Back when I added our Argan Oil to our line I went down a major rabbit hole of info - here are the highlights to help shed light on who is making it, how it should be sold and what the benefits are:
First off, why is it good?
It is AMAZING at healing, hydrating and anti-aging. It is dry in the Moroccan Desert and Argan Oil is a magical combination of Antioxidants (Vitamin E), Fatty Acids (Omegas 3, 6 and 9) and Polyphenols (another anti-oxidant) which are anti-inflammatories. Known as "liquid gold" Argan Oil is full of awesome goodies and is an awesome addition to any skincare routine.
What do I use it for?
So many things:
- first, your face - it's great to mix into your serum/moisturizer or just use it as your moisturizer. Same for body and for nails.
- For hair you can use it as a treatment on your scalp or your ends or even a heat-protectant pre hot tools.
- For new moms and babies it's totally safe and wonderful for diaper rash, skin irritations, breast feeding help and stretch marks.
- It's also great post bug bite or burn - I speak from personal experience on the burn front.
Woman press it by hand, right?
Sometimes - it wasn't previously a huge industry for Berber women as it was so labor intensive - though some had been sold at local markets. The process starts with the women harvesting the fruits in the summer (an Argan tree takes 14 years to produce fruit!!), dry them in the sun, removing the pulp, cracking the nut, roasting the seeds (today only seeds used for cooking oil are roasted - those used for cosmetics are raw), extracting the oil and then decanting it. It took 5-6 hours to get 8 oz of oil!
the women's co-op that we work with
Nowadays there are women's co-ops, like the one I work with, who go through the seeds by hand (because goats climb in the trees and poop out nuts from the Argan fruit - so they skip those - true story), dry it in the sun, depulp, hand crush the nuts on a stone, use a screw press to extract the oil, decant it (for 3 days at least), strain it and pop it in a stainless steel tank (more on that later). It then goes over a facility where it is decanted some more, put through more filtration and then packed and shipped off around the world. The women all split the income from the sales and are treated as partners as well as learn how to run as business and are able to support their families.
Awesome! So that's how it's made now?
Approximately 10% of the Argan Oil on the market is made that way. That's it.
Yep, much of Argan Oil is done totally by machine and doesn't benefit local women at all.
I know! Here's the deal - most of the forests that are left have been bought up by corporations and the local communities never had a chance. The majority of Argan oil on the market today is industrially produced - it's cheaper and quicker. If it is inclusive of women they generally work alone, as opposed to together in a group, and are given paltry wages as opposed to a cut of the overall business.
So those lovely Berber ladies aren't making my oil?
It's possible they are but they probably aren't sharing in the profits if so.
Okay, is that the only difference?
No. Industrialized-produced Argan Oil has a couple of things working against it - one is heat. Industrial presses heat the oil which alters its composition and kills so many of the amazing anti-oxidants. Some even use chemicals like Hexane (which will dissolve rubber cement) as a solvent.
The other is quality of the raw seeds - when you have humans thoughtfully going through fruit/nuts they aren't grabbing the ones the goats already ate (and expelled) nor are they grabbing rotten ones. They move quickly in small batches and the seeds don't have the chance to oxidize which is a huge issue in mass produced oils.
Wait, goats poop out argan seeds?
Yep. And machines can't tell the difference. Real people can.
Oh Lord, I just wanted to get a moisturizer.
I know, I hear you - I felt the same way when I was learning all of this.
So heat, what does that have to do with Cold-Pressing?
Great question! Cold-Pressing means that no heat higher than 120 degrees has been applied to an oil. Cold-Pressed oils retain all of their aroma and nutrients. They generally cost more because the labor is more intensive. You want Cold-Pressed.
Okay, you said "aroma" - if Argan Oil doesn't smell like anything - is that bad?
Cold-Pressed Argan Oil should have a very light "nutty" smell that dissipates within moments of being applied. Back to the quality of raw seeds - many companies sell "deodorized" Argan Oil to eliminate the rancid smell of oxidized seeds or ones our goat friends ate.
Even if it's Organic?!
Here's the thing - nearly all Argan Oil is organic as they don't use fertilizers or any of the other junk we like to put on crops here. Organic doesn't mean it wasn't deodorized and doesn't mean it wasn't done totally by machines. If it was cold-pressed by a women's co-op they will TELL you because they're proud of it and it cost them more.
And yours is in an amber glass bottle - no plastic?
Yes, you want your Argan Oil in glass or metal (aluminum or stainless steel). Plastic can leach Bisphenols (BPAs) in to the oil and many companies ship their oil over in plastic containers for weeks and then once it gets to the US they pour it into glass jars. If you have a question - ASK.
So yours is...
Shipped over in metal containers and then I put into glass bottles, yes :)! And the bottle is amber as light can break down its beneficial properties.
Alright, anything else I should know?
The women's co-op we work with is working to plant new Argan trees as the forests are shrinking due to industrial agriculture (it steals the water the trees would normally get), urban sprawl, wood harvesting (though this is now mostly illegal) and goats.
It is also owned by a women and employs women. Some of the co-ops are actually owned by men who don't split the profits with the women they employ which, in my mind, defeats the whole purpose of a co-op. Those are a couple more reasons why I wanted to work with them specifically.
Great! So where do I get it?