Beauty Tourism: My Visit To Where They Make Amazing Argan Oil (an all-female cooperative in Essouira, Morocco)

//Beauty Tourism: My Visit To Where They Make Amazing Argan Oil (an all-female cooperative in Essouira, Morocco)

 Very few things make me excited enough to squeal, but visiting an organic argan oil manufacturing cooperative makes it onto the list.  While in Essouira during our Moroccan voyage, my number one mission was to visit an argan oil field.  I informed Ben that play time on the beach would only happen once I had seen these lovely olive-like treasures turned into precious skin-beautifying liquid.  Thank heavens it was pretty easy to find as argan oil cooperatives are abundant in this area; they are sprinkled all around Essouira. It is a rare fruit to find, and the area between Agadir and Essouira is the only place in the world argan oil is made.  Read on to learn all about argan oil’s efficient production, as well as how I ended up doing skin analysis on some of the lovely ladies in the cooperative…not at all intentionally!
Beyond loving argan oil out of esthetic fanaticism (for dehydration and eczema), I also appreciate it for what it has done to empower women in Morocco as most of it is made at all-female cooperatives.  Part of the impressive women’s movement here, argan oil cooperatives have provided work opportunities and independence for Moroccan women – and our guide introduced us to the widow employees at the cooperative who were now better able to financially support themselves.  Beauty women for women by women for women?  A mouthful to say, but a tongue twister I’m happy to attempt.  Did I mention this cooperative was EcoCert certified?  Each detail made me giddy.

Eco Certified Organic Argan Oil

As the cooperative, Ben and I were led through the argan-making process in both English and French, and at the end we got to taste the toasted argan oil (for cooking) as well as try the different argan oil products they make on-site for skincare.  The process is really interesting, especially because it is done with zero waste, making it very sustainable.  Below are the steps to creating this amazing argan oil.

We begin with the argan plucked right from the tree.

To start: the argan ingredient

Then we need to crack open the argan shells.  These outer shells are then used to feed animals for no wastage!

Crack open the argan shells

After this, there is still another inner layer that must be removed to get at the prized nut.  This layer is also not discarded.  Instead, it is used for fire or fed to animals.

Cracking open the next layer

 

Me failing terribly at cracking open the argan

 

 

Then, the lovely inner argan is ground up into a paste.  The argan oil used in cooking and food is roasted before this stage, but the argan oil used for cosmetics is ground up raw.  This paste can also be used as argan butter…a delicious almond butter-esque treat.  I bought some that was mixed with organic honey (yum!).  It reminds me of how my grandma would grind up black sesame seeds to make gee-ma-woo (black sesame paste used in chinese desserts).

Ground up argan

Then the paste is hand mixed with water and rolled into little cake-like patties.  As this dries, the oil separates from them and is collected.  What is left are dry, black argan cakes that are fed to animals (the guide called them “chocolates for animals”) – or ground up and made into black soap.  Again, super efficient!

Hand mixed with water

 

Argan truffles

 

 

After seeing the argan oil being made, I headed into the cooperative store to taste what had just been produced as well as to browse through all the wonderful items they sold.  While I ran up quite a tab, buying argan oil infused with rose, gardenia, and musk,  I also purchased some argan powder mixed with orange blossom water to exfoliate, some toasted argan food oil (which is AMAZING on salad) and black soap.  I could see that the staff were surprised that I bought so much so I explained in my terrible french that I was an esthetician and loved natural beauty products.  The girls got really excited and asked me to analyze their skin and make some recommendations.  At first I was so surprised that I thought I was misunderstanding something via my high school french capabilities, but no – the guide confirmed in English that they wanted a beauty consultation.

Somehow I ended up not only doing a skin analysis but also explaining the difference between dryness and dehydration, the importance of sun protection, and the connection between poor digestion and acne…all while hoping that I was communicating this effectively in french paired with my best mime skills.  They seemed pretty intrigued, proving that everywhere in the world women share the same interest in self-care and beauty!

Being shown freshly made argan beauty products

An improptu beauty education session with the marjana cooperative team!

2012-06-01T10:55:56-04:00 By |Natural Beautycare|12 Comments

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12 Comments

  1. Rachael @ Holistically Haute September 1, 2011 at 8:55 am - Reply

    Wow! What an amazing experience it must have been to witness and go through the process yourself. Thanks for sharing this! I will be sharing it too 🙂

    • kristen September 1, 2011 at 9:17 am - Reply

      It was amazing! One of the highlights of my trip. The women were so warm, and I was surprised they wanted my skincare advice when they all had such beautiful complexions!

      • Isabella Ng July 18, 2012 at 4:34 pm - Reply

        Thanks for your sharing. It is a precious experience to see and deeply understand how it is made naturally. The pictures widen my horizons 🙂

        • kristen July 19, 2012 at 9:20 am - Reply

          Yes, I loved this part of my trip because seeing how argan can be made was so wonderful.

  2. Nicole September 5, 2011 at 9:18 am - Reply

    I use Kahina Argan Oil Serum, and I LOVE it. It’s made by Moroccan women, and gives 25% of it’s profits back to the women who make it… very cool insight you provided. Thanks!

    • kristen September 7, 2011 at 9:33 am - Reply

      I love when beauty is real beauty inside and out. What a lovely product Nicole!

  3. Omega February 26, 2012 at 11:24 pm - Reply

    I have visited the same coop in 2010. I too had a great experience there. I ran out of my products need replacements. Do you know how to get intouch with them?

    • kristen February 27, 2012 at 11:10 am - Reply

      I’m not sure for retail, but I have a contact for really large wholesale orders. If you email me at kristen (at) pureandsimple.ca I’ll send it to you!

  4. Aja August 16, 2014 at 5:53 am - Reply

    Hi, I’m in Morocco and would like to visit. Can you tell me how to get in touch with this co-op?

    • kristen August 19, 2014 at 10:50 am - Reply

      Aja, please email me and I will try to dig it up. I found it randomly and did not know where I was going (as I was not driving). We order from them so production has the address but I wonder what language its in. I’m sure I can help you though!

  5. Lillian Azar September 4, 2014 at 10:35 pm - Reply

    Hi Kristen, I enjoyed reading your information on the co-ops, and your trip. Must have been a great experience. I would also really appreciate the information of the contact you have for buying in bulk. I will be emailing you :), Thank you for your help.

  6. Leticia Bziz October 21, 2014 at 11:56 pm - Reply

    I’m planing a trip to Morocco and would like to stop by the co-op. Can you tell me how to get in touch with this co-op?

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