Which Josie Maran Argan Oil Formulation is the Best?

Josie Maran Argan Oils

One of my favorite derms, Leslie Baumann, M.D., once put it best: “Unlike other exotic resources such as caviar and marine algae, argan oil offers the best of both worlds…It’s an anti-ager and it’s eco-friendly.”  Dubbed “the gold of Morocco,” argan oil contains essential fatty acids (linoleic and oleic acids) and antioxidant polyphenols.

An Antioxidant That Is as Good for You as It Is for the Environment

There are few natural ingredients that have been tested to show the power of cosmeceutical ingredients – but argan oil is one of them.

How exactly does argan oil benefit the environment?  Through the Targanine Cooperative, 2000 Moroccan women work to preserve the Argan Forest by planting new trees and harvesting argan nuts.  Because argan oil is exclusive to this land, it is “a source of dependable income and a means of improving their financial independence, access to healthcare, and education,” according to a Kiehl’s press release.  Model Josie Maran adds, “Purchasing the oil from the women’s cooperatives supports their social and economic welfare.”  All work in Morocco for Kiehl’s products is also fair-trade, fostering a healthy, safe, environmentally friendly work environment in which workers are fairly compensated for their labor.

What Do Linoleic and Oleic Fatty Acids Do for the Skin?

An omega-6 unsaturated (i.e., contains double bonds) essential fatty acid, linoleic acid has been shown in several research studies (cited here) to be capable of reducing inflammation and acne and increasing skin’s moisturization levels.  On the other hand, oleic acid is a omega-9 monounsaturated (i.e., contains only one double bond) nonessential fatty acid that makes up 55-60% of olive oil and 56% of açai berry.  According to a Kiehl’s press release, linoleic and oleic fatty acids both help protect and maintain skin elasticity, smoothness, and radiance.

Josie Maran Argan Oil: Original Formula — Best for Normal/Dry to Dry Skin

Josie Maran Argan Oil glides onto the skin. It has a medium weight, and it dries after about a minute. It does not leave the skin sticky or tacky.

This oil is best for those with normal/dry or dry skin. If you have oily skin, it may be too much hydration.

How to use Josie Maran Argan Oil as a part of a regimen

As a part of a regimen, Josie Maran Argan Oil is best for nightly use for those with normal/dry to dry skin types.

I highly recommend this product after cleansing, toning (optional) and application of a retinoid, such as our FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5.

Josie Maran Argan Oil is pH-balanced, and may be applied immediately after application of a retinoid.

Josie Maran Argan Oil Milk – Best for Normal/Oily to Oily Skin

Josie Maran Argan Oil Milk is a sensational product that brings together the antioxidant power and skin-enriching benefits of argan oil, in a lightweight formula that is suitable for oily and normal/oily skin types. (Those with dry or dry/normal skin types are best with the original Josie Maran Argan Oil.)

Ingredients-wise, Josie Maran Argan Oil Milk is fantastic, particularly for being an all-natural product, which typically contain lower concentrations of active ingredients.

For being a “milk,” this lightweight formula will drink into your skin fairly quickly.  The level of hydration is mild due to the alcohol content (propanediol) and lightweight base hydrators (glyceryl caprylate, glyceryl undecylenate), leaving it best for those with normal/oily to oily skin types.

How to Use Josie Maran Argan Oil Milk as a Part of a Regimen

As a part of a regimen, Josie Maran Argan Oil Milk is best for nightly use for those with normal/oily to oily skin types.

I highly recommend this product after cleansing, toning (optional) and application of a retinoid, such as our FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5.

Josie Maran Argan Oil Milk is pH-balanced, and may be applied immediately after application of a retinoid.
If you insist on using this oil if you have normal/dry to dry skin, apply it immediately after a shower. The formula will hold the moisture against the skin.

Josie Maran Argan Oil Light — Recommended Only for the Body

Unlike pure argan oil, Josie Maran Argan Oil Light is designed to be an “ultra lightweight, quick-absorbing version” of the original, leaving a matte rather than shiny finish on the skin.

