Triacylglycerol "hand-shape profile" of Argan oil. Rapid and simple UHPLC-PDA-ESI-TOF/MS and HPTLC methods to detect counterfeit Argan oil and Argan-oil-based products

J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2018 Feb 20;150:121-131. doi: 10.1016/j.jpba.2017.11.059. Epub 2017 Dec 2.


The marketing of new argan-based products is greatly increased in the last few years and consequently, it has enhanced the number of control analysis aimed at detecting counterfeit products claiming argan oil as a major ingredient. Argan oil is produced in Morocco and it is quite expensive. Two simple methods for the rapid screening of pure oil and argan-oil based products, focused on the analysis of the triacylglycerol profile, have been developed. A three-minute-run by UHPLC-PDA allows the identification of a pure argan oil, while the same run with the MS detector allows also the analysis of products containing the oil down to 0.03%. On the other hand, by HPTLC the simultaneous analysis of twenty samples, containing argan oil down to 0.5%, can be carried out in a forty-five-minute run. The triglyceride profile of the most common vegetable fats such as almond, coconut, linseed, wheat germ, sunflower, peanut, olive, soybean, rapeseed, hemp oils as well as shea butter used either in cosmetics or commonly added for the counterfeiting of argan oil, has been also investigated. Over sixty products with different formulations and use have been successfully analyzed and argan oil in the 2.4-0.06% concentration range has been quantified. The methods are suitable either for a rapid screening or for quantifying argan oil in different formulations.

Keywords: Argan oil; Argan oil products; Counterfeiting; HPTLC; Triacylglycerols; UHPLC-PDA-ESI-TOF/MS.

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods*
  • Chromatography, Thin Layer / methods*
  • Plant Oils / analysis*
  • Plant Oils / chemistry
  • Plant Oils / standards
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization / methods
  • Time Factors
  • Triglycerides / analysis*
  • Triglycerides / chemistry


  • Plant Oils
  • Triglycerides
  • argan oil