From the roots of your hair to the tips of your toes, this is moisturising the Moroccan way.
Argan oil is extracted from the nut contained within the fruit of the argan tree, native to Morocco. A whole industry exists around picking, peeling, roasting, grinding and pressing the small nut with the rich oil subsequently used for a range of culinary and cosmetic purposes. In some parts of Morocco it is common to find goats climbing the branches of the argan tree, eating its fruit; and across the arid, wind beaten plains of rural Morocco, it provides all-important nutrients and shade to a wide range of wildlife. The argan tree’s deep roots and tough canopy withstand harsh sunlight and desert winds, allowing more fragile grasses to grow under its watch.
Rich in vitamin E and fatty acids, argan oil is also intensively moisturising and has long been used throughout Morocco and other parts of North Africa to treat various skin conditions, including acne and dryness, and to help heal burns. Its mild, nutty fragrance makes for unobtrusive slathering from top to toe, leaving skin with a renewed colour and light sheen. More recently, argan oil has found popularity further afield, with a boom in sales for argan oil hair treatment.
As the world’s hair experts wised up to argan oil’s supreme hair saving qualities, a new movement has emerged within Morocco to protect and plant a large number of argan trees. Many women’s co-operatives are also dedicated to the production of the tree’s oil, and it is thought that argan oil production is now one of the main forms of employment for women, providing them with autonomy and financial independence.
In our blend, argan oil is combined with pomegranate – an ancient pairing owing to the two ingredients’ complementary fragrances and the combined effect of argan oil’s properties with the high levels of antioxidant found in the fruit of the pomegranate. Together they deliver lashings of skin goodness and the sun-drenched character of the bustling souk.
Taken from the nut of the argan tree in sun-drenched Morocco, argan oil is a beauty must-have. Rich in vitamin E and fatty acids, it’s super hydrating and can be used all over from hair to toe.
The noble ancestor of all citrus fruit is a welcome addition to any skincare routine.
Forbear of the now ubiquitous lemon, the much larger, more bulbous citron was first recorded by the ancient Egyptians 3,000 years ago, when an impression of the fruit was engraved into the walls of the botanical gardens at the Karnak temple. After that, the Israelites are said to have brought the citron home following their expulsion from Egypt. Ever since, it has formed a central part of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, or the Feast of the Tabernacles.
Thought to be originally from Asia, citron was later imported to Greece and Persia – modern day Iran – and has enjoyed popularity in Western culinary tradition, particularly in Greece and in the preparation of Christmas cakes across Europe and the USA.
Its rind and dense pith makes it a far less succulent proposition than its younger citrus cousins. Unlike the smooth skinned lemon, lime or orange whose segments yield large quantities of juice, it’s the rind of the citron that is the real star – its coarse texture made up of barnacle-like protrusions that contain high quantities of potent oil. This, along with the fruit’s dense pith, can be used for multiple purposes, from the culinary to the medicinal. Combined with sugar and syrup, the rind can be used to create sweet treats and jams; whereas in India and Pakistan, it is widely used in pickles and preserves.
Like all citrus fruits, citron possesses high quantities of vitamin C, known to help fight disease, infection and scurvy, as well as to help maintain the skin’s natural properties and preserve the integrity of blood vessels close to the skin’s surface. Its sweetly tart fragrance was also said by Pliny the Elder to be a natural insect repellent – when the pesky critters come a-buzzing, he prescribes infusing clothes with its rich aroma. Rubbing a few drops of concentrated citron essence into mosquito and insect bites is also said to reduce irritation.
Less refined and elegant than its lemony descendants perhaps, the fragrant notes and bountiful properties of this somewhat oafish fruit earned it an important place in the annals of history, as well as in the Crabtree & Evelyn archive.
Love it or loathe it there is no denying the power of this bright, refreshing herb.
From the seeds to the leaves and the stems, coriander is a versatile little shrub whose culinary credentials are well established. Popular in food of the Indian subcontinent, East Asia and Central America, its warm, nutty and faintly citrusy flavour piques the senses, elevating even the most humble soup and acting as the perfect counter-balance to the heavier flavours found in meat, grains and bread.
