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KAFFOIL - The New Argan Oil: Why the Beauty Industry Needs a New ‘Liquid Gold’

Written in collaboration with Heather Grant

Revitalising Hair Oil by Kaffe Bueno. Photo by: Kaffe Bueno

Known for its nourishing properties, Argan oil, or Moroccan oil, is one of the hottest beauty trends in the last decade. From shampoos to heat protection sprays, you can find it in just about any kind of hair care product. It’s used in trends like ‘hair oiling’ and ‘hair slugging’, and viral on social media sites like TikTok. It's a big deal, to say the least.

But is this so-called ‘liquid gold’ all it’s made out to be?

Though the oil is coveted globally, it can only be extracted from the Argan tree, exclusive to Morocco. And a small southwestern region of Morocco at that. With the spike in demand for the product - the Argan Oil market is set to be worth $427.05 million by 2030 - and only a small area to source it, environmental and ethical issues arise.

Isn’t it time for a new oil to step into the spotlight?

KAFFOIL™, Kaffe Bueno’s sustainably produced coffee-derived oil, is the solution. This new kid (launched 2020, launching new version in Autumn 2022) on the block is full of nutrients that help repair chemically-damaged hair, strengthen hair, reduce breakage and split ends, and enhance shine. We believe it can, and should, be the “new Argan oil”. In this article, we’ll show you exactly why.

What is Argan oil? And why do we need an alternative?

Even if you’ve heard of Argan oil (which, considering its popularity, is extremely likely), you probably don’t know how it’s made. Why? Because it’s a long and laborious process.

Argan oil is extracted from Argan tree nuts, which are found inside the fruit of the Argan tree. The fruit is harvested in the summer season, sundried, individually peeled, and its nut cracked open. The kernels are air-dried, ground, and cold-pressed, to release the oil. It's then transported all over the world to be sold as a stand-alone product or incorporated into shampoos, serums, masks, and more.

Coffea Plant. Photo by: Gary Barnes

This is how it reaches consumers. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to. Some brands deceptively market their products as ‘‘Morrocan oil’’, making it seem as though it’s pure Argan oil when in reality it’s just a small portion of it. Synthetic ingredients, such as Dimethicone and Cyclopentasiloxane (volatile silicones used to help the product spread easily), make up most of the formula.

Consumers' needs are changing, and Argan oil just doesn’t fit the bill anymore. Post-pandemic, people are more concerned with using eco-friendly products produced with social responsibility in mind. They want to see immediate results when it comes to growth, shine, and strengthening, without the negative impact. The problem with Argan oil is that these things aren’t guaranteed. The land, and the communities who live and work there, are suffering at the hands of its global demand.

That’s why Kaffe Bueno has developed KAFFOIL™ - a more sustainable and effective alternative to Argan Oil. And a revitalising hair oil, an ethical and environmentally friendly alternative, using only natural ingredients - no synthetics. We’ve used this oil in studies to evaluate its efficiency in increasing hair shine, strengthening hair, reducing breakage and split ends, and repairing damaged hair. We’ve found that it’s just as, if not more, effective than Argan oil.

KAFFOIL™ vs Argan oil: A sustainable, ethical, and effective alternative

Here’s how KAFFOIL™ and Argan oil compete when it comes to three key considerations:

  • Environmental

  • Ethical

  • Effectiveness

1. Environmental

Argan trees are essential for protecting Morocco’s ecosystem, so much so that the Arganeraire region where they grow is a UNESCO-protected ecosystem. The trees prevent soil erosion, protect water resources, and their fruits and leaves feed livestock. But all this is forgotten when it comes to the desire to source Argan oil, threatening overuse and deforestation.

Another problem with Argan Oil is that, as it can only be sourced in Morocco, it’s transported all over the world. Its massive international trade contributes to global transport emissions of greenhouse gases.

The Beauty Miles Concept is a useful way to visualise its impact. Like food miles, Beauty Miles is a measure of how far a product has had to travel to reach the consumer, taking into account each individual ingredient. For example, it’s estimated that a standard lip balm, made with the most common ingredients and sold in the US, has likely travelled almost 23000 miles in total. What might the miles of an Argan oil shampoo add up to?

