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Moroccan cosmetics tradition: from argan to henna

Morocco, land of a thousand colors and fragrances, has long been recognized for its rich heritage in beauty. From the liquid gold of argan oil to the mystique of henna, Moroccan cosmetics tradition is a fusion of nature, culture and science.

History of Moroccan cosmetics

Morocco, at the crossroads of African, Arab and Berber civilizations, has a rich and varied history that is reflected in its ancestral cosmetic traditions.

Berber roots

The Berbers, the first known inhabitants of Morocco, have always attached particular importance to body and skin care. The use of natural oils, such as argan or prickly pear, dates back thousands of years. These oils were traditionally used to protect the skin against the arid climatic conditions of the Sahara and the hot desert winds.

The hammam: a purifying ritual

At the heart of Moroccan cosmetic tradition lies the hammam. More than just a bath, it’s a ritual for purifying body and mind. Women, in particular, go to the hammam for exfoliating treatments using black soap and a kessa glove, removing dead cells and purifying the skin. After exfoliation, clay masks (ghassoul) are often applied to nourish the skin and restore its radiance.

Argan oil: Morocco’s liquid gold

Argan oil, produced from the nuts of the argan tree, is a mainstay of Moroccan cosmetics. This national treasure is rich in vitamin E and essential fatty acids, giving it exceptional moisturizing and repairing properties. Traditionally, Berber women press the nuts by hand to extract the oil, a process that requires patience and know-how.

Arab and Andalusian influences

With the Arab invasions and the Andalusian period, Morocco was exposed to new cosmetic practices and ingredients. Perfumes, notably orange blossom and rose, were introduced and became essential elements of Moroccan beauty. Similarly, kohl, used to highlight the eyes, has become a staple of traditional make-up.

Liquid gold: argan oil

Argan oil, nicknamed Morocco’s “liquid gold”, is extracted from the nuts of the argan tree, which grows only in certain regions of south-west Morocco. The tree’s ability to survive in extreme climatic conditions and the rarity of its oil have made the argan tree a national treasure.

Origins and extraction

The argan tree, with its deep roots and dense foliage, is perfectly adapted to Morocco’s dry climate. For centuries, Berber communities have perfected an artisanal extraction process. After drying the fruit in the sun, the women shell it by hand to remove the nuts. These nuts are then pressed to extract a pure, rich oil.

Cosmetic properties

Argan oil is particularly rich in vitamin E, antioxidants and essential fatty acids. These components make it an oil with exceptional properties:

  • Moisturizing: quickly absorbed into the skin, leaving it soft and moisturized with no greasy feel.
  • Anti-aging: its antioxidants fight free radicals, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and firming the skin.
  • Repair: Applied to hair, it deeply nourishes, repairs split ends and restores shine and vigor. It also strengthens brittle nails.

Culinary use

Beyond its cosmetic uses, argan oil is also a delight for the taste buds. It’s often used in Moroccan cuisine for its nutty flavor, whether to season salads or to make Amlou, a spread made with argan oil, almonds and honey.

Heritage conservation

Faced with growing demand for argan oil, efforts have been made to protect the argan tree. In 1998, UNESCO declared the region where the argan tree grows a biosphere reserve, underlining the tree’s importance to Morocco’s ecosystem and heritage.

Henna: much more than a tattoo

Henna, that green powder which, when mixed, deposits shades of orange to dark brown on the skin, has been at the heart of Moroccan culture for centuries. Much more than a simple body art, henna is a symbol deeply rooted in Moroccan tradition and spirituality.

Origins and history of henna

Henna is extracted from the dried leaves of the Lawsonia inermis shrub, which grows in warm regions of North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. In Morocco, the use of henna dates back to antiquity. It was used both for its medicinal properties and its aesthetic qualities.

Beneficial properties

  • Soothing: Henna has cooling properties and can soothe skin irritations. In the hot regions of Morocco, it is commonly used to cool the skin and protect it from the sun.
  • Hair care: As well as being a natural hair colorant, henna strengthens, revitalizes and adds shine to hair. It is also effective against dandruff and itchy scalp.

Henna in celebrations

Henna plays an important role in Moroccan ceremonies, especially weddings. On the eve of a wedding, the bride often has her hands and feet tattooed with intricate, delicate designs. These motifs are not chosen at random: they symbolize joy, prosperity, protection from the evil eye and the hope of a happy future. What’s more, according to certain beliefs, the darker the color of the henna, the more the bride will be loved by her husband and in-laws.

Spiritual symbolism

Beyond its aesthetic appeal, henna has a spiritual dimension. It is often associated with sacred and transitional moments, such as birth, marriage and sometimes even death. It serves to protect, bless and celebrate.

The rise of Moroccan cosmetics laboratories

While Morocco is rich in tradition, it has not hesitated to embrace modernity. Numerous cosmetics laboratories have sprung up, combining the best of both worlds. Among them, the Agadir-based cosmetics laboratory Carmelcos stands out for its expertise and passion for cosmetics.

The importance of white brands in Moroccan cosmetics

White labels, offering unbranded products to be customized and sold by other companies, have taken off in Morocco. Thanks to laboratories like Carmelcos, these brands can offer a wide range of products. The cosmetics catalog offered by Carmelcos is a perfect example of this diversity, combining tradition and innovation.

Morocco’s place on the global cosmetics scene

Morocco is not only a leader on the African continent; it is also recognized on the world stage. Thanks to the quality of its products, the richness of its natural ingredients and the expertise of its laboratories, Morocco has become a key player in the global cosmetics industry.

Morocco, with its rich cosmetic heritage, continues to charm the world. By blending tradition and modernity, and relying on expert laboratories like Carmelcos, the country offers the very best in natural beauty. It’s time to discover and embrace the cosmetic magic of Morocco.

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