Babassu Oil and All of It’s Amazing Benefits

(Last Updated On: August 3, 2018)

If you find coconut oil a little heavy, then babassu oil could be the perfect alternative for you! It’s a super healthy, smooth and silky natural oil that you can use on your skin and your hair without any annoying greasy residue.

The oil has become a popular addition to many commercial beauty products, including lotions, creams, balms, body butters and hair conditioners. But the simplest way to experience the benefits of babassu oil is to just buy yourself a tub of the oil, that way you can use it however you want to without being restricted by other ingredients or the formulation of a specific product.

What Is Babassu Oil?

What Is Babassu Oil

Babassu Oil is also known as babassu wax, babassu butter and cusi oil. It has a light yellow color when liquid and is creamy white when solid.

The oil comes from the kernels of the Babassu palm tree which grows along the fringes of the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil. The Nuts look like small coconuts and when they are ripe they drop from the trees to the ground where they are picked up and processed by local workers.

For many the Babassu tree is considered to be the Tree Of Life because it provides so much that is necessary for them to survive. It provides food, medicine, oil, drinks, animal feed, building material and an income. The shell of the nuts produces a smokeless charcoal and the palm fronds are used for roof thatch and wall mats.

In the Maranhão region of brazil at least 300,000 families harvest the babassu nuts and many rely on the tree as their only source of income.

Workers harvest the nuts from the forest floor and break them open using an upturned axe and a wooden club. These workers call themselves Babassu Breakers and many consider the nut to be a gift from god. The communities that rely on the Babassu palm consider themselves to be the guardians of the forest.

Once the kernels have been separated from the shell of the nut, the kernels are pressed to extract the oil. This process produces an unrefined, cold pressed oil undamaged by heat or chemical extraction.

These native trees of the rainforest are a sustainable resource and grow freely in the wild. Other oil sources like palm oil often come from plantations that stand where pristine rainforest used to exist. Most palm oil production is destructive to the environment. If you make any homemade skin care products, babassu oil can be used as a replacement for palm oil.

When you purchase babassu oil you not only get to use an amazingly beneficial oil, you are also supporting indigenous communities and contributing to the survival of the rainforest.

Benefits Of Babassu Oil For Skin

The fatty acid profile of babassu oil makes it very beneficial for a range of skin care uses.

  • Stearic acid is a deeply moisturizing fatty acid.
  • Oleic acid is another great moisturizer and it’s  anti-inflammatory too.
  • Linoleic acid can help restore the skin’s barrier functions and reduce trans-epidermal water loss.
  • Lauric acids provides antimicrobial protection and anti-inflammatory benefits.

And thanks to its high level of unsaturated fatty acids, babassu oil has a long shelf life.

Even though the oil is solid at room temperature, it has a melting point very close to body temperature – 76˚F, and melts instantly upon contact with your skin.

Moisturizes very dry skin – Babassu oil will soothe and hydrate very dry flaky skin with ease. When your skin is feeling tight and irritated, babassu oil will quickly relieve the discomfort thanks to its fast rate of absorption.

Moisturizes oily skin without adding grease or shine – As a very light yet rich moisturizing oil, babassu oil won’t make your oily skin worse. And because of its antimicrobial properties it will help to keep the bacteria that cause spots and inflammation under control.

Non Comedogenic – Babassu oil won’t clog your pores or cause breakouts. For this reason it’s one of the best and most affordable skin care oils.

Beneficial for acne – One of the reasons that many people that suffer from acne try coconut oil is because of its antimicrobial properties. However, because coconut oil can clog pores, it has mixed results and many people can’t use it. Babassu oil brings you the same skin healing benefits without the pore clogging effects, so acne uses can apply babassu oil with the confidence that even if it turns out that it doesn’t make their condition any better, it certainly won’t make it any worse.

Easily absorbed – Babassu oil sinks into your skin quickly and easily. It doesn’t leave a residue and it won’t stain your clothing. You can rub some of the oil into your skin and then get right on with applying your makeup.

Soothes skin damaged by eczema – For skin that is sore and irritated, the moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties of babassu oil offer fast relief. And when you rub the oil into your skin in its solid state, it has a very cooling effect that takes the heat out of angry skin.

Moisturizes and smoothes chapped lips – Use non greasy babassu oil to moisturize dry lips, smooth chapped skin and protect your lips from the drying effects of the sun, the wind or cold weather.

