babassu oil 

Better watch out coconut oil. There’s a new oil gaining popularity among natural beauty junkies and it’s just as scrumptious for hair and skin—if not more so. Babassu oil boasts super moisturizing properties that heal dry skin and improve skin’s elasticity. It also contains lauric and myristic acids, fatty acids that are a treat for hair. Turns out babassu oil is one fabulous natural beauty secret.

How it’s made

This moisturizing oil comes from babassu palm trees, which grow in Brazil. The oil is extracted from kernels of the trees’ nuts. When the nuts ripen and fall to the ground, women called “babassu breakers” gather the nuts and break them open. (Side note: Babassu trees are an important economic resource for Brazil. When scoping out organic beauty products with babassu oil, be sure to look for Fair Trade options.) The meat of the nuts is then extracted and cold-pressed into an oil.

Babassu oil and beauty

You’ll find babassu oil listed on many natural beauty product labels for lotions, balms, creams, body butters, lip balms and hair conditioners. Although typically used in small quantities in natural beauty products, it’s becoming a favorite ingredient for its ability to smooth and soften. Babassu oil is a natural emollient with restorative properties for dry and flaky skin. Meaning, it’s also great for dandruff and irritated scalps. Besides its use in beauty products, babassu oil is also commonly used for cooking and making soap—a true multitasker.

You can also buy pure babassu oil by the bottle and use it directly on hair and skin. It makes a great substitute for coconut oil in your favorite homemade beauty recipes. Think body butters, lotions, shampoos and conditioners. Babassu oil works especially well to soothe skin irrtations like eczema or itchy, inflamed skin. You can also add a little of the oil to your current conditioner, shampoo or body wash for an extra moisturizing boost. When searching for pure babassu oil, be sure to look for organic varieties—that way you can make sure your oil doesn’t contain any unnecessary additives.

Coconut oil vs. babassu oil

So, how does babassu oil measure up to coconut oil? They’re really quite similar. If you already love slathering coconut oil on dry skin and using it to condition your hair, you’ll also love babassu oil. Like coconut oil, babassu oil starts out in a soft solid form. It has a light consistency, and once you apply it to skin, your body heat melts the oil into a liquid form. Both babassu oil and coconut oil are great moisturizing options for those with sensitive skin. Unlike coconut oil, babassu oil doesn’t leave you feeling like a grease ball. It actually leaves a cooling sensation on skin. Plus, it won’t weigh down hair, like coconut oil does with certain hair types.

How will you find out which oil is your favorite? Go ahead and experiment! We’d love to know what oil you like best.

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image: dgarkauskas