more on argan oil
Name: Argania spinosa
Form: cold first pressed oil
The Argania tree, also known as the Moroccan ironwood tree, is a very unusual and beneficial thorny evergreen. It is a remnant of the Tertiary age, known to live up to 200 years, and is extremely well adapted to drought and other environmentally difficult conditions. Its deep root system helps to protect against soil erosion in general and specifically the northern advance of the Sahara desert. Once covering North Africa, the Argan tree now grows almost exclusively in the area of southwest Morocco and is endangered under the protection of UNESCO. Because of its endangered status and its extraordinary environmental benefit, UNESCO has designated a 10,000 square-mile growing region the Arganeraie Biosphere Reserve. Argan oil is consequently one of the rarest oils in the world due to its small and very specific growing region and is highly valued for its nutritive, cosmetic and medicinal properties.
The making of Argan oil is done in an artisanal home-work manner and is incredibly labor-intensive. The fruits of the tree are hand-collected and dried in the sun. The flesh is then peeled off the fruit and used as cattle feed. The nuts are cracked with sharp stones and sorted. The almond-like seeds are then crushed and ground between specially shaped stones, water is added to make a paste, and the resulting paste is kneaded to extract the oil. It is estimated that every liter of Argan oil produced requires ten hours of work. This tradition has been perfected over centuries and is continued to this day by the women of the Berber tribe native to the area whose sole source of income is Argan oil. All Argan oil is sustainably produced and fairly traded exclusively through women’s cooperatives in Morocco. In fact, the government of Morocco has established a fund for these cooperatives knowing how important the production of Argan oil is to its social and environmental climate.
Argan oil’s cold-press method ensures that all of the nutrients and intrinsic properties are retained. Its primary use has been as a rich, nutty cooking oil, but it has also been used for centuries as folk medicine and remedy, specifically for the treatment and healing of skin diseases such as acne, skin allergies, psoriasis, chicken pox and burns. Additionally, Argan oil is the foundation of Moroccan women’s beauty regimen. Argan oil is very emollient, with up to 80% unsaturated fatty acids, 45% of which are oleic (Omega 9) and 37% of which are linoleic (Omega 6), and is rich in naturally occurring squalane, making it a great moisturizer and naturally protective. Super-antioxidants such as polyphenols and tocopherols including alpha-tocopherol are intensively anti-aging. Its phytosterol content has incomparable skin restructuring properties. The abundance of high molecular weight proteins construct a network of molecules that creates an instant and visible firming effect. And its triterpene alcohols have phyto-therapeutic properties that reduce inflammation. All these benefits and more make Argan oil today a world-wide sought-after skin and haircare ingredient. It’s no wonder its nickname is “liquid gold.”