Ask any beauty lover and they'll tell you: When it comes to multipurpose products, oil is where it's at. From preventing breakouts to moisturizing their skin, everyone from celebrity makeup artists to beauty vloggers have at least one that they swear by in their arsenal. But among all of the oils, argan sits at the the top of the list as the most highly acclaimed. Some would even call it "liquid gold." Perhaps what makes the product even more exalted is the fact that it's so rare — almost all of it is produced in a tiny area of southwestern Morocco. As a result, argan oil's popularity has provided steady jobs and income for the women of the area and their families. And that's pretty fantastic.
To better understand the rarity of argan oil and the work that the Berber women put into creating it, let's review how exactly it's made. Argan oil is a plant-based oil produced from kernels of the argan tree. First, the argan nuts are gathered from the trees. Then, they are dried. Next, the nuts are cracked open to expose the kernel. Then, the women grind the kernels into a paste. The paste is then squeezed to extract the super dense, rich oil. This process is all done by hand.
In 1998, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) declared the southwestern Moroccan region a biosphere reserve after deeming that argan trees were endangered. Only a few companies can make the argan oil from the trees in the region, and one of the largest of them is Neal's Yard Remedies who support the Tighanimine Cooperative, the world’s first Fairtrade certified women’s Argan Oil cooperative.
The cooperative was established in 2007 by a group of women who met in a literacy class. Now, the cooperative has become hugely successful, providing its 60 women members with stable work to provide for their families. Some of them have even become the primary breadwinners in the family. Before this, the only work most of them could find was cleaning, but thanks to the high demand for argan oil, the industry has flourished, giving these women not only the opportunity to send their children to school and contribute to the family income, but also access to health care and literacy training.
According to Neal's Yard Remedies, the cooperative produces 1,000 liters of argan oil per month. In 2012, NYR were ordering one kilo (approx. 1 liter) of argan oil. Now, they are ordering about 900 kilos per month. To learn more about the Tighanimine Cooperative, you can watch the video below from Fair Trade Connection.
As if supporting the livelihood of these hardworking women wasn't reason enough to add argan oil to your beauty stash, there's also the countless benefits that come with using it: you can condition your hair, moisturize your face, fight wrinkles, heal damaged or irritated skin, treat your nail beads — the list goes on. Here are 6 of the best fair trade certified argan oil products to shop right now.
Image: Fair Trade Connection/Facebook