Zoubida Charrouf and the Story Behind Morocco’s Argan Oil – CNN’s African Voices

CNN, African Voices, by Errol Barnett (March 10, 2014) — Zoubida Charrouf is a professor and research scientist in Morocco who wanted to save the argan tree forests, which are indigenous to Morocco and deeply rooted in the country’s culture and history, but were in danger of being squeezed out between the advances of rapid regional development and the encroachment of the vast Sahara desert.

With her research, Charrouf discovered that argan oil, with its unique cosmetic and culinary qualities, could be the key to both saving the argan tree and empowering rural Berber women who had little opportunity for employment or education. Until, that is, the passion of one professor unlocked the door to what is now a remarkable story of environmental success and women’s empowerment.

CNN’s Errol Barnett interviews Zoubida Charrouf, the mother of the argan oil revolution in Morocco, in a three-part series for African Voices:

 

Watch it here:

Part 1: Passion drives Moroccan professor

Part 2: Inside Morocco’s argan oil co-op

Part 3: The business of argan oil

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The truth about Argan Oil

‘Oh Moroccan Argan Oil, I put it in my hair, I didn’t know you could put it on your skin……’?

Moroccan Argan oil has become incredibly popular over the last few years as a hair care product and has been hailed as ‘the secret of Moroccan women’.

This statement always makes me slightly squirm. Last time I checked with my mother and the women in my family, we weren’t keeping a bottle of argan oil as a secret from the rest of the world in a box with our incense and jewels.

Many Moroccans say when asked about the oil ‘Oh Argan Oil, I dip my freshly baked warm bread in it, make Amlou or use it for cooking and salads’. You see the difference between cosmetic argan oil and culinary argan oil is that one comes from the unroasted argan kernel and the culinary oil comes from the roasted argan kernel. Pure cosmetic Argan Oil is incredible for SKIN, HAIR and NAILS.

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Fresh baked Moroccan bread

So how do you know if you are buying the real stuff?

1. Packaging
Clear or even worse plastic packaging is a gianormous no no!! This should be a very big red light alert! Any self respecting producer of Argan Oil knows the worth of this oil and would never ever put their precious oil in clear or worse plastic packaging. Clear packaging makes the oil detoriate. The light breaks down the great properties of the oil. So make sure your argan oil comes in a dark glass bottle.

2.Read
Read your ingredient listing. ‘Pure Argan Serum’, ‘Moroccan Argan Oil’, ‘Moroccan Berber Oil’ are a few terms that are being used by hair care brands to make you think what you are buying is pure. It’s very simple. If argan oil is the fourth, fifth or sixth ingredient on the list, it means you are not getting the full benefits of the oil. You might as well go and crack open that very expensive bottle of champagne, dilute it with 20 liter of luke warm tap water and say you are drinking champagne. Catch my drift?

3. Smell
Pure Argan Oil does not contain any added perfumes or scents. Cosmetic argan Oil has this beautiful slight nutty scent that dissolves after a couple of seconds after application. If your oil smells really strong, it might mean that the oil has gone rancid.

4.Pricing
I got a bargain and paid ten bucks for this Oil. That is not going to happen I am afraid. Argan oil is a labour intensive oil, it takes a long time to produce one liter of this precious oil. On the bright side, you only need a small amount for your skin, nails and hair. A bottle will last you anywhere from 3 to 6 months.

5. Quality
Like olive oil, there are differences in quality in Argan Oil. Unfortunately the industry has gone absolutely rampant and there is more demand in Argan oil. Some producers don’t wait until the nuts have ripened and try to harvest the nuts before they are ready, which produces bad quality argan oil. (I will talk more about the industry in a future blog post).

6.Sediment
Check your argan oil, if it is even and clear it might be too refined. Good quality cosmetic Argan Oil has some sediment or cloud. The less the oil has been put through strainers or deodorised the better.

7. Feel, look and touch
Pure Argan Oil has a beautiful light texture, it is not slimey and is absorbed by your skin immediately and has a light golden colour.

8. Age
The freshest argan oil is the best oil. Look for oils that are recently pressed, not ones that are gathering dust on the shelves of shops. Mira’s Hand argan oil is flown out every three months and pressed in small batches especially for us.

Read my follow up blog post here.

At Mira’s Hand we offer the highest quality available of pure Organic Moroccan Argan Oil.