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5 [Guidelines] That Define Argan Oil Quality

Argan oil in Malaysia is quickly becoming a popular health and beauty product. And who would expect otherwise? Even famous actresses like Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lopez and Angelina Jolie swear by the miracle oil as the source of their seemingly eternal youth and beauty.

But with so many argan oil products out there, how can we determine if what we're buying is the real deal?

Like any plant product, the quality of argan oil varies depending on a number of factors - all of which determine the quality of the final product.

This then leads to a question that often plays on people's minds when browsing for argan oil online: why are some argan oil products so cheap? What should you look out for when choosing argan oil? These 5 simple guidelines should help answer some of those questions...

5 Guidelines That Define Argan Oil Quality

1. What does Argan Oil look like?

What does argan oil look like? Pure Argan Oil Malaysia, Alvi Beauty Care

Visually, cosmetic argan oil is a clear, yellow liquid that's slightly viscous and flows quite freely.

Cosmetic argan oil should not be confused with cooking argan oil, which is of a darker, golden colour and is more viscous (thicker and doesn't flow as freely).

2. What does Pure Argan Oil smell like?

Although it may be difficult to rely on smell to determine argan oil purity (especially if you don't know what to expect), it is simple test that you can do with nothing but your nose and some argan oil.

At its purest, argan oil is described as having a light, nutty smell that's only detectable when you put it right up to your nose. Some people also say that it smells like 'rubber band'.

Personally, I find the smell pleasant though it's not what I would describe as sweet.

What it should NOT smell like

However, an oil that smells too strong or has no smell at all is probably an indication that something is not right.

Strong smelling oils are likely caused by a deodorant that's been added to it to mask a defect, possibly an oil that's rancid or poorly made due to:

      • Overexposure of nuts and/or kernels to humidity
      • Nuts being soaked in water prior to extraction
      • Shells not removed prior to extraction of oil
      • Argan fruit being left to dry for too long

A product that has no smell, on the other hand, could mean that the product may be heavily diluted with water or some other substance - or isn't argan oil at all.

Either way, any 'argan oil' product that doesn't smell right should be avoided.

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  • 100% Extra Virgin, Pure Argan Oil
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  • Not deodorized
  • Neither from animal sources nor tested on animals
  • Approved by Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia (KKM)

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3. Is it graded as Extra Virgin, Virgin or Courant Argan Oil? What do the grades mean?

When it comes to oils, you've probably heard of how their qualities are often expressed as being Extra Virgin, Virgin and Courant.

But what makes an oil virgin or otherwise? It has to do with its 'Free Acidity' levels.

'Free Acidicity' level/degree

Often simply referred to as 'Free Acidity' (similar to pH, but vegetable oil acids are too weak for this measurement to be used), this is a measure of the degree that an oil's fatty acids are in the form of 'free acids'.

In a nutshell, the presence of free acids is a general indicator of poorer quality, since free acids react more readily with oxygen and thereby is lost more quickly.

Oils with higher free acidity also have a lower storage life.

Because fatty acids represent a primary functional component of argan oil (or any oil for that matter), losing fatty acids seriously affects the effectiveness of the oil. 

Though the terms 'Extra Virgin', 'Virgin' and 'Courant' were originally used to describe free acidity levels in olive oil, the term has become associated with other oils as well, including argan oil.

Here are the free acidity levels of the different grades of oil sold in the market.

      • Extra Virgin Argan Oil: 0.5 (storage life: ~18 months)
      • Virgin Argan Oil: 1.8 (storage life: ~12 months)
      • Regular or Courant Argan Oil: 2.5 (storage life: ~6 months)

*Argan oil should be kept in a cool place and out of direct sunlight to maximize shelf life.

What causes free acidity levels to go up or down?

How the argan oil is extracted from its kernel determines its level of free acidity. The infographic below describes three common extraction methods used to produce argan oil.

Methods of argan oil extraction and free acidity level, 5 Guidelines that Define Argan Oil Quality, Pure Argan Oil Malaysia, Alvi Beauty Care

Cold-Press (run once)

After grinding the argan nuts to remove the shell, the kernels are put through a cold press one time to produce 'Extra Virgin Argan Oil', the best grade of oil.

