Whenever someone says “Hey, can I send you free product to try that you won’t be allergic to?” my answer is always a resounding “Please continue feeding my addiction.” My editor asked, I answered, and I’m SO happy I did.
One of the many random things I research is high quality, potent, natural skincare lines. Actually Organic is a brand that normally comes up in those searches. I always consider them, but ultimately bookmark them for later, for one simple reason – they’re a one product company. They sell argan oil, an ingredient that’s been circling in beauty circles for a few years now for being amazing. But I’m a product snob. I want things PACKED with good-for-me ingredients that’ll make my skin and hair happier than they ever have been…until my wallet sees the price tag. No thanks.
So I opened my package to see this: an unassuming one fluid ounce spray bottle of argan oil. Some things I considered off the bat:
- This is USDA organic. The FDA doesn’t define or regulate the term “organic”—all it means is that it comes from a formerly living thing. By that logic, some companies have even gotten plastic rated as organic because it comes from petroleum, which is soupy dinosaur remains: aka, a former living thing. Needless to say, this term doesn’t exactly carry weight with me. I know it does for others, though.
- The only ingredient is argan oil. No fillers, no scents, not even an essential oil. Just argan oil. That means anyone can use it and not worry about it conflicting with perfume or cologne, or worry about aggravations with sensitive skin. It can even be used on skin prone to rosacea!
- It has a 12-month shelf life, per the cosmetic “best by” label. This is the standard issue for oils. If kept in a cool place with little humidity (meaning keep it in its dark glass bottle and keep the cap on it) it will likely be fine for longer. Just know to throw it out if your oil doesn’t smell like it did when you first opened it.
- It has a spray top, which isn’t common for oils. Most use a plastic cap with a hole called an oil reducer, or they have a dropper. A sprayer makes for easy dispensing—and even better, one handed dispensing.
I set it aside for a couple of days until I saw my thumbs were peeling. I handle hot towels at work, so I’m used to some rough spots, but actual peeling was new. My fingers looked shriveled and sad. My knuckles were becoming raw. So I thought “okay, I might use it tonight.” Then I saw the acne pop up around my nose and mouth with dry, itchy cheeks, and decided I’d definitely use it tonight. And then I saw my winter frizz-dried ponytail, and was determined to use it as soon as I got home. I used two squirts on my poor hands first, then one pump on my face and neck, then one through my sad, sad hair. It was much lighter than I expected, and almost smelled sweet and floral. It’s definitely soothing.
While it was working, I dug up my research on argan oil. Argan is native to Morocco, and is used not only cosmetically but as a dip and drizzling oil for food (oh, man, that sounds awesome). Argan trees are fruit-bearing, and the oil comes from the nut in the middle of the thick fruit (if you have any allergies to tree nuts or stone fruits, argan oil should be avoided, and if you want to patch test it, do so under a doctor’s supervision).
Actually Organic follows the traditional, sustainable practices of harvesting argan oil. The argan fruit is picked, then left to dry out so the thick peel can be easily removed. The fruit goes to farms, typically to be used as animal feed. Next, the argan nut has to be cracked open to get the kernels out, much like breaking open a pinecone to get pine nuts. No one’s been able to successfully do this by machine, so this part has to be done by hand, normally by Berber women. If edible argan oil is being made, the workers will roast the kernels to give a fuller flavor before mashing the kernels to get the roasted, brown oil out from the mash. The unfiltered oil gets decanted, and the disc of leftover mash gets used as cattle feed. Cosmetic grade oil, however, has no heat involved. This way, all the fatty acids and nutrients found naturally in the oil remain intact (and you don’t walk around smelling like food). This technique is called cold-pressing, and makes for a much higher quality oil. Cosmetic grade argan oil still gets decanted, then left alone for a couple of weeks for sediment to settle out, then the cleaner oil gets filtered again. Pure argan oil occasionally contains sediment because of this.
Argan is chock FULL of natural vitamin e, carotene, squalene, and unsaturated fatty acids, all of which keep skin looking firm and hydrated. It also has natural phenols found in olive leaves and vanilla, which help give it such a great texture and smell. Moroccans have been using it for centuries to treat dry and acneic skin, along with brittle nails and dry hair. It’s used in cleansing oils, serums, eye creams, moisturizers, conditioners—anything that could stand a boost of this powerhouse ingredient.
So, why use Actually Organic? They lab tested over 100 sources of argan oil to find the purest, best suppliers and sources they could. When suppliers dilute their product to make a bigger profit, they end up with dissatisfied customers. Actually Organic refused to let that be an issue so that we could enjoy the pure, unadulterated benefits of this gem. They’re currently in the process of formulating bath and body products, as well as some skin care, to add to their shop.
I’m always wary of stores that make huge claims with no research or backup. Actually Organic simply tells you what argan oil has traditionally been used for, the good ingredients it has, and how you can use it for yourself. No gimmicks, no tricky sales pitches, just a company that wants to supply people with good products that work.
And MAN does this stuff work! After about thirty minutes, the skin on my hands was totally soft again. No signs of yucky peeling on my thumbs! They were, however, very slick, making it impossible for me to use at work. My face was a bit oily, but in this winter weather I’m not complaining. I think I’ll use it in my nighttime regimen. But my hair…NO FRIZZ IN SIGHT. I haven’t seen my hair this happy without being at my hairdresser’s since I got a sample of $100 shampoo and conditioner in my Birchbox. This stuff is getting a 9/10.