For centuries, Moroccan woman have used organic argan oil to protect, nourish and enhance the quality of their skin. In 2007, Kahina founder Katharine L’Heureux personally experienced the benefits of this multi-purpose oil during an extended journey through the Moroccan desert. Amazed at the results on her own skin, she brought back the rare oil, encouraging friends and family to put it on their faces, hair, and bodies. Through this simple gift, Katharine had found a way to connect women across the world through a shared beauty ritual.
On subsequent trips to Morocco, Katharine met with the Berber women who extract the argan oil: a labour-intensive process using techniques passed down through the generations. It was in getting to know these women and listening to their stories that Katharine realised that argan oil was more than a mere cosmetic ingredient, but a beauty secret kept alive through the sharing of traditions. Inspired by their warmth of spirit, Katharine decided to foster a giving form of beauty that would honour the Berber women and their craft while helping to improve their lives.
Kahina Giving Beauty is a holistic line of organic skin care named for a Berber Queen and prophetess, a symbol of empowerment and a heroine for the Berber women. Kahina Giving Beauty donates a percentage of profits to support programs that improve the lives of these women.
Since founding her company in 2008, Katharine has made multiple trips to Morocco to personally source the oil and ensure the ethical treatment of the women who work to extract the oil. As a testament to the essential role the female artisans play in the effectiveness and beauty of the Kahina line, their actual signatures grace the packaging on every product.
The indigenous Berber women of Morocco have used argan oil in their beauty rituals for centuries to protect their skin from the harsh desert conditions. This multipurpose oil from the nut of the argan tree contains powerful antioxidants and high concentrations of nutrients and essential fatty acids that are the building blocks of healthy skin. All Kahina products are made with high concentrations of the highest quality certified organic argan oil and other antioxidant-rich byproducts of the argan tree in combination with the highest quality natural ingredients nature has to offer from around the world. The argan nuts are cracked by hand using centuries-old techniques by Berber women in Morocco’s argan region. The oil is then cold-pressed using modern equipment to preserve the integrity of the oil.
Not all argan oil is created equally. There are varying qualities of cosmetic argan oil on the market, as evidenced by the wildly differing prices of oil currently for sale. Why is this so?
The most important factor in determining argan oil quality is the “goat factor”. The argan nut is a hard almond-like seed, encased in an external shell and a fruity outside pulp. The nuts that are gathered for oil must have the exterior pulp intact. If there is no pulp, it means that the nut has been eaten and digested by a goat (goats love to eat the nuts) imparting a foul smell to the oil.
Often, these “goat nuts” will be sold at a low price and then the oil will be deodorised, a process that destroys the essential nutrients in the oil. This is typically the case of the lower priced oils on the market. Other important factors include location and harvesting methods.
It is essential to recognise that it is most often the women who do the hard work of extracting the argan oil who are undercut in the market for low-priced argan oil. It is crucial that these women receive a fair wage for their labour in order to make the money they need to survive.
Kahina Giving Beauty CEO Katharine L’Heureux personally and regularly visits every cooperative that supplies their oil. This ensures top quality oil from top quality nuts and also the fair treatment and compensation of the women workers.
For time immemorial, women across the world have performed beauty rituals based on the best ingredients nature has to offer. In Morocco, women unlocked the power of argan oil to restore and moisturise, Rhassoul clay to purify, green tea to tone and refine, and rose to calm skin. Now these potent natural ingredients have been formulated using the latest science in a complete and effective natural skincare line, bringing the beauty wisdom of the women of Morocco to you.
Kahina believe in creating rituals out of their regimens by giving meaning to our daily beauty routines, highlighting region-specific ingredients and giving back to the indigenous women who harvest and produce the ingredients at the core of our products. By creating simple skincare products that work and that won’t harm our consumers or the environment, we aim to connect women around the world in the timeless practice of beauty.
Kahina Giving Beauty products are sensitively produced from start to finish with an eye toward cultural and environmental sustainability.
For the Berber women who inhabit the argan forest in the Southwest of Morocco, the hard work of extracting argan oil offers them their only means of financial and social independence. In addition to paying a fair wage for our oil, Kahina provides the women and their families additional support by funding local initiatives. In this way, Kahina gives back to the women of the cooperatives by enhancing their quality of life in—and beyond—the workplace. Here is how Katharine L’Heureux is collaborating with the cooperatives and other local social activists to initiate positive changes in the women’s lives and their surrounding communities. Success stories:
• Katharine has funded the organic certification of a women’s cooperative to allow them to more successfully participate in the international argan trade. The previously unprofitable cooperative now provides steady wages for its 46 members. As she has done from the beginning, Katharine continues to make sure that the women are fairly treated and adequately compensated for their work.
• Donations to Education for All in Morocco (EFA), an organisation that provides safe boarding homes for girls so that they can continue their education beyond elementary school. Currently, most girls end school after fifth grade because their parents are not comfortable sending them away to the cities where the centralised schools are located. EFA allows both the girls and their families to feel safe and secure in their decision to further educate their daughters.
* The purchase of sheep for the women of the Idzouane Mountains. With the purchase of a sheep for each woman, the women of the region can provide milk for their children and have a supply of wool for weaving rugs to further their economic independence.
• Donations to the High Atlas Foundation to support their one billion tree campaign. To date, Kahina has raised money to plant, irrigate and transport 250 trees to support rural villages in the Southwest of Morocco as part of the organisation’s One Million Tree Campaign.
• Donations to the High Atlas Foundation to deliver clean drinking water to a girls school in the High Atlas Mountains.
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