From the nuts of the jojoba plant, a versatile and exquisite liquid wax with a similar texture to your skin's sebum, can be extracted for use in skin and haircare products.
The desert region of Peru, which is about 160m along the coast from Lima, has the dry, temperate yet 'mild' climate believed to provide an ideal growing environment for hardy jojoba bushes. Because the skins of the jojoba nuts thicken when high temperatures of 40C are reached, 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 and here it never falls below 6C.
Sustainable growing practices are in place. In addition to only using organic fertiliser, no herbicides, pesticides or fungicides are needed due to the dry climate, and plants are watered using drip irrigation to limit the amount of water used.
Bush cuttings start life in a nursery and, after a few months, are transferred to a less protected area before being planted out when they are around one year old. After two years, the bushes start producing the jojoba nuts, which look like a cross between an olive and an acorn. These are produced by the female plants and pollinated by the wind, which carries the pollen from the small percentage (about 10%) of male bushes interspersed throughout the plantations.
When the seeds develop a hard outer layer, they are left on the bush to dry out in the heat until they turn brown and fall from the bushes in late November or December. Carefully, they are harvested from the ground using rakes and transported to the sorting site, which is located on one of the plantations, where leaves and other debris are removed. Even the leftover hard shells are treasured, and these are collected to turn into fertiliser.
From each truckload of rich, jojoba nuts they receive, the processors typically obtain a 45% yield by cold-pressing. The resulting product is an indulgent oil that feels beautiful on the skin and hair, adding a luxurious feel to cosmetics.