Beauty care company works with Rainforest Alliance to sustainably harvest Honduran Ojon oil

The Optimist Travel Team

Last updated 2/8/2009 10:12:58 PM

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 NGO, 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.

MOPAWI is a nonprofit organization that has long supported communities in The Mosquitia region of northeastern Honduras.
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.

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.

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.

Their forest management plans promote long-term conservation of the  region’s globally-significant biodiversity, including jaguars, white-lipped peccaries, Baird’s tapirs, white-faced capuchin monkeys and hundreds of bird species.