Oh Morocco, words can not express the beauty of your people and culture nor the scents of your food and landscape. My heart is full of gratitude and adoration and my mind is swirling with small batch formulas!
I'll give you the highlights, and I'll do my best to avoid turning this post into a book; as I have so much to say about this incredible country and experience. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention our guide & driver who played a major role in making this trip so expansive and low stress, so here is a shout out to Youssef (@Marrakech_with_youssef) and Abdu (his best friend) and @consciouslyconnectedtravel Ingrid who plans eco conscious trips around the world and off sets the carbon footprint of travel by planting trees and donating proceeds to local communities. Our trip was offset with 6 trees planted and allowed for 6 Moroccan children to be put through school for an entire year! WIN WIN WIN.Marrakech
Our first day was spent in the bustling historic city of Marrakech eating with the locals (yes we ate lamb tajine inclusive of breast tissue, brain and cheek!) meeting artisans, drooling over textiles and trying not to trip over ourselves with the mesmerizing bustle all around us. The majority of Moroccans practice the Muslim (Maliki Sunni) religion, based around the Qur'an and hadiths. They believe in Karma and that authority is shared by all within the community. The language spoken is both Arabic and French. Not too many people spoke English, so I was thankful for both my ability to speak French and Youssef who is a passionate historian and educator of all things Morocco. We witnessed the true generosity and kindness of the Moroccan culture through Youssef and our driver Abdu. They truly felt like family by the end of our trip.
Agadir: Argan, Rhassoul clay, Apricot kernel oil
Days 2-5 were spent visiting farms and co ops where I was able to source Argon, apricot, fig, prickly pear, rose and neroli oils! Arganams in the region of Agadir facing the Atlas mountains was our first co op visit. This co-op is truly owned and operated by women. It is also protected by the Moroccan government to be sure that these women are able to reap the benefits of their hard work. We were graciously greeted by Fatima and her daughter Hiba who had traditional mint tea and an assortment of oils from their land (Argan, almond, olive and ghee) as well as an array of olives and butters to try with freshly made bread from their fire oven! As if that wasn't enough to satiate us, we were also served lamb kabobs and sweet treats before beginning our tour of the facility and grounds. Fatima brought us to the room where women hand crack and shell the argon fruit kernels during the fall harvest. She even let me try my hand at it..Let's just say, I should stick with formulating and batching! I gained an appreciation for the notoriously high price of argan oil given that it takes 3 days of cracking, curing and pressing the kernels before getting a yield of the precious oil. Argan oil is so incredibly nourishing to the skin and hair with its high counts of vitamin E and CoQ10 as well as linoleic acid which is received so well by our natural skin sebum. Argan oil is a wonderful healing agent for new scars, sun damage and excessively dry skin.
Neroli oil which is derived from orange blossoms had us swooning over the light and refreshing floral scent. It reminds me of jasmine with a hint of green..hard to describe this gorgeous scent. Orange groves and argan trees dot the landscape of Morocco like aspen and pine trees cover the terrain of the Rocky Mountains...as far as the eyes can see!
I was blown away not only by the generosity of Fatima and Hiba but also their passion for sustainable practices and supporting the community through their cooperative business and farms. The argan oil from this coop is featured in the "Scents of Morocco" small batch Body Oil and soon the Rhassoul clay, mined by women in the Atlas mountains will be featured in a most beautiful soothing small batch mask. So many new batches will be coming out of our magical trip!
Taliouine: Saffron kingdom
Day 4 was spent traveling to TaIiouine to source saffron from the most renown region of premier, mineral rich soil. Top chefs and luxury skincare artisans from all over the world know this region as the ONLY place to purchase saffron due to the superior quality. Apparently the climate, soil and harvesting methods are what make saffron from Taliouine so highly sought after. Our request to seek authentic female owned and operated co ops was very specific (there are many coops that claim to be run by women for marketing reasons yet are in reality run by Moroccan men paying women pathetic wages to play the part of running the coop. Fortunately, we were lead right to the source: Souktana , a female operated co op! We were greeted with a full spread of the most deliciously fresh Moroccan salad and hands down the BEST saffron chicken tajine of the entire trip. I've cooked with saffron before and this saffron was superior with its fragrant, floral and pure taste. Words can't even come close to describing the intricacy of saffron's scent and taste. You will understand once you experience the "Scents of Morocco" small batch Moroccan Mist! We learned that saffron flowers (related to the crocus family) are hand picked in the early morning while the flower is still closed. These flowers are then air dried in the shade and finally the stamens aka saffron are removed by hand. Each flower only contains 3 stamens, and it takes 140,000 flowers to render 1kg of saffron! This is a traditional way of harvesting that keeps the integrity of the plant nutrients in tact and truly makes us appreciate this expensive and oh so majestic ingredient.
Saffron contains very high amounts of specific antioxidants and vitamin C which work to reduce inflammation and support brain and nervous system disorders when consumed regularly. Topically, saffron is known for its powerful anti inflammatory effects against wounds and acne. It is also known to even skin tone and reduce hyperpigmentation. Saffron contributes to rapid cellular turnover making it a wonderful ingredient for hydrosols and toners as well as nourishing masks. Look out for the Scents of Morocco Neroli saffron mist as well as the Moroccan Body Oil.
While we weren't able to visit the rose farm due to proximity and limited time, I was able to connect with the owner of the famous Kalaat Megouna rose farm! I plan on returning next spring just to visit this luxurious farm. The rose damascena oil that I sourced from this small farm is utterly mind blowing and intoxicating. Don't worry, you too will experience it in the June small batch release! I included the rose oil along with neroli and argan oils in the "scents of Morocco" Body Oil. Did you know that it takes almost 50 roses to get 1 teeny little drop of rose oil!!?? These roses are hand harvested in the early morning and immediately steam distilled for the utmost quality. If you aren't impressed yet, 250,000 rose petals yield a mere 5ml of rose oil!!! I truly understand why this precious oil is so incredibly pricey. You've heard me touting the benefits of rose oil in the past, but in case you missed my praises...Pure rose damascena essential oil has an iconic scent and stately presence. Topically, rose essential oil helps refine the texture of skin, reduce redness (goodbye rosacea) and even skin tone (bye bye meslasma) while enabling rapid cellular regeneration. While most people love the way it minimizes fine line, I marvel at how effective it is at wound and scar healing. Do you get why I use rose oil in most of the glō products? Sometimes the scent of rose is prevalent ( Regenerative Oil & Body Love Oil) while other products have disguised the scent (Blemish Free Oil, Eye/Night Oil ) It is simply too effective at its job to be left out!
After our initial 5 days of sensory overload, we took a few days to soak in the vibes of Essaouira and chill out. If you are on social media and Instagram, I have saved all of my trip pics in 2 highlights named Morocco so feel free to check them out!
Stay tuned for the first small batch release of "Scents of Morocco" Saffron & Neroli Mist as well as Moroccan Body Oil. I will release them on June 8 for you to be transported straight to Morocco with each and every mist and drop. This small batch duo can be purchased together or individually, knowing that 100% of the ingredients were directly sourced from the small farms of Morocco. I am SO incredibly excited for you to experience their magic!