Tag Archives | Moroccan Rituals

Prickly Pear Seed Oil NEW from the women of Kahina Giving Beauty

Prickly Pear cactus photo edited for blog

Prickly pear seed oil came onto my radar shortly after I discovered argan oil in Morocco in 2007. Numerous suppliers in Morocco were touting the anti-aging effects of the hard-to-obtain oil, which was taking off in Europe at the time. I tried many samples from different producers and, while I was becoming convinced of the skin claims, the scent was something that I – not to mention my husband – couldn’t exactly embrace as part of my nightly ritual (something akin to grassy cat urine).

Then, four years ago, my argan supplier in the Mid-Atlas mountains began a Prickly Pear Seed planting project to provide additional economic activity for the women inhabitants. The work of extracting the prickly pear seed oil is even more labor intensive than for argan oil, requiring approximately four days to collect and dry the tiny seeds for one liter of oil. Since that time, I have witnessed the growth of the cactus plants on my annual visits, including watching them survive one severe drought that practically demolished every other harvest (and which took its toll on the extremely resilient argan trees).

The same attention to every harvesting and production detail that has resulted in our superior argan oil, has produced a superb outcome in our new Prickly Pear Seed oil. Richer in weight than pure argan oil, the Kahina Prickly Pear Seed oil goes on velvety smooth without leaving skin greasy and has a unique odor reminiscent of fresh hay (to me, at least).

While we love our argan oil for its multi-tasking prowess, particularly its ability to control sebum production, prickly pear seed oil is finding a place in my anti-aging arsenal for its high concentration of tocopherols, betalains (powerful antioxidants) and Vitamin K. And, like argan oil, it is loaded with essential fatty acids to smooth and plump fine lines and wrinkles.

Prickly pear seed oil is an excellent source of essential fatty acids (approximately 83%), especially linoleic acid (63%), tocopherols (1000 mg), betalaines, Vitamin K, amino acids and trace elements. Ideal for mature, dry skin, prickly pear seed oil moisturizes and softens skin while restoring skin’s elasticity, protecting against free radicals, and brightening under-eye circles.

Our pure cold-pressed Prickly Pear Seed oil is bottled at the source, including the Berber women in even more of the value chain.

Available only on givingbeauty.com.

Prickly Pear Seed Oil bottle cropped


Fête Fez! A Celebration with Kahina + Shen Beauty on 10/3

Invitation Shen and Kahina Giving Beauty Oct 3 2013

You’re invited to Shen Beauty on October 3rd to experience FEZ Body Serum.

Come from 5 to 8 PM for 15% off the entire store (Shen is celebrating its third birthday!), complimentary hand massages, gift with Kahina purchase, and to shop an eclectic array of Moroccan imported home goods and accessories. Kahina founder

Katharine L’Heureux will be on hand from 7 to 8 PM to discuss the inspiration behind our Body Serum and how she developed the unique, captivating scent that brings her back to Fez, her favorite Moroccan destination.

Where: Shen Beauty, 315 Court St., Brooklyn, NY, 11231 (Carroll Gardens, off the F/G Carroll Stop)
When: Thursday, October 3 from 5 to 8 PM

Kahina Argan Oil: How It’s Made

Did you know Kahina Argan Oil comes from the argan nut? Using two stones, Berber women working in cooperatives crack these argan nuts open to get to the fleshy interior. The fleshy interior is then cold-pressed to make our argan oil. The video above, shot by Kahina founder Katharine L’Heureux, shows this traditional process. The women often sing or talk while they crack the argan nuts. Other than a chance to gather together, the production of argan oil gives these women economic opportunities that they would not have had otherwise.

Argan Cooperative Celebration: Berber Women Singing & Dancing

Katharine L’Heureux regularly visits Kahina Giving Beauty‘s argan oil suppliers- the argan cooperatives of southern Morocco. The Berber women of the cooperatives welcome her with open arms and traditional ceremonies. This video, shot by Katharine, shows women dancing and singing as a welcoming ceremony and celebration. These Berber women crack the nuts used to make Kahina Giving Beauty’s Argan Oil.

Like this video and want to see more? Find Kahina Giving Beauty on Youtube!

Majid Alaoui


Majid, on the right, tasting the local prickly pear cactus honey, good for medicinal purposes.

I was recently asked what the most important requirement is when starting a philanthropic business in a third-world country.  The first thing that came to mind was having a trusted advisor and guide who knows and lives in the country.  For me, this person is Majid Alaoui.

