It can improve the appearance of dry and damaged skin, hair, and nails—so, what are you waiting for?

By Brittany Loggins
Updated September 03, 2020
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Shopping for skin and hair oils can be tough: You don’t want anything super heavy that will lead to breakouts or that will make your strands look greasy. Yuck. That being said, Moroccan oil has long been touted as a savior for treating dry and damaged hair, skin and nails, thanks to its conditioning properties. But is it all it's cracked up to be—and will it leave you looking like an oily mess?

Ahead, experts discuss the benefits of Moroccan oil, how it works, and how you should be using it.

What is Moroccan oil? 

Moroccan oil is made from the kernels of the argan nut, which is found inside the fruit of the argan tree, native to Morocco (hence the name). In order to get the oil, the fruit has to be dried (typically under the sun), and the nuts extracted, cracked, and pressed—so that the oil is released. Because of the small supply and that growing these types of trees is mostly limited to a single country, Moroccan oil is considered to be one of the rarer oils, which explains the hype and why it can be so expensive.

If you've heard of Moroccan oil, chances are, you've heard of argan oil. If you’re scratching your head, wondering what the difference between the two is, the answer is simple: They are basically the same thing. However, argan oil is a purer form, says Debra Jaliman, MD, a dermatologist based in New York City. Since it comes down to purity, Dr. Jaliman actually recommends selecting a product that claims to be 100 percent argan oil over a product that says Moroccan oil.

The benefits of Moroccan oil

Moroccan oil is packed with omega fatty acids, which improve dry skin and add shine to damaged hair. The phenols in Moroccan oil maintain scalp health and help to balance the pH levels, which can combat oil, explains Dr. Jaliman. It also boasts vitamin E and linoleum acids to lightly moisturize your skin, soften dry patches, and even reduce acne scars, Dr. Jaliman adds. Even better? Moroccan oil is considered anti-aging, meaning it can help lessen the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and prevent sun damage.

And while it's safe to use on most skin types (and can even keep psoriasis and eczema at bay), Dr. Jaliman cautions against using it if you’re prone to breakouts. Moroccan oil contains oleic acid, a highly comedogenic ingredient (translation: it can clog pores), and could cause inflammatory acne. “If you are acne-prone and experience breakouts often, I would not use too much of any oil,” warns Dr. Jaliman. “However, this is a lightweight oil compared to other much heavier ones, which block pores.”

How to use Moroccan oil

When it comes to using Moroccan oil for skin, a little can go a long way—so think, less is more. Apply a few droplets in the palm of your hand, and then use your fingers to massage the oil onto your face or onto cracked cuticles.

Because argan oil is lighter in comparison to other oils on the market, it can be a total game changer for dry, parched hair, as well—particularly when it comes to hydrating tresses and adding shine. Celebrity stylist Dmitiri Giannetos, who works with Camila Cabello and Meghan Trainor, loves working with Moroccan oil: “It gives a deep moisture to the hair compared to all the other oils without making the hair feel either heavy or greasy." Use it on hair that has been towel dried, and work it into your ends in the morning before brushing, says Giannetos. 

Interested in reaping the moisturizing benefits of Moroccan oil, but don't know where to start? Keep scrolling for expert-approved picks for skin, hair, and nails.

Josie Maran 100 Percent Argan Oil

Credit: SEPHORA

Dr. Jaliman's pick, this 100 percent argan oil can be used for practically everything, including face, hair, nails, and body. Also great: It could make your hair grow. “Products containing argan oil potentially help nourish the scalp and encourage dermal stem cells, therefore helping grow hair,” says Dr. Jaliman. 

Moroccanoil Treatment Light

Credit: SEPHORA

A go-to for Giannetos, this lightweight treatment contains nourishing argan oil and linseed extract (derived from flaxseed), which is a good source of alpha linolenic acid, a fatty acid that helps improve hair health. This was actually the first hair oil Giannetos used as a stylist, and he has relied on it for years: “They have the right recipe for a lightweight oil that’s also very hydrating at the same time.”

OGX Renewing Moroccan Argan Oil Extra Penetrating Hair Oil

Credit: TARGET

A budget-friendly dupe for the Moroccanoil Treatment, Rachel Nazarian, MD, a New York-based dermatologist and fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, likes this lightweight argan oil-infused product. Perfect for damaged strands, apply a small amount to damp, towel dried hair to add shine.

The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Moroccan Argan Oil

Credit: SEPHORA

David Lortscher, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and the CEO of Curology, is a fan of this versatile argan oil, because it's "entirely unrefined and has a natural scent.” Ideal for hair, skin, and nails, just apply 1-2 drops to the face, neck, hands, cuticles and the backs of your arms to zap dryness. Bonus: The under-$10 price tag makes it an easy choice.

ArtNaturals Argan Oil Leave-In Conditioner

Credit: TARGET

Another pick from Dr. Nazarian, this leave-in conditioner repairs dry locks and split ends, stimulates hair growth, supports a healthy scalp, and keeps frizz at bay, thanks to a combination of argan oil, aloe vera, white willow bark, rosemary, and thyme. While it’s great for most hair types, be sure to use it sparingly to avoid a greasy look.

Moroccanoil Body Soufflé

This decadent, whipped body moisturizer is infused with argan oil and shea butter to soften and smooth skin texture without feeling super oily. It also helps strengthen the skin barrier and offers long-lasting hydration, so you can say goodbye to scales and flakey skin.

To buy: Moroccanoil Body Souffle (from $20; amazon.com)