"Argan oil has gone from a natural, tribal ingredient to one of the most prized oils in the world as cosmetics companies have woken up to its anti-ageing properties."
Argan oil is derived from the fruit of the argan tree (argania spinosa), which is endemic to South Western Morocco. Each small oval shaped fruit contains three seeds that are rich in fatty acids.
While the oil extract contains a range of powerful components that provide fantastic health benefits, the real magic of this plant is the role that it plays in improving the environment.
The argan tree is desert-hardy and creates a forest ecosystem where many other plants cannot survive on their own. In this way, argan has similar effect in the forests of Morocco as mānuka does in New Zealand.
As a valuable source of income for the rural population that harvests it, argan oil is one of the most useful natural oils in the skincare market today.
“This forest species is extremely well adapted to drought and other environmentally difficult conditions.”
Spanning 9.2 million square kilometers and covering an area about the same size as the United States, the Sahara Desert is the largest desert on Earth and covers about 78 percent of Morocco's landmass.
The Sahara Desert is constantly expanding its range and the argan tree is one remarkable survivor used to hold back the effects of desertification across North West Africa.
To help protect these forests, the Moroccan government declared the area a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1998 with the intention of bringing back the ecological (and economical) barrier that argan trees create.
However, a problem facing the local Berber people of Morocco is that the short-term income which can be earned from herding goats is often more attractive than the long-term economic and environmental benefits of maintaining an argan plantation.
This is because goats in high numbers feed on the argan fruit and foliage, which destroys these important trees and poses a threat to the surrounding ecosystem.
For the local people, argan is the main source of income in many areas. Efforts to increase its popularity alongside conservation is important to bringing prosperity to the countryside.
A tough balance exists between traditional goat herding, generating value from harvesting argan oil and expanding the tree stands. Encouraging fair trade is needed to bring sustainability to both the land and the locals.
When it comes to personal care, argan oil is is one of the best plant extracts that you can put on your skin and hair. It's jam packed with quality nutrients like Vitamin E and essential fatty acids.
Argan oil is great for a wide range of skin types and conditions, but it's especially good for dry and flaky skin. The high levels of vitamin E and oleic acid provide deep nourishment, and help other ingredients to absorb into the pores of your skin.
Research indicates that argan oil may also be good for reducing the signs of ageing.
It's also great for oily and acne-prone skin. With high levels of linoleic acid (28-36%), argan oil is useful for helping to reduce inflammation and retain moisture.
Argan oil helps to keep your hair soft, shiny, strong and bright. If you're looking to keep your hair (or beard) healthy and nourished, look for natural products that contain argan oil.
Alongside helping the hair, it's also great for soothing your scalp and preventing irritation.
In the world of natural personal care products, argan oil is a clear winner - and that's why it is a core ingredient in these products: