Argan oil has been an all-around ingredient for Moroccan cuisine for as long as the locals remember and is deemed as a panacea for a variety of skin woes, particularly to Berber women – an ethnic group living and thriving in North Africa. But despite the local popularity of this oil, it has remained relatively unknown to the rest of the world until recently when huge skin, hair and nail care companies have started integrating it in their formulas. Marketed as an effective moisturizing agent and a wonderful anti-aging remedy, women of different ages and stations have shown massive interest in the wonder oil many dub as “liquid gold”. What makes argan oil from morocco different from other similar oils already existing in the market is that it is completely devoid of silicone and other artificial ingredients. It has a rich and valuable content of argan oil that can be used to rehabilitate dry and damaged hair (from too much chemical exposure), to moisturize the face to keep dryness, wrinkles and fine lines at bay, to substitute regular toners and make-up removers, to exfoliate the lips, to condition the hair and to keep the nails strong and healthy. Many famous Hollywood personalities swear by the benefits of argan oil and always keep a bottle of this in their beauty arsenal. You’ll find celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Selena Gomez and Eve Mendez vouching for the multitude of benefits this oil can offer. But what really makes the argan oil industry such a force to be reckoned with is how it empowers Berber and Moroccan women. Argan oil is mainly harvested from the Argan trees that grow exclusively in Morocco. The whole process of extracting the oil from the fruits that grow from these trees is nothing but a labor of love. First, the nuts are harvested from the trees. They are dried up out in the open before the workers remove the pulp that cover the nut. The nuts are then cracked to reveal the argan kernel inside where the oil has to be extracted by hand. In the past few years, attempts to simplify these processes through mechanical means have been unsuccessful. To this date, extracting argan oil still has to be done by hand, which is a great thing for the locals, particularly to the Berber or Moroccan women as it provides them with a livelihood. Big companies mining liquid gold in Morocco have started opening organizations and cooperatives to support local women. For instance, Neal’s Yard Remedies, a British company specializing in creating organic health products have organized the very first women’s only cooperative focused on creating argan oil in Morocco. The cooperative was established in 2007 and made up mostly by women who were attending a literacy class back then. Years later, it has grown into this huge cooperative whose sole purpose is to provide a livelihood for local Berbers so the women will also be able to support their family financially. It is a huge change from the usually male-dominated Berber culture and community. The women do everything by hand – from collecting the raw materials to the transporting and to the pressing. They are also given free reins to the administration of the cooperative. With the money they earn from Argan oil processing, these women are able to send their kids to school. It also empowered them in such a way that they are no longer financially dependent to their husband. Additionally, these women are also given the opportunity to educate themselves – having literacy centers put up that they can attend. These women now also have access to health care training where they can learn the various ways to enter the health care field. This gives them so many options when it comes to a potential career or a new line of work. It’s a far cry from the usual cleaning jobs they are offered when they go to the city. The empowerment doesn’t just end there. Once shy and reserved, Moroccan and Berber women have begun coming out of their shells. They have gained the confidence they need to interact with various people. Many women have confessed to gaining a feeling of self-worth. Their newfound position in their community has given them a sense of well-being that cannot be easily taken away. It’s not always work for these women too. In their workplace, it is a mixture of work and play as the women are able to engage in small talks, dance together and joke around, thereby elevating the quality of their life. And because the demand for argan oil has increased in the past few years, these women have their whole livelihood cemented for them. Argan oil is indeed a lifesaver not just for women who are in dire need of a skin or hair boost but also for the local Berber and Moroccan women who mine them. Argan oil is not just a symbol of health, it’s also a feminist symbol. Without it, so many Berber and Moroccan women would not have been able to improve their lives.
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