Unlike an expeller press which heats up during action due to friction and causing loss of nutrients in the oil, a cold-press machine ensures that oils are extracted safely and without damage to this precious commodity. 

However, the comparatively small amount of extra virgin argan oil that can be produced means that it's more expensive, costing approximately RM150 for 50ml.

Cold-Press (run twice)

Running the oil-rich kernels twice through a cold press is the most common method of producing argan oil, yielding more oil from every kernel without sacrificing too much in terms of quality. This grade of argan oil is what we know as 'Virgin Argan Oil'.

The harsher mechanical action of running the kernels through the cold press machine twice means that free acidity levels of virgin argan oil is higher than extra virgin oil as this process breaks more than just the oil-containing lipo vacuole in the cells of the argan pulp to break but also water-containing components of a cell, leading to more fatty acids getting hydrolyzed into free acids.

Most virgin argan oil is produced via this method which typically costs approximately RM69 to RM79 for 50ml.

Decanting and Filtration

To extract every last drop of oil, an additional step is added - this time by adding water to the crushed kernel solids before decanting and filtration.

This maximizes yields, but the addition of vast quantities of water hydrolyzes the fatty acids even more, leading to significantly higher free acidity levels.This grade of oil is known as 'Courant Argan Oil' and is the kind of argan oil that you find being sold in litres at cheap prices.

4. How does Argan Oil feel to the touch?

When applied to the skin, pure argan oil:

      • Should easily absorb into the skin (argan oil fatty acids have a low molecular weight which easily slips in between skin cells).
      • Is not excessively greasy or sticky
      • Makes skin feel soft and smooth (as well as locks in moisture).
      • Calms and soothes skin, especially skin irritations
      • Does not leave a stinging sensation

[How to use argan oil for skin]

When used on hair, it should:

      • Absorb easily
      • Make hair smooth and manageable

[How to use argan oil for hair]

5. How are some sellers able to sell Cosmetic Argan Oil so cheap?

The easy answer is: because it isn't good argan oil. Unless the producer or seller is making a loss for every drop they sell, there is no such thing as cheap argan oil.

Regular argan oil costs about RM57 per 50ml. Higher quality argan oil costs about RM168 per 50ml.

The process of making pure argan oil is a long and laborious process, with low yields from the extraction process also contributing to its high price.

Therefore, you should be suspicious of sellers who advertise 'cheap argan oil' that are significantly below market price. Here are two reasons:

1. The Oil is of Poor Quality.

In addition to the bad argan oil production practices above, some manufacturers may also employ extraction methods that maximize oil extraction from the seed at the expense of quality.

Argan oil products that were extracted using chemical methods are of particularly bad quality.

2. It's Fake. It's not even Argan Oil.

The other possibility is that it may not even be argan oil. With the growing commercial success of argan oil in the global market, scammers are taking the opportunity to try to sell fake argan oil to unsuspecting consumers.

Always make sure that your argan oil is certified by a trusted organization or by the government. In Malaysia, quality assurance is provided by the Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia (KKM).

Our 100% Pure Argan Oil Guarantee:

  • 100% Extra Virgin, Pure Argan Oil
  • Not diluted with water or any other substance
  • 100% organic
  • Not deodorized
  • Neither from animal sources nor tested on animals
  • Approved by Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia (KKM)

Purchase Pure Argan Oil Malaysia


More reading that might interest you:

Using argan oil for stretch marks during pregnancy

Using argan oil to help reduce hair loss



Long argan fruit drying time is detrimental for argan oil quality - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21213985

Nutraceutical potentialities of Tunisian Argan oil based on its physicochemical properties and fatty acid content as assessed through Bayesian network analyses - https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325791203_Nutraceutical_potentialities_of_Tunisian_Argan_oil_based_on_its_physicochemical_properties_and_fatty_acid_content_as_assessed_through_Bayesian_network_analyses

Analytical approaches for the assessment of free fatty acids in oils and fats - https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2014/ay/c4ay00344f#!divAbstract

Olive oil extraction - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olive_oil_extraction


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