Babassu is used as a moisturizing ingredient in hair and skin cleansing systems. Babassu oil is a fatty oil extracted from the seeds of the babassu tree of Brazil’s southeastern Amazon region. According to the University of California, the seeds contain two to six kernels with an oil content ranging from 63 to 70 percent. These palm kernels undergo a cold-press process that produces the clear, light yellow oil.
Babassu oil contains five acids: lauric 50 percent; myristic 20 percent; palmitic 11 percent; oleic 10 percent; and stearic 3.5 percent. Both lauric and myristic acids can go into hard bar production and produce a cleansing, fluffy lather.
Babassu oil contains Vitamin E, a natural anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. Benefits include reduced redness and soothed itchiness. Naturally occurring phytostrols or plant sterols help renew skin cells.
For hair care, babassu oil is sometimes added to natural shampoo bars. Benefits include restored hair elasticity and prevention of dryness. Other applications include a pre-treatment to washing hair. Sometimes a small amount of babassu oil mixes with a carrier oil such as jojoba, and it's applied to the hair for a moisturizing or conditioning effect after cleaning. Please note that the effect can differ from person to person. In some cases, the oil may provide too much moisturizing.
For skin-cleansing systems, babassu oil provides an ingredient for soap making, balms and lotions. In a mild soap form, this oil produces a good lather and leaves skin soft. This type of soap can offer some relief for people with eczema.
The oil’s lauric and myristic acids have melting points similar to body temperature. The applied oil penetrates the skin quickly and draws the skin’s heat to initiate the melting process. This heat transfer cools the skin for a pleasing sensation. The skin will feel smooth and have a powdery coat that offers some protection from climate and pollution. Skin care recipes that use this oil emollient will leave a gentle moisturizing effect with no oil sheen. This emollient can balance natural oils and help people with either dry or oily skin.
Babassu oil should stay in a cool area out of direct sunlight. Babassu skin and hair products are for topical application and are not to be taken internally. Any spilled oil should be wiped promptly.