The secret? Josie Maran Argan Oil Light contains only argan isostearylic esters, rather than pure argan oil, as found in the original.

What is an Argan Isostearylic Ester?

Esters are simply molecules with a specific chemical group, shown above. Esters are naturally found in most fats and oils, including argan, olive, castor, and essential oils. It is also what gives fruits like apples and strawberries their natural scent (On Food and Cooking). The human body also naturally has esters throughout its entirety, including as a major constituent of pheromones, those scent-driven particles that make us attracted to one person but not to another.

So, yes, argan isostearylic esters are naturally found in argan oil. In order to extract the esters from the oil, however, you need to undergo a chemical extraction process. This isn’t to say the ingredients in Josie Maran Argan Oil Light aren’t natural – it just took more energy to extract them from the oil.

Are Esters as Beneficial as Pure Oils?

Whether or not an ester derived from an oil is as beneficial as the entire oil depends on the oil.

Unfortunately, Josie Maran Argan Oil Light doesn’t contain fatty acids like linoleic or oleic acids, which gives the original and the milk-based formula much of its hydrating properties. Instead, Josie Maran Argan Oil Light only contains the esters of fatty acids.

On the other hand, the esters in Josie Maran Argan Oil Light will maintain much of the antioxidant and mildly UV-protective properties of the original Josie Maran Argan Oil. The extraction process will not hinder these benefits, which are fairly well-documented (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2005).

How to Use Josie Maran Argan Oil Light as a Part of a Regimen

I do not particularly like the Light formula. However, if you insist upon using it (maybe you have some laying around your house or whatnot), the light version is also much better for use on the body, because it doesn’t leave oily marks on your clothing. (Especially if you wait a few minutes before putting on your clothing!)

After a few days of use, I think my skin feels smoother, but not as hydrated as with the original Josie Maran Argan Oil.

Bottom Line

Josie Maran Argan Oil Light is likely to not have as many anti-aging properties as the original Josie Maran Argan Oil, because pure argan oil contains entire fatty acids that impart significant antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and hydrating properties. For that reason, I love Josie Maran Argan Oil – original formula for those with normal/dry to dry skin.

Josie Maran Argan Oil Milk is surprisingly less hydrating than the original, despite the fact that it is called a “milk.” The alcohol and caprylate content in the formula make it fast-absorbing and mildly hydrating for those with normal/oily to oily skin. I like the formula better than the light variety.

On the other hand, Josie Maran Argan Oil Light is still beneficial for the skin, though it doesn’t contain linoleic and oleic acids like the pure oil does. Josie Maran Argan Oil Light is more cosmetically appealing than the original Josie Maran Argan Oil, as it dries more quickly, smells better, and leaves a matte finish. I give it a “thumbs up” for use on the body, but for the face, I still say the original (normal/dry to dry) and the Milk (normal/oily to oily) are superior, as they contain the pure oil.

What are your thoughts on Josie Maran Argan Oil? Let me know in Comments below!

Ingredients in Josie Maran Argan Oil – Original Formula

Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil*

Ingredients in Josie Maran Argan Oil Milk

Water**, Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil*, Propanediol**, Glyceryl Caprylate**, Glyceryl Undecylenate**, Phosphatidylglycerol**, Sodium Benzoate**, Xanthan Gum**, Citric Acid**. *Organic. **Natural.

Ingredients in Josie Maran Argan Oil Light
Natural Argan Isostearylic Esters


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2 thoughts on “Which Josie Maran Argan Oil Formulation is the Best?

  1. Sonia says:

    This is great! I love the Josie Maran Argan Oil, and have been using it for several months now. This is the first winter that my skin didn’t crack and dry out horribly. Glad to know that it’s great for the environment and that it helps women in Morocco, too!

  2. Jessica says:


    Will using the Argan Oil Original or Argan Oil Milk in place of moisturizer cause breakouts in acne-prone skin? Not sure about putting oil on already oily, acne-prone skin…


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