The time-tested benefits of Argan Oil
What is Argan Oil?
The Berber women of Morocco have used the pressed juice of the argan kernel for centuries to combat the dry desert air and reduce the signs of aging. The oil is sourced from the argan tree (argania spinosa) that grows exclusively in the Souss valley of Southwestern Morocco, an area that is now a UNESCO biosphere reserve. Locally it’s known as the ‘Tree of Life’.
Why is it so good for me?
The highest quality brands are overflowing in Vitamin E, essential fatty acids and antioxidants, which together help soften, repair and rejuvenate every skin type. The oil is a wonderfully soothing anti-inflammatory too, thanks to its rare plant sterols (take it internally if you have dodgy joints). Used topically, on the skin, it is light and non greasy, absorbing easily to give the skin a radiant glow.
How should I use it?
Slather it on your hair, face and body, and beef up the benefits by eating it. it has a warm nutty taste. Drizzle it over pasta, sluice it through your salads or just dunk bread in it. Don’t heat it though – you’ll lose all its health properties (and, like many oils, it degenerates when heated).
You can use it to make your own Amlou too – the heavenly mix of argan, honey and almonds that the Moroccans often use in place of jam for breakfast, or as a dip for bread. It’s super simple too: simply grind 300g of roasted almonds (it’s up to you how crunchy or smooth you prefer it). Blend in 250ml of argan oil and 125ml of runny honey. Experiment with the ratios to find your perfect mix.
Which brands should I choose?
Two of my favourites are Kahina Giving Beauty and Wild Wood Groves, both certified organic, fair trade and delivered fresh, directly from the source. What sets these brands apart is their purity and their commitment to preserving and empowering the indigenous Berber women who have worked for centuries to bring these beauty benefits to life for us all. To quote Dame Anita Roddick, Human Rights Activist and founder of The Body Shop: ‘The business of business should not just be about money, it should be about responsibility. It should be about public good, not private greed.’
Kahina Giving Beauty
Pure argan oil is at the heart of this boutique skincare line founded by Katharine L’Heureux who discovered the oil on her first visit to Morocco in 2007. Giving back is L'Heureux's commitment. So much so that Kahina has donated the vast majority of profits beyond operating expenses to programmes supporting the indigenous Berber women who create their wonderful products. L’Heureux continues to visit the cooperatives from which the oil is sourced to ensure the fair and proper treatment of those who extract it—women whose signatures grace each box in the Kahina Giving Beauty line.
A fair wage is paid to the women who harvest and crack the argan nuts and the company donates an additional percentage of profits to support programmes that directly benefit these women – such as replacing traditional wood-burning stoves with solar-powered ovens that reduce the health risks associated with smoke inhalation, as well as helping to preserve the argan trees themselves, that were previously cut down for the fires. With the recent purchase of sheep, the women now have a source of milk as food and wool for weaving beautiful rugs to sell at the market.
All Kahina products are 100% organic with pure argan oil being the mainstay of the range (£30/€33 for 30ml) that includes cleansers, mists, a powerful serum, scrub, restorative lip and face balm and Kahina Prickly Pear Seed Oil (£120/€133 for 50ml). Extracted from the seeds of the prickly pear cactus, this super nourishing amino acid-and essential oil-rich face oil helps restore the skin’s elasticity to leave it fed, watered and gorgeously vibrant.
Wild Wood Groves (review by Jane Alexander):
The Wild Wood Groves products are not just incredibly pure, their production helps to preserve both the argan tree and the traditional lifestyle of the local Berber women. Ruth Hajioff, Wild Wood Groves’ founder, is a herbalist and aromatherapist and she adds essential oils to her facial and body oils (they all smell heavenly as well as nourishing the skin).
The Rescue Serum (£16/€17.70, for 15ml) is seriously good stuff but we really love the neroli and sandalwood blend (from £14/€15.50 for 15ml) too. Wild Wood even import Amlou, if you didn’t want to make your own. It’s totally addictive. The argan oil is £20/€21 for 150ml.