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More than a snack, the pili nut is making its way to your face

PILI ANI, a homegrown brand that harnesses pili and elemi nut oil (both plants are under the same Canarium family) launched its latest product, the Pili Ani Cleansing Butter, on March 18 in Rockwell’s Balmori Suites.

The nourishing balm is formulated with pili butter, pili oil, virgin coconut oil, and Alteromonas ferment extract that work together to melt away deep-seated dirt and other impurities — without stripping skin of its natural moisture. Alteromonas seems to be the secret ingredient, derived from the fermentation of a specific type of marine bacteria.

“This ingredient helps improve the appearance and texture of the skin,” said Rosalina Ong, who, along with her mother, launched the brand. “It pulls out particulate matter on skin that’s exposed to pollutants like smoke and fuel exhaust.”

She also pointed out the product’s efficacy in removing long-wear makeup and SPFs.

To use the product, scoop the butter into the palm and massage with both hands before gently applying on to one’s face, then massaging it in. The user is then supposed to add a few drops of water to their palm, rub their hands together with the water to create an emulsification, which is then massaged onto the face again. Finally, wash the product with water, or, when removing makeup, wipe the face first with a warm, damp, soft cloth or cotton pads, then rinse off the residue.

The company was founded in 2016 by mother-daughter duo Mary Jane and Rosalina Ong, after the senior Ong first bought a bottle of pili oil from a farmer, and then learning that a French beauty brand purchased Elemi resin from her source. The younger Ms. Ong then sought clinical tests for the oil.

“Pili pulp oil is antioxidant-rich, it’s rich in carotenoids, in vitamin A and E. We have invested in testing pili pulp oil and based on the results, it’s more moisturizing than the more mainstream rosehip oil, Abyssinian oil, and argan oil,” the younger Ms. Ong told BusinessWorld. “It has a lot of potential in skincare, and we are very proud to have been the first skincare brand in the Philippines to have used it in all of our products.”

Their products include lip butters and full skincare lines, from toners to creams.

In a statement, she says, “We’ve tested pili butter versus cocoa butter and discovered that in terms of moisture index value, pili butters are truly comparable to cocoa butter.”

In many situations, products that are plant-based are purported to also be sustainable, a buzzword that has become a benchmark in companies due to concerns about the environment. According to the Pili Ani website, the French beauty brand that purchased local Elemi resin “was actually doing more harm than good.”

“There were several dead pili trees due to overtapping the Elemi resin, and the tree had become threatened by habitat destruction and was officially classified as being vulnerable. The trees weren’t the only one’s suffering. The low wages the farmers were earning for all their hard work wasn’t sustainable,” the Pili Ani website said.

“Sustainability isn’t just a goal, it’s the cornerstone of our mission,” said Ms. Ong. She said that together with her mother, “We are deeply committed to the pili industry’s longevity and ecological health.”

Their efforts include farmer education on sustainable tapping techniques, and pili tree planting and protection.

“We are laying the groundwork for a future where pili oil is not just a novel skincare ingredient but a staple. Our approach utilizes the pili pulp traditionally discarded, ensuring nothing goes to waste. Coupled with rigorous tree-tagging, protection efforts, and ongoing research, we are well-prepared to meet and foster the anticipated growth of pili-based skincare products,” she said.

A tenet of sustainability is localization: the closer a user is to a product, the smaller the carbon footprint and the greater the benefit to their locality. In skincare, this takes another notion: it might mean that using products made with ingredients native to one’s community may benefit the skin more, considering that they are both exposed to the same environment. To this, Ms. Ong says, “Being based in the Philippines allows for the Pili Ani to have access to the native pili. We foster a deep understanding of Filipino skin while nurturing a vision that transcends borders.” (Their products have been available in the United States since 2017).

“Our mission transcends local boundaries; we aim to share this Philippine skincare marvel with the world.”

Pili Ani’s Cleansing Butter is available at — Joseph L. Garcia

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