The oil is extracted from the seeds of the argan tree, native to Southwest Morocco. The environment in this part of Morocco is dense semi-desert terrain. However, the tree thrives in this harsh climate, when nothing else can. Its roots flow deep into the earth to nourish the precious seeds that grow within the tree.
Before more modern methods were developed, women of the nearby Berber Tribe picked seeds. The Berber Women would grind the seeds down to a fine powder, and press them by hand to separate the oil. The powder, called Amlou, would form a thick pasty consistency. Amlou would mainly be used for cooking. Because of its high nutritional content the argan oil itself was also used in preparing dishes.
They found value in the oils medicinal properties, and used it to treat skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and chicken pox. In an area surrounded by harsh desert climate and mountainous terrain, modern medicines were sometimes impossible to come by.
Modern methods are used today in the collection and extraction of argan oil. However, the Berber Tribe is still involved in the production of oil used for cosmetic purposes. The production of argan oil provides over 3 million people in the southwest region with income. The only form of work originally found in these low income regions were typically farming and agriculture. The socio-economic benefits of argan oil production have brought money, education, and business opportunities to an otherwise poverty-ridden area.