Moroccan Women and Argan Oil

Moroccan Women and Argan Oil

Moroccan women have always considered their appearance as an art form, dressing to thrill beneath sober jellabahs, and often using cosmetics well into old age. Traditional beauty products ensure their faces remain unlined, antimony lining their eyes, red salve blushing cheeks and lips. Their hair is scented with crushed rose buds and cloves, heena adding lustre. In fact heena is universally used to decorate hands and feet for special occasions with professional heena painters hired before weddings and festivals to create intricate floral and arabesque designs. In particular, argan oil has been used for countless centuries as an anti-ageing product, and has many other functions as well. It moisturises and nourishes dry and sensitive skin, helps erase skin blemishes and treats juvenile acne. Argan oil revitalises hair, protecting it from the sun, enhancing shine. It is also used for soap.

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You guessed it – the West has ‘discovered’ argan oil. Its time is NOW. Only ten years ago, it was barely known outside Morocco, the only country where today the trees grow. From a natural Berber ingredient, it’s become one of the most prized oils in the world, and a key component in many Western beauty products. In particular, its anti-ageing properties are hot property for international skin-care companies, with whole lines of beauty products based on argan oil. In 2007, only two U.S. companies named it as an ingredient. In 2014, 111 Western manufacturers used it. Watch this space—for instance, the Moroccan government plans to triple annual production (around 3,000 tonnes at present) by 2020. Its highly nutrient-rich composition contains about 80% polyunsaturated fatty acids including Vitamin E and an Omega-6 constituent called linoleic acid, which have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, ensuring that its use has gone viral, not just for skin and hair care, but health and diet too.

Locally, argan oil has always been considered as a valuable medicine. The anti-inflammatory component treats arthritis, and the oil’s ability to lower cholesterol addresses other serious cardio-vascular problems, including heart failure and blood circulation, as well as obesity and stomach complaints. Research results have shown that regular intake of argan oil leads to reduced levels of harmful triglycerides, as well as cholesterol, compared to a diet containing animal fats. Argan is now considered the ‘king’ of vegetable oils. Applied directly to burns, it accelerates healing. It even tackles fertility problems.


Originally trained as a photographer, Juliet Highet lived in East & West Africa as well as India, subsequently also travelling to 52 countries. In Nigeria she began writing professionally and on her return to UK began editing books and magazines. Highet is widely published on travel, the arts, perfumery and much more. She is the author of Frankincense: Oman’s Gift to the World, and a specialist in contemporary Arab culture and its heritage.

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