Friday, 17 June 2011

Product Review: Moroccan Oil, Original oil treatment

I tried Moroccan Oil years ago, when the buzz initially began, because I'm usually the first to get on any hair smoothing bandwagon. Over the years as all the beauty bloggers and youtube gurus began to get more popular and become more of a "thing", so did many of the brands that relied on them for supposed grassroots marketing. What seemed like a beautiful thing: a beauty addicted girl sharing her likes, dislikes and tips with the world, in order to help everyone else choose more wisely - quickly became no different from getting beauty tips from Vogue.

I've toyed with the idea of starting a blog which centred on product reviews not sponsored by anyone, but figured the market was overcrowded and I wouldn't want to get drowned in a sea of voices. But the idea wouldn't leave my head so here I am. I'm going to review one of the products that almost every single beauty blog has reviewed, but I'll do it my way: sharing my knowledge of the science behind the product formulations and how they interact with our hair and skin.

1. Cyclomethicone - clear odorless silicone, it serves as a carrier for other oils onto surfaces and quickly evaporates after application. This is part of why a lot of people report that Moroccan oil feels light. There's an incredibly high concentration of cyclomethicone, so the initial heaviness evaporates while a lot of the moisture stays.
2. Dimethicone - this is the one that actually stays on the hair, due to a much lower volatility than cyclomethicone. the reason dimethicone has revolutionized haircare (and skincare) is that it provides a smooth, glossy coating which helps temporarily mask raised cuticles and split ends, while preventing moisture from inside the strand from evaporating while simultaneously preventing gaseous atmospheric moisture (humidity) from entering the hair shaft; the anti-frizz properties are incredible and due to the smoothing of the cuticle layer, hair is also easier to comb, leading to less mechanical damage and split ends. most miraculously, and for reasons not fully understood yet, dimethicone speeds drying time of hair, which means less heat damage while it also insulates the inner cortex from overheating. this is why its found in almost every hair product on the market, including moroccan oil, the incredible effectiveness.

3. Argania Spinosa Kernel oil - this is the buzz ingredient and the reason the product has been copied so many times. unlike most buzz ingredients, which really are pure fluff, argan oil is of benefit to hair. it, along with coconut oil, broccoli seed oil and palm oil, is one of the only natural vegetable oils that penetrates to the core layer of the hair shaft and contributes to inner moisture retention and strength of hair. anyone with any level of heat damage or innate dryness (such as in curly hair), but especially those with chemically treated hair, can benefit. the effect off course wears off with non use, which can make the prohibitive cost of the oil in it's wholesale form and in ready made products an even bigger factor. using products like this can become expensively addictive because they're so effective.
4. Parfum - Now, on a personal note, I am one of the few who isn't crazy for the smell. overall I'm generally so picky that I usually only really love the smell of Aveda products and really high end perfumes. i like the moroccan oil smell, but i wont die and gush over it like most girls. however, for a lot of women the slightly spicy citrusy smell is a heart palpitation inducer, and if someone truly enjoys their beauty routine and looks at it as an indulgence, this product will likely become highly addictive to them.
5. Linum Usitassum (Linseed) Seed extract - this is when we get fluffy, because we're now dealing with negligible concentrations. although linseed extracts contain fatty acids which are of benefit to hair health, higher concentrations than this would be needed to achieve a difference. it's the first three ingredients in this case that are the workhorses.
6. Butylphenyl Methylpropional - this is also an additional fragrance ingredient (reputable companies will list more commonly irritating ones on the ingredient list separately from the rest of the fragrance mixture so that those with particular sensitivities are aware of the contents of their products and can apply accordingly. a very commendable thing to do, since this looks like a scary chemical on the label, rather than a "natural" extract. it can be irritating to particularly sensitive skins, so those with dry, itchy scalps who want to apply this there too, would be advised not to).
7. Benzyl Benzoate - is an anti-parasitic compound which is actually commonly used as a lice treatment ingredient. lest you think this is a very expensive anti-lice product, i would guess that it wouldn't be too effective. in this low concentration its most likely purpose is as a preservative, and in high concentrations it can actually be highly irritating to skin
8. Alpha Isomethyl Ionone - another fragrance ingredient with increased potential for irritancy
9. CI 26100 (D&C red no.17) - reddish colorant
10. CI 4700 (D&C yellow no. 11) - yellowish colorant, combines with the red to produce the amber color which helps the consumer view the product as liquid gold.

In conclusion:
There's a reason this product is so popular and has remained a best seller even past the initial hype. it contains high concentrations of very effective ingredients, which help smooth and protect hair while masking some damage and adding shine, pliability and softness.

It is by no means the only product of its kind out there (there are now countless imitators) but to my knowledge out of all the others I've tried and looked at, it contains the highest concentration of Argan oil. It would work best on thick, straight to wavy hair, applied mostly to the ends and more sparingly closer to roots.

Those with fine hair have often reported the product too heavy (there's the one and only downside of lot's of dimethicone) which prompted the company to launch the light treatment; if it was applied sparingly it would still be of benefit to the health of fine hair, but yes - it can make hair look too lank. Those with curly or kinky hair have overwhelmingly loved it, but almost everyone (including me) has found that we need so much product just to coat each strand that the price truly becomes ridiculous.

I can appreciate that the product is anhydrous and absolutely loaded with effective emollients and barriers, but with my thick, curly long hair, I would go through a bottle in a week and a half with regular use. Its greatest value is as a split end serum and heat protectant. Using this product or something like it as a styling elixir would be of great benefit to almost any hair type.

There it is, my first post. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated, and I would love to know if everyone reading this has tried Moroccan oil and what they thought, especially those with unusual hair types. Please ply me with comments and questions, I'll be happy to answer them.


  1. Nice accurate and well researched review. Good luck with the blog.

  2. Thank you Colin, that means a lot coming from you because I'm an avid reader of your blog!

  3. Hello,

    I really appreciate your review And I love that you're knowledgeable with the chemical properties of the ingredient that really explains a whole lot of how a product does what it does