Women in Morocco have used argan oil in their daily beauty regime for years and this luxurious moisturizing oil is sold in all of the popular markets in Provence, next to fresh lavender blossoms and rich olive oils. American women are just beginning to know the healing properties of argan oil and they’re finding out all of the ways Mother Nature provides for our care with the naturally cruelty-free beauty product.
The Argan Tree
Argan oil comes from the nuts of the argan tree, which grows almost exclusively in Morocco. The argan tree is well adapted to drought and harsh conditions, and thrives in semi-arid soil. Due to its very specific growing areas, pure argan oil is one of the rarest oils in the world.
The earliest account of argan trees was in 1510, as noted by Leo Africanus. Early specimens of argan trees made their way to Amsterdam, where they were cultivated by Lady Beaufort at Badminton.
Today, oil from the argan tree is cherished for its ability to heal and renew, as well as for the social and economic impact that it has on the world. Women’s co-operatives in Morocco produce most of the argan oil on the market today, and unions like the UCFA (Union des Cooperatives des Femmes de l’Arganaraie) help more than 22 co-operatives provide women with an income that is used to fund education for themselves or their children.
When women are given employment in an industry that benefits their community and women around the world, everyone wins. Pressing argan oil for use as a beauty tool for women across the globe has made it possible for Moroccan women to enjoy a degree of autonomy, in a society that has traditionally been male-dominated. Women who work to produce this incredible oil are aware of their rights and their useful contributions to the world more than ever.
Benefits of Argan Oil
The increased popularity of argan oil as a cosmetic oil for the skin and hair means greater production by the women’s co-operatives, and more support by the Moroccan government. By 2020, output of argan oil is expected to triple, from approximately 2,500 to 4,00 tons.
So, what is it about argan oil that is so miraculous? Why do women around the world turn to natural skincare aids like the illustrious argan oil?
Argan oil is extremely moisturizing, and it’s a gentle way to treat flaking skin and other skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, acne, dry skin, and even wrinkles. Argan oil is high in Vitamin E and fatty acids, which keep skin looking supple and soft. It contains very unique phytosterols that are excellent for treating scar tissue and nurturing other skin issues like burns.
Argon is becoming popular as a natural product to give hair a luminous sheen, and it is absolutely decadent when used as an all-over body moisturizer. It absorbs quickly and feels silky smooth, perfect when you want just one great beauty aid to serve a multitude of purposes.
Argan Oil and the Environment
Because argan oil can be used for so many beauty treatments, it is the perfect environmentally-friendly product to keep in your cosmetic drawer. One genius gift from the Earth provides for almost all of our beauty needs, cutting down the use of dozens of different bottles and packages of beauty products every month.
The environmental impacts of argan oil go above and beyond making our shopping “greener.” The argan tree is a source of food, shelter, and protection from desertification, and the tree’s deep roots cut down on desert encroachment. The grand argan tree’s beautiful canopy gives shade to animals and other plants used for agriculture purposes.
The argan tree prevents soil erosion by providing shade to pasture grasses, helps stabilize landscapes, and keeps aquifiers filled. The Moroccan government places such importance on argan trees that they have garnered UNESCO protection, and are prohibited from being cut down.
Extraction and Constituents
Ancient Moroccans used rather primitive methods to extract argan oil. Modern extraction almost always uses a labor-intensive hand-pressing technique to release the rich oil from kernals, which sit inside of the nut of the argan tree.
The key to producing high-quality argan oil is the extraction process from these kernals, which can only be done correctly when the fruits are dried in the open air and then broken open to reveal the fleshy pulp. The flesh is used to feed animals, and the nut inside is the source of the oil that is beloved around the world. Because the actual extraction of the oil from the kernel is still done by hand, the price for superior argan oil reflects this time-intensive feat.
The kernals used to make argan oil are lightly roasted and then pressed, which results in a pure, virgin oil that is then placed into decanters. Some separation naturally occurs in unrefined argan oil, and can vary from batch to batch.
Argan oil is made up of a harmonious blend of oleic and linoleic fatty acids, with a small percentage of palmitic and plant-based stearic acid. Pure argan oil contains an abundance of healing tocopherols (Vitamin E) and antioxidant-rich catechins.
There are many companies that sell pure argan oil, including health markets and online retailers.