Are Moroccanoil’s Products Clean and Sustainable? We Investigate

7 min reading time

Luscious locks or lackluster hair? For millions searching for solutions, Moroccanoil promises a glossy mane with its line of argan oil-infused products. This wildly popular haircare brand has built an empire on the alluring idea that argan oil straight from Morocco can transform dull, damaged hair.

But in an era of clean beauty and sustainability, does Moroccanoil’s marketing gloss over a more complicated reality?

In this critical review, we look behind the curtain to evaluate Moroccanoil on three key pillars: ingredient safety, sustainability practices, and animal welfare standards.

Ingredients (Rating: Avoid)

Moroccanoil is transparent and provides a full list of ingredients with each product. However, the brand has a disclaimer with most products, letting customers know the ingredients may change.

Moroccanoil advises customers to look at their product’s packaging for up-to-date lists of ingredients. It’s iffy that the brand does not maintain updated lists on its website.

The brand touts its use of argan oil in hair and body products. On Moroccanoil’s website, the company lists the benefits of argan oil for hair with cited medical studies. These studies have citations for inclusion on medical databases, like this one. Argan oil is extracted from the Argania Spinosa tree in Africa. It’s a safe ingredient for cosmetics. A 2015 study cited argan oil’s positive effects on skin elasticity in postmenopausal women.    

However, Moroccanoil’s products have more than just argan oil in them. We reviewed 95 of Moroccanoil’s current products and found some toxins present.  

Some of the potentially harmful ingredients we found include:

  • Chemical fragrance. Many of Mooccanoil’s products have undisclosed fragrance, and at Better Goods, we strongly recommend avoiding products like these.
  • Polyethylene Glycols (PEGs) are used as emulsifiers, solvents, humectants, and viscosity modifiers in cosmetics. However, PEGs can sometimes be contaminated with with carcinogenic substances, such as 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide.
  • Cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB) was declared the “Allergen of the year” in 2004 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society for causing significant allergic contact dermatitis.
  • BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) is used as a preservative in several of Moroccanoil’s products. The problem is that it’s been linked to being an endocrine disruptor with toxic effects on the liver, lungs, kidneys, blood system, and reproductive system
  • Cyclopentasiloxane (D5) has come under fire for its potential health and ecological risks. In 2018, the European Union introduced restrictions on cyclopentasiloxane in products that are washed off. The EU’s study found that concentrations above 0.1% risk accumulating in the water supply.
  • Chemical sunscreens like oxybenzone are found in some Moroccanoil products. Recent studies have raised concerns about the safety of these sunscreens, as some of their active ingredients have been found to be absorbed into the bloodstream1

This is not an exhaustive list, and the brand contains many other ingredients we recommend avoiding. For this reason, we rate Moroccanoil avoid in terms of ingredients.

Sustainability (Rating: Iffy)

Moroccanoil’s sustainability practices fall under three tiers: products, operations, and community. The company claims it is improving its sustainability efforts over the next five years. Its goal is to use less raw plastic in products and shipping. 

The brand currently has some sustainability initiatives in place. Full-size shampoo and conditioner bottles have 50% post-consumer recycled plastic. The color depositing masks also have 50% PCR materials. The company wraps orders in recyclable paper. However, many products come in travel sizes, which Moroccanoil has not commented on.   

Moroccanoil Soap uses 100% recycled paper in its packaging. Moroccanoil Treatment now has a glass bottle that is made with 40% recycled materials. 

While Moroccanoil’s attention to recycling shows promise, the brand doesn’t comment on how hairsprays are recycled. Aerosol cans cannot be recycled because their contents can explode. They are difficult to recycle and harmful to the environment. 

The company’s main factory has solar panels to reduce the company’s carbon impact, which is another step toward sustainability. Moroccanoil obtained ISO 14001 certification, which means it achieved third-party recognition for its sustainable practices. It invests in resources that remove its factory’s oil from the soil. 

