Gleams & Notions
SPANNING THE GLOBE
FOR NATURAL INGREDIENTS
INTEREST IN natural ingredients contin- ues to grow and in recent years, sup- pliers have scoured the earth in search
of effective, exotic materials. Two ingredients that are becoming more popular with
formulators are argan oil and monoi. Both
materials impart unique properties to a
range of personal care products.
Argan oil is derived from the argania
spinosal tree, which grows exclusively in
southwest Morocco where there are about
21 million trees.
Some of these trees can live as long as
200 years. The root system is very deep and
helps to protect against soil erosion and
hold back the relentless advance of the
Sahara Desert. In May or June, the trees produce flowers, followed by the oval berries.
The berries are the size and shape of large
olives and hold a nut with one or two seeds.
Berber women have been extracting
argan oil for centuries. Between June and
August, they collect the ripe fruit that falls
to the ground. The fruit is dried in the sun
before the women crack the nut between
two rocks to extract the oil-rich seeds. It is
strenuous work as the nut is very hard. In
one day, a woman can produce 1-1.5kgs
of seeds. Three kilograms of seeds will
Harvey M. Fishman
Harvey Fishman has a consulting
firm in Wanaque, NJ, specializing in cosmetic formula-
tions and new product ideas, offering tested finished
products. He has more than 30 years of experience and
has been director of research at Bonat, Nestlé LeMur
and Turner Hall. He welcomes descriptive literature from
suppliers and bench chemists and others in the field.
Moroccan goats go to great lengths
to obtain argan nuts.
provide about one liter of oil after cold
pressing. A manual process extracts 70%
of the oil from the seeds.
The Berbers use this oil for:
• Massaging babies and infants;
• Soothing chicken pox;
• Treating eczema and acne;
• Preventing pregnancy stretch marks;
• Treating rheumatism; and
• Cooking traditional Moroccan dishes.
During the past few years, the oil has
become popular in Europe and, more recently, in the US.
Sally Beauty Supply sells a product
called Argan Oil; a treatment for hair that
is said to provide “instant shine, softness,
frizz control, color protection, and is alcohol free.” The INCI ingredient listing is:
Dimethicone, cyclopentasiloxane, dimethiconol, C12-15 alkyl benzoate, fragrance,
argania spinosa kernel oil and color. It is
obvious that this product consists of almost all silicone derivatives. What’s more,
there is less argan oil than fragrance.
When compared to 100% argan oil on the
skin, the commercial product has good
slip and a heavier feel. The straight argan oil is thinner and much shinier. Both
spread well and are not tacky.
In addition to hair products, argan oil
is a good addition to skin care products.
It has high levels of essential fatty acids, including linoleic acid, which help to
counter drying and loss of elasticity—and
could prevent or delay the appearance of
wrinkles. It is also claimed that argan oil
has very high levels of gamma tocopherols, which are biological antioxidants
that neutralize free radicals and protect
cell membranes from lipid oxidation, thus
slowing the skin’s aging process. It is also
stated that argan oil contains triterpenic
alcohols including 7.1% lupeol, which has
One source of argan oil is Marogania,
which is located in Morocco. The company’s website is: www.margonia.com.
Another argan supplier is Mibelle AG
Biochemistry in Switzerland. Its website is
Another exotic product from a different
corner of the world is Monoi de Tahiti, a
skin and hair moisturizing oil. This product (INCI: Coconut (cocos nucifera) oil
(and) tiare (gardenia taitensis) flower) also
contains tocopherol. It is a pale yellow
color, has a distinctive sweet odor and so-lidifies below 24°C. Ocular and cutaneous
tests were negative; it was non-toxic with
ingestion, and was non-allergenic.
Monoi means “scented oil” in Tahitian.
It is manufactured by soaking at least 10
Tiare flowers for a minimum of 10 days
in one liter of coconut oil. The moisturizing ability was compared to shea butter,
jojoba, coconut and petrolatum oils. All
the oils performed well, but it was found
that the competitive oils worked primarily through partial surface occlusion of the
skin. The occlusive effect with Monoi de
Tahiti was minimal and it did not impact
transpidermal water loss.
It is recommended in cosmetics for
skin moisturizing, protection, firmness
and tonicity. On hair, it is suggested to
condition and repair dry or damaged hair.
More information and samples are available from Monoi USA, Sumner, WA.•