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Should You Use Argan Oil Before or After Retinol?

by Ella Goodman 07 Mar 2024

Beauty aficionados assemble! 

If you've been wondering about the newest skincare product you've heard whispers of, argan oil, and you've been trying to figure out how it could fit into your holy grail retinol routine, we've got your answers. 

And trust us, we're bringing the jazz! 

We're here to tell you not just the "what," but also the "why," "how," and "when" of your skincare routine involving argan oil and retinol. 

So, if you're ready to deep dive into a radical investigation of skincare science, fasten your seat belts!

Should you use argan oil or retinol first?

Without further ado, shall we dive deeper into the science behind this decision?

Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, works by communicating with your skin cells, rejuvenating them, and helping to generate new ones. 

It boosts collagen production, enhances skin elasticity, and also, deals with skin discoloration by accelerating the skin’s renewal process. 

But to achieve all these fabulous benefits, retinol needs to dive deep under your skin.

Picture this, you're about to embark on a journey through a dense jungle (your skin). You've got the right tools—machete in hand (or in this case, retinol). You're fully motivated to cut your way through. 

But then you run into a pesky barrier of quicksand (argan oil). All that energy and enthusiasm are stifled before you can make much progress. 

Similarly, the application of argan oil before retinol puts a barricade on the retinol’s pathway to your skin cells.

Argan oil, while a magnificent moisturizer, works primarily on the top layers of your skin. 

It’s chock-full of antioxidants, namely, Vitamin E and fatty acids, which nourish and protect your skin from environmental stressors. These components create a hydrating, healing layer on your skin surface, guarding it from outside invaders.

The different roles of retinol and argan oil in your skincare routine make the proper order of application essential. 

Start with the retinol application. Give it a while (about 20-30 minutes) to penetrate and initiate its impressive work. 


Remember, patience is a virtue here—don’t rush the process. Once you’re sure the retinol has been absorbed, seal in the goodness with argan oil. 

The oil will act as a protective seal, falling like a drop curtain after a stellar Broadway show. It locks in the retinol, prevents water loss and simultaneously hydrates and shines the top layers of your skin. This way, the retinol gets to play its part, and the argan oil does not get in the way but rather enhances the process.

Now, this doesn't mean argan oil is the lesser tool. Like Batman and Robin, they each have essential roles. But their order is as significant as your skincare endeavors. 

Apply retinol first, let your skin gulp down all its goodness, and then apply argan oil, allowing the pores to hum in unison with satisfaction.

However, as is true with all products, patch test before you slather your face with retinol and argan oil. 

Sometimes the skin isn't too thrilled with change, and a reaction might occur. Consulting with a dermatologist is always a great idea to avoid any potential skin hurdles and to formulate the best skincare strategy for you. 

After all, you're not chasing after the glitzy promises of a skincare regimen—you're investing in the real deal for long-term skin health.

Should you use argan oil before or after serum?

In the bustling world of skincare with its thrills and frills, the question of when to layer in argan oil often pops up. 

Many have wondered, "Should I use argan oil before or after serum?" 

The answer, my dear skin-savvy readers, is dedicatedly clear—similarly to using it with retinol, argan oil should boastfully step in the skincare regimen only after the serum.

Why is it so, you ask? 

To unravel this enigma, we must delve into the science behind the skincare. 

Serums and argan oil, though both enriching elixirs for your skin, serve distinct roles and work best when used in the correct order. 

Here's a simple guideline to remember: the weighty products trail behind their lighter counterparts. It's like a delightful skincare parade! Therefore, with its heavier molecular size, argan oil takes a gallant stride behind your serum.


Let's delve deeper. 

The intention of a serum, whether it's brimming with antioxidizing buzzwords like vitamin C or hyaluronic acid, is akin to an undercover agent.

It infiltrates deep into the cellular levels of your skin, turbocharging it with nourishment and restoration. Its molecular composition is lightweight and rapidly absorbable, allowing it to whisk past the skin's surface and deliver revitalizing benefits directly to the cells that need it most.

Now, imagine placing oil onto your skin first.

Argan oil, with its larger, oilier molecules, would act like a surly doorman at a swanky club, preventing your serum from gaining access to the party—your skin cells. 

Applying oil first creates a semi-occlusive layer, a fancy scientific term which essentially means the oil forms a barrier on your skin's surface. This barrier, while advantageous in some contexts, could deter the serum from efficiently penetrating the skin and delivering its skin-loving assets.

On the flip side, when argan oil steps onto the skincare stage post serum, it performs its role of a loyal guardian immaculately. It forms a protective layer atop your skin, trapping the serum underneath. 

Think of this as a luxurious, hydrating sandwich, with serum on the inside and argan oil on the outside. This resultant barrier of argan oil subsequently reduces water loss from the skin – a phenomenon labeled scientifically as Trans-Epidermal Water Loss (TEWL). 

High TEWL levels can contribute to increased dryness and irritation, making the argan oil’s sealing action all the more beneficial.