Softens skin on hands – Hands need a rich moisturizer, and water based lotions and creams don’t provide long lasting hydration. Many oils that soothe and soften the skin also hang around on the surface of the skin and make getting on with your work difficult. That means that you have to wipe most of the oil back off again which is a waste. Babassu oil is quickly and completely absorbed and offers rich hydration and protection for your hands without leaving a layer of oil. Switch from your usual moisturizer to babassu oil and you’ll have smooth nourished hands and you won’t have to deal with greasy smears on your phone, tablet, keyboard or door handles.

Conditions fingernails and cuticles – Massage a little babassu oil into your fingernails to give them a healthy shine and to soften your cuticles and prevent ragged edges. The antimicrobial properties of the oil also help to prevent any of the nail bed infections which are so common when nails are subjected to repeated manicures.

Very lightly fragranced – Some oils in their unrefined (most healthy) state carry distinct aromas. Babassu oil has a very light aroma that is virtually undetectable once it’s soaked into your skin. This makes it a good alternative to unrefined coconut oil or olive oil which both have heavy and long lasting fragrances. It’s a particularly good oil for men as they generally don’t enjoy smelling like coconut!

Makes a lovely bath oil – Mix 2 tablespoons of babassu oil with a few drops of essential oil and add the oil to warm bath water. Swirl the water to distribute the oil and then step in and enjoy a relaxing soak. When you’re finished your skin with be silky smooth and hydrated. When using any bath oil take care as you get in and out of the bath to make sure that you don’t slip!

Benefits Of Babassu Oil For Hair

Benefits Of Babassu Oil For Hair

Babassu oil makes a great hair conditioner for everyday use. You can just warm a little of the oil in your hands to melt it and work it through your hair and then comb to evenly distribute it. After about an hour it will have absorbed so completely that you won’t even know that it’s there. Because it takes a little while to absorb it’s better to use this conditioner at night rather than after your morning shower when you might not have the time to wait before needing to style your hair.

For a light conditioning treatment you can simply add some babassu oil to your regular shampoo. Warm a couple of tablespoons of oil and then pour the oil into your shampoo bottle. Shake well to mix and it’s ready to use.

Used regularly babassu oil will strengthen your hair and result in fewer breakages and less split ends.

If you have a dry scalp that itches and produces lots of tiny white flakes then massaging babassu oil into your scalp can help. The oil moisturizes and hydrates skin while it calms inflammation and soothes itching. And because the oil is easily absorbed, you don’t need to worry about your hair looking greasy.

Dandruff is another scalp condition that can benefit from babassu oil. The antimicrobial properties of the oil help to keep the fungus and yeast that are responsible for dandruff under control. You can make the oil even more effective at treating dandruff by adding a few drops of tea tree essential oil to a tablespoon of babassu oil and then massaging the oil into your scalp.

Other Uses For Babassu Oil

As a carrier oil for essential oils – Gently heat babassu oil by standing the tub in a bowl of warm water, then pour out some oil and use it as you would any other carrier oil. Because the oil has such a mild scent, it won’t interfere with the fragrance of your favorite oils.

Use in homemade deodorant creams – This the perfect oil to use in your homemade deodorant creams because it doesn’t leave a greasy feeling on the skin. Its antimicrobial nature also prevents the growth of the bacteria on your skin which are responsible for producing body odor.

To make a simple deodorant cream mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda, 6 tablespoons of arrowroot powder, 10 – 15 drops of your favorite essential oil or oil blend, and half a cup of melted babassu oil. Store the cream in a small lidded jar. To use, take a little of the deodorant cream and rub it into your skin.

Add the oil to cold process soaps – This oil has similar properties in soap making to coconut or palm kernel oil. As it is high in lauric acid, it gives a good lather and the high palmitic acid content will add hardness to bar soaps. It also has excellent emollient properties and soaps made with babassu oil will leave your skin clean and velvety.

Use the oil in homemade balms and body butters – In any recipe that calls for coconut oil, you can substitute babassu oil, or use a mixture of the two.

Reduce inflammation on bites and stings – Babassu oil’s anti-inflammatory properties can help to reduce swelling and heat in the area around bites or stings, or on rashes caused by poison ivy or poison oak. Add a drop or two of lavender essential oil for extra anti-inflammatory benefits.