Majid was the person who introduced me to argan oil as my guide during my first trip through Morocco in 2007, when I was searching for something to replace my cosmetics which had been confiscated on the flight over.  When I decided to create Kahina, I contacted Majid to ask him to send me some bulk argan oil, and then asked him to be my guide through the south while identifying Kahina’s argan suppliers.  Kahina has come a long way since then, but Majid has been a constant by my side in Morocco helping me locate argan cooperatives, communicate with his fellow Moroccans, and navigate the tricky cultural waters of an American woman doing business there.  He has also allowed me to travel not as a tourist, but as a local, eating the best street food, obtaining the best quality at fair prices in the souks, and discovering places otherwise kept from tourists.

Having been raised on a farm in the North of Morocco, Majid is also well-versed in traditional remedies, most passed down from him Mother, and knows where to find the best regional products and ingredients.

Here are a few of Majid’s traditional remedies:

For back pain, place crushed cooked potatoes on area.

To stop gas and bloating, drink a cup of hot water with cinnamon after eating.

To lose weight, drink hot water with a spoonful of apple vinegar.

Drink grape juice or raisin juice for antiaging.


With Majid in the village

Visit to Morocco May 2012


I’ve just returned from Morocco after a 10-day trip that took me from Casablanca to Marrakesh, Essaouira, Agadir, Taroudant and the Anti-Atlas Mountains, and finally to Rabat.  Since my last visit, life has continued for the people of the villages, marked by marriages, births, and sadly a few deaths. It was especially wonderful to see how the children have grown up.

The girls were amused by photographs I brought of them which I took on my last visit.


And proud to teach me their weaving techniques.


They presented me with rugs they had woven and a ceremonial “mozoune” to wear to their celebration which lasted well into the night.


I was happy to see the sheep donated by Kahina that supplied the wool for my rugs healthy and happy and living inside the home of the shepherd.


From the Berber villages in the South, I traveled to Rabat, where I was the guest of the Ambassador at Large to Morocco, Assia Bensalah Alaoui, at the henna ceremony of her niece.  While the worlds of Moroccan diplomacy and the Berber women of the villages seem worlds apart, the stong fiber of Moroccan culture was evident in the shared traditions of female bonding through dance and joyous celebration.


I return to New York with a renewed passion for Kahina’s mission to help the women of Morocco and to extend their notion of bonding through ritual across the Atlantic.

The Women of Tazghilite

The young women of Tazghrilite

As is the case in several of the small remote villages I have visited in Morocco, Tazghilite is populated mostly by women.  The men of the village leave to work in the big cities of Casablanca, Taroudant and Marrekech, returning for one month a year during the Feast Celebration.  The women are left behind to do the hard labor of tending the fields, caring for the animals and their children.  The money they earn from cracking the argan nuts and weaving rugs allows for them to buy the staples they need as well as some extra spending money, which the girls use to buy kaftans and jewelry to wear for their celebrations, such as the one they had on my visit.  These girls will probably marry a boy from a neighboring village who will also leave to work in the cities.  There is a chance that the boy will earn enough money to take her with him, but most likely, she will remain behind in the village with the boy’s family.


Women do the hard work in the fields.  This woman is carrying a heavy load of hay she has gathered to feed her donkey.

Fair Trade in Tazghilite

I had the extreme pleasure of visiting a Fair Trade argan producer in the tiny village of Tazghilite in the Anti-Atlas Mountains, two hours from Taroudant.  Instead of working in the traditional cooperative model, the women of the village are paid  a fair wage for the harvesting and cracking of the argan nuts by an individual who runs the company, a lovely Frenchman named Albans who relocated to Tarzhgilite four years ago.  With the oversight of Albans and his small staff, the women are able to make a living working in their homes, and the cooperative progresses smoothly exporting the highest quality cosmetic and culinary oil.  In addition to providing the women with a living wage, Albans has developed numerous programs to assist the villagers, including providing water for the village, the development of a women weavers’ cooperative as an additional resource for income, and the planting of olive trees for the women’s use.

The women presented me with a rug in honor of my visit

I was enthusiastically welcomed during my stay in their village, presented with a rug they had woven and invited to join them in a traditional Berber celebration in the evening.

Celebrating in a Traditional Berber Fashion

Marrakech Magic


My first stop in Marrakech was to pay a visit to a small apothecary in the medina run by an acquaintance of my friend and guide, Majid.  An expert in traditional remedies using herbs, spices and essential oils, he concocted a special blend of essential oils including eucalyptus, neroli, rose and musk for an aromatic “savon noir” – the traditional soap made from olives.

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