Built with a desire to support women in Morocco, the brand that popularized argan oil in the U.S. now celebrates its 10th anniversary.
Katharine L’Heureux first launched Kahina Giving Beauty back when argan oil was virtually unknown outside Morocco, and face oils were definitely not an easy sell. Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, the luxury beauty brand was born from a travel mishap, one of those accidents of fate that can lead to a surprising and wonderful outcome.
On her first visit to Morocco, L’Heureux had her skincare confiscated at the airport. She found herself without any moisturizer, and the dry Moroccan climate was taking a toll on her skin. Her guide told her that local women use argan oil, extracted from the argan nut, and she headed to an apothecary right away. Once she tried it, she was hooked. “Argan oil is rich in vitamin E and oleic acid, so it is very moisturizing and healing while being easily absorbed,” she says. “It possesses anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties, so it is effective for all skin types.”
“I fell so much in love with argan oil, I decided to create a line of skincare products to highlight this amazing oil,” says L’Heureux. “I also wanted to create something I felt was missing from the market – a beautifully packaged, effective organic skincare line that would function as a vehicle to help the impoverished Berber women of Morocco who extracted the oil.”
But there was most definitely a learning curve. I rural southern Morocco at that time, according to L’Heureux, it was difficult to find established NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) to work with the women. Eventually, she connected with philanthropic partners there and, “Kahina has funded the purchase of goats, education materials for schools and disaster aid after the extreme flods of 2015,” she says. Every year they assess, together, where is the greatest need.
Through work with the High Atlas Foundation, Kahina has funded the planting of approximately 15,000 fruit and nut trees for community-run nurseries to help raise the local population out of subsistence-level farming; they built a girls’ bathroom in a schol where girls were not attending do to a lack of privacy and hygiene. And, through a partnership with Education for All, Morocco, Kahina has funded free room and board for 12 girls so that they can continue their education beyond the third grade.
Ten years later, Kahina Giving Beauty now features 35 products, one more luxurious, sensorial and results driven than the next. The newest launch, the Oil Cleanser, smells so good that you will not want to wash it off.
And for L’Heureux, it seems like it gets harder each time to leave Morocco. “I love the richness of the culture, the delicious organic food, beautiful textiles and crafts, and living in connection with the earth,” she says. “It is my dream to own a home near Marrakech or on the coast that my husband and I can operate as a wellness retreat, with a focus of experiencing the traditions of Morocco.”