Argan oil is also chock-full of essential fatty acids, vitamin E, and antioxidant properties conjuring up a nourishing and fortifying cocktail for skin protection. When layered over serum, a synergistic choir forms, allowing the serum and argan oil to perform more effectively than if they were belting out their skincare solos.

Thus, should you use argan oil before or after serum? After reading this, you probably couldn’t miss the answer from a million miles away—argan oil follows the serum! 

Keep in mind that everyone's skin is unique. The key is in being mindful of the science, listening to your skin and adapting your routine accordingly.

When should I apply argan oil?

The beauty world raves about argan oil as a 'liquid gold', a transformative agent that is yours for the snapping up.

Of course, the second you have it in your grasp, you're faced with an imperative question: When should I apply argan oil?


While this magic potion doesn't come with a clock, understanding your skincare journey and your skin's requirements can make all the difference. 

We know that argan oil is chock-full of fatty acids and antioxidants which are quite the divas; they adore a well-prepared stage to weave their wonders. That’s why the key lies in timing.

For most, argan oil is a fantastic addition to their nighttime skincare routine. 

While you trudge through slumberland, your skin is on a mission - it's renewal o'clock. 

Your skin replenishes, repairs, and rejuvenates itself as your body sleeps, and this is where argan oil leaps into action! It provides intense hydration, revitalizes tired and dull skin and helps in cell regeneration due to its rich Vitamin E content. 

To harness the maximum benefits of this oil, perform your skincare routine as usual - cleansing to shake off the day's grime (thanks, pollution!), toning to balance those pH levels and applying your serum or retinol, if any, being on your skincare A-game as always. 

Once your skin has absorbed these, then comes the star of the show - argan oil!

Place a few drops of this Moroccan wonder in your palm, rub them gently together to warm it (it's like giving it a mini pep-talk) and tenderly press the oil onto your face and neck. Its tiny molecules penetrate deep into the skin and deliver a moisture-hit unlike any other. 

The result? You'll wake up to gleaming, ultra-hydrated skin doing a standing ovation to you. 

But perhaps you're part of the sprightly morning brigade who loves to start their day on a radiant note! 

Guess what? Argan oil has got your back, too. 

A lighter application won't leave your skin feeling greasy, and if you're planning on applying makeup, it even acts as a natural, nourishing primer. Wait for a few minutes post-application for the oil to get absorbed and then move on with your skincare routine, sans the heavy cream.

Isn't it fascinating to think about how such simple, natural things as timing and sequence can make a world of difference when it comes to skincare? 

No two skins are the same, and neither are two skincare routines. Pay attention to how your skin responds to argan oil when applied at different times - it might enjoy a sleepy soak or perhaps it's more of a morning skin-elixir aficionado! 

Argan oil isn't a prissy debutante demanding top spot in your skincare routine. Its job is to deliver radiant, glowing skin and it'll work tirelessly at any hour to do it.

How do you use argan oil for best results?

Brace yourself! This section is all about harnessing the magic of argan oil to its fullest. 

This liquid gold does not perform presto-change-o wand-waving moments. Applying it right is a finesse game, a dance that encourages your skin to fully absorb its nourishing goodness.

What's the magic spell you ask? Less is more. 

After completing your skin routine steps, such as cleansing and applying serums or retinol, introduce argan oil. Take about two to three drops of the oil on your palm and warm it by rubbing both hands together. 

Then use gliding strokes to gently massage the oil into your skin. Remember, you're aiming for nourishment, not a grease party. It's a robust oil; overenthusiasm could lead to clogged pores and an unwanted skin breakout. 

Now, to address the elephant in the room: the argan oil–retinol relationship. 

This potent duo can produce stellar skin results. However, depending on your skin's temperament, they may not always be BFFs. Some individuals might experience heightened sensitivity or skin irritation. 

If you notice any adverse reaction, consider alternating these powerful ingredients. Emerald Monday could be argan oil day, Ruby Tuesday saved for retinol, and so forth. 

It's crucial to remember the science behind it all. As we’ve seen, argan oil is packed with Omega fatty acids, Vitamin E, and linoleic acids—all superb allies for skin health. These elements help replenish lost skin moisture, provide anti-aging advantages, and also shield the skin against harsh environmental forces. 

Meticulously working this gem into your routine allows your skin to hugely benefit from these properties.

Meanwhile, retinol, a derivative of Vitamin A, is renowned for its ability to accelerate skin cell renewal. By alternating argan oil and retinol, you balance the nutritional feast with an efficient rubbish collection system, thereby maintaining a healthy, glowing skin environment.

Taylor Swift said it best: "Tonight’s the night when we forget about the heartbreaks, it’s time..." — to mix up your skincare routine! 

Just keep in mind that the quest for great skin isn't a one-size-fits-all journey. Tweak and tailor your skincare regimen based on your skin’s needs and reactions.

So it's your big night—go ahead, take that bottle of argan oil and let it waltz into your skincare routine. 

With some research, trial and error, and a dash of patience, you'll create a perfect harmony that leaves your skin with a radiant Argan glow. 

And when you bask in the appreciative glances your skin garners, remember, it all began here—with good old-fashioned argan oil!

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