While in Morocco last month we traveled into the Atlas Mountains, just outside of Marrakech, and hiked through some of the Berber villages. Just outside of the Ourika Valley we toured a womans' coop that produces Argan oil.
The Argan tree grows only in Morocco and has many nutritive and cosmetics benefits. Such as; acne and dandruff treatment, anti aging, moisturizing, medicinal treatment of burns and other skin disorders such as alopecia and eczema.
Despite being incredibly popular now in the States there were a couple of things I was surprised to learn about our little miracle ingredient.
We had a trainer at the coop who demonstrated the steps involved in shelling and pressing the nuts. She then showed us many of the different ways the oil has been developed over the years. In Morocco, they consume the oil in a variety of sauces and butters (mixed with almond). The oil on it's own has a very bitter taste which is why they mix it with other ingredients. I couldn't help but think of my training with Dr. Murad on Inclusive Health and what I learned about the health of our skin coming from inside out.
The only other time I remember learning about a single product that did this many things this well was when a woman told me about RetinA in the mid 80's. And that is remarkably expensive, requires a prescription and comes in creams or gels that often have chemicals.
For their beauty products the natives mix other natural herbs and scents to create new products that treat as well as beautify. That had a huge range of skin, body and hair care for both men and women (they've been at this for a long time). And I loved, loved all of the things they had to promote healthy beauty. In Morocco plant life is very respected and necessary for a healthy life, they rarely rely on chemicals because they are toxic and expensive.
My favorite products: oil mixed with Orange Blossom that not only acted as a fragrance but offered a quick cure for headaches (and jet lag), and the Eucalyptus body scrub that was remarkably invigorating (hello Monday morning!).
Most importantly I learned how much this coop helps the woman who belong.
And that we're pretty spoiled here.
Life is a little tougher for women in the male centered culture of Morocco. Especially for ones that are disabled, widowed, divorced or without family, which I realize is true everywhere, but seems more pronounced in Africa. Working for an Argan coop offers women fulfilling and secure work in a atmosphere of love and nature.
And luckily business is booming. I was thrilled to see a feeding frenzy of tourists spinning around the shop.
Argan oil is supporting approximately 2.2 million people in Morocco, many of whom are women who now have access to education for the first time since adulthood.
Products making positive change for everyone.