For the last five years I have been working hard at making the best quality Argan Oil available to the world. And to be honest, at times it has been an uphill battle!
Over the years, Argan Oil has become something that people are hearing about and becoming interested in. One learns of the potential benefits, and wants to try it for oneself!
Some start with a product that contains just a bit of Argan Oil in it. Like a shampoo or a lotion. Results vary depending on the rest of the ingredients and exact formulation of the product.
Then some move on to consider trying Argan Oil that is 100% pure. Recently, bottles of "100% Argan Oil" are becoming more readily available. Popping up in salons, pharmacies, health stores, and even local grocery stores. Some just cost a few dollars an ounce. Again, results vary.
ANY kind of oil will hydrate the skin and hair to various extents. But excellent Argan Oil can do so much more than just add a bit of moisture. It can decrease inflammation, soothe, nourish, repair, decrease wrinkles and even heal. But unfortunately, a lot of the oil available is so poorly made (or diluted or even totally fake!) that the wonderful results are not seen.
But beyond this, some brands are bottling "Pure Argan Oil" that is actually dangerous for four main reasons. Fortunately, Argan Oil that is done right offers nothing but benefits. But there is a darker side to this industry.
The first danger is found right in the manufacturing process.
The vast majority of companies sell Argan Oil that has been machine pressed, most often using incredible amounts of heat that damages the oil. That in itself is not actually dangerous per se, but it does decrease the effectiveness of the oil.
The real danger can come in when chemical solvents are used. Getting oil from the raw kernels from inside the pits of Argan fruit is much like trying to "squeeze blood from a stone" as the cliche goes. But heat from machinery gets the kernels to be more generous. And solvents help producers to get an even higher yield for the precious (and expensive!) kernels that have been purchased. It will come as no surprise that chemical solvents have no place in a natural product.
The most popular solvent used in the production of Argan Oil is hexane. Hexane is a chemical derived from crude oil and it is used to make things like glue and paint. It is also used to make edible oils as well as oils for beauty and wellness. Ingesting and inhaling hexane causes things like nausea, dizziness, irritation in the lungs and intestines, and it can even effect the central nervous system to a startling degree in high enough concentrations.
Unfortunately, traces of hexane can remain in food and beauty products after they have been manufactured. Using such products orally or topically is said have an effect on people over time with prolonged use.
The use of hexane in production has an effect on environmental ecology as well. This is not what we want when we are looking for natural products, is it? Saadia Organics Argan Oil is produced no where near any hexane or chemical solvents. It is hand-pressed using only traditional methods which does not allow for any harmful substances.
The second danger expands on the idea of environmental effects.
Argan Oil is made from the innermost part of the fruit of the Argania spinosa tree which is mainly found in Southwestern Morocco. In the past, Moroccan people often would chop down the trees to use them for fire wood. One good thing that the Argan Oil industry has brought is protection for these precious trees, as the production and selling of the oil has brought some money into Morocco.
But even so, the trees are often not treated as well as they should be. Have you ever heard of (or seen pictures of) goats in the treetops of rural Morocco? Such a sight! But goats are far too heavy for those delicate branches. And farms that have goats roaming around on them will inevitably have visibly damaged trees. The money that a landowner makes from selling the pits of the Argan fruit is often used to invest in goats. But those goats really harm the trees.
A forward-thinking producer knows that goats should not be allowed anywhere near the Argan forests. Unhealthy trees means unhealthy fruit. And it also means a lot less fruit per tree.
There can also be problems with regard to harvesting, too. The best way to harvest the fruit is to let nature take its course. When the fruit is ripe, it will fall from the tree. The fruit can then be picked up off the ground for peeling, and then the pits on the inside can be cracked to release that oil-producing kernel inside. However, demand for Argan fruit has led to aggressive harvesting practices which certainly do nothing for the health of the trees.
We at Saadia Organics use the gentle, natural method of harvest. And we are also planting new Argan trees on a farm that our Production Manager (Saadia) owns. It does take time to have these new trees to grow large enough to produce fruit (15-20 years!) So it is important to treat the trees that are already fruit-bearing kindly.
The third danger of buying Argan Oil from the wrong company is in how the women who help in making the oil are treated.
Life in Morocco for a woman is not always fair or easy. Fortunately, the current king has been taking steps for a more egalitarian society. However, there still is a way to go.
Women who are employed by Argan Oil producers are paid really low wages and their work environments are often dirty and uncomfortable. Also, culturally, Moroccan women are known to be modest. And the big bosses know that tourists who are allowed to watch these poor women working will take pity on them and buy more products. No woman wants to be pitied. And these women in particular do not enjoy being watched and photographed as they do manual labour. (Who can blame them?)
Any product worth investing in should be made ethically, treating the workers fairly and with dignity. At Saadia Organics we pay excellent wages and give the women a private, happy work environment. Allowing an unethical business to continue to get rich off of exploiting women in any way, shape or form is just not right.
The final danger of buying the wrong brand of Argan Oil lies in the type of customer service offered.
Over the last five years we have heard some horror stories! Be sure to buy from a company that offers a refund if you are not happy with the product. It is extremely rare for us at Saadia Organics to have someone request a refund after using our oil. But when someone does request to return it (which is less than 0.001% of our sales), we will take it back. We just request that this is done within 45 days. Few other brands are as generous.
Not only do many brands refuse to have a money back guarantee, but we have heard of one in particular that has a rather odd practice. It has been told that when a person orders a bottle of their Argan Oil, the customer's credit card information is stored. And instead of just a one-time order, their order is put on a monthly billing/shipping schedule. Customers say that they were not aware that this was going to happen, and many have complained that they could not get anyone from the company to even discuss the matter with them, let alone cancel this unwanted "subscription". Some individuals amidst this situation have reached out to us asking if this was standard practice in the industry (NO!) and said that their only option was to get their current credit card cancelled and replaced. That is beyond poor customer service!
If you have any questions for us at Saadia Organics do not hesitate to contact us. We always answer emails and Facebook messages within a day (or two at the most if your note comes to us on a holiday). We look forward to hearing from you!