The Geography of Moroccan Oil
Last Updated: July 10th, 2020
For those of you reading this right now, the odds are pretty good that you are already familiar with argan oil and all of the wonderful beauty benefits you can enjoy when you apply it to your hair, nails, and skin. But how much do you really know about argan oil? Do you know where it comes from? Do you know how long argan oil has been around? Are you aware of the unique physical properties and circumstances which make it the super-product that the beauty industry is going crazy for? If you're curious, keep reading. And impress all your friends with your advanced knowledge of the nature of argan oil the next time you visit your local salon.
Argan oil is frequently referred to as "Moroccan oil" due to its country of origin. The southwest corner of the country dips into a part of the northern African desert region which has ideal growing conditions for the argan tree, the plant from which Moroccan oil is harvested.
However, the term "Moroccan oil" is a bit of a misnomer, because a tiny swath of land in neighboring Algeria also has the ideal, semi-arid climate that is perfect for growing argan trees. This Morocco-centric view of Moroccan oil is also being challenged by Israel, a nearby country along the same global latitude which can closely mimic the environmental conditions necessary to grow argan trees. These non-Moroccan locations of Moroccan oil production aren't just trying to cash in on the financial success of Moroccan oil; Israel especially is trying to preserve the argan tree and prevent it from becoming extinct.
Beauty in the Desert: Argan Oil
Argan oil, as stated above, is harvested from the argan tree which is native to Southwestern Morocco and other nearby latitudes. This hardy desert plant has evolved over thousands of years to grow and flourish in a harsh desert climate. Thanks to this plant's triumph over adversity, Moroccan oil possesses several distinct properties which make it one of the most ideal beauty products money can buy today.
For starters, many of the natural vitamins and components of Moroccan oil act as humectants. Humectants can be found in virtually all beauty products, because they draw in moisture and water vapor from the air and draw it in to dry and cracked lips , skin and nails. It is important for desert plants to develop humectant properties due to the arid climate in which they grow. There is so little moisture in the desert that plants which can extract every single molecule of moisture from their environment will have a better chance at survival.
Moroccan oil is also well-known as an emollient. Like humectants, emollients are designed to lock in moisture to increase hydration levels in the tissues surrounding them. This is not only beneficial for the fruits of the argan tree, from which argan oil is harvested, but for customers who use the finished Moroccan oil product as an integral part of their beauty regimen. The emollient properties of argan oil are what make it so popular as a facial moisturizer and a hair conditioner .
From Local to Global: Moroccan Oil and the Changing Moroccan Landscape
The explosion of Moroccan oil's popularity in the first world beauty industry has had a significant impact on socio-economic conditions within the country, as well as around the world. For starters, did you know that only women are involved in the argan oil production process? And with argan oil making such a profit these days, it has vastly increased the economic prosperity for Berber women in Morocco. With the extra income, local women can afford to send their daughters to school and reduce the vast disparity between male and female education levels within the country. They are also working with major companies in the Western world to farm argan oil in responsible, sustainable co-operatives to make sure that these women get a fair price for their product.
The Environmental Impact: Could Argan Oil Disappear Tomorrow?
The meteoric rise of Moroccan oil could not have come at a more convenient time for the argan tree, which has been facing the possibility of extinction in recent years. Various environmental challenges, including climate change and the increase in goat populations on local farms, have been damaging trees and reducing the overall size of the argan forests.
However, desires to profit from this wildly popular cash crop are inspiring local governments to sponsor sustainable farming methods and increase the prevalence of argan forests in the region. Additionally, the argan forests of Southwestern Morocco have been deemed a biosphere reserve, which means they have international funds and support from global interests who wish to see these forests continue to grow and thrive.