Turning Back Time In A Nut Shell

In celebrating International Women’s Day, this is the story about Argan oil. And how a wild once-useless tree that nearly went distinct became a highly-prized and sought-after beauty miracle product that changed the lives of Moroccan women – forever.

Argan oil is made from the nuts of the Argan fruit grown on an Argan tree. This species of tree is found only in the south-western part of Morocco.

Less than 15 years ago, Argan trees did not have much value and were near distinction. Its oil, used for cooking, had very few buyers, and its tree was cut down for firewood. But for goats, its is a good source of food as they can be seen frequently climbing the trees for the Argan fruit.

Goats grazing on an Argan Tree in Morocco

Another photo. I find it to be such an interesting sight!

Unfortunately, due to intensive cultivation, grazing and charcoal-making, the biodiversity of this resource-rich region had shrunk by half in size just over 100 years.

Everything changed in 1998. UNSEO designated this area of Morocco as a biosphere reserve in hopes to conserve the trees, and develop an international market for Argan oil, a natural resource of the land.

Traditionally, Argan oil production were the domain of rural Berber women who used the oil as food and as a beauty tool. In 1999, a joint initiative with UNSEO sought Berber women to setup women cooperatives for the production and marketing of Argan oil. However, the cumbersome and time-consuming process of Argan oil extraction led the government of Morocco to take part in funding these projects. As a result, women from rural Moroccan villages are provided with a new lifeline – employment and a fair salary.

Watch this video on How Argan Oil is Made in a Women’s Co-operative.

Argan oil also gained a new lease of life. Research reveled the natural compounds of Argan oil have strong restorative and age-defying effects. Its high Vitamin E and essential fatty acids content, together with anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, make Argan oil effective in the treatment of skin disorders from dry skin, scars, acne, psoriasis, eczema and even wrinkles.

One of the biggest interests in the cosmetic world over Argan oil is its skin regenerating capabilities. Argan Oil has been scientifically proven to renew the skin architecture and speed up micro-circulation to help delay the physiological process of aging. With such undisputed anti-aging promise to turn back the clock, the value of  Argan oil quickly became known also as ‘Moroccan Gold‘.

Today, a 100% raw top-grade organic Argan oil cost over USD$30 or more per 100 ml, and can be applied directly to hair, nails, skin. Brands sold at Sephora such as Jose Maran, Laura Mercier, Nude, Origins and Murad all have Argan oil (and leaf extract) listed as an ingredient in their anti-aging range of skin care and beauty products. I checked.
The discovery of Argan oil changed the cosmetic market and industry around the world. But more importantly, it has lifted thousands of families from poverty and provided a stable income for the women of Morocco.

To all the women of the world, Happy International Women’s Day

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