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Dry, frizzy hair? Dermatologists recommend argan oil

It's easy to see why people call it "liquid gold."
Prostock-Studio / Getty Images

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?

Argan oil is rich in nutrients like vitamin E and antioxidants, which is why it’s often used in skin and hair products, said Dr. Elizabeth Bahar Houshmand, a double-board certified dermatologist in Dallas, Texas and fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. The vitamin E, along with the fatty acids in the ingredient. can work as protectants, helping to prevent heat damage, she said. 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 said. "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 said.

Does argan oil help with hair growth?

There's no scientific evidence to show that argan oil can help with hair growth, said 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 said. 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 said. 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 said.

You can use it as a heat protectant and apply it on wet hair before blow-drying or styling, Houshmand said. You can also apply it to dry hair to give your strands a nice shine, she added. 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 said. To prevent that, he recommends starting off by applying it twice per week.

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

Argan oil products for hair

Pura D'or Organic Moroccan Argan Oil

Houshmand like this affordable oil from Shop TODAY-loved brand Pura d'Or, which she says is less expensive than other picks, but is a good quality option. It has more than 9,000 five-star reviews from Amazon shoppers who say that it has helped them reduce frizz and improve the feel of their hair.

Moroccanoil Pure Argan Oil

Moroccanoil's Pure Argan Oil formula can be used both pre- and post-styling, Houshmand said. 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.

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 a long-lasting hold.

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.

Arvazallia Hydrating Argan Oil Hair Mask

This popular argan oil hair mask has more than 28,000 five-star reviews 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."

Moroccanoil Hydrating Conditioner

Moroccanoil's Hydrating Conditioner is another 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.

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.

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