In the fickle world of beauty, there’s always some new miracle ingredient. Usually it involves incomprehensible chemicals and decades of research. Argan oil is this winter’s beauty buzz, but refreshingly, it literally grows on trees. The argan tree – or Tree of Life – as it’s known locally, is only found in a tiny corner of South West Morocco. The oil is extracted from the nut and is exceptionally high in vitamin E – the highest content of any plant oil globally – and fatty acids which soften the skin. It can help to reduce wrinkles by restoring the skin’s water lipid layer and it also soothes inflammation. For the cold weather which is surely just round the corner, it’s absolutely ideal.
Ruth Hajioff, of Wild Wood Groves (0208 458 2738), employs a team of local Berber women to extract the oil. ‘It takes around thirty hours to manually crack enough nuts between a stone and a stone anvil to make a litre of facial oil’ says Ruth, who sells it through her website. Prices are exceptionally low – her Rescue Serum starts at just £14 and the Body and Bath Blend is from £9.50. The sharp spiny thorns on the tree prevent the fruit from being picked by hand, but historically goats used to climb the trees to devour the fruit so that the Argan Groves became known as the Tree Meadows. Although it’s possible to extract the oil from softened nuts which have passed through the animal, the quality is less high, and the smell redolent of goat.
Many companies are only adding the purest of essential oils to their products – Grasse based perfumer Fragonard produces a luxury version called Vrai Argan Oil, which has a light lemony smell. Other ranges are choosing to incorporate more sophisticated ingredients. The eleven products within newly relaunched French range AR457 contain up to 98% pure pure Argan oil but also such additions as phystosterols – which revive cell activity. Kylie Minogue has pronounced herself a fan of their [lyf] Elixir Metaserum (£77.25) and Colin Firth also uses the range. The exfoliator literally leaves skin looking glowing
It’s unusual to find a one-size-fits-all beauty product, especially one which is ecofriendly and ethically sourced, but Argan oil ticks all the boxes. Most importantly, after just a couple of weeks of using it, your refreshed and moisturised skin will be thanking you.
By Alice Smellie
[picture credit: Wenn; Robbie’s Photo Art]