Jojoba oil: The golden wonder

Luxurious and versatile - jojoba oil is one of the most popular ingredients used in Lush skincare, haircare, and everything in between! Read on to discover the story behind our organic jojoba oil producers, and how they turn the acorn-like nut into wonderful, golden oil.

Jojoba oil, phonetically pronounced ho-ho-ba, bears a striking resemblance to our skin’s own natural oil, called sebum. This means it is easily absorbed into the skin, hydrating the surface and balancing our body’s own sebum production. It also has a conditioning effect on the hair by adding shine and coating the strands in a protective layer.

From the Peruvian desert to a Panamanian press

The organic, cold-pressed jojoba oil Lush purchases comes from the Ica desert region of Peru, approximately 160 miles along the coast from the capital city of Lima. The area has a dry, temperate, yet 'mild' climate believed to provide an ideal growing environment for hardy jojoba bushes. As the skins of the jojoba nuts thicken at temperatures around 40°C, the jojoba growth period is restricted in many countries where peak temperatures are extremely high. Jojoba bushes are also sensitive to extreme cold, as frost kills the flowers needed to produce the nuts, but temperature never falls below 6°C in the Ica region.

Jojoba is ready for harvest from December to May. Bespoke machinery, designed and manufactured in-house, is used to gently shake the bushes. This is a quick, effective way of encouraging the seeds to drop without damaging the plants. The nuts are then harvested from the ground using rakes and transported to the sorting site. Here, leaves and other debris are separated from the precious, golden nuts.

Once removed from their hard outer shells, the jojoba nuts are sent to a production facility in Panama. The leftover shells are treasured as they will be turned into fertiliser.

A supply chain that leaves the world Lusher

Our supplier goes beyond just producing great oil quality, the company also considers its impact on people and the planet. Employees are offered added benefits, including the potential to earn double the average Peruvian income for agricultural work, free transportation to and from the plantations, and free meals during the working day. They also invest in the local community and donate supplies to two schools twice a year.

Employees take care of the bushes from cuttings to the first roots in the nursery. After a few months, when the plants are stronger, they are transferred to a less protected area and finally planted outside when they reach around a year of age. After two years, the bushes start giving jojoba nuts. These are produced by the female plants and pollinated by the wind, which carries the pollen of the small percentage (about 10%) of male bushes interspersed throughout the plantations.

Sustainable practices are upheld during the growth and production of the jojoba plants. First, thanks to the dry climate, chemical herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides are unnecessary. The farms use their own organic amendments, such as algae and tea, to maintain soil fertility under the trees. They also use drip irrigation, a method that keeps water usage to a minimum.

The future is diverse

In our supplier's fields, jojoba is grown in monoculture. This type of culture consists of growing only one species at a time, which, at best, does not encourage biodiversity and, at worst, reduces it or even makes it disappear. This is why, in 2024, we partnered with Huarango Nature, a local NGO with solid knowledge of local plant and bird species, to create a biodiversity corridor around crops in the form of a green fence of native plant species.

In May 2024, we could already see a high density of pollinators visiting these plants that extend over 2460 feet and almost join an island of biodiversity in the Ica desert, only 1640 feet away. This does not really affect the jojoba since it is wind-pollinated, but it creates a crucial habitat for pollinators and endemic birds, thus promoting biodiversity in a very harsh environment.

Doesn’t it feel amazing to picture how and where the oil you put on your skin is produced? Indulgent organic jojoba oil is woven into a great selection of our products, including Kalamazoo beard and facial wash, Godiva shampoo bar,  Sleepy body lotion and even Cherry lip scrub.

This article was last updated in June 2024.

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