Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Nature Knows Best

I am a huge fan of oil when it comes to skincare. I use it as a facial cleanser, as a facial moisturizer, and as a body moisturizer. Despite the fact that I have always had pretty oily skin, I've found that oil-based products work best for me. Maybe my sebaceous glands see that they have met their match when I load the oil on, and let up on their own production a little. OPEC in reverse I guess.

So I perked up when I came across a New York Times Style Magazine article last year about the hot new fat/oil. First omega-3s and olive oil...and now argan oil.

Argan oil is, perhaps not surprisingly, made from the argan nut, which grows on trees like this:

The trees are apparently very important in preventing desertification. And the nuts are apparently quite tasty, or at least the goat seems to think so:

The oil is extracted by hand by women (and only women) in the argan oil collectives in Essaouira.

The Morroccan government has started to fund the women's operations, and outside groups are even starting to invest in their ventures, due to increasing popularity of the product abroad. And to make you feel even better about the whole thing UNESCO has designated the argan growing region as a biosphere reserve.

In addition to all of this women empowerment and responsible environmental practices stuff, I found argan oil to be especially interesting because to get the benefits all you have to do is rub it onto yourself. I'm not such a fan of the whole omega-3 craze since to get those benefits I need to either eat mackerel (which I have tried to like but simply can't get there...and yes, I'm aware that salmon has massive amounts of the fatty acid, but I feel like it is getting hard to find any decent salmon these days, even if you're willing to pay for it) or take suspicious looking capsules (does anyone believe that the weird gelatin outter layer is not on some level terrible for you?) . So everytime I read about the wonders of the fatty acid I just feel guilty about my lack of intake.

Anyway I tucked the argan oil knowledge in the back of my brain and forgot about it.

But then I saw it popping up in various cosmetics, in magazines and in skincare products. And I started thinking about it again. And then I began running low on my normal face oil and my skin began to freak out with the cold, dry weather (despite my trusty humidifier), so I decided to take the plunge.

I took a trip to my favorite East Village store, SOS Chefs, to see if Atef could hook me up. And of course she could. She sold me a bottle of argan oil that was probably four times the size of my face oil bottle and, at $25, only cost twice as much.

When bedtime rolled around I washed my face and broke into the bottle. It smelled like the most incredible, nutty nut you could ever imagine. So of course I tasted it rather than slathered it on my face. Delicious. Decadent, rich, complex. And sort of...peppery? Just trust me, it is like nothing you have ever experienced before. And the color...well let's just say that I can understand why they call it liquid gold.

Eventually I got around to putting some of the oil on my poor face. I wasn't expecting any miracles, but I'll tell you, I got one. Actually a few. I woke up the next morning with no redness, no tenderness, no flaking, and a seriously diminished zit. Lesson of the day? The Moroccans know skincare. Second lesson of the day? Do not let cosmetics companies interfere with the wonder that is nature. Go for the real stuff.


wambalus said...

don't forget the health benefits of eating it as well - it makes the most delicious, nutty salad dressing and goes really well with beets and watercress.

P said...

This is so interesting...I'd like to try it. I've heard coconut oil is great for the skin as well.

Laura said...

Coconut oil is great...I use it for maintaining my cast iron pans, and always make sure the rub in what's left on my hands when I use it. It's solid at room temperature though, so I think I might find it a bit difficult to use on my skin generally.

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