- Argan oil contains ingredients like oleic and linoleic acid that moisturize the hair and scalp.
- It can also help prevent damage from sunlight and hair dye because it has vitamin E and protein.
- To make a DIY treatment, mix a few drops of argan oil with coconut oil and leave it in your hair.
- Visit Insider's Health Reference library for more advice.
Argan oil has been used for centuries in food and in medicine to moisturize and soothe dry skin and hair.
The amber-colored oil — often referred to as "liquid gold" — is commonly found on the shelves of beauty supply stores and advertised as an antidote to soften, smooth, and add shine to dry and damaged hair.
But it's important to be skeptical of some of these claims and not get swept away with promises that sound too good to be true. Here's what you need to know about how argan oil can affect your hair for the better.
1. Moisturize and conditions your hair
Argan oil is commonly used as a topical treatment to hydrate hair.
It's rich in fatty acids like oleic and linoleic acid — two ingredients commonly found in skin moisturizers and hair conditioners, says Yoram Harth, MD, a Dermatologist and Medical Director at MDhair.
Oleic and linoleic acids are hydrophobic, or water-repelling. When applied to your hair, these hydrophobic oils can prevent hair breakage by keeping moisture inside the strands, where it belongs.
2. Improves scalp health
Argan oil is rich in antioxidants that can prevent inflammation and possibly improve inflammatory skin conditions of the scalp — like seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis, Harth says.
Argan oil also touts antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that may help improve your scalp health and reduce itch-inducing infections like folliculitis, says Jen Haley, MD, a Dermatologist and Medical Advisor at Editor's Pick.
3. May prevent sun damage
Prolonged exposure to the sun's UV rays can damage your hair — but argan oil may offer some protection.
A 2013 study found that antioxidants in argan oil can protect the skin against oxidative damage from the sun — and Harth suggests that these benefits may also extend to your hair.
4. Prevent damage from hair dye
Your hair fibers are mainly made of protein. But when you bleach your hair to lighten the color, it causes protein loss. The more protein lost from your hair, the more damaged your hair becomes.
A 2013 study found that applying argan oil treatments to caucasian hair immediately after bleaching prevented damage due to protein loss that's typical from the bleaching process.
In the 2013 study, researchers found that argan oil's hydrophobic properties helped to restore the hair cuticle and prevent breakage and overall protein lost
How to use argan oil for hair
There are many ways to incorporate argan oil into your hair care routine, Haley says.
For use as a moisturizing leave-in conditioner:
- Start with damp or dry hair.
- Rub three drops of argan oil into your palms.
- Run your hands through your hair, coating your tresses in the oil from the middle to the ends.
- Comb through your hair to distribute the oil evenly.
- Leave the oil in and go about your day as usual.
Argan oil may also help reduce itchiness and flakiness on your scalp.
For use as a scalp treatment:
- Add two or three drops onto your dry scalp.
- Massage well for five minutes.
- Leave the oil on your scalp for an hour.
- Wash out with a mild shampoo.
"You may see results in four to six weeks," Haley says.
Argan oil is a popular hair-care product commonly used to moisturize and condition dry strands.
It's rich in protective oils and antioxidant plant compounds. And it may help prevent damage from the sun and harsh hair dyes.
Use it either as a scalp treatment to soothe uncomfortable skin conditions or a leave-in conditioner to help moisturize dry hair.