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Babassu Oil: A Coconut Oil Alternative in Skin Care

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Coconut oil and Babassu oil are very similar.

Coconut oil and Babassu oil are very similar.

Babassu Oil or Coconut Oil?

Coconut oil has been revered as a nourishing skin and hair care ingredient for centuries. However, it is problematic for anyone with coconut allergies. Additionally, coconut oil tends to cause breakouts for those with acne-prone skin. It isn’t easy to find a replacement for coconut oil since it has some unique features. It is solid at room temperature, yet it will melt when it comes into contact with the skin.

Babassu oil is a perfect alternative to coconut oil because it has a comparable melting point temperature and is chemically similar to coconut oil. Babassu oil is not a perfect alternative but it is a suitable substitute for coconut oil.

What Is Babassu Oil?

Babassu oil is extracted by cold pressing babassu palm seeds. The babassu palms are native to Brazil but grow throughout the Amazon region.

Coconut Oil Compared To Babassu Oil

COCONUT OILBABASSU OIL

Solid at room temperature

Solid at room temperature

Melts on contact with the skin

Melts on contact with the skin

Melting point is at 25°C or 78°F

Melting point i at 22°C or 71°F

Similar texture to babassu oil

Similar texture to coconut oil

Similar light color

Slightly more yellow color

Coconut aroma

Mild nutty coconut scent

Stable vegetable oil

Stable vegetable oil

High in lauric acid

High in lauric acid

High in vitamin E

High in vitamin E

Substitution Considerations For Coconut Oil and Babassu Oil

When substituting any ingredient, it is important to know the properties of each ingredient. A formula may be ruined by something as simple as smell or texture.

Since babassu oil has a slightly lower melting point than coconut oil, consider increasing the solidifying wax in your recipes. A solidifying wax is an ingredient such as beeswax used in lip balms, or salves.

You can safely use babassu oil when making soap. The lauric acid content in both coconut oil and babassu oil produces a really nice lather.

Beneficial Fatty Acids In Coconut Oil and Babassu Oil

The three most important comparative acids in coconut and babassu oils are lauric, oleic, and myristic acid.

  • Lauric Acid: Lauric acid is a saturated fatty acid with strong anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial properties.
  • Oleic Acid: Oleic acid is more commonly known and Omega 9 fatty acid. It is a fatty acid found in our skin’s sebum (oil). The higher concentration of oleic acid in babassu oil proves that it is a good moisturizing option. This acid is anti-inflammatory and promotes healing which makes it especially useful to soothe very dry skin prone to eczema and psoriasis.
  • Myristic Acid: We produce myristic acid in our skin. It works similarly to lauric acid and serves as an anti-inflammatory protector for our skin.

Chemical Similarities Between Coconut Oil and Babassu Oil

COCONUT OILBABASSU OIL

Caprylic Acid 7%

Caprylic Acid 4%

Capric Acid 6%

Capric Acid 4%

Lauric Acid 48%

Lauric Acid 40%

Myristic Acid 18%

Myristic Acid 15%

Palmitic Acid 9%

Palmitic Acid 10%

Stearic Acid 3%

Stearic Acid 4%

Oleic Acid 6%

Oleic Acid 16%

Linoleic Acid 2%

Linoleic Acid 4%

Possible Risks Linked to Babassu Oil

Babassu and coconut both belong to the palm tree family (Arecaceae). It is possible that those with coconut allergies may also be allergic to babassu.

Little research has been done to determine if babassu oil is safe for topical use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. As a precaution, do not use babassu oil if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Babassu oil may decrease thyroid function. This is usually linked to ingesting babassu as a supplement, to eating the fruit, or cooking with the oil. To be safe, check with your doctor before using babassu oil in your skincare.

There is some research that suggests that eating babassu fruit or cooking with the oil may slow down your body’s blood clotting ability. If you take blood thinners, check with your doctor before using babassu oil in your skincare.

It is not clear how much babassu oil is absorbed into the skin and therefore how much actually enters the bloodstream. For this reason, it is always a good idea to check with your doctor if you have any health concerns such as hyperthyroidism, blood clotting issues, are pregnant or nursing.

Benefits Linked To Babassu Oil

Babassu oil is less likely to cause acne breakouts on oilier skin because it has a lower comedogenic rating.

  • Coconut oil has a comedogenic rating of 4
  • Babassu oil has a comedogenic rating of only 2

What Is "Comedogenic Rating"?

This rating is based on whether oil will clog pores or not and is rated between 1 and 5.

As a ‘lighter weight’ oil, babassu oil is less oily and is a wonderful beard moisturizer in men’s skincare. It can also be used as a leave-in hair mask for men and women. Coconut oil is also used as a hair moisturizer, but it must be washed out. Since babassu oil is lighter, it’s easier to wash out.

Babassu oil is not as fragrant as coconut oil. It may be a better choice for folks who are sensitive to fragrance. Migraine sufferers often fall into this category.

Babassu oil is rich in lauric acid, vitamin E and has anti-inflammatory properties which are important in treating inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Vitamin E and lauric acid promote healing and cell regeneration which makes babassu oil especially useful when treating minor cuts, burns, and chapped skin.

Babassu oil can be used instead of coconut oil in most self-care recipes such as soaps, hair masks, body creams, and scrubs.

In Conclusion

Coconut oil is still a great option for hair and body products but babassu oil has the added benefit of being suitable for the hair, body and face.

Babassu oil is a great alternative if you have a coconut allergy but use caution since the two oils are related.

Babassu oil is healing and a good choice for dry skin conditions.

Sources

Heathline

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/babassu-oil#downsides

https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/what-is-lauric-acid#takeaway

Mountain Rose Herbs

https://blog.mountainroseherbs.com/babassu-oil-in-diy-skincare-recipes

Parker, Susan. M. Power of the Seed. Process of Self Reliance Series.

Tisserand, Robert, and Young, Robert. 2014. Essential Oil Safety. Second Edition.

Wilson, Celeste. Isla Verde Spa Training Academy Certificate of Aromatherapy Course.

Wilson, Celeste. National Higher Certificate in Beauty Therapy. The Durban University of Technology.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Celeste Wilson

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