The earliest known traces of coriander were found in Israel, though it’s unclear where the plant originates from, being abundant across both ancient Europe and Western Asia. Coriander seeds are said to have been found in the tombs of the 21st dynasty of ancient Egypt, suggesting their use in blessings, burials or possibly embalming ceremonies. Throughout the medieval period there are also suggestions of coriander being used as an aphrodisiac, and reports of it being used in conjunction with wine to help ‘stimulate’ the relevant senses.
While the leaves of the coriander plant are rich in vitamins A, C and K, as well as a range of dietary minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium and manganese, it is the seeds that are more commonly administered for medicinal purposes. Used in tea, coriander is said to aid dietary problems, including irritable bowel syndrome, as well as assisting with toothache and neuralgia. In topical usage it is said to help rebalance levels of oil in the skin, helping to fight excess sebum and bacterial build up. Credible studies have found that coriander is effective in warding off various types of harmful bacteria.
Easily grown at home, coriander requires moderate levels of sunlight and frequent watering whenever soil becomes dry to the touch. Though less abundant than when grown outside, indoor-planted coriander still provides a high yield, giving you year-round herbal goodness to use in both cooking and homemade remedies.
In our blend, coriander is combined with citron, for an invigorating treatment that enlivens the senses and gives clarity to the mind. Warm and nutty in comparison to citron’s sharp tang, it grounds the fragrance, offering balance, calm and a sense of connectedness with the natural world.
We have the ancients to thank for recognising the skin soothing properties of this mild ointment.
Humans and goats go way back. Together with dogs, the goat was the first breed of animal to be domesticated. An efficient milking beast, with a yield five times that of cows in proportion to their size, they could be taken on sea journeys as portable milk banks, which cemented their popularity and saw them transported around the world. Since then the status of goat’s milk hasn’t really wavered. Rich in minerals, amino acids, fatty acids and protein, it is perfect for babies and children, and the absence of casein makes it ideal for the lactose intolerant too.
In the first century AD, Pliny the Elder wrote, “The most nutritive milk, in all cases, is woman’s milk, and next to that goats’ milk”. Today this has been scientifically proven and not just in terms of human consumption either. Its neutral pH makes goat’s milk ideal for soothing parched, damaged skin. It also contains alpha-hydroxy acids that break down and remove dead skin cells and a multitude of vitamins, including A, B-12, C, D, E and K – vitamin A being a powerful weapon in the fight against skin roughness, blemishes and wrinkles. It also contains 30% fatty acids, which are highly hydrating, working to reverse the drying effects of wind and cold weather; minerals like potassium, phosphorus, and even selenium, which is known to counter sun damage.
It’s easy to see then why, in the ancient world, goats were a symbol of wealth and plenty – the dairy largesse described in the Bible’s “land of milk and honey” comes not from cows, but from goats.
Perhaps its most famous advocate though is none other than the legendary Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra, who is said to have taken daily baths in the stuff and subsequently transfixed two supreme Roman leaders of the day – Julius Caesar and Mark Antony – with its nutritive effects.
Hibiscus is a tropical flower and star ingredient in teas across the Caribbean. Full of antioxidants and naturally-occurring AHAs – known for their ability to control oily skin – it’s more than just a pretty flower.
Delicious as a breakfast treat and nutritious for your skin, mango is a juicy all-rounder. The butter that oozes from mango seeds is a natural emollient, helping to keep skin supple and full of bounce.
Older than bees, this majestic, cream-coloured flower belies hidden strength and resilience.
The magnolia flower was named after the French botanist Pierre Magnol in the late 17th century, but these sumptuous flowers originated long before that. Magnolias are reputed to be older than bees, first evolving through beetle pollination. Many strands are native to South East Asia, China and Japan, where they play a significant role in national cultures. In China, their majestic form has invited associations of nobility and purity, while in art they came to represent femininity and beauty. In Japan, leaves and buds of certain varieties have been eaten for centuries as a vegetable, while some magnolia flowers are pickled and used in miso as well as to flavour rice tea and to wrap food.
Magnolia also forms an important part of traditional medicine in East Asia – essences of its bark, flower and leaves used for millennia to treat a range of ailments, from indigestion, lung conditions and anxiety. Magnolia is also said to possess anti-inflammatory properties, and is thought to help alleviate skin irritation and visible redness.
