Argan oil: The Moroccan ‘liquid gold’ for hair and skin

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Updated 25 January 2015
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Argan oil: The Moroccan ‘liquid gold’ for hair and skin

Argan oil is known as ‘liquid gold’ and is made especially in Morocco. It is used in beauty rituals and in cooking. Lately, this oil has captured the attention of many for its proven nutritional and cosmetic health benefits. The oil is sold around the world as a luxury item and can be difficult to find outside its production areas.
In 1998, Morocco’s argan forest was designated a UNESCO protected biosphere so that argan oil is sustainable. Argan trees grow in southwestern Morocco and go to up to 10 meters in height and live up to 200 years. The leaves of this tree are small and long and the flowers are also small with five pale yellow green petals that bloom around the month of April. The argan fruit has a thick bitter peel surrounding a sweet smelling flavored layer that surrounds a nut that is rich in oil. The fruit takes around a whole year to mature which makes it ready to fall the next summer after its blooming.
After the harvest of the falling argan nuts, Berber women of the southwest start with the oil extraction process. Traditionally, the women use a specific technique for oil extraction where they start roasting the seed to give the oil a nutty flavor, then grinding the roasted seeds into a paste with a small amount of water between a rotary stone quern. Then they start squeezing the paste by hand to assure the extraction of oil, which can be used for up to six months. The paste is rich in oil and is sometimes used to feed animals in the area. It takes one woman three days to make just one liter of oil. This is why argan oil is so valuable.
American and European cosmetic companies have grown fond of argan oil and it is now available in many countries in beautiful packaging to attract more people to the product. Many beauty experts consider argan oil to be the go-to beauty elixir. It is filled with essential fatty acids, anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals that promote your overall health by moisturizing, softening as well as protecting your face and hair from sun damage without harmful toxins and Parabens.
Argan oil has many uses; it can fight aging and wrinkles. It is known as the elixir of eternal youth because it modernizes and protects the skin to keep it young. A small drop can go a long way; try using it instead of your night moisturizer after cleansing , massage your face and neck with the oil before going to bed. It is considered to be a dry oil so don’t worry about it being all greasy on you, this also makes it easier for you to use it in the day time because it will be absorbed quickly by your skin.
This oil can also be used as a hair treatment to give it vitality and smoothness; it revives hair loss and encourages hair to regrow, returning its shines and brilliance. Argan oil can be used as a styling product for your dry hair by taking a few drops of this golden oil on your palm and rubbing them together, then running them through you hair. It will leave the hair shiny and frizz free. It can be used as a leave-on conditioner after shower, add a few drops to the tips of your hair to help nourish it without having to blow dry your hair. Moroccan women especially like to use it as an overnight treatment where they gently massage their scalp with a few drops up to the end of their hair tips, wrapping it while they sleep. They would wash their hair with warm water the next day to have soft, shiny locks.
Many nails artists have discovered that argan oil can be used as a treatment for nails to prevent cracking and for keeping them strong and healthy. Nails can be kept well-groomed and cuticles healthy by applying argan oil to them. It will help moisturize your skin and nails as well as strengthen them. Your nails will never crack again if you use it regularly.
Argan oil is perfect for use in your homemade beauty rituals. Mix some argan oil with brown sugar and lemon to create a gentle body and face scrub. You can also add a few drops to your face pack mixed with yogurt or avocado.
Argan oil is also used for cooking; many Moroccan women use this ingredient in their hearty dishes. The nutty tasting oil is sometimes used in salad dressings or as dipping for bread. One of the most famous Moroccan dippings made with argan oil is the Amlou comprising unsalted raw almonds, honey and argan oil.
Start by roasting the almonds for around 20 minutes, then grind them into a powder. Mix the powder with honey and argan oil and enjoy with crispy bread and chips.

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Fashion capital New York considers banning sale of fur

Updated 17 April 2019
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Fashion capital New York considers banning sale of fur

  • Lawmakers are pushing a measure that would ban the sale of all new fur products in the city
  • “Cruelty should not be confused with economic development,” a sponsor of the legislation said

NEW YORK: A burgeoning movement to outlaw fur is seeking to make its biggest statement yet in the fashion mecca of New York City.
Lawmakers are pushing a measure that would ban the sale of all new fur products in the city where such garments were once common and style-setters including Marilyn Monroe, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Joe Namath and Sean “Diddy” Combs have all rocked furs over the years.
A similar measure in the state Capitol in Albany would impose a statewide ban on the sale of any items made with farmed fur and ban the manufacture of products made from trapped fur.
Whether this is good or bad depends on which side of the pelt you’re on. Members of the fur industry say such bans could put 1,100 people out of a job in the city alone. Supporters dismiss that and emphasize that the wearing of fur is barbaric and inhumane.
“Cruelty should not be confused with economic development,” said state Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, a Democrat from Manhattan, who is sponsoring the state legislation. “Fur relies on violence to innocent animals. That should be no one’s business.”
The fate of the proposals could be decided in the coming months, though supporters acknowledge New York City’s measure has a better chance of passage than the state legislation.
The fur trade is considered so important to New York’s development that two beavers adorn the city’s official seal, a reference to early Dutch and English settlers who traded in beaver pelts.
At the height of the fur business in the last century, New York City manufactured 80% of the fur coats made in the U.S, according to FUR NYC, a group representing 130 retailers and manufacturers in the city. The group says New York City remains the largest market for fur products in the country, with real fur still frequently used as trim on coats, jackets and other items.
If passed, New York would become the third major American city with such a ban, following San Francisco, where a ban takes effect this year, and Los Angeles, where a ban passed this year will take effect in 2021.
Elsewhere, Sao Paulo, Brazil, began its ban on the import and sale of fur in 2015. Fur farming was banned in the United Kingdom nearly 20 years ago, and last year London fashion week became the first major fashion event to go entirely fur-free.
Fur industry leaders warn that if the ban passes in New York, emboldened animal rights activists will want more.
“Everyone is watching this,” said Nancy Daigneault, vice president at the International Fur Federation, an industry group based in London. “If it starts here with fur, it’s going to go to wool, to leather, to meat.”
When asked what a fur ban would mean for him, Nick Pologeorgis was blunt: “I’m out of business.”
Pologeorgis’ father, who emigrated from Greece, started the fur design and sales business in the city’s “Fur District” nearly 60 years ago.
“My employees are nervous,” he said. “If you’re 55 or 50 and all you’ve trained to do is be a fur worker, what are you going to do?“
Supporters of the ban contend those employees could find jobs that don’t involve animal fur, noting that an increasing number of fashion designers and retailers now refuse to sell animal fur and that synthetic substitutes are every bit as convincing as the real thing.
They also argue that fur retailers and manufacturers represent just a small fraction of an estimated 180,000 people who work in the city’s fashion industry and that their skills can readily be transferred.
“There is a lot of room for job growth developing ethically and environmentally friendly materials,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who introduced the city measure.
New Yorkers asked about the ban this week came down on both sides, with some questioning if a law was really needed.
“It is a matter of personal choice. I don’t think it’s something that needs to be legislated,” said 44-year-old Janet Thompson. “There are lots of people wearing leather and suede and other animal hides out there. To pick on fur seems a little one-sided.”
Joshua Katcher, a Manhattan designer and author who has taught at the Parsons School of Design, says he believes the proposed bans reflect an increased desire to know where our products come from and for them to be ethical and sustainable.
“Fur is a relic,” he said.