Jojoba oil is known for its many great benefits, particularly for its healing properties. Giving you a closer look, Amy Galper talks with Jonathan Regev, the VP of Marketing at Jojoba Desert. Jonathan is a farmer at heart, and his journey with Jojoba Oil began as a farmer first. He walks us through how Jojoba grows, how the seeds are collected and harvested, and how his company ensures the highest quality extraction methods. If you ever wanted a deep dive into understanding this incredible oil and all its amazing therapeutic properties, then join Jonathan as he breaks it all down in this episode.
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Jojoba Oil: Harvesting Direct From The Farm With Jonathan Regev
In Conversation With Jonathan Regev From Jojoba Desert In Israel, From Farmer To VP
I am excited to have here on the show Jonathan Regev. It’s an honor for me to have him. All of you who are reading are going to find this episode particularly interesting especially if you are a fan of Jojoba oil. Jonathan Regev is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing in the US, UK, Australia of Jojoba Desert, which is a division of Jojoba Israel. He’s responsible for sales and product development of new formulations and actives using jojoba. He is also a farmer. That’s how he started his long and amazing career. He’s farming. He has a degree in agronomy and other accomplishments, which we’ll talk about through the episode. He is talking to me from the farm in Israel. The farm is located outside of Beersheba on Kibbutz Hatzerim. We are happy to have you here, Jonathan. Welcome.
Thank you, Amy. I’m happy to be here. When you asked me to discuss a little bit about jojoba, we are thrilled to grow this plant for many years and slowly to introduce it to fans all around the world. This is why when you introduce what I’m doing, I’m responsible to the US, Australian, Brazilian, and French market. In all of these places, we can find people that love jojoba. I’m happy to be the one who will bring it to them.
Everyone is curious about how you started growing jojoba. What’s the story of Jojoba Israel? How did it begin? How did you all start growing jojoba? Was the kibbutz always farming jojoba? When did this become a big plant for you?
Before 1986, 1987, we never grow jojoba in the particular. Jojoba was around in the desert since the University of Beersheba and the Center of Desert Development in Beersheba have brought the first seeds of jojoba from the Sonoran Desert. They brought it to Israel. They seed it not far from our kibbutz because we are in the middle of the Israeli desert. Two-thirds of Israel is desert, so we have a big desert around us. The reason why the university has brought the seeds from the Sonoran Desert of Israel is because at that time, everything was controlled by the government. Israel was a young country. The government thought that since we have a vast desert with limited sources of water, let’s bring in crops that don’t need a lot of water to grow.
Jojoba was interesting because when they analyzed the oil, they realized that the boiling point of jojoba oil is high. The thinking was, “Let’s cover the Israeli desert with jojoba. We will harvest the seeds, make the oil, and Israel will be big in lubrication oil for machines.” It was in 1964 when they brought the seeds to Israel and slowly, they were trying to understand how to grow it in the desert. Many years later, they couldn’t grow it anymore. It was not successful. The yield was low. Our kibbutz was not far from the farm of experiments, they came to us and they said, “Do you want to have this crop?”
It was in 1986, 1987. At that time, our kibbutz was already in the business of irrigation systems. We have a big factory. It was growing for using drip irrigation systems. Not many knew what is drip irrigation at all. No wonder we were the first one in the world to develop it. These systems were manufactured here. Our engineers developed it. The kibbutz was okay with this business. When they offered us to have the jojoba, it was when most of the farmers in our kibbutz grow tomatoes and potatoes.The first thing people fall in love with when it comes to Jojoba is the color. Click To Tweet
The global warming does not exist yet. If you want tomatoes, you buy it from Turkey, Egypt, potatoes, or you get your food from all around. We grow our own food. It was exactly the time when the farmers in the kibbutz moved to the factory of the irrigation systems because irrigation systems were new. We needed a lot of engineers in order to educate and explain to farmers to use this system of drip irrigation. Our farm was ready to have a new thing which will not demand a lot of human labor. We said, “We are ready to have this.” We didn’t want to take it for free. We paid $1 to the government for that. Since then, they give up on the jojoba because it was with poor results. The farmers that we have here in our kibbutz are different farmers than what you usually know.
