Su B

Photo reproduced with permission from

‘You should put Argan oil on your hair,’ the hairdresser said. When I asked what it was, he said ‘Oh, I don’t know. They take thousands of Argans and squash them all together. It’s a very good moisturiser.’

I looked it up later, and he’s right, though not about the Argans. The oil comes from a tree, Argania spinosa, which grows mainly in Morocco. It’s used in face and body creams as well as hair products, and it’s so highly-prized that the Argania tree, which was rare in the first place, could easily have become another casualty of Western greed.

But something else has happened. Argania is now grown and harvested sustainably as a commercial crop. That obviously benefits the economy of Morocco, but there is an added bonus: the plantations are helping to hold back the spread of the Sahara Desert

That sounds to me like a win-win situation, with the proviso that the Western appetite for rare and exotic herbs is apt to be fickle. There certainly are plenty of other wonderful moisturisers out there, and next year there could be a different superstar.

But if, in the meantime, our desire for shiny hair means that desertification is held in check, that’s worth more than all the rest. 

EDITOR: The Herb Handbook by Su Bristow can be bought here or contact Su direct via her website.

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