In addition to being extremely care-giving, magnolia flowers are also renowned for being at once extremely tough and extremely beautiful. Hence the phrase ‘steel magnolias’ – used as an affectionate term to refer to the strong women of the American South, and famously used as the title of the 1989 film starring Dolly Parton, Julia Roberts and Shirley MacLaine. Incidentally, the magnolia is also the official flower of the states of Mississippi and Louisiana. In 1990, Mississippi school children chose the flower above all others to go on the state’s commemorative coin.
Magnolia’s fragrance is warm and sunny, evoking a sense of springtime when the tree blooms into life – dowsing passers-by in its uplifting notes that are at once, rich, creamy and lightly citrusy.
This humble grain has more history – and health benefits – than appearances first suggest.
Like all the best fairy tales, the story of the humble oat is one of goodness overcoming a plain appearance. The domesticated oat or avena sativa was a late arrival into central Europe, first grown around 1000 BC. It was dismissed as a weed variation of primary cereals such as wheat and barley and the Greeks and Romans fed it only to their animals. But as crop cultivation spread north to more temperate regions, the oat’s capacity to flourish in cooler, wetter conditions turned it into a star. In Wales, and most famously Scotland, where the climate could drown or freeze the most hardy of grains, oats became – and remain – a national food staple, used in porridge and oatcakes.
Nutritionally, oats are packed with protein, fibre and carbohydrate, making them the hero of many healthy eating plans, as well as being clinically proven to lower cholesterol, but their qualities don’t end there. Chock full of saponins and polysaccharides, when used in soaps and moisturisers oats work to cleanse and hydrate the skin and protect it against irritants. Rich in magnesium, zinc, iron and potassium, oats are also a fantastic addition to shampoo, strengthening the hair and maintaining healthy growth
The simplest ingredients are often the most maligned and despite its many benefits, the oat has suffered a fair amount of scorn over the years. The idiom “to sow one’s wild oats” was originally a reference to useless, unprofitable activities – first found in the writings of the Roman Republic-era writer Plautus – before the meaning morphed into today’s more colloquial usage.
Several centuries later, in his 1755 dictionary, Samuel Johnson used it to illustrate the snobbish division between the Scots and the English, defining the oat as “a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people."
Today, the English are rather literally eating Johnson’s words, with oats having something of a renaissance both as part of the healthy eating movement, and as a beauty ingredient, with cosmetic products making the most of their rich nutrient content to cleanse, rejuvenate, soothe and soften both the skin and hair.
Juicy and sweet, this fruit bowl favourite is a delight for the senses.
“I must have saffron to colour the Warden pies,” Shakespeare, arbiter of great taste, wrote in A Winter’s Tale. He was talking about pies made from Warden Pears, popular at the time after a long history of being used in medieval cooking. In fact, the popularity of pears dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who considered them to be an aphrodisiac and a sacred symbol of the love goddesses, Aphrodite and Venus.
Until the mid-19th century, pears had to be cooked before you could eat them (hence the pie fame), but then along came the game changing Comice and Conference varieties, monopolising pear production and offering a delicious mid-morning snack to eat right off the bat. Sweet and juicy, pears have been lauded ever since for their refreshing taste and nutritional value, being naturally high in fibre and vitamins. After the mid-19th century boom, this humble fruit went from zero to hero, becoming a beloved staple of fruit bowls all around the world.
In 1921, the rather eccentrically named American, Ulysses Prentiss Hedrick, took the pear to even greater heights with his book, The Pears of New York, in which he aimed to, “give an account of the history and uses of the pear; to depict the botanical characters of cultivated pears; [and] to describe pear growing in this country.” (This book followed others in his revered series, namely: Grapes of New York, Plums of New York, Peaches of New York and Cherries of, you guessed it, New York). Hedrick was a great fan of fruit, or to be more precise, a great studier of fruit, being one of the last notable figures in his field of pomology.
While we more commonly associate New York with apples, the pear is nevertheless easily grown among the city’s varied climate, being both hardy and able to withstand the multitude of weather conditions found across North America, Europe and Asia.
This antioxidant stalwart is as lovely to look at as it is good for you.
