A woman extracts argan oil from the kernels of the argania tree.
Before I ventured into natural and organic products, I had a big problem with greasy hair. I had to wash my hair every day—if I didn’t, it was a greasy, stringy mess that second day. The third day? Even worse. (Here’s how I made the switch.)
This previous history with oily hair made me a little tentative to try argan oil, even though I had read about its smoothing and frizz-calming abilities, which are especially attractive this time of year. Summertime means humidity and humidity means frizz. But. BUT! It’s not like you have to use argan oil on your hair. It’s also a great body oil, facial oil, base for a facial mask (you can also add a few drops to your regular facial mask), and softener/moisturizer for tough spots like your heels. And that’s basically the only reason I agreed to try it, because I have graduated from greasy hair and I never want to go back there, ever. (Spoiler alert: I tried it on my hair.)
The barbary fig seed oil was different. I’ve been intrigued by this magical little oil for ages. It’s pricey for a reason. It’s difficult to extract from its plant, the prickly pear cactus; each seed contains only a tiny amount of oil. It’s like liquid gold for your skin (and beneficial to all skin types), packed with Vitamin E. This oil has more of the vitamin than any other oil on the market, which makes it a lot more potent.
What I tried: Organic Argan Oil, $45, and Organic Barbary Fig Seed Oil, $98
First impressions: First up, the argan oil. It’s a pale oil, a light yellow shade. I tried it on my feet overnight (covered with a pair of socks), and loved how it softened them up. I smoothed it on as a body oil post-shower, and although it’s a lot more lightweight than the body oil I’d been using, it still left my skin soft.
In contrast, the barbary fig seed oil is sort of green-tinted (it looks similar to olive oil), but with a very mild scent. (I’m starting to realize that I spend a lot of time describing the smell of every product I try.) It took me a few days to figure out what the smell reminds me of, but now I’ve got it: like a (pleasant) combination of fruit leather and sweet hay. I like how my skin really soaks it in quickly—but I did notice that I wanted more than the two or three drops recommended to smooth all over my face and neck.
What caught me by surprise: In the future, I plan to use the barbary fig seed oil in a targeted way instead of all over my face. That way I can focus it on the areas that can really benefit from that extra Vitamin E (like around my eyes and lips), and smooth on another oil all over my face and neck.
Now for the argan oil: of course I had to try it on my hair, right? As it turns out, I’m glad I did. After a little trial and error, I figured out that just two teeny drops on my post-shower, still-wet hair leaves my hair smoothed without feeling slick, and tames flyaways (even in summer heat). I can only use it once a week, though—any more than that, and I have grease issues. But the right amount leaves my hair feeling so soft, and it gives the slightest definition to my natural waves.
Bonus: One of the things I love so much about natural and organic products is the commitment to doing good that so many of these companies have. They really work hard to make the world a better place! Agasaya is no exception: this Canadian company stores their small-batch products in protective, dark violet glass. (Easily recycled or reused!) They choose their suppliers with care, and support women’s cooperatives in Morocco along with small, local producers. And their products are pure. There’s just one ingredient in the bottle of argan oil: organically farmed Moroccan argania spinosa (argan) kernel oil. That’s it.
Have you tried either of these luxe oils? What new uses have you found for them? —Aleigh
(Top image: Julie70; product images via Agasaya)