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Using oils in skin care has been an age-old practice. Based on the region and what plant grows in the area, different communities use different types of oil for medicinal and cosmetic purposes.
Recently, argan oil has been heavily featured in skin and hair care products. Native to the North African region, argan oil is obtained from the nut of the argan tree. Studies have described argan oil as having useful benefits both by application and consumption. (1)
Kukui nut oil, on the other hand, is obtained from kukui nut, which is native to Hawaii and also called candlenut. The leaves of this plant are used medicinally to treat asthma, diarrhea, and inflammation. It is also supposed to exhibit antibacterial and antiviral activities. (2)
Both types of oil seem to have beneficial effects and can be chosen based on your needs. But how many claims of these oils are valid, and which oil is better?
Kukui Nut Oil or Argan Oil: What to Choose?
Here are some parameters you can consider when choosing kukui nut oil or argan oil for skin care.
The fatty acids in argan oil, including oleic acid and linoleic acid, have been shown to have beneficial effects on heart health.
Moreover, the sterols in argan oil are suggested to have cholesterol-lowering ability, which is essential in preventing the accumulation of fatty acids in the blood vessels and increase in blood pressure. (3)
Animal studies have also found argan oil consumption to reduce blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels. (4) Similar results are also expected in humans, though more studies are needed.
Unfortunately, similar studies are lacking for kukui nut oil, so consumption of argan oil is recommended (1 tablespoon each day) to benefit heart health.
Management of type 2 diabetes
Argan oil has been found to exhibit antidiabetic activity. As argan oil contains a small percentage of carotenoids, vitamin E, and sterols, its consumption can improve insulin sensitivity and increase glucose tolerance, which aid in the management of diabetes. (5)(6)
Though kukui nut oil does not show any antidiabetic activity directly, it is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are strong anti-inflammatory compounds. (7) Since inflammation is a major risk factor for the worsening of insulin resistance and reducing glucose tolerance, (8) kukui oil may be beneficial.
However, since no direct studies are available to prove the benefits of kukui nut oil, for the management of type 2 diabetes, argan oil is recommended.
Argan oil is a potent natural moisturizer that also has antiaging properties. In a study, consuming and applying argan oil led to an increase in the elasticity of the skin in postmenopausal women, giving their skin a plump and younger-looking appearance. (9)
Argan oil is also used in some cultures to lighten the skin and treat pimples, eczema, and psoriasis. This oil is also useful in hastening the healing of skin wounds. (10)
Although there are limited studies regarding kukui nut oil, it is suggested to be useful for moisturizing the skin and treating psoriasis, managing eczema, and healing burns. The anti-inflammatory capability of kukui nut oil is what is suggested to be useful for such skin conditions. (7)
However, a more recent study has found poor results in treating psoriasis with kukui nut oil. (11) Thus, using argan oil might be a better choice for skin conditions.
Argan oil exhibits pain-relieving properties that have been studied for treating conditions such as painful knee arthritis. In one study, 8 weeks of argan oil consumption significantly reduced pain and was also generally considered safe. (12)
Native Hawaiians use the leaves of the kukui tree to provide pain relief from cuts, bruises, broken bones, and muscle aches. Kukui nut oil is also used to treat arthritic pain. (13)
Moreover, massaging with kukui nut oil is considered useful in reducing stretch marks in pregnant women. (13)
To treat arthritic pain, you can use either argan oil or kukui but oil based on availability and economic access.
Improvement in hair appearance
Argan oil is predominantly used in hair care products and has been found to improve the appearance of hair, making it look healthy and shiny. Studies have found that applying argan oil to hair protects it against damage from free radicals and prevents protein loss. (14)
Kukui nut oil has similar benefits for the hair as it can prevent hair loss, strengthen the hair, and repair hair damaged by radiation. (15)
Thus, both argan oil and kukui nut oil can be used to improve hair health and appearance.
Argan oil is beneficial against obesity to a certain extent. Studies have found its consumption to reduce obesity and triglyceride levels when included as part of a healthy well-balanced diet. (4)
As per research, both kukui nut oil and argan oil have been attributed with beneficial effects on weight loss and obesity. However, research also suggests drinking kukui nut oil in moderation to avoid side effects of minor liver damage. (2)
Protection against cancer
There is some evidence to suggest that argan oil can play a protective role against cancer. Lab studies have found argan oil to have the ability to kill off cancer cells and enhance the action of chemotherapeutic medications. (16)
Similar studies are lacking for kukui nut oil. However, it is not recommended to use either oil for the purpose of fighting cancer due to the lack of human trials.
Precautions to Consider
Only a limited number of trials and studies can establish the efficacy of kukui nut oil despite its wide use in various cultures. Furthermore, there are reports of its toxicity when consumed for weight loss. (17)
For these reasons, it is recommended to stick to the topical application of kukui nut oil. Argan oil, on the other hand, is generally considered safe.
Who Should Avoid Argan Oil or Kukui Nut Oil?
Some people may experience contact dermatitis and rashes upon contact with these oils. If you experience these unpleasant side effects, stop using the oils or products containing these oils immediately.
- Kukui nut oil and argan oil are quickly gaining popularity for their use in skin and hair care.
- Due to their rich fatty acid profile and some content of vitamin E and other polyphenols, both can offer some health benefits.
- Argan oil seems to have more established evidence for its use in protecting against heart diseases, managing diabetes, and reducing fat and cholesterol levels compared to kukui nut oil.
- Both oils seem to have comparable benefits when it comes to moisturizing the skin, providing anti-aging benefits, and relieving pain (especially for arthritis).
- Both oils can also promote hair health and restore strength and shine to hair.