Is argan oil the new coconut oil? It might be. Argan oil is known as “liquid gold” for a reason. You can purchase this product in its pure form or in a mix. Consumers will find that there are many health and beauty benefits in this magic liquid. Argan oil is most commonly used as a skin moisturizer because it is hydrating and non-greasy. Many are hesitant to put oils on the face, but this oil is known to help fight acne as well as reduce wrinkles. Anti-oxidants that are found in the oil can reduce inflammation, heal damaged skill cells, and restore elasticity in the face. Stretch marks, eczema, dry, cracked, or sunburned skin can improve with vitamin E, fatty acids, and antioxidant in this oil.
However, just like with any “miracle” ingredient, there are reasons to pay attention and not join the insta-cult following that good marketing creates. The unfortunate downside to mass adoration of anything is over-use and generally abuse of the natural process. Originally the domain of traditional beauty and medicine to the indigenous people of Morocco, the tree that grows the fruit that contains the nut that is used to create the oil, is vital for more than skin serum. In the barren lands of south-western Morocco the trees are grown almost exclusively where they create a natural barrier against the advance of the desert. They prevent soil erosion and protect vital water resources. Of course, now that the world has discovered a shiny new age defier, the trees are under threat.
In many cases, the oil is produced with at least some involvement of various co-operatives. Most of these are women run, which is of course a very good thing. In fact, the world’s love of argan oil could be the thing that helps replenish the environment of the Berber area. It all comes down to management. In 1998 Morocco’s argan forest was declared a Biosphere Reserve by Unesco because the tree is so beneficial to the environment. This has helped to keep down the threat of deforestation in the region. Previously local people chopped down the trees for building materials and firewood. This has diminished in recent years as locals became involved in the production of argan oil. This of course is leading to education around the trees as part of a beneficial industry. And money always talks.
Remarkably, the argan tree is one of those plants that benefit from multiple directions. The entire process can be helpful to locals if they are paid fairly. The byproduct of pressing the kernel is a thick argan paste, which is sold locally for cosmetic products. The outer pulp provides food for village animals, and the shells are burned for fuel. Companies such as UK based Arganic even go so far as to only collect already fallen fruit. Provided you are purchasing from an ethical company, you are actually helping the planet by doing your body good with argan.
While it may not be all of the things that media says it is, there is no question that argan is good for the body. Not only is this magic liquid beneficial to skin, it is also beneficial to hair, nails and lips. . During the winter when hair can be the driest, adding a little bit of oil to your hair shaft will help your hair become softer, silkier, and most importantly healthier. Argan oil can improve, mend, and prevent split ends; it has the power to undo damage from chemically treated hair. When applied to the scalp, the vitamin E helps promote healthy hair growth; it can also soothe an itchy and flaky scalp. If your cuticles and nails need a touch of moisture rub a few drops onto brittle nails for immediate satisfaction. When lips are dry, peeled, and cracked they hurt. An easy way to keep lips soft and supple is by swiping argan oil on your finger and gently gliding it across your lips.
The best way to know if your brand is a good guy is to do a bit of research (yay internet!). As a bit of a cheat sheet though we can tell you that brands like Lush and L’Oreal are not likely supporting an ethical supply chain. We can say with some certainty that both Weleda and L’Occitane are both fantastic product lines as well as eco and ethical. Physicians formula is known to be cruelty free and have mostly all vegan products.