We are different because we knew how to use drip irrigation and doing farming with drip irrigation means controlling. We started to understand what is jojoba by trial and error. In the first year, the yield per hectare was 250 kgs. Years later, we are in 7 tons per hectare. Think about it, it’s a lot of know-how, trial and error, and finding the right varieties. At the same time, we’re working closely with the cosmetic world. We introduce the jojoba to the cosmetic world because jojoba is a niche market. In the first years, the price of jojoba was high. Only the rich countries knew this material. I’m talking about USA, Japan, Germany, a little bit in the UK. Our goal now is to bring the use of jojoba to everyone who is using cosmetics. We think that it’s a remarkable, unique oil. It’s not an oil but this is something that every cosmetician would like to have to blend his formula with.
That’s a wonderful history of jojoba in a big nutshell of how the farm has grown so much. Can you talk a little bit about some simple things that people might not know, like what time of year do the jojoba seeds are best for harvesting to make the best quality of oil? If you could also talk through the extraction processes that you do at the farm. A lot of my students and people that I talk to are always curious about terms when it comes to cold expression like refining, deodorizing, and what’s the process. This is always behind closed doors and no one understands. It would be great if you could explain that to us.
One thing that not many people know is jojoba has female plants and male plants. There is a certain percentage of males that must be on the farm in order to have good fertilization. We have to make the males and females meet in the right temperature conditions and everything. This is something that our desert allows and this is one of the reasons that we have a good yield here in our farm. Male plants and female plants are pollinated by the air, not by insects or bees. This is another thing that not many know. Pollen is coming from the male plants and the female plants are consuming the pollen. The fruits are coming out.
We are in the North pole. Our harvest season is starting in September, October, and November. We are trying hard to harvest before the rainy season. This is one of the reasons that the high quality of our jojoba is well-known around the world. We are harvesting in the dry season. It’s a race against the rain that usually comes in October and November. We are harvesting a little bit before that. Talking about the extraction and the production of the oil itself, after we harvest the seeds from the farm, we clean it to a level that even we remove the dust that is on the skin of the jojoba because we don’t need the dust in our oil.
After we clean it, it goes automatically to pressing machines. The method is cold press. To say cold press is a little bit confusing because when you’re pressing something, you heat it. In our system, we are doing a delicate press so the temperature is not going up too much. When temperatures are going up during the process, it might harm the vitamins and the good things that you have in the jojoba. We are doing it in a delicate way. The natural oil that comes out of the cold press is the golden one. It’s a beautiful color. This is the first thing people fall in love with.
You ask me about the bleaching process and everything. Some companies want to have colorless jojoba oil. We decolorize the golden oil in a natural way with the atomic art earth. It’s like a sand. We take the oil through this sand and the sand is consuming the color. If I can give you my expert experience, if you want to use jojoba from my side, I would like to use it. I understand that some companies want to have the physical benefits of jojoba without the color because it is affecting the final product.
For example, if they want white cream, they’re taking the colorless jojoba. There is another process which we inherited in the beginning but we’re working hard to change it. This is the deodorization of the oil. Deodorization of the oil is coming from the demand of customers. They don’t like the nutty odor of the oil. They want it to be odorless. What we do is we take out the odor. We do it with steam. Steam is a natural process. You are taking steam through the oil and then you vacuum it, put it in the container, and the molecules of the odor is going out.
We inherited this process from the first days of jojoba. Years ago, farmers and producers yet didn’t know that it is best if they will harvest during the dry season. They harvest after rain. When the seeds are getting wet, some biological process is starting and when you press it, you can smell it. At that time, they had to do deodorization. Since we are not using any moisturizers when we harvest, we are running and harvesting before the rainy season. The seeds that we are crushing are dry. If there is any other, it’s only this nutty, slight odor, which is nice. I’m addicted to it. We have valued customers from Japan. In Japan, they smell much better than we do. They push the oil to be odorless so we do it. If you ask me what will be the best oil to use, I will tell you first crush with cold press of low temperatures, light cold press. This is the best oil you can get. This is what we do.
