Every year a new crop of super miracle beauty ingredients pops up — recently, argan oil has been making the rounds. Generally I pay little attention to these kinds of trends, but I have to say, I find argan oil hugely intriguing.
Made from the nuts of the argan tree, which grows almost exclusively in Morocco, the oil is said to have restorative and age-defying effects. It is high in vitamin E and essential fatty acids, it is believed to help all sorts of skin conditions: dry skin, acne, psoriasis, eczema, wrinkles.
In a New York Times article, Liz Earle, who runs an organic skin-care line in England, said, “When I first found argan oil, I brought it back to the U.K. to have it analyzed … it was so remarkably high in vitamin E and had these very interesting phytosterols, which are good for scar tissue and so many other things” including, she says, that hard-to-define problem of lackluster skin. I know we’ve heard these claims before, but still.
Argan oil is pretty new in America, but English and French tourists discovered it in Morocco years ago and it’s all over the markets of Provence, along with the lavender and olive oils. Now, due to the efforts of the Moroccan King Mohammed VI, who has been praised for his efforts to promote women’s rights, the oil is being promoted and exported worldwide. What does women’s rights have to do with argan oil? Well, that’s one of the reasons I am so intrigued by it.
It is Berber women who are solely responsible for harvesting the nuts and producing the oil, and they are doing so in fair trade working cooperatives. Outside groups, like the government of Monaco, are also financially backing a system whereby women can work half days (so they can still tend to their families) in exchange for fair wages and good working conditions. This has allowed an income for women and families where before there was little.
The cooperatives have initiated an ecosystem reforestation project to help preserve the argan forest. The cooperatives are working in partnership with the Moroccan Water and Forests Authorities to allow optimal tree growth, plant argan nurseries, and create education programs. The community realizes the value of the argan tree and they are involved with its protection. In fact, Unesco has designated the 10,000-square-mile argan-growing region as a biosphere reserve.
Even without the beauty claims I think I’d be clamoring for argan oil in support of the cooperatives — but as it turns out I think I am beginning to believe the hype. I first tried products featuring argan oil when I tried the Aveda Green Science line — but as much as I love the Aveda products, it was hard to tell what the argan oil was like since it is just one ingredient of many.
More recently I have tried pure argan oil from a company called Eden, and boy oh boy is it something else. I have always been a huge fan of using jojoba oil on my skin, and this is even better. It is lustrous and rich, but very quickly absorbed. Now I suppose I’ll have to try it for a few weeks before I notice a difference, but at this point an improvement feels inevitable.
Now here’s the rub— the cost of pure argan oil isn’t cheap — not like olive oil, for example. But a little bit goes a long way — it is no more expensive than many high-end moisturizers, and it earns terrific marks in terms of sustainability and supporting women’s rights. Only time will tell if it honestly does perform any miracles for my skin, but I know for sure it is doing a world of good for the numerous women who now have a livelihood from it. Miracle enough for me.
You can find pure argan oil at EdenAllure.com.