We’ve said it before, and we will say it again. All brands of Argan Oil are not created equal. It’s sad, but true.
There are three things to look for as you decide on which brand of Argan Oil to spend your money on.
Beautiful Argan pits ready for cracking.
First, it needs to be authentic. If it’s not real Argan Oil, it’s not worth buying. There is a lot of junky stuff available that is trying to pass for Argan Oil. Some of these products contain as little Argan Oil as 2% or less. Argan Oil is amazing, but if 98% of what’s in the bottle is something else? The Argan Oil’s best properties cannot be enjoyed or benefited from.
But what about brands that say “100% Pure Argan Oil” on the label? Well, if you see this in Morocco, you can be pretty safe to guess that the oil is fake. Much of what you can buy in the souq in the medina will be grossly diluted, or perhaps will just be pure sunflower oil instead. (Sunflower oil is far cheaper than Argan Oil.) It’s not worth the money.
If you are in Morocco visiting an Argan Co-op you probably will be getting pure Argan Oil, but is it ethical? Is it eco-friendly? More on those things later.
As for what you can find online and in shops where you live, it will be a mixed bag. Even if a brand hasn’t diluted their Argan Oil, many of them will have been manufactured by machines and will use chemical solvents to pull the oil out of the kernels of the Argan fruit. Also, the oil might be deodorized. That sounds like it might be a good thing if you aren’t a fan of pure, raw Argan Oil’s green, nutty scent! However, it means heating the oil to 400 degrees for 30-60 minutes. The nutrients are all but obliterated by that point. It’s better to tolerate a scent that you don’t love for the few minutes it takes for the oil to sink in.
So with this in mind, how will you know that you are getting the best, most effective and most authentic Argan Oil on the market?
First, do your research. If they make it hard for you to learn about their brand, perhaps they have something to hide? If they do make information available, read their stories. Are they transparent about where they get their oil from? If they say from “a co-op”, that really isn’t good enough. There has to be more to it than that. Do they give information on the particular co-op that they use? Is it cold-pressed? Or deodorized? Is it hand made? Or machine made? If it’s machine made, have chemical solvents been used? Does the company seem intent on getting the best, quality Argan Oil out into the market, or are they just trying to make some fast cash?
At Saadia Organics, we know our oil is authentic. Saadia and her relatives have been making it for themselves for decades, now they are making it for this company. We have absolutely nothing to gain by selling fake or impure oil. You’ll definitely see the difference in the results. One woman we know ran out of our oil while in the United States and she picked up an expensive, high profile brand of Argan Oil in a high end store. She said “It was nothing like yours! It made me break out! I really didn’t like it at all.”
So that’s #1. Make sure it’s real!
As for #2, try to find a brand that is eco-friendly. Argan trees are protected by UNESCO. They are endangered and the oil that can be gained from the fruit is a lucrative commodity. We are so glad that it is now illegal to chop Argan trees down and use them for firewood.
However, with the demand for Argan Oil rising, harvesting is becoming more aggressive. And once a farmer enjoys his payment for his Argan fruit, he most often invests in goats. And those goats climb the Argan trees and eat the fruit. There is no comparison between a tree that has been climbed by a herd of goats versus one that is on a goat-free farm. The former is ugly with many branches broken, the latter is lush and beautiful – all branches in tact.
Does this tree look healthy and happy to you?
Saadia only buys fruit from goat-free farms for our brand. She also only will buy from a farm that uses the most gentle of harvesting practices. The fruit is not picked from the tree, but is picked off of the ground after it falls naturally. (Don’t worry about cleanliness! Argan Oil is made from the kernel from the inside of the pit of the fruit, so it doesn’t matter if the outer layer got a little dusty at one point.)
In addition, Saadia inherited a farm a few years back. And last year she began to plant Argan trees on it to help with the survival of the species. In October of 2012, my business partner Ainslie and I are going to Morocco to look at purchasing a mature Argan farm for our oil to exclusively be made from. Then we can be sure that our materials will be secured and eco-friendly for years to come.
And finally, #3, the best brands of Argan Oil are ethical. Argan Oil co-ops have been romanticized to high degree. They seem to be these wonderful utopias where women in need are given work and education and ample money to support their families. This might have been true at one time, but many of the co-ops are depressing little places. Wages are as low as 5 Euro or 50 dirhams per day. The women are made to work in a place that makes them visible to the curious eyes and cameras of tourists. Moroccan women are modest by nature. Their Muslim faith and culture makes them uncomfortable with being on display.
Our company prefers our workers to be able to do their hard labour in privacy. When Saadia and her team get together, they make it fun. They can talk and laugh freely and they don’t have to worry about having strangers watching them. They also get to enjoy excellent wages. Their hourly rate is higher than that of a man working in many professional jobs in Morocco. That is something we are very proud of.
So there you have it friends! Be sure that any Argan Oil you buy is Authentic, Eco-Friendly and Ethical!