Ojon Works with the Rainforest Alliance to Sustainably Harvest Rare Ojon Oil

January 28, 2009

Ojon Corporation, a Canadian beauty care company within the Estée Lauder Companies, has enlisted the help of the Rainforest Alliance in working with indigenous groups producing natural beauty products. Ojon oil, harvested for centuries in Honduras by the indigenous Tawira -- also known as "the people of beautiful hair" -- is used in Ojon's beauty products to help restore dry or damaged hair and skin.

Together with MOPAWI, a Honduran nonprofit organization that has long supported communities in The Mosquitia region of northeastern Honduras, the Rainforest Alliance will help the Tawira and other indigenous groups (Miskitos, Tawahkas, Pech) to improve the productivity and sustainability of the Ojon, as well as other non-wood products that come from the forest, including cocoa and Swa+ oil. The work will help these groups more fully develop the economic potential of their forest resources while mitigating environmental and social impacts and supporting indigenous rights to these resources.

Ojon Nuts

"With MOPAWI and local communities, we are developing new approaches to improving livelihoods and promoting conservation in this region that are consistent with traditional customs and knowledge, that is based on sustainability and that will benefit the people of this region and provide them with the incentive to protect their forest resources and culture," said the Rainforest Alliance's Greg Minnick, who is overseeing the project.

Brand founder Denis Simioni discovered Ojon's efficacy when a relative from Central America visited him and left behind a baby food jar of the brown oil. He was curious about the dark-colored paste and decided to try it. Astounded by the beautiful results Simioni ventured down to Central America and made a five and a half hour canoe trip to meet with the Tawira, who use the oil to protect their hair and skin from the oppressive Honduran sun.

Ojon Tree

Ojon is named for the palm tree whose nut yields the highly potent oil and sells its naturally derived products through the QVC shopping channel, specialty retailers including Sephora and Nordstrom and some 300 high-end salons.

In July of 2007, the Estée Lauder Companies acquired Ojon Corporation.

The Tawira live in the Mosquitia region of Honduras, adjacent to the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve, where the Rainforest Alliance currently assists twelve communities in developing their small forest enterprises with business planning, value-added processing and marketing of forest products derived from their forest management plans that promote long-term conservation of the region's globally-significant biodiversity, including jaguars, white-lipped peccaries, Baird's tapirs (also referred to as a "jungle horse"), white-faced capuchin monkeys and hundreds of bird species.