Illipe butter, known as tengkawang fat, is made from the nuts of the endangered Shorea stenoptera tree, which only grows in the forests of Borneo.
“Illipe butter is still a relatively uncommon ingredient in the cosmetics market at this point in time, despite its distinctive moisturising properties. Traditionally, it has been used by locals as an ancient remedy for repairing chronically dry or cracked skin, to heal sores and sunburns, and even to enhance flavor in food,” explained Dirk-Jan Oudshoorn, founder and CEO of Forestwise,
Illipe butter has a higher melting point than shea butter, but melts when it comes into contact with skin.
This characteristic makes it ideal for use in lipsticks and face masks, as well as solid formulations of shampoo, lotions and soap.
“[Illipe butter] would be especially useful for brands looking to tap into the sustainable packaging trend. Brands that choose to formulate products with Illipe butter can harness the benefit of its high melting point to create products in solid form, avoiding the use of plastic bottles in a bid to reduce plastic pollution,” said Oudshoorn.
Oudshoorn told CosmeticsDesign-Asia that the rising interest in a cleaner and greener approach to beauty has influenced the demand for Illipe butter.
“Sustainable beauty is definitely a trend that has been subtly driving the demand for Illipe butter. More and more, consumers are looking for eco-friendly beauty products that use only non-toxic ingredients for active results. This has led manufacturers and formulators to source for suitable ingredients like our Illipe butter.”
He added that consumers were also more curious about the origins of their ingredients.
“We can offer companies full traceability for our ingredients, right from when the nut falls to the ground, to the time it is processed and leaves our facility. In particular, each of the 700-odd farmers that supply Illipe nuts to us sign individual contracts with us, which maximises the prices paid to them. This way, consumers using products that feature Illipe butter from Forestwise can be assured that the product has been ethically sourced.”
Recently, Forestwise announced the opening of its new factory in West Kalimantan, Indonesia.
The new facility is equipped with a storage system that helps guarantee a ready supply of Illipe butter all-year round, even during non-harvest seasons.
“Forestwise was created with one goal in mind: to stop deforestation even while harvesting and manufacturing raw ingredients for sale… [the storage system] enables us to spread out our production over a few years and process the nuts on demand. This way, we can guarantee a ready supply of Illipe butter all year round, despite the Illipe nut’s irregular harvest seasons,” said Oudshoorn.
The company invested in in-house lab equipment for the new facility to ensure the quality of the Illipe butter.
“This lab allows the team at Forestwise to monitor acid and peroxide levels of the Illipe butter closely, ensuring that the nuts are prepared under the right conditions. If these levels rise beyond a certain threshold, the team will then further refine the Illipe butter,” said Oudshoorn.
Additionally, the lab will allow it to produce finish cosmetic products as well.
“Having our own manufacturing and processing facility is an important milestone for us. Prior to this, we were renting a production space in Sintang, Indonesia that could only accommodate a small generator and two oil presses, and our office and storage facility were located elsewhere. With the new factory, everything is in one place, which offers synergies that were previously unavailable to us,” said Oudshoorn.
With the new factory, the company helps rainforest communities generate income while preserving their habitat.
Forestwise currently employs over 700 farmers in 27 different villages in Borneo to collect Illipe nuts.
Oudshoorn said: “Through unlocking rainforest value for local inhabitants and increasing the economic value of the remaining forest, we offer forest communities a sound incentive to continue protecting the forests from monoculture plantation practices. To date, our efforts have helped to preserve a total forest area of 200,000 hectares — almost the size of Luxembourg.”
Aside from Illipe butter, Forestwise also produces Kemiri oil and distributes virgin coconut oil, Arenga sugar, and Buah Merah oil.
Moving forward, it is looking to expand its product range to include ingredients such as wild forest beeswax and rubber seed oil.
In addition, the firm said it planned to introduce its own cosmetics brand later in the year, which will allow them to demonstrate the efficacy of its ingredients.
Oudshoorn concluded: “Lastly, we are going to set up the Forestwise Foundation, which will allow us to give back to the rainforest communities in more ways, and of course, to continue contributing to our goal to stop deforestation.”