Argan Oil – Care your Skin and Hair with Argan Oil
Argan oil is called rare oil not for nothing. Firstly, Argan oil is obtained from the near extinct species of Argan tree that is limited to the south-western semi-desert areas of Morocco. Secondly, the oil in itself has a very uncommon (high) combination of sterols-45 % Schottenol and 37% Spinasterol. Sterols are plant products that aid in inhibiting absorption of cholesterol in the body. The Argan oil has constituent fatty acids in following proportions Palmitic 12.0%, Stearic at 6.0%, oleic around 42% and Linoleic at 36.8%. Apart from these, vitamin E in form of Tocopherols, carotenes, Squalene are its other constituents. This explains why Argan oil is a better antioxidant than any other naturally occurring oil. On account of so many valuable ingredients the oil caries many advantages for the well-being of human body.
Argan Oil Benefits:
It can prevent cardiovascular diseases, it can fight diabetes, it is highly effective in reducing psoriasis and eczema, it is believed to protect the heart and blood vessels and improve circulation, it is known to lower cholesterol levels in the body, experts say that it may be beneficial against arthritis, it has anti-inflammatory properties and provides relief against burns and scars too. The oil is a blessing for the health of skin and hair. It gets instantly absorbed into the hair shaft and its strengthening action removes the brittleness of the hair, gives shine and restores the damaged hair and the lost fullness. It also protects the hair from external agents like heat, dust and harmful UV rays of the sun. It is a great hair nourishment agent a favorite of hair styling experts. Argan oil with its antioxidants vitamin E and Squalene help reverse the ageing process and removes fine lines of wrinkles by working on the epithelial cell membranes. Its Tocopherols and Phenols absorb the free radicals and protect the skin. Carotene shields the skin from UV rays. Besides these argan oil benefits, the rare oil has a high nutritional value too and it has been found to improve appetite and taste of everyday meals.
Argan trees, Argania Spinosa, are well suited to the desert climate and are an integral part of the desert ecology since the last 1.6 million years ago. They are found in the UNESCO designated Arganeraie Biosphere Reserve. This forest area covers a plain of more than 2,560,000 hectares of land. But the population of Argan trees is not that vast and hence it is declared as a world heritage site.
Harvesting Argan oil from seeds:
Harvesting Argan oil
The Berbers are the inhabitants of this forest reserve for centuries and they are well versed with Argan oil extraction and use it in their daily lives. However, until recently the oil was not looked at as a goldmine and was locally used and traded freely. The dwindling of Argan tree population is attributed to the wood-foraging people of the region. In olden days, the locals used to collect undigested Argan kernels from goat pellets and extract oil from them. With advent of modern know-how and awareness, both locally and internationally, modern means of harvesting are in place. With UNESCO’s intervention, the locals have begun protecting these trees and a global market created with its sustained efforts has further helped the cause. To produce one liter of oil, around 32 kilograms of fruit that is equivalent to the yield of one single season from a single tree have to go under the oil press. The kernels found in the Argan pits are manually cracked open by the Berber community women or gently roasted if oil for culinary purpose is required. After a slight roasting, the sliced-almond shaped seeds yield the Argan oil that can be used in cooking. It has at this stage a nutty flavor and a light rancid aroma. It is best used for dressing salads, fish or meat. The cosmetic Argan oil that is produced directly by crushing the seeds without subjecting them to roasting finds its use in cosmetic and beauty products, such as anti-ageing creams, lipsticks, hair gels and so on and so forth. The Argan oil by virtue of its constitution is rich in a variety of compounds such as vitamin E, omega 9 and omega 6 as well as unsaturated fatty acids that act as nature’s best anti-oxidizing agents and inhibit absorption of cholesterol in the body. The cooperative at Tiout and the outlets at the neighboring city of Agadir sell the exotic oil in smaller samples in glass bottles of 250 ml. Under all ideal conditions of extractions, today a maximum of 43% yield is harvested from the kernels. Volatile solvent with an affinity for fatty substances is used for industrial of laboratory extraction. In this process a 50-55% yield is obtained at the best.
Women self-help cooperatives
Women’s cooperative are the main bodies that help the local women folk earn a livelihood out of Argan oil extraction in this part of Morocco. The cooperatives have also taken measures to help reforestation and protect what has remained of the surrounding green cover. Argan oil is vital for the socio-economic development of the area and provides a regular source of income to 3 million people. Thus on purchase of every bottle of original Argan oil one contributes to the betterment of this community. So one needs to be aware of ‘knock-off’ brands. The approximate price for 2 oz bottle is around $10. Some brand marketers hype the price by roping in the celebrities to promote the product on its glossy packaging. The online world offers a vast resource of sites to purchase this oil from. In such a scenario, it is advisable to compare prices and check for the company’s credentials online. Nothing beats the option of buying Argan oil at your local hair salon. This could be a better way to ensure you get a genuine product as the local salons wouldn’t cheat you. At many places you can seek the oil at the pharmacist who may have stocked it up. Thus Argan oil is highly loaded with benefits and that is what makes its cultivation and marketing viable.