Argan oil ethically sourced from a traditional Moroccan women's cooperative.
One of the most challenging aspects of my career as a fashion model was being exposed to a plethora of toxic make-up and hair products. I wouldn't label my skin 'sensitive' but on occasion I reacted to these toxins in various ways. For instance, I have scars on my shoulders that have never fully recovered from a rash I developed in 2012 when covered in layers of toxic body make-up in 40C (100F) heat during an editorial shoot in Bali.
With this knowledge I have made a concerted effort to source certified organic skincare and beauty products that are also vegan friendly to spare animals suffering for the sake of my vanity. I have found that oil based skincare is the best way to manage my oily complexion and apparently oil-based skin care is one secret to anti-aging. I was religiously using coconut oil until it began to dry out my skin and hair, so I began hunting for an alternative beauty product.
I recently connected with Sally Gulliver, founder of Argan Life to learn more about her argan oil skin care range and the story behind her company. I had no previous awareness of argan oil so she generously sent me some products to try and shared her story with me. According to Sally, not all argan oil is of the same quality and her mission is to dispel the myths.
Argan oil also has therapeutic value as a wound healer, anti-inflammatory, anti-acne, and sebum (oil secreted by the skin) regulating oil. When I first smelt the unscented argan oil I thought it was similar to lanolin; an oil/grease/wax secreted from the sebaceous glands of wool bearing animals (typically sheep). While I'm not a vegan, I was relieved to learn that argan oil is actually derived from the kernels of the argan tree.
After experiencing the healing qualities of Argan oil during a trip to Morocco, Sally (pictured above left) decided to make the oil available to others through her business Argan Life. She teamed up with her Moroccan/Australian business partner Adel Naim (pictured above right) who helps Argan Life purchase oil directly from a cooperative of over 80 traditional indigenous Berber women in rural South West Morocco.
This ensures that the local community retains a vital financial interest in their local industry and contributes to keeping argan oil the unique property of Morocco. The women also receive literary classes and education on how to preserve and restore the Argan forests. The cooperative has even been certified in accordance with the Moroccan Department of Agricultural Standards, guaranteeing that the oil is sourced responsibly from a geographically unique argan growing region.
I particularly enjoyed trying the traditional Moroccan bathing ritual, Hammam. It involves taking a steamy shower (traditionally a steam room) to open the skin's pores, then lathering the skin with a soft Beldi Soap made from an environmentally/water-life friendly combination of olive paste, argan oil, and eucalyptus oil. After a few minutes the Kessa exfoliating glove is used to remove dead skin cells and promote blood circulation. After rinsing with water, a Rhassoul clay mask is applied to detoxify the skin. This is rinsed off and pure Argan oil is applied to the whole body.
The oil produced is of such a premium quality that Argan Life also offers a virgin cold-pressed, manually filtered culinary cooking oil. I have been using Argan Life products for over two months now and I have noticed the my shoulder scars have been slowly diminishing and the hair oil has protected my hair from sun and salt water damage. When it comes to my skincare regime, I believe that less is more (e.g. I usually don't wear makeup, as in the first photo), so I love that Argan Life now has me covered for skin, hair, and nail care.
Photograph details and credits: 1. Me (without make-up) using Argan Life deluxe hair treatment serum (by Alastair McCann), 2. Argan kernels and 3. Sally and Adel at the women's cooperative (both by Argan Life), 4. Argan Life Beldi soap and Kessa exfoliating glove and 5. Argan Life deluxe hair treatment serum (by Nerida Lennon).
Update on review
Many months later I am still using these great products and loving them. I have run out of the soft Beldi eucalyptus black soap and exfoliating only with the glove just doesn't give the same results. I plan to make the soap a staple in my beauty regime. The body oil is also a personal favourite. And I continue to use the hair oil - a little bit goes a long way. I prefer the scented argan oil as the scent from the pure unscented oil is a little too strong for me. I've been using these products as I travel the globe and I'm really impressed with the value in terms of cost-per-application. I still stand by my original review that these organic products are beautiful, nourishing, effective and ethical essentials for my beauty regime.
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What do you find inspiring about The Argan Life story? What is your own experience with natural beauty and lifestyle?