The health benefits of argan oil are famous around the world, increasing the demand for this unique product and therefore its prices. Here's what you need to know before investing.
What is Argan Oil?
Cold-pressed argan oil from the seeds of the deciduous argan tree fruit (Argania spinosa) is native to southwestern Morocco.
Argan oil has two main uses. The most common is in cosmetics (especially hair, skin and nail products), the other is for cooking. don't confuse the two. Although you can use cooking oil to massage your skin, you should not eat cosmetic argan oil.
The main way to distinguish the two is by color. Unroasted seeds for cosmetic use give the oil a transparent, bright yellowish straw color, while culinary argan oil made from roasted seeds has a deeper golden yellow color that borders on brown and looks cloudy.
Cosmetic argan oil is normally packaged in small bottles appropriately labeled in Morocco with the French word Cosmetique or a similar name used locally.
How Is Argan Oil Made?
First, hazelnuts are harvested. They look like small, dark pebbles. The process of opening the nut is quite simple by today's technological standards. Women take sharp stones and hit the nuts with enough force to break them. The process is repeated for each nut, making this process labor-intensive and time-consuming – which partly explains the high price tag seen with argan oil products. Then, the small kernel inside the nut, which is somewhat almond-like, only smaller, is removed. At this stage, I would not recommend eating them, speaking from experience. It tastes sweet at first but then turns bitter in your mouth.
The next part of this manual process is grinding the beans by hand. This separates the oil leaving a sticky brown residue. The residue is often turned into soap.
Today, local women's cooperatives have been established in southwestern Morocco, ensuring profits are shared among women and keeping knowledge alive on how to process argan for oil.
Why Is Argan Oil So Expensive?
Argan oil is known as one of the most expensive oils in the world. The oil caught the attention of the outside world in the 1990s and is now highly sought after for culinary and cosmetic purposes.
There are three main factors that make argan oil so expensive.
First, trees were grown in only one region of the world until recently: Morocco.
Second, extraction is a time-consuming, manual production process. Today's machinery has yet to replace the labor-intensive, delicate techniques required to extract this liquid gold.
Third, the properties of the unique elixir of argan oil have created an unprecedented demand from the rich and famous around the world searching for anti-aging serums. More and more cosmetics companies are using argan oil as an ingredient in their products, which is putting enormous pressure on the limited available oil supply.
How to Use Argan Oil?
As mentioned above, argan oil has two main uses. Many people know about its cosmetic use, but the culinary use of argan oil is more limited, in part because of its short shelf life.
Packed with rejuvenating vitamin E and rich in antioxidants, fatty acids and other compounds that help shine hair, skin, and nails, argan oil is reported to promote youth and beauty.
Argan oil is popular with women who prefer to use natural, organic ingredients on their skin rather than artificial chemicals or more processed products.
Pure argan oil glides on easily, is light on the skin, and gets absorbed into the pores for a glow like no other. It is recommended to be used as a night moisturizer before going to bed to help reduce wrinkles especially around the eyes.
For sensitive skin, it can benefit from the healing properties of this all-natural oil. For those who are sensitive to fragrance, the scent of argan oil disappears within minutes of applying it to the skin.
How Does Argan Oil Smell?
Argan oil has a light nutty flavor.
The best quality argan oil should be odorless. The deodorization process removes the smell of argan nut and many of the key nutrients that make the oil so sought after.
How to Identify Real Argan Oil?
When purchasing cosmetic argan oil, make sure there is only one ingredient: 100 percent argan oil (Argania spinosa seed oil). It should not contain any preservatives, fragrances or even water. Anything mixed with it will reduce the effects of the oil.
This oil, which is a completely natural product, will be absorbed by your skin. Try some on your hand and wait for 30 minutes or so. If it's absorbed into your skin, that's the real deal. If it's still greasy and visible, it's fake.
Storing your oil in the refrigerator also serves to prove its authenticity, as it will harden. If your argan oil does not harden, it is not genuine.
The Future of Argan Oil
Almost half of the Argan forest disappeared in the 20th century, with an average density of 100 to 30 per hectare.fell under it. This historical pressure on the forest resulted from the demand for high-quality coal (which was especially important during the World Wars) and, more recently, the conversion of land into fields for export crops such as tomatoes.
Attempts to propagate and grow argan trees elsewhere in Morocco and the rest of the world have failed in the past. But the trial is ongoing and we've heard that argan trees are surviving outside of Morocco.
Due to its ecological value and local economic importance, the entire 2.5 million hectares of argan forest region was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1998. I hope this helps provide a more positive outlook for the future of this rare gift from nature.