Striking Oil

For the past five centuries, the indigenous people of Morocco, known as the Berbers, have recognized the myriad benefits of argan oil, which is extracted from the kernels in the nut that is inside of the fruit grown on the argan tree. Before modern times, the Berbers would collect undigested argan pits from the waste of goats that climbed the trees to eat the nuts. The pits were then ground and pressed to make the oil, which was used for cosmetics and cooking. Over time, more and more benefits have been discovered in argan oil, which naturally contains essential fatty acids and vitamin E, making it an ideal ingredient to incorporate into spa products and treatments. Today, it is harvested and processed in a more sanitary process with the help of machines, but Berber women are still responsible for extracting the oil by using two rough stones between their knees to crack the nuts. And because the oil is so versatile, the demand for the ingredient is rapidly increasing. “Recently, in the U.S., we realized that there are many uses for argan oil,” says Katharine L’Heureux, founder of Kahina Giving Beauty, a line of products containing 100 percent natural argan oil. “It can be used on the skin, in the bath, to condition dry lips and cuticles, and to remove makeup. I actually swallow a teaspoon a day for even healthier, more glowing skin.”

At International Orange (San Francisco), Kahina Argan Oil is incorporated into facial treatments, during which the oil is massaged into the skin to deeply moisturize it. “The antioxidants in this oil help to protect the skin against free radicals that cause the signs of aging while also hydrating, balancing, and restoring skin’s elasticity,” says L’Heureux. “It is an excellent natural treatment for all skin conditions, including eczema and acne.” At Exhale Mind Body Spa (various locations) products from the Kahina line are used in conjunction with other essential oils to provide an even more pleasant experience during the Anti-Aging Facial (starting at $200, 60 minutes).

Another benefit of this multi-tasking oil is its anti-inflammatory effect, which makes it especially useful to help reduce swelling after cosmetic procedures or waxing. At Sisters Skin Care & Waxing (Skokie, IL), which uses Bioelements products containing argan oil, clients can opt for the Urban Detox Post-Op Facial ($105, 60 minutes), which is designed to soothe fragile skin after an aggressive service, such as a peel. It incorporates Bioelements’s Sebum Control, which includes argan. “Because this particular ingredient calms sensitive skin and normalizes secretions of oily skin, we use it in most of our facials,” says manager Gisele Abdo.

Known for its commitment to providing natural products, Aveda has recently introduced Green Science, a line of products that contain skin-renewing ingredients, including argan. “Argan oil is the key ingredient in our Green Science line because it replenishes lipids and restores barrier integrity of the skin, preventing water loss,” says Shelley Bawiec, director of spa sales and education for Aveda. Aveda Concept Spas across the country are offering clients the Green Science Skin Renewing Treatment (starting at $75, 60 minutes), which includes a face, neck, and décolleté massage using Green Science products. “Products containing argan serve not only as part of a corrective solution to aging concerns but also in a preventative role, which makes them suitable for a wide range of demographics,” says Bawiec.

The mighty powers of argan oil also carry over into the haircare arena, as many spas and salons are incorporating products containing the ingredient into hair services, as well. Moroccanoil, a spa- and salon-exclusive line of haircare products, has developed a cult following among celebrity clients and stylists. The products contain a proprietary argan oil blend and are rich in vitamins and phenols to shield the hair from environmental damage. Clients who visit the salon at Wynn Resort & Spa (Las Vegas) are in for a treat when they choose to add on a scalp massage ($25) featuring Moroccanoil to any service. “Not only do clients get a relaxing massage but the product being penetrated into the scalp also leaves hair sleek, shiny, and beautiful,” says Jorgen Nielson, artistic director of the salon.

Using products that contain the ingredient also has a philanthropic angle. All argan oil sold today is produced by womens’ cooperatives in Morocco, which share the profits among local Berber women, providing healthcare and education. This was one of the reasons L’Heureux created Kahina Giving Beauty. “Not only did I notice an immediate improvement in my skin when I discovered argan but I was also intrigued by the story of the Berber women,” says L’Heureux. “It struck me that I could create a skincare line that women would want to use and help the Berber women at the same time.” Aveda also supports the cooperatives by not only purchasing the oil but also donating $20,000 to help fund the purchase of equipment to automate the labor-intensive processing. So, incorporating argan oil into your treatment menu is a win-win: you are not only boosting your bottom line but also contributing to an important cause, all the while helping your clients look good.

Introduce your clients to the power of argan oil with these products.

Agadir Argan Oil Treatment: Rich in argan oil and vitamin E, this nourishing leave-in daily treatment eliminates dry scalp and promotes hair growth, leaving hair healthy and shiny. (866) 307-6777;

Aveda Green Science Firming Face Cream: Formulated with antioxidants, cactus, glucosamine, lady’s thistle, organic argan oil, and peptides, this moisturizer helps smooth fine lines and wrinkles while increasing firmness. (800) 644-4831;

BeBeverly Hills Inspired Shine & Repair Serum: Combining a paraben-free formula with argan oil and other natural ingredients, this serum protects and repairs hair. (888) 283-8010;

Bioelements Sebum Control Massage Treatment: Formulated for oily skin, this massage gel contains argan, saw palmetto, and sesame seed extracts to regulate the skin’s oil production and provide antibacterial protection. (800) 433-6650;

Darphin Age-Defying Lip Balm: This nourishing lip balm is formulated with argan and other essential oils, as well as candelilla wax, mango butter, and rice bran wax to smooth out fine lines. (866) 880-4559;

Dermorganic Leave-in Treatment: Restoring softness and shine while
adding nourishment to damaged hair, this leave-in treatment absorbs instantly
while protecting hair from heat and sun damage. (800) 662-7839;

Emmett Cooper Grooming Crème: Ideal for styling, this grooming cream contains argan oil to add moisture and protect hair from free-radical damage. (800) 600-3914;

Enessa Argan Gold Elixir: Certified organic and essential oils, as well as argan, are combined with essential fatty acids and antioxidants to increase skin’s elasticity, diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and improve the overall appearance of skin. (888) 4-ENESSA;

Guinot Paris Hydrazone Corps Moisturizing Body Lotion: This hydrating body lotion made with argan oil and hydrocyte complex moisturizes dry and sensitive skin, leaving it feeling soft and nourished. (800) 523-1030;

Mama Mio O-Mega Body Oil: Infused with oils such as argan, jojoba seed, safflower seed, and sweet almond to moisturize and nourish dry skin, this oil contains vitamin E to produce healing effects. (888) 962-6264;

Moroccanoil Treatment: This proprietary argan oil treatment leaves hair feeling silky and shiny while ridding it of frizz. It is blended with vitamins A, E, and F to strengthen and rejuvenate each strand of hair. (888) 700-1817;

Murad Oil Control Mattifier SPF 15: Infused with bark extract to control breakouts and clear pores and argan oil extract to create smoother skin, this product helps to reduce oil while locking in moisture. (888) 686-8723;

Simply Sensual Cosmetics Azia Essential Nourishment Body Oil: Combining argan oil, botanicals, green tea, and vitamins in a soybean oil base, this body oil hydrates the skin, leaving it feeling smooth. (800) 497-7749;

Your Name Professional Brands Luxury Gloss: This hypoallergenic lip gloss combines sheer colors and a blend of oils, including argan to condition and hydrate while diminishing the appearance of fine lines. (800) 221-3071;
Lisa Bruckenstein