Lush has been trying to use tagua nuts for years after one of the brand's creative buyers discovered buttons made from them at a manufacturing trade show. What a great natural product to replace plastic, they thought.
Where do we get it?
This powder comes from an Ecuadorian button manufacturer. They grind tagua nuts grown in the country and sell the resulting powder to Lush through a German distributor. The three companies have worked together to create this natural scrub, suitable for cosmetic use in terms of quality and grain size.
What are the benefits for people and the planet?
In South America, tagua nuts are also known as ‘vegetable ivory’ and are cored to make corozo buttons, small sculptures and jewellery. They originate from huge fruits that grow on a few different palm species, in our case, the Ecuadorian ivory palm. When they fall to the rainforest floor, the fruits are partially eaten by animals and then collected by local communities. They contain many edible nuts, the size of a chicken egg, that become hard as a stone after 45 to 60 days of drying. They can then be carved by hand or machine.
The exfoliating tagua powder is a by-product of this craft. The remaining nut pieces are saved and ground to produce a natural scrub that can shamelessly replace microplastic exfoliators. It meets the three aspects of sustainability: environmental, social and economic. The product is 100% biodegradable, and there is no water involved in its transformation (except the rain used by the trees to grow, of course!). As the nut is more valuable than their wood, the palm trees have a minimal risk of being felled, and therefore the forests in this region are preserved. Finally, the community is involved at every stage of processing the material, so the nut is strongly linked to their livelihoods and improving their quality of life.
What are the benefits of the powder for your skin?
Tagua powder is exfoliating. This means that when you rub it on your face and body, it scrubs away dead skin cells and other impurities from the surface of your skin, leaving it fresh and radiant.
You know the vegan song? ‘Ebonyy and taaagua nuuuuts…’
That’s right; already at the end of the 19th-century, tagua nuts were used as a plant-based substitute for ivory. Its botanical name, Phytelephas, even translates to ‘plant elephant’. About 20% of American buttons used to be made of tagua before plastic was introduced in the 1950s.