Huito Hair Dye
In Peru's Amazon, Shipibo natives have been keeping their hair a deep dark color thanks to a very special dye. A small fruit is picked off of trees and cut in half. The insides are scooped out and added to water, the water then turns black. Members of the tribe would then dip their hands into the black ink and pass it through their hair, often times leaving a black, bold, and shiny finish. Since it is without coal tar and carbon like many dyes used today, it is free of irritants. This fruit is called huito, or Genipa americana.
The plant is also more than a dye for the native people. It can be turned into jam, tea, wine, and even eaten raw. You might have even already seen this fruit in action, in natural temporary tattoos you can sometimes find huito. Unfortunately, it can take years for cosmetic companies to take notice of botanicals deep into the rain forest. And politics often come into play as areas involving said plant (huito) are designated as protected area and tribes living on the land must be compensated. You just can't go in there and strip them of something that plays a major role in their lives. A major company might just find it easier to mix some coal tar with nasty ingredients and sell it to the masses, which happens a lot since we as consumers don't seem to mind.
Both consumers, tribes, and even the rain forest could possibly benefit from this little fruit making its way into the mainstream arena. And if you think it's hard to believe, just a short time ago, a berry called Acai was still unknown to us and today you can find it in almost any health food store. Acai has come a long way from the Amazon to our grocery store shelves, maybe huito is the next fruit to make the journey.