KAFFOIL™, however, is sourced sustainably through the means of upcycling spent coffee grounds and industrial coffee by-products. We’ve considered the impact of transportation too, and plan to set up a chain of coffee biorefineries around the globe, starting in Copenhagen, Denmark. By sourcing our raw materials from industrial coffee consumers around the world, we can reduce any major form of pollution and severely reduce transportation costs by producing KAFFOIL™ in close proximity to global manufacturers. For every ton of KAFFOIL™ produced, we avert >56,000 KG of CO2 being released into the environment.

Kaffe Bueno Cycle. Illustration by: Kaffe Bueno

2. Ethical

Harvesting Argan Oil is carried out by the indigenous Berber women in Morocco, using an ancestral tapping technique to peel and crack the nuts. To meet the recent surge in demand for the product, cooperatives have been created for these women, allowing them to be part of global production, as well as access to healthcare and education.

Well, on the surface this seems like a great solution, dig deeper and the picture isn’t so perfect.

An article in The Guardian, for example, explains that these women, most of which have never learnt to read and write, are ill-equipped to conduct business with international organisations and are left vulnerable to exploitation. Now that Argan oil has been commercialised, the trade is becoming increasingly male-owned. The women’s workload has intensified, involving 10 to 12 hour days and income below the minimum wage, well those higher up the supply chain reap the profits.

There’s also talk of future full-mechanisation of the process. Though this would improve productivity, it has strong implications for the community. Women may be excluded from communications, and the regional economy will suffer if production becomes de-localized.

At Kaffe Bueno, we’re proud to be a B Certified Corporation® and, like all our products, KAFFOIL™ is produced with social responsibility at its core. The vision of Kaffe Bueno is a world where coffee is not treated as a beverage (the 1% of its potential), but as a source of health and skin nutrients. In this way, prices paid to coffee farmers will increase, since their crops will be used beyond a cup of coffee.

We’re not stopping here, either. We are working towards bringing the technologies we’ve developed in Denmark, to the coffee farmers in Colombia. When coffee is only used to make a caffeinated beverage, only 1% of its value is utilised and the farmers are paid virtually nothing. By bringing our technologies to the farmers, they can retain more of the value of their crops.

By using what has been mistreated as waste as a raw material that’s already out there instead, we’re extending coffee’s economical life. Our biorefinery is located in Denmark, where our highly skilled workers are paid well over the minimum wage.

Photo by: Livier Garcia

3. Effectiveness

There’s no denying Argan oil is incredibly beneficial for hair. Packed with a multitude of nutrients - such as Vitamin E, antioxidants, and fatty acids - it’s scientifically proven to promote hair health, prevent breakage, and add strength to hair follicles.

KAFFOIL™, however, does all of this in a much to a higher degree and in a more sustainable way. It provides a handful of similar compounds to Argan oil, plus others, and so provides a similar experience and silky-smooth effect. Our initial research has found it to be more effective than Argan oil in reducing breakage and split ends and promoting hair shine (the full study is available on request).

It protects your hair from damage, without damaging the planet and its people in the process.

Photo by: Kaffe Bueno

KAFFOIL™: Find beauty in coffee

Consumers want to shop more eco-friendly – numerous surveys show this –so manufacturers owe it to them to produce and utilise ingredients with this in mind. The issues around Argan oil demonstrate the need to think beyond what’s popular, to find truly ethical and sustainable alternatives that meet consumers' changing needs.

That’s why KAFFOIL™ is the new Argan oil.

Sourced through upcycling and distributed with limited transportation and distance, it offers a guilt-free personal care experience. As well as its haircare benefits, it has sun-protection, anti-aging, skin repair, and moisturizing properties too. Not to mention, the coffee beverage used to make the product benefits your hair, skin, and scalp, and may reduce the risk of disease.

KAFFOIL™, and the coffee it is derived from, supports both inner and outer beauty. Are you ready to make the switch?


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