Is Argan Oil a Magical Elixir?

May 9th – Argan Oil Cooperative, Travel to Essaouira

Along the water front

Along the water front in Essaouira

We have a leisurely morning before departing Marrakesh. The only thing scheduled was for a henna tattoo artist to come to our hotel to paint anyone who was interested. Here is what I ended up with.

Henna tattoo

Henna tattoo

It would take a couple of hours to dry completely so I left it alone all afternoon to make sure it was cured before removing the film and glitter. It will slowly fade and be gone in a week or two.

Driving out of Marrakesh, we passed by some newer, upscale areas which were in stark contrast to the old medina area.

Modern and new part of Marrakesh

Modern and new part of Marrakesh

More modern part of the city

Trees have multicolored paint on their trunks instead of just white

Finally we get to the outskirts of town and the desert raises up to meet us as we glide down the highway in our oversized bus.

Miles and miles of empty road lie ahead

Miles and miles of empty road lies ahead

But the terrain does give us some variety along the way and again I am impressed with the natural beauty of Morocco.

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From sheep and goats grazing…

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To lush farm land and Argan trees

Our only scheduled stop of the day is at the Argan Oil Womens Cooperative to learn how this elixir is traditionally extracted from the argan nut.

First the ripe yellow fruit is harvested, either manually or with the aid of the tree-climbing goats. Since the fruit itself is not used in the oil production, having the goats eat it speeds up the process and eliminates one step for the co-op.

Argan fruit, husk , seed and inner almond.

Argan fruit, husk , seed and inner almond.

Then the women have to go through two more layers to get to the inner almond. This is labor intensive and done by hand, cracking the outer shell with a rock and separating each piece.

Cracking each piece by hand with a stone

Cracking each piece by hand with a stone

Outer husk removed to show inner shell

Outer husk removed to show inner shell

The shell is removed to get to the almond nut inside

The shell is removed to get to the almond nut inside

The almond is revealed

The almond is revealed

Bowl of argan almonds ready to have the oil extracted

Bowl of argan almonds ready to have the oil extracted

When down to the almond it is time to extract the oil. This is again done manually with a draconian era grinding wheel.

Grinding the almond to release the oil inside

Grinding the almond to release the oil inside

So why all the fuss and bother to harvest Argan Oil? In a nut shell, (pun intended), according to the Internet, besides being a nutritional food source, it is being used for:

Skin Treatment
Argan oil contains ingredients that appear to preserve and protect skin. High in unsaturated fatty acids, argan oil helps repair skin cells and allows the skin to retain moisture and nutrients that make wrinkles less noticeable. The oil contains high levels of vitamin E, which neutralizes free radicals that damage skin.

Acne Treatment
A study conducted by a team of Bulgarian researchers found that argan oil mixed with sesame seeds and saw palmetto controlled and reduced levels of sebum, an oil produced by the sebaceous glands that can cause acne. Subjects in the study also experienced a reduction in the appearance of oily facial skin.

Hair Treatment
The same nutrients in argan oil that benefit skin also help the scalp and hair. Argan oil seeps into hair shafts, adding moisture and repairing cell damage. The oil also gives hair luster and strength.

It is NOT cheap to get the pure organic oil, and if you are getting it in most places other than in Morocco, you are probably getting a small percentage of the actual argan oil that has been cut and mixed with other oils and/or additives.

But here at the cooperative we were able to purchase the pure products. They have just the simple oil, or creams for your face, eyes, or feet. They also carry a men’s aftershave, soaps and a few other products.

And yes, I did get a small collection to try to reverse or at least slow down the aging process 🙂

We arrived in Essaouira late in the afternoon in time for a short familiarization tour before checking into our hotel.

What a charming town! Set on the Atlantic Ocean, it is a kite surfing mecca.

Kite surfing

Kite surfing

Home to a variety of left overs from the hippie generation who have remained mellow, artistic and prone to indulging in a green substance that can be rolled or smoked in a hookah pipe.