For people who can visualize this a little bit better, the jojoba is in fruit. You have to get the seed out. Is that what you do?
No, the jojoba plant is dropping the seeds on the soil. Jojoba evolved for thousands of hundreds of years in the Sonoran Desert. In the Sonoran Desert, you have monsoons. What do we do in this world? We’re taking care of the next generation. When the monsoon is coming in June or July in the Sonoran Desert, the jojoba drops the seeds, they germinate, and they create the next generation. It’s the same thing happening here. We don’t have monsoons in Israel. Our desert is dry during June and July. We even don’t have the summer rains. In Europe, they have it.
We are harvesting in a dry season. The jojoba is dropping the seeds and we harvest it from the soil. In our farm, we are using less human labor. All the harvest is made by machines so everything is mechanized, computerized, call it as you want. One guy is taking care of a huge plot. This is why in our new factory, we are bringing the seeds up to the storage or the process, we are cleaning the seed, branches, stones, and also the dust which is a very big progress for us. Years ago until now, the oil is even better than it was before. It’s clear, clean, and a good one.If you have very dry places in your body, you can use Jojoba to moisturize. Click To Tweet
This is fascinating which I’m sure people are going to enjoy. On the farm as well, you’re doing a lot of product development with understanding since you have all become such experts on jojoba. They’ve been growing it for so long. You understand its unique chemical compounds, unique, and structure molecularly. Could you talk a little bit about what your product development arm of the farm and your processing look like? What kinds of things?
The common knowledge about jojoba and we knew from what people are using that jojoba can do this and that and everything. Our young doctors came in and we told them about this, so they say, “What is the proof? You said that jojoba is moisturizing our skin. I want to see the research that proves it and show how it’s done. If you want to market jojoba, you have to have the research.” I said, “This is your thing to do. You will make the researchers and our doctors are doing this research and we are proving by research the benefits of jojoba to the skin, hair, nails, to other things that are interesting.”
One of the well-known things about jojoba was that it’s not an oil, it’s a liquid wax. If you want to preserve other oils, you mix it with a little bit of jojoba. We did the research here about this. We call it an extension of life of other oils. With avocado oil, which is a beautiful oil for the skin, when you mix it with 10% jojoba, you gained four times the shelf life of the avocado oil. The common knowledge was we blend our oils with a little bit of jojoba in order to preserve it. When we did our research, we discovered about the avocado oil, almond oil, all the other oils, whatever oil, you mix it with 10% of jojoba, you are gaining more shelf life.
It is because jojoba is not an oil. You ask about the molecular structure of jojoba. The molecular structure of jojoba is a long one chain of ester made from alcohol and acid. In our body, the role of this oil is to maintain our skin clean from bad bacteria and everything. We know that jojoba is not a triglyceride so bacteria cannot consume energy if they consume it. When you have jojoba, they don’t want to grow there because they have nothing to eat. It cannot consume energy from jojoba.
When you mix jojoba with triglyceride, even if it is olive oil, almond oil, or avocado oil then the jojoba is like capsulating the other oil and preserve it from bacteria. The other property of jojoba is a high oxidation resistance. When you mix jojoba with the other oils, you can gain also some resistance to oxygen. Oxygen is an enemy for all of us. When something is oxidized, if it is our skin or whatever, you can say oxidize or grow old. This is what oxygen is doing. At the same time, we cannot live without oxygen.
This is an interesting capability of jojoba. We have this biostatic property of jojoba against bacteria. The ability of the jojoba to resist oxygen and to be a very beautiful antioxidation property. This is one of the things and we have other researches that we are doing. You can find this in our website. The researches that we do in order to have technical proof, scientific proof about the capabilities of jojoba to do this and that. What’s used to be common knowledge but now we turned it to be knowledge.
