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Argan Oil - the Full Story

You guys, I thought I knew the story on Argan Oil when I wrote this piece over three years ago.  In some cases I did, but in most cases I just knew what USED to happen with Argan Oil, not what was happening NOW.  As I looked for who to source mine from (you can't get it locally as the trees only grow in Morocco) I went down a rabbit hole of information and I'm here to share the highlights with you.

First off, why is it good?
It is AMAZING at healing, hydrating and anti-aging.  It is dry in the Moroccan Semi Desert and Argan Oil is a magical combination of Antioxidants (Vitamin E), Fatty Acids (Omegas 3, 6 and 9) and Polyphenols (another anti-oxidant) which are anti-inflammatory.  Known as "liquid gold" Argan Oil is full of awesome goodies and is an awesome addition to any skincare routine.

Click HERE to hear me talk about the benefits and how to use Argan Oil
What do I use it for?
So many things - first, your face - it's great to mix into your serum/moisturizer or just use it as your moisturizer.  Same for body and for nails.
For hair you can use it as a treatment on your scalp or your ends or even a heat-protectant pre hot tools.
For new moms and babies it's totally safe and wonderful for diaper rash, skin irritations, breast feeding help and stretch marks.
It's also great post bug bite or burn - I speak from personal experience on the burn front.

The women's co-op that I work with, Al Amal
Woman press it by hand, right?
Sometimes - it wasn't previously a huge industry for Berber women as it was so labor intensive - though some had been sold at local markets. The process starts with the women harvesting the fruits in the summer (an Argan tree takes 14 years to produce fruit!!), dry them in the sun, removing the pulp, cracking the nut, roasting the seeds (today only seeds used for cooking oil are roasted - those used for cosmetics are raw), extracting the oil and then decanting it.  It took 5-6 hours to get 8 oz of oil!

Fresh Argan Fruit, Sundried Fruits, Seeds
Nowadays there are women's co-ops, like the one I work with, who go through the seeds by hand (because goats climb in the trees and poop out nuts from the Argan fruit - so they skip those - true story), dry it in the sun, depulp, hand crush the nuts on a stone, use a screw press to extract the oil, decant it (for 3 days at least), strain it and pop it in a stainless steel tank (more on that later).  It then goes over a facility where it is decanted some more, put through more filtration and then packed and shipped off around the world.  The women all split the income from the sales and are treated as partners as well as learn how to run as business and are able to support their families.

Click HERE to learn about co-op vs. industrial production
Awesome!  So that's how it's made now?
Approximately 10% of the Argan Oil on the market is made that way.  That's it.

Yep, much of Argan Oil is done totally by machine and doesn't benefit local women at all.

I'm confused.
I know!  Here's the deal - most of the forests that are left have been bought up by corporations and the local communities never had a chance.  The majority of Argan oil on the market today is industrially produced - it's cheaper and quicker.  If it is inclusive of women they generally work alone, as opposed to together in a group, and are given paltry wages as opposed to a cut of the overall business.

Tool for pressing the seeds to form a paste

So those lovely ladies in scarves aren't making my oil?
It's possible they are but they probably aren't sharing in the profits if so.

Okay, is that the only difference?
No.  Industrialized-produced Argan Oil has a couple of things working against it - one is heat.  Industrial presses heat the oil which alters its composition and kills so many of the amazing anti-oxidants.  Some even use chemicals like Hexane (which will dissolve rubber cement) as a solvent.

The other is quality of the raw seeds - when you have humans thoughtfully going through fruit/nuts they aren't grabbing the ones the goats already ate (and expelled) nor are they grabbing rotten ones.  They move quickly in small batches and the seeds don't have the chance to oxidize which is a huge issue in mass produced oils.

Oh Lord, I just wanted to get a moisturizer.
I know, I hear you - I felt the same way when I was learning all of this.

Click HERE to hear what your Argan Oil should look/smell like
So heat, what does that have to do with Cold-Pressing?
Great question!  Cold-Pressing means that no heat higher than 120 degrees has been applied to an oil.  Cold-Pressed oils retain all of their aroma and nutrients.  They generally cost more because the labor is more intensive.  You want Cold-Pressed.

Okay, you said "aroma" - if Argan Oil doesn't smell like anything - is that bad?
Cold-Pressed Argan Oil should have a very light "nutty" smell that dissipates within moments of being applied.  Back to the quality of raw seeds - many companies sell "deodorized" Argan Oil to eliminate the rancid smell of oxidized seeds or ones our goat friends ate.

Even if it's Organic?!
Here's the thing - nearly all Argan Oil is organic as they don't use fertilizers or any of the other junk we like to put on crops here.  Organic doesn't mean it wasn't deodorized and doesn't mean it wasn't done totally by machines.  If it was cold-pressed by a women's co-op they will TELL you because they're proud of it and it cost them more.

So does yours cost a lot?
It certainly cost me more than the deodorized machine produced ones I could have bought but I priced it so it's competitive at $35 for 2 oz and $12 for the roller ball.

And yours is in an amber glass bottle - no plastic?
Yes, you want your Argan Oil in glass or metal (aluminum or stainless steel).  Plastic can leach Bisphenols (BPAs) in to the oil and many companies ship their oil over in plastic containers for weeks and then once it gets to the US they pour it into glass jars.  If you have a question - ASK.

So yours is...
Shipped over in metal containers and then I put into glass bottles, yes :)!  And the bottle is amber as light can break down it's yummy properties.

Alright, anything else I should know?
The women's co-op I work with is working to plant new Argan trees as the forests are shrinking due to industrial agriculture (it steals the water the trees would normally get), urban sprawl, wood harvesting (though this is now mostly illegal) and goats.

