Natural and organic beauty is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the global marketplace. But how consumers evaluate natural claims has undergone a dramatic change. More and more they are looking for products that are deeply aligned with their lifestyles and beliefs. Few other hero ingredients meet the increasing worldwide demand for vegan skincare, clean beauty and cruelty-free and sustainability claims than jojoba.

Indigenous to the desert regions of the US and Mexico, jojoba first came to be widely used in cosmetics for a reason even more relevant today – it helped to save sperm whales from extinction. In the early 1970s, researchers discovered that jojoba was the perfect substitute for whale oil because it is similar in composition to human skin. More recently, the US Department of Agriculture identified jojoba as key to fighting the so-called beepocalypse – the reduction of bee populations worldwide through loss of habitat and climate change. Jojoba does not produce nectar but it does produce copious quantities of protein-rich pollen which creates an excellent food supply for bee colonies.

Incredible Stability/Similar to Human Skin

In today’s export-driven global beauty industry, jojoba possesses yet another trump card. Because of its unique chemical structure and antioxidant content, jojoba has an unmatched oxidative stability. Products containing jojoba have a long shelf life, resistance to free radicals and stay efficacious, says Vicki Engsall, Co-Founder and Product Development Manager of The Jojoba Company. People use the term jojoba oil, but it’s technically not an oil at all, but a mixture of liquid wax esters similar to human sebum, which is why it has such a staggering amount of benefits, says Engsall. “We were the first company in the world to launch a skincare range entirely based on jojoba and have enjoyed double-digit growth year-on-year, rising to 40 per cent over the past year”. Commercial quantities of jojoba are grown in the US, Israel and Argentina, but The Jojoba Company dominates the beauty and personal care category in Australia. “As
by consumers seek out more ethical sourcing, transparency in the supply chain and sustainability, locally-produced hero ingredients that don’t have to be flown half way around the world have become critical to the path-to-purchase”, adds Engsall. “We are Australian-owned and over 40 per cent of Australian women prefer to buy Australian-made beauty products”.

Pioneering Development

Engsall founded The Jojoba Company with her father, Ian Turner, in 2008. “Just because jojoba is a desert plant doesn’t mean it is easy to grow in Australia and farmers had tried to grow it commercially before. Dad did a lot of experimental planting and the CSIRO wanted Aussie farmers to pioneer a new strain of jojoba they had developed called Wadi Wadi, named after a NSW Aboriginal people. He had a spare lot and planted a few cuttings, but it was eight years before the first crop yield”. There was a lot of learning involved because jojoba is a sex-differentiated plant, says Engsall. “You need one male plant to pollinate 17 female plants and the jojoba is produced only by the female plant. I was a teacher and had just had a baby and the timing was right to take on a major project. We did a lot of market research and discovered there was very limited knowledge about the benefits of jojoba. Some people thought it was good for the hair, others confused it with aloe vera and only five per cent were aware of its skincare benefits”. Now 10years on, jojoba has become a mainstream ingredient that consumers look for in their skincare products. Engsall had a vision and strong commitment and thoroughly researched jojoba’s huge number of uses. “Jojoba is a perfect carrier because it is easily absorbed and penetrates down to skin matrix level, which is why it is invaluable in hair, skincare and pharmaceutical products. We have also supplied larger quantities to ingredient suppliers, but I strongly believed that jojoba should move from being a back story to the main act. The facial oil sector was booming and I felt that a skincare range based on jojoba was a natural progression because it suits more skin types because it is non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic. Packed with vitamins, essential oils and antioxidants, the regular use of jojoba fast-tracks clear, healthy skin”.

Bestsellers/Sustainability and Purity/Future Growth

The original skincare range from The Jojoba Company – 32 SKUs – launched at Beauty Expo 2008 because we had professional skincare salons in mind, says Engsall. “A lot of independent salons were interested because jojoba can be added to a wide range of facials or used alone. But word spread and we had a sales team from day one and quickly extended distribution to pharmacies and health food stores a year later. We are now stocked in Priceline, Go Vita, Healthy Life, Blooms, Pharmacy 4 Less, Wholehealth Pharmacy and Healthfoods, Ramsay Pharmacy and selected independents”. Biochemistry and technology in the natural beauty sector has advanced enormously in recent years, says Engsall. “Our number one bestseller is our pure Australian jojoba and we also have an organic version. Our next bestseller is Ultimate Jojoba Youth Potion which is like a multivitamin treatment for the skin. We believe that the jojoba plants grown at our farm in Yenda, regional Australia deliver the most nutrient-rich jojoba. We have more than tripled our planting from 60 to 200 acres and are planting 41,000 new plants in our nursery to keep up with demand and ensure future growth”.

China-Facing/Revolutionising Skincare

Chinese consumers love jojoba because it not only produces results, they also value the transparency and purity of our products using jojoba that has been filtered 14 times, says Engsall. “Because it is a desert plant, jojoba has an extensive root system that can go down 20 metres. This makes the plants carbon-neutral, which is very eco-friendly. Little water is required and because it doesn’t attract pests or diseases no chemical spraying is required. The jojoba seed looks like a large coffee bean and we use a cold-pressed extraction method. Processed jojoba is clear and transparent, but pure versions like ours are a bright, golden colour so that consumers can tell at a glance they are getting 100% natural jojoba”. “It is amazing to see the impact jojoba is having on the beauty industry and the new uses being discovered, says Engsall. “Jojoba has come of age and will continue to revolutionise skincare development. We have new skincare packaging debuting later this year. In addition to educating more Australian consumers about the benefits of jojoba, we have distributors in the UK and New Zealand and are working with a leading distributor on our Chinese strategy”.

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