For someone who may have heard of jojoba and it’s a newer thing to them, they may have seen it on the shelf at Whole Foods or they’ve seen some oil in someplace, and they want to start using it but they’re not sure how. What would you say for our beginner person or a brand-new person who’s never used jojoba? What do you think is the easiest way to start using it?
First of all, to use jojoba as natural, you use it with drops. This is why most of the bottles of jojoba are quite small. To beginners, I would like to recommend on the first day, put a few drops on the hand to see if they don’t have any reaction if the skin remains the same. I can say that jojoba as-is, you can use it to smooth your hand. You can use drops on your hair right after you comb your hair in the shower to give more moisturization and shine. If you have dry places in your body, you can use it to moisturize.
A few drops are enough. You can use it for many applications of keeping your skin moisturized. A pregnant woman can use it in order to eliminate stretch marks in the belly. I will recommend you to go on YouTube. Many people are starting to use jojoba. How to use jojoba is mentioned there in many different ways. Being the jojoba is the same molecule as our own sebum, it give a lot of capabilities to this ingredient, to support our skin, hair, nails, whatever you want to moisturize.
That’s a great place for people to start for sure. I want to thank you for all of this fascinating information about jojoba. It was great to dive deep into the topic and learn a little bit more about the plant, its growing season, and harvesting. As we say goodbye, why don’t you tell us a little bit about how people can learn more about Jojoba Desert? Where can they find you? Can people buy the oil directly from the farm? Do you have places where they can purchase it? How can they find out more?
In the internet, you can find a lot of jojoba but not with our name. We have many customers that are bottling our jojoba to small bottles and sell it through Amazon. With the COVID-19, it’s a little bit difficult but some things sometimes sound too good to be. The best is to come and visit here, see it with your own eyes, and feel it here. It’s the best thing that you can do. You can purchase online and try to find a reliable source because people blend it. We don’t like when people blend in some other oils and sell it as pure.
Pure jojoba if you find the right source in the Amazon or the other places, this is the right place to purchase it, to try it in the beginning, and to understand more about the benefits. YouTube is a good place. Your show is a good place. You can teach other people what to do. I want to say in 2005, I was in China and there was an old guy lecturing in English about jojoba. He said something that I always remember, “There are many things you can do with jojoba that it’s yet to be explored.” This is what we are doing. We’re exploring and we find good things to do. Our main goal is to replace chemicals with our natural ingredients. This is the main root of our research. We take some chemical application that we find in cosmetics and we want to change it to jojoba in this way or another. We’re doing baby steps but we have time.
That’s a beautiful and a good place to end. Thank you, Jonathan, for joining, talking, and sharing everything with everyone.
About Jonanthan Regev
Jojoba Desert is the world’s leading Jojoba oil manufacturer and provider, based in the heart of the Israeli desert. Jojoba Desert provides various Jojoba oil based products globally, to top international cosmetics brands, cosmetics manufacturers, laboratories and distributors.
We believe in nurturing long-term partnerships. Our customers feel safe knowing that we carry their care, provide innovative products, stable supply and engage in responsible leadership.
As a cooperative settlement (Kibbutz) owned entity, we leverage over 30 years of combined pioneering spirit, world-class technological, agronomic and manufacturing experience and expertise. Our key to success is rooted deep within our connection to the Israeli desert and its unique soil. Ever-driven towards excellence, we carry your care, from seed to oil. We are dedicated to sustainability and social responsibility, seeking to offer a stable supply of high-quality, standard-compliant Jojoba oil-based products that satisfy every customer’s ingredient, sensory and rejuvenating cosmetic need.
Offering end-to-end production coverage and traceability, we have become the leading company offering pure, natural, Jojoba oil. In line with our vision that every product must be enhanced with the exceptional properties of JD Jojoba Oil, we carry your care and offer a wide and creative range of Jojoba oil-based products used in myriad applications.