Argan Oil

The beautiful traits of this wondrous oil.

Argan oil is a precious liquid extracted from the nuts of the fruit of the argan tree, known scientifically as Argania spinosa, a specific species primarily found in Morocco. The tree is historically and naturally native to this region. Argan oil is renowned for its cosmetic properties and health benefits.

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١. History & Fabrication

The use of argan oil dates back several centuries. It originates from the southwestern region of Morocco, where the argan tree naturally thrives. For generations, the Berbers, indigenous people of North Africa, have utilized this oil in their cuisine, traditional medicine, and beauty rituals. The Berbers have played a crucial role in preserving and utilizing the argan tree and its oil. For generations, argan oil has been a staple in their diet due to its nutritional value and health benefits. In addition to its use as a food, argan oil was also employed in traditional Berber medicine for its healing properties. It was renowned for treating skin conditions, digestive issues, and even joint pain.

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The production of argan oil is a traditional, complex, and demanding process. Argan nuts are first harvested by hand by Berber women. The fruit resembles a large olive and contains a hard nut inside. Harvesting typically takes place in late summer and early autumn when the fruits are ripe. Once harvested, the nuts are removed from their outer husk, a process usually done by hand due to the difficulty of extracting them from their tough shells.

The argan nuts are then cracked open to obtain the kernels inside. Traditionally, this was done using stones to crack the shells and extract the kernels, a process requiring a great deal of patience and skill. The kernels are then lightly roasted before being pressed. This roasting step gives argan oil its characteristic aroma and distinct flavour. After roasting, the kernels are pressed to extract the oil. Traditionally, this was done using a stone mill or manual press. Cold pressing is preferred as it preserves the nutrients and beneficial properties of the oil to the fullest extent. Once the oil is extracted, it is filtered to remove solid particles and obtain a clear, pure final product. Finally, the argan oil is bottled or packaged in containers ready for sale.

٢. How-To: Uses and Benefits

Argan oil is widely used in the cosmetic industry for its numerous benefits for the skin, hair, and nails. It is rich in essential fatty acids, vitamin E, antioxidants, and sterols, making it an excellent moisturizer, effective anti-ageing treatment, and remedy for skin issues such as acne and eczema. It is also utilized as an ingredient in many beauty products such as moisturizing creams, hair masks, and nail care products.

In addition to its cosmetic properties, argan oil is also employed in Moroccan cuisine for its unique flavour and health benefits. It is often used as a cooking or finishing oil in traditional dishes like couscous, tagines, and salads. Due to its high content of unsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants, it is considered beneficial for cardiovascular health and may help reduce cholesterol levels.

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With the increasing popularity of argan oil worldwide, there has been a growing focus on the sustainability of its production. Women’s cooperatives in Morocco have played a crucial role in preserving the argan tree and promoting fair trade. Numerous efforts have been made to raise awareness about the importance of preserving this iconic tree, which is threatened by desertification, overgrazing, and other environmental pressures.

Argan oil is a versatile product with a long history of use in Berber culture. Whether for its cosmetic benefits or nutritional qualities, it has become a valuable component of many beauty products and culinary dishes around the world.

٣. Our Selection of Argan Oil Products

Argan Body Butter – The Body Shop: This body butter deeply nourishes dry skin. Containing 95% naturally derived ingredients, including argan oil, handcrafted shea butter sourced from Fair Trade in Ghana, and organic babassu oil sourced from Fair Trade in Brazil, the moisturizing body treatment softens very dry skin, making it smoother and intensely nourished with 96 hours of hydration. Available here.

Argan Oil – The Ordinary: This vegan formula contains 100% Organic Moroccan Argan Oil extracted through cold-pressing to preserve the integrity of its fatty acids, vitamins, phenols (including caffeic acid), and carotenes. This oil intensely nourishes the skin and helps reduce visible flaking. It also helps strengthen hair and restore its shine. Available here.

Argan and Rose Petal Shower Gel – Yves Rocher: Experience the relaxing sensations of a traditional hammam in a shower gel with an enchanting oriental fragrance. Enriched with organic Moroccan Argan oil and Rose petals, its rich and enveloping lather cleanses and perfumes the skin without drying it out, thanks to a sulfate-free cleansing base. Available here.

Selma Chougar is a French independent journalist of Algerian origin who writes for several magazines based in Paris, London, and Dubai. Culture and societal phenomena in the Arab world are her areas of expertise. She contributes to both French and English-language magazines.