Cooking with babassu oil – The oil has been used as a cooking oil in Brazil for centuries. You can use the oil in place of butter, and it’s perfect for stir frying vegetables. When you eat babassu oil you’ll benefit from improved cholesterol, better blood sugar balance, increased energy, healthier hormones and stronger brain function

Season wooden cutting boards with babassu oil – Give your wooden boards a wipe over with a little babassu oil to keep them in good shape and to prevent bacterial growth.

Make homemade furniture polish – Nourish your wooden furniture with a real oil polish instead of just coating it with wax – which is what most furniture polish is made from. All you need to do is rub a little of the oil into your furniture and then buff to a shine. Add a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil to give your polish an amazing fragrance that won’t make you sneeze like conventional polish.

If you want to add a wax finish to your polish to help lock the moisture in the wood, it’s really easy to make a polish using some beeswax. Simply melt some beeswax in your microwave and stir it into your oil. Experiment with different amounts of beeswax to get a consistency and a finish that you like. Start with a small amount of wax and work your way up. Just remelt your oil and beeswax in the microwave each time you want to add a little more.

Nutrition For Pets – Pets can benefit from eating a regular spoonful of the oil. Its therapeutic properties help to relieve stiff joints and to give their coats a lovely shine. The antimicrobial qualities promote dental health, and used topically you can clean pets ears and help to prevent ear infections. It’s also good to apply to any small wounds to soothe and provide a germ killing layer of protection while the skin heals.

Babassu Oil Versus Coconut Oil

Babassu oil contains:

  • Lauric acid     50.0%
  • Myristic acid   20.0%
  • Palmitic acid  11.0%
  • Oleic acid       10.0%
  • Stearic acid     3.5%

Coconut oil contains:

  • Lauric acid     48.0%
  • Myristic acid   16.0%
  • Palmitic acid   9.5%
  • Oleic acid        6.5%
  • Stearic acid     3.0%

As you can see the fatty acid profiles of the two oils are very similar. If you already enjoy using coconut oil, then you’ll love babassu oil too.

Babassu oil offers the same moisturizing and antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties as coconut oil but without the heavy fragrance and greasy residue.

Coconut oil is a fantastic moisturizer if you’ve got plenty of time to massage it in and then let it sit on your skin for a while. Otherwise you need to wipe it off so that you can get dressed and get on with your day. Babassu oil soaks in much more rapidly making it perfect for those times when you need to hurry up and get moving.

Babassu oils lightness also makes it a better choice as a moisturizer in hot weather, when you just want something light on your skin.

As an oil used for cooking, it has the same healthy attributes as coconut oil and is more versatile because it doesn’t bring a coconut flavor with it. While a coconut flavor is a nice addition to many dishes, some people just don’t like it, or tend to get very tired of it. Babassu oil on the other hand has a barely detectable flavor so you can use it in a wide variety of dishes without compromising the overall flavor of the dish.

Price wise coconut oil is the least expensive of the two and if the price is a sticking point for you, then it would be better to use coconut oil where you can, and keep babassu oil for the applications that it is better suited to.

A 16 ounce bottle of organic, unrefined babassu oil (Dr Adorable brand) costs around $18 from Amazon. While a 16 ounce container of organic, unrefined coconut oil (Viva Labs brand) cost less than $10.

Where To Buy Babassu Oil

If you’re eager to try babassu oil for yourself – and why wouldn’t you be after reading all about its amazing benefits! – then you can order yourself a bottle online very easily.

Many online retailers now sell babassu oil, and a good choice for your purchase is Amazon.com, which you can trust for reliability, convenience and security.

You can also find the oil in many health food stores, and through soap making supply companies.

For the most therapeutic benefits make sure that you purchase organic and unrefined babassu oil. That way you’ll know that no other ingredients have been added and the oil hasn’t been damaged.

Written by Irina Radosevic MD
Irina graduated from the University of Belgrade, School of Medicine as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and spent over 3 years working in the Clinical Hospital Center Zvezdara, in the Department of Emergency Medicine. She also undertook a postgraduate in Cardiology from the same University and had previously worked for over a year as a Physician and Nutritionist Dietitian for the Fitness club Green Zone. She eventually left her chaotic but fulfilling job in the ER to pursue her passion of writing, travelling and mountain climbing which has included writing a first aid course for the alpine club of Belgrade. Irina currently works as a VA for PintMedia focusing on medical and travel writing. Feel free to connect with Irina on LinkedIn and FaceBook. Her CV can be seen here.