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you even better oil strike RETHINKING OUR BEAUTY ROUTINES. by Vishaka robinson M AS MOROCCANOIL LAUNCHES A SKINCARE LINE, WE TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT THE BUZZ BEHIND THE INGREDIENT—ARGAN OIL—THAT HAS US ore than 3,000 miles away, among the craggy slopes linking Marrakech with the coastal port of Essaouira, is the epicenter of the decade's defining beauty ingredient. It's here, under the scorching Moroccan sun, that cooperatives of Berber women harvest the gnarled nuts of the argan tree, grinding them into a thick brown paste between two slabs of rock before the oil is extracted by hand and trans- formed into the final product: bottles of glossy argan oil destined for the hair and skin of consumers around the world. "It really has become one of the biggest buzzwords in beauty," says Courtney Denelle, store manager of the Aveda Experience Center in Back Bay. "Although many people think of the oil as a hair smoother, for us it's always been about skincare—which is why it's the backbone of our Green Science line of creams and serums." With a list of benefits that reads like a who's who of antiaging (think vita- min E, beta-carotene, squalene, and ferulic acid, an antioxidant that has increased potency under UV rays) as well as a reputation for being a fix-all for everything from acne and psoriasis to eczema and wrinkles, it's little surprise that the number of oil adopters grows by the day. Of course, it's Moroccanoil that can be credited with kick-starting the trend stateside in 2006, with the launch of Moroccanoil Treatment—an instantaneous argan-rich hair smoother that now sells in more than 30 countries worldwide. "It's hands down the best product for treating unruly hair," says Alex Safar, the co-owner of Salon Àcôté. "My staff even use it in the winter to alleviate dry skin on their hands. It's such an incredible product." But hair was just the start. Now Moroccanoil's cofounder, Carmen Tal, is segueing the über-ingredient into a luxe body care range (12 products will launch this summer alone). For Tal integrating the oil into our beauty routines was a no-brainer. She had discovered its benefits after the oil restored her color-damaged hair to silky perfection, but it's skincare benefits were clear from the moment she visited the Berber women who coordinate the harvests. "You have women of 70 cracking the argan nuts," says Tal, "but their hands look like those of 20-year-olds." 92 photography by bell soto

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