In the Philippines, plants have been used not only as medicine but also for cosmetic purposes. If you ask the lolas (Tagalog: “grandmothers”) residing in rural towns on how to have a healthy head of hair, chances are they’d tell you all about using aloe vera or gugo (box bean) as shampoo. Not only that, but they’d proudly proclaim how none of the commercial shampoo products in the Philippines or abroad could ever beat these native plants when it comes having a healthy head of hair.
However, a jadda (Arabic: “grandmother”) in Morocco might strongly disagree, stating that the coveted “liquid gold” would put any plant oil to shame.
What is Liquid Gold?
Argan oil is extracted from the fruit of the argan tree which is native to the south-western valley of Morocco. This deep yellow-hued oil has earned the name “liquid gold” for both its resemblance to the highly-valued mineral and for its multitude of uses. Although it has been utilized mainly as food and medicine for centuries, even dating back to as early as 600 BCE, it has also been used for cosmetic purposes. Argan oil was used purely on its own, but now, it’s commonly infused in herbal shampoos and sometimes with other plant oils and herbs for added benefits.
Gold Standard Scalp and Hair Care
Numerous studies and publications have proven the health and cosmetic benefits of argan oil. Most recently, in a 2017 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Argan oil was cited for its ability to not only treat skin infections, but also improve skin elasticity and skin hydration — in other words it can cure, revitalize, and moisturize. When used on the scalp, argan oil heals and prevents dry scalp (which causes a plethora of issues such as itchiness, lackluster hair, and dandruff).
So, if argan oil has been around for such a long time and with such extensive studies proving its benefits, you may start to wonder why you haven’t heard of it as much as aloe vera. With a moniker such as “liquid gold”, you’d expect it to be more famous, so why isn’t it?
The Price of (Liquid) Gold
Apart from the plant being native in Morocco, simply put, Argan oil does not come cheap. The aptly-named “liquid gold” could very much as well be made of gold, considering its price. One small 120ml (4oz) bottle of pure argan oil could cost $15.00 – $40.00 (Php 700.00 – Php 1,600.00), depending on the source. The reason for its lofty price tag is the amount of raw materials and labor; it takes about 30 Kilograms of the fruit to produce 1 Liter of pure argan oil, and the process of extraction can only be done by hand.
Worth Its Weight in Gold
Though, it’s good knowing that the demand for argan oil has made it possible for thousands of mothers and grandmothers in Morocco to have stable and earning jobs, and has even contributed in protecting the argan trees (which also help in soil erosion) from being cut down. The continuous growth of the argan oil industry for cosmetics is paving ways to have liquid gold more accessible and affordable.
While aloe vera and gugo may still hold a special place in Philippine traditional skin and hair care, argan oil is making itself more known, and may even end up claiming its rightful place as the best product for a hair and scalp care. Argan oil’s tested, and proven benefits makes it worth trying. Besides, how often could you say that you’ve used liquid gold for your head?