Morrocan Argan Oil Massage
What massage therapist could possibly go on a trip to Morocco and not bring back a bottle of the famous Argan Oil (or "Liquid Gold" as I've heard it called) ?
Well, definitely not me! The minute I arrived I was on the look out for a bottle...or two.
I knew that Argan oil is in great demand in Europe due to its medicinal value. The Berbers have long used the oil for healing purposes, but thanks to modern research, the oil is increasingly being recognised as a prized cosmetic.
Argan oil contains essential fatty acids, Omega 6, linoleic acid, and Vitamin E. Each of these components is unique and useful for different reasons. Some act as antioxidants, while others help with chronic inflammation. This makes the oil very effective in treating an assortment of skin ailments such as acne, dry skin conditions, fine lines, wrinkles, and eczema. The oil is very gentle on the skin and it is safe even for babies.
What I didn’t realise until I spent some time in Morocco was how vital argan oil is to the local economy, to the environment and even to the empowerment of Moroccan women.
The stumpy argan tree is unique to this part of the world. It is very hardy and can survive temperatures of up to 50°C, so it is an important weapon against desertification in Southern Morocco. 30 years ago, extensive deforestation left the tree on the brink of extinction. Today, UNESCO has designated the 26,000 square km argan-growing region as a bio-sphere reserve. 60,000 new trees are planted every year.
Argan oil is also critical for the local economy – providing firewood and oil for humans – and fodder for goats. Everywhere you go in the Souss region, you can spy flocks of goats clambering amongst the trees, browsing for the argan fruit.
All very well, but how does this affect the Moroccan women?
In traditional, rural Morocco, women would not go out to work, but the soaring demand for Argan oil has changed this. To produce just one litre of oil requires 30 kg of nuts and 15 hours of manual labour –work which is solely performed by women.
The new-found international popularity of argan oil has provided about 5,000 jobs for Berber women. Dozens of women’s cooperatives have sprung up to produce the profitable oil. Women have started to become more self-reliant with the knowledge that they can provide for themselves and their children on their own. Many women are now the main breadwinners at home. Their success is encouraging other women to set up businesses of their own.
So I was on the look out for an organic, good quality oil, made by a women’s co-operative – and I eventually found one deep in the souks of Marakesh. I’ll be using it in all my Indian Head Massage and Face Massage treatments – helping both your skin AND your social conscience to feel good!