Fair-trade cooperatives in Morocco benefiting women have made the oil skyrocket in popularity — it’s not just good for users, it’s now also beneficial for local harvesters.
What it is: Oil derived from the nut of the argan tree.
Where it comes from: Found in southwestern Morocco, the hardy argan tree is well adapted to drought, but human activity has made it endangered. The oil comes from the kernels of the nut of the tree, found inside a green, olive-like fruit. Crushing and manual extraction have been done by Berber women for hundreds of years, but recently mechanical presses have been introduced to extract the oil.
Properties: The oil is slightly darker than olive oil and has a nutty flavor. It’s rich in vitamin E, absorbs quickly, and is highly moisturizing.
What it’s good for: The unroasted oil is used for cosmetic purposes. High in vitamin E and fatty acids, it’s effective as a moisturizer that neutralizes free radicals. The oil is used to rejuvenate the skin and treat skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. It can be used for revitalizing hair and for strengthening nails. Its health properties and light, nutty aroma have made it a staple in many kitchens.
Where you’ll find it: Argan oil can be purchased for cooking and eating, and unroasted oil is used for cosmetic purposes. In beauty products, you can find argan oil in moisturizers for skin, hair, and nails, and in lipsticks, face masks, and even self-tanning sprays.
Other uses: Clinical tests have shown that argan oil reduces cholesterol and is good for the heart.