It is also a burgeoning fishing community.

Fishing Fleet

Fishing Fleet

Along the water front and entering into the old walled city.

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Our guide, Ham, had suggested that we do our shopping here in Essaouira as the prices and choices were excellent. We are looking forward to exploring the shops and back alleys tomorrow in this adorable town.

Fresh squeezed juice please

Fresh squeezed juice please

Inside the walled city:

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And our hotel for two nights.

Overnight: Hotel Dar L’Oussia, Essaouira

GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful for learning about the traditional way that argan oil is produced. The argan tree is grown exclusively in Morocco, however Israel has recently had some success in getting a few trees started there. Whether hype of not, it is being billed by those in the cosmetic industry as a miracle maker. Maybe this time next year I’ll look 10 years younger…

If you are new here, or just recently discovered our blog – WELCOME! We invite you to join us as we continue our exploration around the world, one corner at a time.

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our "next chapter". At a stage in life where traveling the world, taking pictures, and sharing our adventures with friends and family will be our dream come true.
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28 Responses to Is Argan Oil a Magical Elixir?

  1. GeorgieMoon says:

    I’ve got some shampoo with Argan oil in, but I’ve never before thought of those poor Morrocan women sat in the sun, peeling and crushing almonds. And I love your photo of the blue fishing boats.

    Like

    • Dee says:

      Wait until you see how fair trade shea butter is processed. Look up Alaffia and you will truly appreciate these products that most of take for granted.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Georgie, they are not outside, but in a covered building. It is a co-op where they share in the profits based on how many hours they work. Some are full time and others part time if they have young children to care for. The fishing fleet was all crammed into a really tight area.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. paperpopups says:

    Another wonderful story and photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Essaouira sounds like a beautiful place, and getting more popular with visitors. Love the photos showing how varied and beautiful Morocco is!

    Like

  4. Dee says:

    Wait, so you mean to tell me that argan oil is nothing more than almond oil?

    Like

  5. Karen says:

    Hi Joanne:

    Am loving your write-ups and especially the photos. Isn’t Morocco a photographers paradise? It seems to be a world so very different from the one we live in. Oh, and as far as the Argon Oil? It was guaranteed to remove my brown spots — in 30 days or my money back. How did they know I’d be back in the US in 30 days? Guess you know I’ve still got the brown spots! And the leftover Argon Oil!

    Waiting to hear all about Portugal.

    Love, Karen

    Sent from Karen’s iPad

    Like

  6. Oh great – but is your skin now silky soft and wrinkle free under those brown spots, lol…

    Like

  7. mike alesko says:

    Ironically I’m reading your account of argan oil and just watched the CBS Sunday Morning show do a feature on it. Most interesting,. I imagine you learned by what route the product gets from the tree climbing goats to nuts on the ground. Ewww. lol.

    Like

    • Yes, some times the goats do help in the “harvesting”, however these days, argan oil intended for export is produced by women’s cooperatives in southwest Morocco, who gather the fruit straight from the trees – or so we were told 😳

      Like

  8. Trish says:

    The CBS Sunday Morning show featured the cooperative we visited last week!

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  9. I’ve always been amused by the goats participation in the creation of argan oil.

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  10. Hit the send button by mistake. I wanted to comment on your great henna tattoo. 🙂 –Curt

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  11. ardysez says:

    Another very interesting post, Joanne. I’ve used ‘Moroccan Oil’ on my hair for years. Though I’m sure there is little argan oil in it, it still does a nice job. It is so dry here in Central Australia I would love to try some of the real deal argan oil on my skin some time. What length time are you in Morocco?

    Like

  12. Another fascinating post Joanne. There are some wonderful photos in this collection – enough to make me want to see this town of many vowels that’s for sure.
    Alison
    PS I’d like to try some of that argan oil 🙂

    Like

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