buy a specified vegan brand. An ‘accidentally vegan’ brand would have been fine (one that doesn’t have certification but is still vegan friendly) but I thought I’d show some support to a company that has gone through the hoops to make itself obviously available to those who need the clarification or to people starting in ethical and natural products. So basically, for me, this was a bargain.
The container/bottle itself is plastic with airless pump – I usually prefer dark glass bottles but this was an impulse buy. However the same brand has smaller amounts available in the type of packaging I prefer – 30ml and 50ml in screw-top bottle. I went with the 100ml one because I use a fair bit of oil and because I didn’t notice the smaller ones ’til after I’d paid, ha!
The oil is cold pressed and filtered/decanted, which the company explains HERE, I found that page very helpful and informative. As far as I know there are also two other methods; the expeller and unrefined. The expeller method uses a higher heat than cold pressing and is more economical than cold pressing. I prefer unrefined, because I like that the oils solidify when cold or room temp, the strong flavour (and nutritional content for food purposes) and the rich smell they have (no added perfumes) is to me, indicative of quality. However, I’ve found it quite hard to find unrefined oils and cold pressing seems to be the more common option for organic products.
Tried everyday for 1 week on face, hair & hands.
Some of the oils I usually use on my skin and hair are coconut (in warm/hot weather), carrot, olive, neem, jojoba, tea tree, avacado and ginger, and some of those are blended sweet almond oil as a base. My skin type is normal, though it used to be problem skin. My hair type is thick/coarse, curly Asian and is bleached (the exception to my natural ethos alas) though I leave to grow out a fair bit before doing the roots (thank goodness for the ombre trend being popular!)
The bottle label reads ‘Use only 1-2 drops on skin, hair and nails’. I personally find that very hard without a specific dropper insert in the neck of the bottle or a dropper pipette so I was skeptical at first, but tried as little as I could get out of the bottle in one go.
Face: the label reads: ‘Massage into skin using gentle circular motions’. I tried it on my face first and it left a nice healthy/well nourished looking, subtle sheen and was suitable to leave or put make up over. However, it’s not hydrating enough to use only that amount for a long period of time and would need touching up which would be difficult if you put make up over it but fine if you intend to wipe/clean your skin and re-apply e.g. from a day to evening look. For overnight use it would mean waking up and putting more on, so instead, I used more before I went to sleep.
Hair: the label reads: ‘Wash hair, towel dry, then apply through ends of hair using fingers.’ I personally use three methods for oil application on the hair.
1) Put it straight on the scalp and hair and do nothing else with it, let it sink in by itself and do its work.
2) Put the oil on and then a quick warm (not hot) blow dry.
3) Put the oil on and then have a bath so it steams into the hair.
Using those methods I found that, akin to other oils, it makes the hair softer and shinier but unfortunately like other oils in general it tends to make my scalp itch. I didn’t always have that issue and I used to use a lot of oily hairspray (Dark & Lovely mainly) on my hair and scalp but something changed as I got older – now very few things (incl. 1 oil) will sit comfortably on my scalp and this isn’t one of them.
Hands: the labels reads ‘Mix equal amounts of argan oil with lemon juice in a bowl to treat nails’. I haven’t tried this but I did use it on my hands and found it was nice and softening but enough for me and so I mixed it with my hand lotion and it worked better that way.
Observations: After a week’s regular use I’ve found that it’s comparable to other oils – which all have their own specific properties but in general are all nourishing and moisturizing. Like the other oils I use, it leaves the skin soft and makes my skin look/feel younger. It doesn’t make the skin look more taught/toned but it does seem to add a subtle, youthful radiance whereas other oils such a neem or tea tree give a more brightening/glowing radiance. Just a note – for those only just starting to use oils instead of, or in addition to other emollients, such as creams and whipped body butters – you may find that oils alone (and unwhipped) soften the skin but don’t visibly make it look softer or younger. Both my mother and I found that when we first started but that changed over time. Now it’s a case of hydration, where oils take time to sink in, and they soften and nourish but other emollients hydrate faster and make your skin feel quenched and refreshed. Shea and cocoa butter offer a balance have to be whipped or made into a cream to be softening, nourishing and hydrating, otherwise they are very thick, turn oily when warm and take a long time to absorb.
The one thing I definitely agree with from the information I’ve read, is that it is quick drying/absorbing – it’s the fastest absorbing oil I’ve come across when used in small amounts and so is very handy for commuting or traveling, you can touch stuff quickly afterwards without leaving greasy stains. I think it could be very handy for short trips when you don’t want to carry too many lotions and potions with you lol.
Conclusion: Argan oil, though an ancient oil (from a pre-hisoric tree), seems relatively new to the commercial market or at least, it has recently become popular and though it may have enjoyed the spotlight previously it is being lauded in the media as ‘miraculous’ and as if it were new. I don’t know if there are strict cultivation/production limits for it, but the advertising and production might be factors behind the price. From the range of prices I’ve seen it is approximately £10 per 100ml (on eBay), whereas I usually pay approx £4.50-£5 for 150ml refined oils (bricks and mortar shops), and £6-8 for 250-500ml organic/cold pressed (online). So far, even though I like the oil, it doesn’t seem to be any better or worse than the others I use, and since I tend to dehydrate easily I find I need to use more than recommended and so it would be more costly. I can use it with a cream or other oil to address that issue and it works well with other products I use but the same can be said for other oils, so there doesn’t seem to be much point. I’m not saying that it’s not value for money, from what I’ve read it’s a slow and difficult manual process, though with the production done by womens cooperatives and the introduction of mechanical aids it has gotten less time and labour consuming but I’d guess it is still hard work. Also, I read that:
‘It takes all the fruit from an average tree, about 250 pounds, to yield enough seeds for just one litre of oil. The fruit is traditionally harvested by entire Berber families.’ (moroccolondon.co.uk)
So it’s definitely value for money and I believe that oils are essential for both internal and external health, and organic oils using higher quality extraction methods are more pricey (what an upside down world we live in eh when using less ingredients and cultivating them in more natural ways is more expensive than using more – usually a lot more ingredients, many unhealthy – and not treating them). However, for the time being there doesn’t seem to be a greater benefit to using this over the others and because it’s out of my price range, for me personally, it doesn’t seem worth the investment. That might change though. I don’t give up on ethical and natural products just like that, I know that things don’t often happen overnight and that products will work differently and at different rates for different people, so I’d love to hear from any of you that have experienced the long term benefits or have any recommendations for different brands.
I think for external use the product may be best for people who need or prefer only a small amount of oil and who don’t use many other oils, that way they will probably reap more of the benefits. For myself, I think I may try using argan food oil (which is slightly roasted in production) if the price becomes less prohibitive (the same problem with cumin/black seed oil which I love). I would notice it more in my food as I use various oils for different tastes and cooking/preparation methods. For example I use sunflower oil as a base because it can stand high heats and safflower, grapeseed or flaxseed as finishers to add flavour or cold meals to retain the most nutritional content. I also use olive or macadamia as either a base or topper/finisher. I love the different tastes of oils and blend them with different herbs and spices, and depending on whether I’m making sweet, savoury or sweet/sour foods so I will probably enjoy it more that way.
Finishing note – remember that when using any natural product, I’ve found that the best way to experience as many of the benefits as possible is when also sticking to a healthy diet and lifestyle. I don’t always find that possible, and certainly not easy in the environments many live in, but overall I find I look and feel better when I manage it at least a little.