It is also owned by a women and employs women.  Some of the co-ops are actually owned by men who don't split the profits with the women they employ which, in my mind, defeats the whole purpose of a co-op.  Those are a couple more reasons why I wanted to work with them specifically.

Great!  So where do I get it?


Think Dirty's App - The Best & Worst Thing to Happen to Your Bathroom

I'm going to ruin your life and make it so much better all in one swoop - by introducing you to the Think Dirty App I am putting you on a road (and a black hole - sorry!) that will have you scanning every barcode in your bathroom and entering every skincare item you've ever put on your face.  You will groan with annoyance when favorite products are "in the red" and let out a yelp of happiness when they're "in the green".  Here's how it works:

After downloading the free Think Dirty App (avail on Apple, soon to be on Android) consumers scan the barcode for or type in the name of a beauty product - haircare, makeup, skincare, bath/body, etc. - and if enough folks have looked up that same product it will have been added to Think Dirty's database.  Companies can also have their products added (after running their ingredient decks through the third party) if they'd like to share their ratings with the public.

Think Dirty tells you how the product ranks in three categories
  • Carcinogenicity
  • Developmental and Reproductive Toxicity
  • Allergies and Immunotoxicities

You get an ingredient list by "color" and you can click on each ingredient which links to studies that tell you why it's getting a Green (0-3), Yellow (4-7) or Red (8-10) Rating and then you can make your decision of whether that makes it a make or break situation for you.  

For example, I love Carol's Daughter Monoi Hair Mask and it gets a 9 (red - bad!) because of the added fragrance which is a 9 and then some so-so ingredients that are in yellow.  Now, I love that fragrance and I'm washing it out of my hair, not leaving it on my skin so I'm totally fine with it.  If it were a skincare item, like the Coppertone Water Babies that I used to wear as I assumed stuff targeting babies would be healthy (wrong!), with other ingredients I don't like, or if it had fragrance and it was skincare, then that would make me cut it.  So, you kind of have to decide what your "line" is and then purchase differently next time which is super easy as most of the products on the app have a "Shop" option where you can purchase them online.

But I love the app because I feel like it gives you education and information - and I don't want it to come from a fear-based place but an "oh, I didn't know that.  Next time I will purchase something different" type of place.  And you can literally scan stuff at the store!!  

So, how does Erin's Faces stack up???  At this moment I've got my skincare listed so here's how it shakes out - see how your favorite products fare!  If you have a fave please head over to Think Dirty and "like it" :) - 

These guys are all detergent, sulfate and dye free (the black is from charcoal).

Anti-aging powerhouses with no silicones or petrochemicals - yes please!

Gentle and hydrating - just what the doctor ordered.

Hardcore lifters and firmers in here do great work without any icky stuff.

All of these are officially baby safe goodies for your little ones - even infants!

These scrubs are made with essential oils instead of added synthetic fragrances.

Hydrating, soothing and so luxurious!

Toxin-free in arenas (mosquito spray and room spray) that are notorious for adding chemicals and synthetic fragrances.


Girl Crush - Tony Award Beauty 2015

The Tony Awards were last night (yay!!) and there was so much pretty happening on the red carpet - though I have to be honest that the internet is full of pictures of beautiful women who attended the Tony Awards but have nothing to do with American Theatre, so I tried to keep it to women who are IN the theatre so here we go - 

Bold Lips:

Chita Rivera's (The Visit) bold red lip matched her dress and wrap

Gretchen Mol (Disgraced) was giving you a classic brick lip

I loved Vanessa Hudgens' (Gigi) Heidi braid and tomato lip

Leann Cope (An American in Paris) danced BEAUTIFULLY and wore a berry lip on the carpet

Elizabeth Moss' (The Heidi Chronicles) whole situation made me so happy - she just looked like spring and flowers and pink - loved!

Lisa Kron (Fun Home) had beautiful skin and a berry lip 

Patricia Clarkson (The Elephant Man) pulled the red from her dress in her lip choice

I thought Ruth Wilson's (Constellations) choice of wearing a fuchsia dress and pairing it with a red lip was a fun one

Lydia Leonard (Wolf Hall) had immaculate skin and a berry lip 

I LOVED Geneva Carr's (Hand of God) whole look - hair, makeup, dress - the whole nine

Victoria Clark (Gigi) looked like a movie star with her honey hair, deep lip and navy dress - gorgeous!

Fun Eyeliner:

Patina Miller (formerly in Pippin) went with a clean face with a thicker liner and lashes

Amanda Seyfried (The Way We Get By) also had clean skin and fully rimmed eyes that made her blue eyes pop

Annaleigh Ashford (You Can't Take it With You) looked SO PRETTY!  Winged liner, glowy skin, nude lip - I loved it


I appreciate that Sutton Foster always is true to her aesthetic of being natural but polished

And Bernadetter Peters is 68 ya'll - USE YOUR SUNSCREEN and you too can look like this

Carey Mulligan (Skylight) went for a soft lip shade that pulled from her dress color

Helen Mirren (The Audience) always looks gorgeous and her watermelon lip with a pink cheek was perfect with her white dress 

Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home) looked like a beachy bronzey natural beauty on the red carpet

She won!!!  Kelli O'Hara (The King and I) always goes classic but did do a heavier eyeliner than usual and I thought she looked stunning.

I thought Kristin Chenowith (On the Twentieth Century) looked so pretty in her silver dress and natural makeup

Laura Osnes had a beautiful raspberry lip

Don't you love this face?! Sydney Lucas (Fun Home) wore age appropriate makeup for her first Tony nomination

And Ruthie Ann Miles (The King and I) gave you a soft smoky with a contoured cheek - yes please!

Photos from Getty Images, Just Jared and Zimbio