Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Striking Oil

Excerpt from the December 2010 edition of American Spa magazine. By Nanci McArdle.

For the past five centuries, the indigenous people of Morocco, known as the Berbers, have recognized the myriad benefits of argan oil, which is extracted from the kernels in the nut that is inside of the fruit grown on the argan tree. Before modern times, the Berbers would collect undigested argan pits from the waste of goats that climbed the trees to eat the nuts. The pits were then ground and pressed to make the oil, which was used for cosmetics and cooking. Over time, more and more benefits have been discovered in argan oil, which naturally contains essential fatty acids and vitamin E, making it an ideal ingredient to incorporate into spa products and treatments. Today, it is harvested and processed in a more sanitary process with the help of machines, but Berber women are still responsible for extracting the oil by using two rough stones between their knees to crack the nuts. And because the oil is so versatile, the demand for the ingredient is rapidly increasing. “Recently, in the U.S., we realized that there are many uses for argan oil,” says Katharine L’Heureux, founder of Kahina Giving Beauty, a line of products containing 100 percent natural argan oil. “It can be used on the skin, in the bath, to condition dry lips and cuticles, and to remove makeup. I actually swallow a teaspoon a day for even healthier, more glowing skin.” At International Orange (San Francisco), Kahina Argan Oil is incorporated into facial treatments, during which the oil is massaged into the skin to deeply moisturize it. “The antioxidants in this oil help to protect the skin against free radicals that cause the signs of aging while also hydrating, balancing, and restoring skin’s elasticity,” says L’Heureux. “It is an excellent natural treatment for all skin conditions, including eczema and acne.”
Another benefit of this multi-tasking oil is its anti-inflammatory effect, which makes it especially useful to help reduce swelling after cosmetic procedures or waxing.
Using products that contain the ingredient also has a philanthropic angle. All argan oil sold today is produced by womens’ cooperatives in Morocco, which share the profits among local Berber women, providing healthcare and education. This was one of the reasons L’Heureux created Kahina Giving Beauty. “Not only did I notice an immediate improvement in my skin when I discovered argan but I was also intrigued by the story of the Berber women,” says L’Heureux. “It struck me that I could create a skincare line that women would want to use and help the Berber women at the same time.” Aveda also supports the cooperatives by not only purchasing the oil but also donating $20,000 to help fund the purchase of equipment to automate the labor-intensive processing. So, incorporating argan oil into your treatment menu is a win-win: you are not only boosting your bottom line but also contributing to an important cause, all the while helping your clients look good.

StormSisters Two Cents: Though Argan oil is all the rage, please look at all the other ingredients that accompany this oil in so many hair and skincare products that are available. One great ingredient amongst many unhealthy ingredients does not a great product make.
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