Arghand soaps are so beautiful, but are they really any different than any other soap?
 
Arghand soaps, formulated from a savant mixture of oils, are fashioned according to a painstaking process known as hand-milling. After the soap is batched and has hardened for a few days, we grate it and melt it over a low heat. It is at this stage that the Arghand women add the more precious oils, fragrances, and colors. Then each bar of soap is hand-molded to resemble a lump of river-polished marble before it cures for six weeks.  The result is a rock-hard, glossy and long lasting bar of soap.  You'll feel the difference the first time you lather up!

Facts and Questions

What is the difference between cold-pressed and essential oils?

Cold-pressed oils are extracted with an electric screw-press machine that we power with solar electricity.  The oil from nuts and seeds is literally pressed out of the dried kernels.  Essential oils, on the other hand, are extracted from fresh plants and flowers by way of steam distillation.  Our still is made of food-grade stainless steel, with a Pyrex separator for collecting the precious essential oil.  Water used for cooling is captured and recycled. 
Cracking Almonds in preparation for cold pressing
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Preparing wild peppermint for steam distillation

Arghand women hand-molding the soap stones.

What distinguishes Arghand soap and skincare from other beauty brands?

In addition to being the only sustainable beauty brand from Afghanistan, Arghand makes its own oils from locally sourced plant materials, many of which are not available in any other part of the world.  All of the oils that are crafted in our solar-powered atelier  are food-grade, and we don't stretch any of our products with filler or carrier oils.  As a result, each and every one of our soaps and moisturizers is both intensely nourishing and deeply hydrating.  

Are your soaps and moisturizers organic?

Arghand soaps are 100% natural, and many of our ingredients are indeed organic.  But since we purchase raw materials from an eclectic assortment of regional farmers, we cannot claim that our products are certified organic. 

Can you tell me about the shelf life of your products?

If stored in a cool, dry place, Arghand soaps will keep for several years (although we hope that you will use them for cleansing rather than for ornamental purposes!)  Our pure botanical oils will also remain in excellent condition for up to two years if kept in containers that block out UV rays.  Because they contain water and do not contain any inorganic preservatives, our creams and lotions are the most vulnerable to degredation.  Still, they will keep for approximately one year in our violet glass jars and aluminum containers.  By refrigerating your natural skincare products, you can extend their viability by up to another whole year.

 

I love the smell of your desert fields oil; can I use it in my hair?

Absolutely!  Just like the popular Moroccan Argan oil, any of Arghand's three face & body oils are great for your hair, especially if like so many people you strip it of its natural oils with harsh shampoo.  For best results, run a small amount of oil into the ends of wet hair with your fingers.  Don't work it into the scalp.  A half thimblefull of Arghand oil will reduce frizziness, restore luster, and bring out your hair's natural shine.

What percentage of the profits go back into the Kandahar Cooperative?

All proceeds from the sale of Arghand products go straight back into the cooperative, whose 19 members receive a respectable monthly salary in addition to collective ownership of all assets and equipment.  There is a small administrative and distribution staff in the USA, which is modestly funded (for now) by the generous contributions of individual donors and small foundations.

What if I am not happy with my Arghand products?

If you are unhappy with your purchase, for any reason, just call or write to us and we will issue you a full refund. 

Won't oil make my skin oily?

Not in the least!  Mineral oil will make your skin oily, but high quality plant oils absorb quickly and beautifully into the skin.  Plant oils will not block the pores, especially if you apply to freshly washed skin.  They will also nourish and rejuvinate as they moisturize. 

I've heard so much about pomegranate seed oil; what's so great about it?

Pomegranates are rich in rare Omega 5 essential fatty acids. The oil extracted from the seeds is a potent source of Conjugated Linolenic Acid (CLnA), also known as Punicic Acid, a potent antioxidant that repairs damaged cells and helps prevent premature aging. Pomegranate seed oil has also been shown, in clinical studies, to treat eczema and stimulate proliferation of keratinocytes, which promote skin regeneration. In the region around Kandahar, pomegranate peel is traditionally used to help repair broken skin. For a substantial dose of pomegranate seed oil, try our Pomegranate Healing Salve on dry or irritated skin.

 

 

What are the biggest challenges associated with operating a soap factory in a war zone?

The biggest challenges to date have been electricity, shipping from a developing, land-locked country with no postal system, and security.  The first problem was solved in 2009 when we acquired a 5.2kw photovoltaic generator with funds from the Canadian International Development Agency.  Shipping logistics became manageable by tranforming Arghand into an official Afghan businesss that could move cargo through customs.  Unfortunately, the security problem remains an ongoing issue because Afghan civilians who work with foreigners are still routinely targeted by insurgents.  However, as Arghand develops into more of an Afghan business entity and less of a American development project, our hope is that its productive members will be regarded with respect rather than suspicion.

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