The brand partners with charities that support environmental conservation like Oceana and Green Circle Salon. It supports animal advocacy groups like The Humane Society and The Sato Project. Moroccanoil also supports at-risk youths through the nonprofit The HALO Foundation. The company used its position in the business community to partner with Beauty Changes Lives. This project gives scholarship opportunities to aspiring beauty students. 

Animal Welfare (Rating: Good)

On Moroccanoil’s website, the company expresses its commitment to cruelty-free practices. “We have always been wholly committed to never testing our products on animals.” The brand worked with an independent third-party to achieve certification for its cruelty-free status. 

Moroccanoil openly states it is not vegan because products may contain honey, lanolin, or beeswax.


Cruelty-Free Kitty confirms Moroccanoil is a cruelty-free company. It doesn’t test products or ingredients on animals and neither do its third-party affiliates. Moroccanoil does not sell products where animal testing is allowed.


Cruelty-Free Kitty also confirms Moroccanoil is not 100% vegan because some products contain ingredients that come from animals. Moroccanoil doesn’t advertise itself as a vegan company.

Final Brand Ratings

Our rating scale ranges from “Best” (for having the best practices) to “Avoid” (for having unacceptable practices). We rated Moroccanoil as follows.

IngredientsAvoidMoroccanoil’s advertising heavily focuses on argan oil, which is a safe, effective ingredient. However, we found many toxins in Moroccanoil’s products. Chemicals like undisclosed fragrances, PEGs, BHT, oxybenzone, and synthetic dyes were present in many products. Some ingredients have contamination concerns, like triethanolamine, aminomethyl propanol, polysorbate-60, and glyoxal. We found ingredients linked to cancer like retinyl palmitate and formaldehyde releasers. Other ingredients that can harm human health include behentrimonium chloride, cetrimonium chloride, and cyclomethicone. Cyclopentasiloxane, butane, and isobutane are detrimental to the environment. Products also had scent ingredients that can cause skin irritation and allergies.
SustainabilityIffyMoroccanoil has transparent sustainability initiatives. The brand makes full-size products with 50% PCR plastic. It uses recyclable paper. Its third-party ISO 14001 certification shows accountability to environmentally safe practices. The company also shows environmentalism by using technology like solar panels and oil extractors. Moroccanoil contributes to charities that support humans, animals, and the environment. However, the brand is not transparent about how its numerous travel products impact the environment. Its use of aerosol cans also harms the environment. Aerosol cans present danger to humans, because contents may explode under heat and pressure.  
Animal WelfareGoodCruelty-Free Kitty confirms Moroccanoil is a cruelty-free company, although it is not 100% vegan. 

Overall rating: Iffy

Moroccanoil is a beauty brand specializing in haircare and body care products. Many of Moroccanoil’s products contain argan oil. Argan oil is a safe ingredient that has benefits backed in scientific research. However, we found many toxic ingredients in the brand’s current lineup. 

Moroccanoil is open about its work to create more sustainable practices. Many of its current practices show strides toward environmental consciousness and social awareness. However, the brand makes many travel-size products, which are not made in eco-friendly ways. Its use of aerosol cans is troubling for the environment. 

The company commits to cruelty-free practices, although it is not 100% vegan.  

Moroccanoil has been involved in some brand controversies over the years. In 2012, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) asked for a boycott of Moroccanoil products, since some products were manufactured in Israel. When CJPME contacted Moroccanoil, the brand would not answer questions about its manufacturing facilities and practices in Israel. Since CJPME could not find out if Moroccanoil’s products were made in Palestinian-occupied areas, they started a boycott.

In 2013, Moroccanoil’s Extra Volume Shampoo was called out by the Center for Environmental Health for having chemicals linked to cancer. CEH conducted independent testing on many brands, and this product was found to have cocamide DEA. The Extra Volume Shampoo still has toxins including fragrance, cocamide MEA, PEGs, cocamidopropyl betaine, and retinyl palmitate.  

Moroccanoil served hairstylist Marc Anthony Cosmetics with a trademark lawsuit in 2015. Marc Anthony Cosmetics created an argan oil product that Moroccanoil felt was similar it its own product. The lawsuit was settled in 2015.   

For these reasons, Moroccanoil receives a rating of Iffy

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