Since a few years argan oil is really up and coming as one of the major natural beauty care products. In every drugstore and supermarket you`ll find products these days that claim to contain the precious liquid.
While most of us relate argan oil to Morocco, few know about the process of extraction and why the oil is costly compared to other natural oils.
On our way to Paradise Valley nestled in the Atlas mountains of Morocco, we stopped at botanic gardens that hold an argan oil co-operative. The lush and beautiful small garden holds all sorts of plants and herbs that serve as natural remedies, beauty products or spices and the little tour explains how they are traditionally used in Morocco. Of course, there`s also an old argan tree in the center of the little compound.
A few women are working on argan nuts and the process is explained to us here: first the fresh yellowish nuts are dried until they shrivel into small, dark brown kernels. Then, the outer layer is peeled off, revealing a solid, smooth, light brown, almond shaped kernel. The solid kernel is then broken open with the use of a stone – this has to be done manually, because a mashine would crush the sensitive inner layer – to reveal the white argan nut. In a last step, this precious white nut is pressed to extract the refined cosmetic oil that us used in skin- and haircare.
There`s also argan oil used for cooking. Here, the process is slightly less complicated as the light brown solid kernel does not have to be cracked open manually but is ground into a paste, then dried into a cake and finally pressed to produce cooking oil. Our guide also explained to me that sometimes, the steps of drying the fresh argan nuts and peeling the first layer off are skipped in producing cooking oil by using nuts that have been eaten by goats who will secrete the light brown kernels in their stool. However, this gives the oil a stringent taste.
In the small little shop attached to the garden we were introduced to argan oil in all forms and shapes. We tried some of the cooking oil with bread, as well as other moroccan specialities like amelou – ground almonds mixed with argan oil and sometimes honey. There`s scrubs and lip balm and hair oil and almost any other product one could dream of related to the precious liquid.
When buying argan oil, make sure you buy from a reliable source since often times fake oils and blends are being solds as the real thing these days.
Needless to say, I bought a gorgeous little bottle of argan oil there to take home as a souvenir ♡