Every year a new crop of super miracle beauty ingredients pops up — recently, argan oil has been making the rounds. Generally I pay little attention to these kinds of trends, but I have to say, I find intriguing.
Made from the nuts of the argan tree, which grows almost exclusively in Morocco, the oil is said to have restorative and age-defying effects. It is high in vitamin E and essential fatty acids, it is believed to help all sorts of skin conditions: dry skin, acne, psoriasis, eczema, wrinkles.
In a New York Times article, Liz Earle, who runs an organic skin-care line in England, said, “When I first found argan oil, I brought it back to the U.K. to have it analyzed … it was so remarkably high in vitamin E and had these very interesting phytosterols, which are good for scar tissue and so many other things” including, she says, that hard-to-define problem of lackluster skin. I know we’ve heard these claims before, but still.
Argan oil is pretty new in America, but English and French tourists discovered it in Morocco years ago and it’s all over the markets of Provence, along with the lavender and olive oils. Now, due to the efforts of the Moroccan King Mohammed VI, who has been praised for his efforts to promote women’s rights, the oil is being promoted and exported worldwide. What does women’s rights have to do with argan oil? Well, that’s one of the reasons I am so intrigued by it.
It is Berber women who are solely responsible for harvesting the nuts and producing the oil, and they are doing so in fair trade working cooperatives. Outside groups, like the government of Monaco, are also financially backing a system whereby women can work half days (so they can still tend to their families) in exchange for fair wages and good working conditions. This has allowed an income for women and families where before there was little.
The cooperatives have initiated an ecosystem reforestation project to help preserve the argan forest. The cooperatives are working in partnership with the Moroccan Water and Forests Authorities to allow optimal tree growth, plant argan nurseries, and create education programs. The community realizes the value of the argan tree and they are involved with its protection. In fact, Unesco has designated the 10,000-square-mile argan-growing region as a biosphere reserve.
I know for sure it is doing a world of good for the numerous women who now have a livelihood from it. Miracle enough for me.