The ancient Greeks believed that its jewel-like seeds sprung from the blood of Adonis; and throughout the ancient world, pomegranate’s symbolic stature was unrivalled, representing anything from prosperity in ancient Egypt, to the fertility of the Promised Land in the Hebrew bible. Some scholars believe it was the pomegranate, rather than the more commonly ascribed apple, that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden.
No less revered today, the pomegranate is one of a select few ingredients widely referred to as a superfood, owing to its high concentration of antioxidants, vitamins C and K, as well as its dietary fibre. Prior to this, pomegranate was also used as a natural remedy for various ailments across Europe and the Indian subcontinent, forming a central part of the Ayurvedic medicinal tradition. Though the pomegranate is thought to have originated from modern day Iran, for centuries it has been cultivated throughout the Mediterranean region and Indian subcontinent, while the Spanish settlers are said to have introduced the fruit to Northern and Central America. Its ability to withstand a range of weather conditions means that the pomegranate today grows in a large number of places around the world, including the Middle East and the Caucasus, tropical Africa and central Asia.
Some studies suggest that the topical application of pomegranate seed oil can promote regeneration of the epidermis, giving skin a renewed look and feel. It is also said to help promote collagen production, while helping to alleviate skin blemishes and skin irritation. Some communities historically administered pomegranate juice as sun protection – though we do not recommend trying this one at home.
Elsewhere there is evidence to support claims that consuming pomegranates can reduce cholesterol levels, reduce risk of heart disease and help promote bone production. Not a bad list of credentials for a humble fruit that grows in abundance throughout both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, whose ruddy-brown flesh gives little indication of the glistening treasure lurking beneath.
The pomegranate is a superfood, beauty staple and all-round super star.
Also known as rock samphire or cirthmum, sea fennel is a flowering plant is native to coastal cliffs. Rich in antioxidants and vitamins, its extracts can help as a protective barrier when applied to the skin.
Sea kale is kale’s watery cousin and it is super-charged with skin goodness. Rich in antioxidants, chlorophyll, iron and Vitamins A, C and K, its salty goodness helps purifies skin.
Slippery, slimy and ridiculously nutritious, this is anything but a pesky weed.
Seaweed is a colloquial term that loosely embraces about 10,000 species of water plants. While all seaweeds are algae, not all algae are seaweeds – as one would assume from the name, seaweed only grows in salt water. Seaweeds need light to drive photosynthesis and most require a firm attachment point or holdfast, so they commonly proliferate on rocky shorelines or in rock pools. They are categorised by colour; green seaweed grows at the shallowest point, brown grows at depths of up to 75 feet, while red grows the deepest, up to 880 feet below sea level in clear waters. All come in different shapes and sizes, from the tiny to the gigantic, waving delicate fronds, grassy strands, spikes, mosses, tubes, tangles, berry-like air bladders and ferns.
The name is an unfair misnomer. On land, we use the term ‘weed’ to refer to unwanted invaders growing in competition with, and often to the detriment of, cultivated plants. This is not the case with seaweed which is an essential part of the underwater environment and provides food and a habitat for marine creatures. Many varieties come packed with a wealth of nutrients, minerals and health benefits, which have been used in medical, culinary, agricultural and beauty concoctions for centuries.
Though used extensively by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans for the treatment of different ailments, seaweed is most closely associated with the culinary cultures of Japan and China, where it has long formed a central part of the cuisine. Notably, Japan’s Okinawa people, who eat it daily, are the longest living population in the world.
Dermatologists agree that seaweed is an extremely effective skincare ingredient, containing potent antioxidants. Sea kelp is thought to be a powerful catalyst for skin and scalp renewal thanks to its natural ability to regenerate at a ludicrously high rate – up to two feet a day.
Unsurprisingly seaweed is mostly collected and consumed by coastal people, particularly in East Asia, where farming is a multimillion-pound industry. Indonesia and the Philippines are the biggest producers, estimated to produce 11 million tonnes each per year. It is also consumed on a much smaller scale in the West, including in Ireland, Scotland and South West England, where it remains an indelible part of the seaside experience.
You may not like stepping on seaweed when you’re at the seaside, but those brown fronds are your best friend. Packed full of youth-boosting nutrients, minerals and vitamins, they help revitalise worn-out skin.