Moroccan Argon oil is often referred to as Liquid Gold by Western cosmetics companies, and for good reason. The oil is high in Vitamin E and has age-defying properties which is why you see commercials for hair conditioner and lipstick advertising that they are enriched with Argon oil.
I first discovered this miracle oil in a small shop in Morocco. As I pondered why a small bottle of it would cost so much in the marketplace, the owner informed me that it would make me look like Cindy Crawford. Well, with an endorsement like that, I couldn’t resist. At the time, I had never heard of Argon oil but I bought several products anyway. After doing a little more research, I wished I had purchased a few more bottles of it.
Argon oil is used in everything from cooking oil to hair serum to face oil. It is expensive because the oil is extracted by hand from nuts on the Argon tree which is only found in one location in Morocco.
Worried that I missed my chance to by loads of Argon oil, when my parents (Don and Robbie Hamper) announced they were going to Morocco, I proclaimed the powers of this exotic oil and begged for them to seek out the Argon tree. I was anxious to uncover the source of the oil and find out more about this exotic beauty secret.
Just outside of Marrakech, my parents found the famous Argon trees and visited the Argon co-ops that are run mostly by Berber women.
In an email to home they share rare insights into the labor intensive process for producing this global secret.
Email excerpt from Don and Robbie Hamper:
“The Argon Oil co-op was small and set up for tourists to see how the oil is produced. We see everything from cooking oil and soaps to oil for your skin and body and even honey along with many other products.
The trees look like olive trees. The nut is inside a smooth, tiny green shell. After it is dried, the nut is cracked open by hand with a sharp stone. The kernels are then placed between two slabs of rock and then ground into a brown paste. The paste is then kneaded by hand to extract the pure oil.
Depending on the final product, the nuts are pressed, ground, or roasted.
The extraction process is very labor intensive and only done by Berber women. In fact, it takes several days to produce one liter which is why the oil is so expensive.
The co-op is a government-funded program that allows women to earn an income that they would not otherwise have. Bottles of oil sold in the market must have the label of the women’s co-op.
We thought just getting the rare chance to see the only place in the world where the Argon tree grows would be the highlight of this stop. That is, until we saw the most incredible site of nearly a half-dozen goats IN the Argon tree feasting on those coveted nuts.
It tuns out, in the olden days, this was how the nuts were picked from the trees. The workers collected them after they were expelled by the goats. We are told that the goat’s digestion helped dissolve the outer shell of the nut.
These days, the goats are in the trees more for tourist fascination rather than functionality, but boy what a sight!!”
–Robbie & Don