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Argan oil is widely recognised for its power to improve your skin and hair. But what do we need to know about this golden oil? In this guide find all you need to know about the argan oil benefits, including myths and facts
Oils are nothing new when it comes to beauty regimes and maintaining the appearance of youth. Long before Clarins and Elizabeth Arden appeared on the scene with their beauty serums and face creams, natural oils were used for improving skin conditions and have been for centuries.
Originating in Morocco, argan oil has been used for over 3,500 years for medicinal, as well as cooking solutions. Argan oil’s versatility offered an effective practical use for noticeable cosmetic results. Just because it’s centuries-old however, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be employed today and in fact, argan oil is used globally as a natural source of skincare.
It is now being adopted by large brand beauty companies in their cosmetic ranges and in turn, this global demand is creating a fascinating landscape for the workers who source it. With its labour-intensive production from the argan tree in Morocco to the women’s co-operatives which are acquiring the plant oil from the kernels inside the nuts, argan oil is an industry in itself; one that helps fuel an economy where many struggle to make ends meet but where this ever-valuable resource can be mined to change people’s lives.
Online retailers, for example, are now working with these cooperatives to make a positive change and to help those local workers create an industry for themselves.
According to Chris Walker, Co-Founder of Harfi, an online handmade lifestyle and homeware seller, selling ethical handmade products, working with women’s cooperatives:
The increased demand for argan oil has led to a huge spike in the number of active local artisan co-operatives producing the oil from just 3 in 1999 to 150 in 2010, resulting in an improved economic landscape for the local communities. By placing large orders on a regular basis Harfi can offer the artisans consistent work and fair compensation so they are able to sustain a better standard of living.
The demand has therefore allowed not only retailers the opportunity to deal directly with the cooperatives but also to contribute toward creating a viable sustainable economy.
But as with anything organic, there is scepticism over its effectiveness, despite being one of the longest-known treatments for skin in history. So why is there so much scepticism?
The myths of argan oil
No one can dispute the history of argan oil but recently there has been an almost mythic-type image surrounding argan oil, with publications and advertising extolling the virtues of this ancient oil. But with all of this marketing and publicity, scepticism has risen and it’s had the opposite intended consequence; mistrust.
As with anything relatively new in any industry, there can be a shroud of initial misunderstanding, particularly when it’s advertised as being something so effective that anyone can use to cure all ails.
The biggest problem argan oil faces is its own image as a “rare gold” of the beauty world. This helps fuel the strange myths surrounding argan oil and creates a viewpoint that this is a fad, rather than something which is now effective and integral to many beauty regimes.
Below are the most common statements you will hear, which have fed the mythic element and image of argan oil since its popularity rises.
Myth #1. Argan tree location
There is a misunderstanding that the Argan tree only grows in Morocco. Technically this isn’t true as it can be found in Algeria and Mexico but the key element here is that the fruit used for extraction of the oil is only found in the trees from Morocco.
Myth #2. A holy tree
Another misconception is that locals worship the tree but this is untrue. It’s a source of product which can be used to create an industry, nothing else. The religion in Morocco is Islam and the population has no religious affinity to the tree.
Myth #3. Only berber women produce argan oil
As if it is some mystical, powerful substance that only Berber women can touch, this is a myth which further feedse the idea that argan oil is akin to something other-worldly. However, the truth is that Berber women are more likely to produce it as they make up the majority of the population of these areas. Basically, the main producers of the oil will be native women to that area.
Myth #4. You can buy cheap argan oil
Although the beauty products containing argan oil will vary in price, particularly between brands, there is no cheap version of argan oil. It’s a valuable substance which is considered rare only because of its limited production location and availability, especially considering the growing market demands for the oil. In fact one of the biggest key factors is production time. It can take an artisan two weeks to produce just one litre of argan oil. It’s unlikely it will ever be “cheap”.
These myths certainly fuel a point of view that argan oil is the special ingredient that everyone should have but this attitude in society has happened before when alternative treatments and incredible new ideas have entered the fray.
Organic and natural treatments
Organic treatments have flooded the market for skincare over the years and many of the choices available can be effective. Just some of these cosmetic regimes include:
- Charcoal masks
- Peel off masks
- DIY face masks
The above treatments are used globally but what they don’t advertise is that they can cause dryness and chemical reactions which can make the skin worse. Just because they are referenced as organic and natural though, isn’t an indicator they will work for everyone.
Charcoal toothpaste, for example, is a fairly new treatment which has become more prominent with the advent of self-whitening kits and the obsession with having pristine teeth but it has been questioned in its validity. The short term effects are worthwhile aesthetically but long-term it can cause problems due to the low fluoride content in comparison to regular toothpaste, resulting in potential gum problems and decay.
The point here is to be fully aware of how to use and combine the different ingredients, including argan oil, and understand your own skin and body to make sure you get the right benefits.
Facts and of argan oil benefits
There are many argan oil benefits and uses, and because of its natural properties, it has become extremely popular. What are some of the positives of this oil?
Argan oil contains beneficial properties, including Vitamin E, fatty acids such as omega-6 and Oleic acid, helping toward heart health, with powerful antioxidant properties.
Help toward Anti-ageing
There are researches that show argan oil can reduce inflammation and helps with maintenance of the skin, which acts as an anti-ageing aid. It is not a full solution and only really helps when practising good skincare on an ongoing basis.
Hair & Skin Moisturiser
Many people use argan oil on their skin as they believe it helps soften and hydrates. As part of their beauty regime, they also use it on hair, treating split ends and frizzy hair, as well as creating a nicer shine and style. As with anything organic, there can often be potential downsides too and argan oil is no different.
Too Thick For Some
As argan oil is very “oily” it is a thicker oil than perhaps some are used to, particularly on the face. It’s highly moisturising but does create a thick layer which can cause clogging of skin pores. However, argan oil has a zero rating on the comedogenicity (pore-clogging) rating scale which is very good, especially in relation to most other make-up products.
Not For Everyone’s Hair
Some people will mix argan oil with other ingredients to thin it out so they can use it on their face but argan oil is used as a hair product too. Again though, it doesn’t necessarily suit all types of hair and in fact, it should not be used with already greasy hair or hair that is already quite oily, due to the thick nature of the oil itself.
Although unlikely in many cases, as with any skincare ingredient, there is a risk of allergies because of the natural properties of the oil and the fact that because it is rare in terms of its overall availability, this means most people will have had very little exposure to it.
Maintenance, Not a Cure
As mentioned, argan oil will not cure any pre-existing conditions, however, it will act as an antioxidant and therefore help reduce the signs of ageing. It just won’t have any lasting effect on existing wrinkles.
Argan oil benefits: a natural hair care and skincare booster
Argan oil may have earned its fad status due to its history and mythic tales of rarity and religious connections but it is very much the real deal when it comes to an effective solution for hair care and skincare.
It offers an organic treatment which not only provides visible results but which also helps create and sustain the industry in a country lacking in a strong economy. Also, it helps sustain an age-old Moroccan tradition that boosts the economy and standard of living for natives in local communities.
This oil may be surrounded by tall tales and scepticism but there’s no doubt that it’s a valuable, sought-after product that consumers want and will continue to buy, which can only be a good thing for the people of Morocco.
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