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Sensitive scalp? Frizzy hair? Your routine could be missing this key ingredient

It's easy to see why people call it "liquid gold."
Hair oil going on a scalp
Kara Birnbaum/ TODAY

While we love discovering the latest and greatest trending beauty ingredients, we know that there are some tried-and-true staples that will always have a place in our routines. After all, when an ingredient has been around for ages, you know that it must really work.

Argan oil is one great example. Women in Morocco have been using the oil cosmetically for centuries to help fade pimples and chicken pox scars. And now, you can often find it added to all kinds of hydrating and nourishing beauty products. It's said to have a bevy of benefits for both your skin and hair — and has even earned the nickname "liquid gold" by shoppers and users.

So to help get the scoop on how exactly it can help save your strands, we turned to two dermatologists to learn more about its benefits for hair and how to use it in your routine.

What are the benefits of argan oil for hair? | Does argan oil help with hair growth? | How to use argan oil for hair | Best argan oil products for hair | How we choose | Meet our experts

What are the benefits of argan oil for hair?

Argan oil is rich in nutrients like vitamin E and antioxidants, which is why it’s often used in skin and hair products, says Dr. Elizabeth Bahar Houshmand, a double board-certified dermatologist in Dallas, Texas. The vitamin E, along with the fatty acids in the ingredient, can work as protectants, helping to prevent heat damage, she says. Plus, argan oil is anti-inflammatory, so it can be soothing for those who have a sensitive or itchy scalp.

As compared to other oils, like olive or coconut oils, argan oil is a smaller molecule, so it's easily absorbed into the hair, she says. "Because it's absorbed into the hair cuticle, if you've got dry hair, color-treated hair, frizzy hair, those fatty acids can help bring your shine back," Houshmand says.

Does argan oil help with hair growth?

There's no scientific evidence to show that argan oil can help with hair growth, says Dr. Robert Finney, a board-certified dermatologist at Entière Dermatology in New York City.

However, phenols — compounds that are found in argan oil — have been shown to be stimulating for the scalp and promote hair growth, Houshmand says. But on its own, argan oil may not have much of an effect. That's why she suggests using it in combination with other proven hair loss treatments, if those are the results that you're after.

How to use argan oil for hair

If you want to add the ingredient to your routine, you have two main options: You can either apply pure argan oil directly to your hair, or you can use a product that's been infused with the oil. Pure argan oil is a good option for those with thick, curly or color-treated hair, Houshmand says. Because pure oils can sometimes weigh down the hair, if you have finer hair, you may want to focus on applying the oil on the mid- to lower sections of your hair, or opt for a product that's infused with argan oil to help prevent that.

If you have a history of seborrheic dermatitis or dandruff, using the oil itself isn't the best option (any kind of excess oil can cause the yeast to grow and spread, leading to flare-ups), "but if it's an ingredient in a shampoo or conditioner, that wouldn't trigger that issue," Finney says.

You can use it as a heat protectant and apply it on wet hair before blow-drying or styling, Houshmand says. You can also apply it to dry hair to give your strands a nice shine, she adds. When using the oil, you only need to use a few drops to get the effect.

Pure argan oil can leave behind some residue, "so if you're not kind of cleaning it off every so often and you're overdoing it, too much can be a bad thing," Finney says. To prevent that, he recommends starting off by applying it twice per week.

From oils to shampoos, here are 10 expert-approved and reviewer-loved argan oil products to try.

Best argan oil products for hair

Cantu Argan Oil Leave-In Conditioning Repair Cream

If your hair is in dire need of moisture, this deep conditioning treatment will give you the boost of hydration you’ve been searching for. According to the brand, there’s a new formulation that can help strengthen hair and elevate your natural shine.

Hask Argan Oil Conditions & Detangles Leave-In Spray

Damaged hair is one thing, but harshly detangling it makes an even worse combo. This argan oil-infused spray can be used to condition hair and make knotty locks easier to get through. Plus, it's filled with nutrients designed to repair split ends and keep hair moisturized, according to the brand.

Pura D’or Organic Moroccan Argan Oil

Arvazallia Hydrating Argan Oil Hair Mask

This popular argan oil hair mask has more than 34,000 five-star ratings from shoppers who say that it’s helped revive their dry, damaged hair. “Decided to try this because of the glowing reviews and omg I am so glad I did!” wrote one verified reviewer who called it “a miracle in a jar.” “My hair feels healthy again and it is so unbelievably soft and silky. And that is just after one use. This will be a permanent staple in my bathroom.”

NatureLab Tokyo Perfect Smooth Hair Oil

Another pick from Houshmand, this hair oil combines argan, baobab and marula oils to help strengthen and moisturize hair from root to tip. Plus, it’s said to leave your hair with a fresh citrus scent.

Pure Nature Moroccan Argan Oil Shampoo and Conditioner Set

Refresh your hair care routine with this hydrating argan oil shampoo and conditioner set. Safe for both color- and keratin-treated hair, the products are made to nourish hair, increase the strength of your strands and help prevent split ends, according to the brand.

Moroccanoil Hydrating Conditioner

Moroccanoil’s Hydrating Conditioner is a reviewer-loved pick from the brand. Free from sulfates, phosphates, and parabens, the formula combines nutrient-rich argan oil and moisturizing red algae. Made for those with dry hair, the brand says that the formula can help boost moisture and increase smoothness and shine.

Moroccanoil Dry Texture Spray

Houshmand has also tried the brand’s dry texture spray, saying that it’s a “good quality product.” According to the company, it’s made to give your mane texture and volume and provide long-lasting hold.

L'Oreal Professionnel Mythic Oil Huile Originale

Heat protection, frizz control and moisturizer all in one — this hair serum is bound to become your next do-it-all go-to. With the help of argan oil, the formula can also improve shine and softness, according to the brand.

Moroccanoil Pure Argan Oil

Moroccanoil's Pure Argan Oil formula can be used both pre- and post-styling, Houshmand says. Made to be used all over the body, the brand recommends putting a few drops into your hands and massaging over your face, skin and hands and then smoothing through your hair.

How we chose the best argan oil hair products

The Shop TODAY editors and writers search the internet to find the best products out there. We interview expert sources and use our own personal experiences with products and brands to make shopping easier for our readers.

Meet our experts

  • Dr. Elizabeth Bahar Houshmand is a double board-certified dermatologist in Dallas, Texas. She specializes in cosmetic dermatology, laser medicine, acne, hair loss, and melasma.
  • Dr. Robert Finney is a board-certified dermatologist trained in hair restoration and aesthetics. He is also the founder of Soho Skin and Hair Restoration in New York City.