08.02.17

Natural Skincare From Earth To Bottle

From the dusty dessert plains of Morocco comes a skincare brand that’s changing the world, one bottle at a time.

Founded on the principles of simplicity and transparency, the team behind Akhal are proud skin perfectionists, thoughtful foragers and global citizens.

In indigenous Moroccan, Akhal means ‘Earth’. It’s this simple translation that speaks volumes about the philosophy behind Akhal.

Australian-based but Moroccan-born founder, Myriam Baissa, explains.

“I chose this name as an acknowledgement to Mother Nature, the source of all our products and as a nod to my own Moroccan indigenous heritage.”

Working With Nature

At the heart of the Akhal philosophy is transparency throughout all aspects of the supply chain.

This starts with working alongside growers and their local communities. By making conscious purchasing decisions, you’re supporting positive change in these communities where the Akhal story has unfolded.

Myriam has seen first hand the kind of hardships small farmers face in developing countries during her travels. It’s this awareness that brought home the message.

She had a role to play and it was tracing back to her Moroccan roots that would be her vehicle for change.

“I created Akhal as a vehicle to bring high grade natural skincare to our customers directly from the growers who make it.”

akhal beauty

akhal beauty

The Age Of Argan

Argan agroforestry has been part of Moroccan culture for many centuries. It’s utilisation though, extends beyond skincare. In addition, communities use the Argan tree as goat feed, building materials, for firewood and as an edible oil.

Until recently, entire Argan forests were being burned to provide way for urban development and irrigated agriculture. These practices have contributed to native Argan forests receding by half during the 20th century.

Myriam comments further, “Today the Moroccan government and local stakeholders, chiefly women’s cooperatives, understand that sustainable commercialisation of oil can only happen if there is a thriving Argan forest. That is why there are several re-forestation programs in place. The cooperatives that we collaborate with are all contributing to reclaim lost forest land. Planting Argan trees is difficult. After planting the offshoot or seed, it can take up to 5 years to assess whether it is a success. Furthermore, the trees only start bearing fruits after 15 years. This is a long-protracted process but one that the locals are committed to.”

Given the labour intensive nature and uncertainty of harvests, cheap argan oil can only be attained if the people producing it are not paid fairly and if the end product is diluted or of poor quality.

“We built relationships with local and vertically integrated women’s cooperatives. By that I mean it is the same group of women who harvest, extract, and makes our products. I have found that this type of operation is more equitable to the women. They are fully invested in the product given their level of involvement and always strive to create something they are proud of.”

Morocco, Souss Massa Draa Region, Ait Baha, picking argan
Morocco, High Atlas, Dades Valley, Valley of Roses, picking of the roses

"At Akhal, we made a conscious decision to only work with companies who shared similar beliefs to us."

akhal beauty

Skincare Done Right

One of the key messages behind Akhal is you should not require a PHD in chemistry to understand the ingredients in a skincare product.

Common practice in the skincare industry is to dilute the more expensive ingredients, like argan oil, with carrier oils that are cheaper to manufacture and more readily available.

In contrast, Akhal’s products are 100% pure, unadulterated and certified organic.

This ensures you as the consumer, gets the most out of the product. As big believers in plant-based skincare, at Akhal they understand the importance of quality.

To benefit from the potency and efficacy of plant-based oils, quality care must be taken. Right through from extraction, packaging and transportation. Otherwise, the health benefits quickly diminish or are even negated by mishandling.

Products which actually work

“It doesn’t matter if the ingredients are organic if they are brought to Australia in a cargo container where temperatures can soar to 60⁰C. Any nutritional benefits from these plant extracts will disappear. We think that customers should read labels carefully and pay close attention to what information is disclosed as well as what is omitted. They should hold plant-based skincare to the same high standards that they do for their grocery shopping. We recommend they ask about sourcing, certifications, processing, and ethical treatment of the people who harvest those ingredients.”

It’s vitally important consumers are aware of these processes to make conscious purchases that respect the product’s environmental origins. This is to ensure these local regenerative initiatives that are doing right by the environment and its local people, aren’t in vein.

Akhal Beauty x CIFD charity

Educating and Evolving

However it’s not all roses and dusty red sunsets.

With the popularity of Aargan oil growing, Akhal face the challenge of competing with large cosmetic brands who boast big marketing and advertising budgets.

But for Akhal, it’s about making a deep impact and helping to raise the standard of education among local communities.

Just this year, they were able to completely finance one year of schooling for a Moroccan child. It’s these stories that resonate with a certain kind of Australian consumer looking to make more conscientious purchases.

Looking ahead to 2017, Myriam expresses her excitement in helping people get acquainted with their Prickly Pear Seed Oil and Pure Rhassoul Clay.

While both products are staples to the Moroccan beauty regime, they are relatively new-comers to the Australian market.

Making a difference in the world isn’t always easy

Which is why as a consumer, it’s rewarding to know your purchase is making a positive impact on the lives of others.

In turn, you’re participating in a cultural exchange and benefiting from native knowledge in trying new skincare products.

 

akhal beauty

 

Emily Uebergang

Emily Uebergang is a writer, farmer and ecoprenuer who transitioned from the urban jungle to a working farmstead in the beautiful mountains of the Manning Valley in New South Wales, Australia. She writes like she's out to try and save the world... or at least make a difference for the better.