If you love using tropical oils to keep your skin soft and supple, you may have heard of the carrier oil babassu oil. But what is it, and how is it primarily used?
Babassu oil is made from the seeds of the babassu palm tree, which is native to rainforests in South America. It’s primarily used within the cosmetics industry for the skin and hair, but can also be used for culinary purposes too.
Keep reading to learn all about babassu oil, including how it’s made, its uses and benefits, potential substitutes, and some tips on how to effectively store it.
What is babassu oil made from?
Babassu oil is a clear, light yellow oil that is extracted from the seeds of the babassu palm in the Amazon region of South America.
Traditionally, babassu oil has been used for many years in South America as a remedy for inflamed skin or wounds but is typically used as a way of keeping the skin moisturized when used in the cosmetic industry.
Uses for babassu oil
There are a number of key uses for babassu oil – we’ve gone into these in a little more detail below!
Cosmetic babassu oil
There are lots of uses for babassu oil in cosmetic products. You’ll often find babassu oil as an ingredient in haircare/skincare products such as lotions, shampoos, and lip balms due to its moisturizing properties, and it can also be used alone to add nourishment to the skin/hair.
More traditionally, babassu oil is used in South American countries such as Brazil to soothe small wounds such as cuts/grazes. I always recommend consulting your physician before using babassu oil for medicinal purposes, to ensure you’re achieving the best treatment for your injury.
Culinary babassu oil
While babassu oil is mainly used for cosmetic purposes, it can also be used in baking/cooking. It has similar properties to coconut oil, making it a useful alternative to olive oil, plus it’s less greasy than most oils which can help to add moisture to recipes without adding excess grease.
Popular ways to use babassu oil in cooking are as follows:
- In baking as a binding agent
- As an alternative to olive oil/coconut oil for frying food
Benefits of babassu oil
Babassu oil has many benefits, making it a highly popular oil. Here are some of our favorite benefits of babassu oil:
- Long shelf life of 2-3 years
- Low comedogenic rating of 1-2 meaning it’s unlikely to clog pores/cause acne
- Has a mild fragrance
- May provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits such as soothing and antibacterial properties
- Rich in fatty acids which makes it very moisturizing to the hair and skin
Appearance and scent of babassu oil
Babassu oil has a mild, nutty scent which makes it a highly versatile oil product. When mixed as a carrier oil with essential oils, this may give it a stronger scent due to other ingredients being prominent but used alone it should have a mild, neutral scent. You can see how it stacks up in this essential oils help guide.
Raw babassu oil has a creamy color to it, that is sold at room temperature but will melt into the skin upon contact. It tends to be clear when refined and sold commercially.
Substitutes for babassu oil
Babassu oil is very similar to coconut oil, so this is a great alternative. Other substitutes for babassu oil include the following:
- Mango oil
- Cupuacu oil
- Shea oil
- Palm oils
Here’s some info on over 60 carrier oils if you’re interested in other potential substitutes for babassu oil!
Shelf life and storage of babassu oil
Babassu oil has a long shelf life of between 2-3 years when stored correctly.
It should be stored somewhere cool and dry such as a cupboard or even in the fridge.
Take a look at the below frequently asked questions if you’re still pondering about babassu oil!
Babassu oil is good for moisturizing the hair and skin primarily, as it is packed full of ‘good’ fatty acids and will help to keep the skin nourished.
It can also be beneficial for culinary purposes, as an alternative to coconut oil or olive oil for example as a less greasy alternative.
As with any carrier oil, there are a few downsides to babassu oil. Here are the key cons that we think you should be aware of :
– Very similar to coconut oil and considerably more expensive (here’s a guide to coconut oil if you’re drawn to that instead!)
– It may inhibit blood clotting, you should consult your physician before using babassu oil if you are on blood thinners for example
– Unknown if it’s safe for pregnant/breastfeeding women
There are some thoughts that babassu oil can help to promote hair growth, however, this is mainly due to promoting good scalp health as it is great at moisturizing.
This may help to prevent hair loss by nourishing hair follicles, plus it’s high in Vitamin E which has been linked to good hair health.
Babassu oil is very similar to coconut oil, particularly in its texture and consistency. Both oils are generally solid when kept at room temperature or below, and will melt into the skin upon contact.
Babassu oil has a mild, nutty scent when used as an unrefined product. When it is refined and sold commercially it may have different fragrances added to it, but is generally mild when sold as a raw product.