Why use nut oils?
One of the essential aspects of healthy-looking skin is to make sure the outer layer of the skin is not damaged. In order to achieve this we make use of the “natural moisturizing factors” that can simulate normal skin functions (helping the skin to keep itself soft and subtle) to ensure a healthy look. What actually keeps the skin surface and structure in good shape is the oil, amino acids, and lipids that prevent skin from the drying effects of the outside elements and give a nice texture.
Over the years the effectiveness of these natural moisturizing factors slows down and the skin is not able to hold enough moisture. The result is the appearance of lines, wrinkles, rough texture and dry surface. The best remedies to combat such cases are the ones that imitate and function like the skin’s own natural factors; cocoa, shea and other nut butters and oils such as apricot and avocado have been clearly shown to contribute greatly to the skin’s elasticity and formation of collagen. (Gasser et al., 2008).
About Shea and Coco
Both shea nut oils and cocoa butter are super emollients, serving us well by simply keeping our skin super moist (thereby fighting wrinkles), providing anti-inflammatory benefits and repairing damaged skin. In fact, both of them keep our skin and hair beautiful better than those high-end creams or lotions.
However, as each of these nut butter and oils, including kukui, mango, tamanu, baobab, and hazel nuts also their unique qualities and contain different plant chemicals, you can experiment with all and find out the best one for your purpose. Generally, for those of us who have issues with acne, for instance, shea with lighter non-comedogenic consistency provides better results than cocoa with its heavier consistency, since cocoa has higher fatty composition. Cocoa is nature’s richest moisturizer with a wonderful smell of chocolate and can be used on any other part of the body without any issues. We include it on our foot balm and it can also be used on the abdomen, legs, and arms.
It must be noted that many of the lotions and creams sold in the market that claim to contain “pure” cocoa, shea or any of the other nut butters, actually use very small amounts and ultra-refined forms plus some additives.
Shea butter often called "women's gold," because its harvest and production create jobs for many African women. The price of smooth skin for us equals to days of hard labor in a farming community in Ghana where the widows of farming villages spend five days a week picking, cleaning, roasting and grinding shea nuts. These women support their families by making and selling shea butter as they have done for generations. Several groups of women form associations to take turns to help each other prepare and market the butter. In the process, their daughters join them and learn the fine points of shea production. The small amount of money earned goes to pay for their school books, fees, food, and so forth.
Civil society organizations are busy training women to improve the techniques for quality production and packaging, thereby increasing profits. As a result more women are working in co-operatives and making higher incomes.
Cocoa butter is obtained from cacao (coco) beans and around 70 percent of coco production originates from the African countries. Coco beans are like goldmines of their own; they supply us with cocoa powder, chocolate, cocoa butter, cocoa liquor, coco mixed drinks, all amounting to billions of dollars. It is interesting to note that in a country like Ivory coast which is one of the largest cocoa producers, farmers who work at cocoa plantations had never tasted chocolate before.
Cocoa, like shea, is used as an emollient and has properties similar to those of other plant oils. It also contains natural antioxidants with high shelf stability, without any changes occurring in its physical and chemical states during its storage and handling because of its nature (antioxidants prevent its oxidation). Over the years consumer groups have pointed out that cosmetics overall constitute a possible human health hazard because they contain carcinogenic chemicals and other toxic agents. Cocoa, shea and other nut oils on the other hand, shows no such evidence and serve our purpose much better, due to their high moisturizing and easy spreading properties.
In our store we provide simple mixed butters as they arrive from our suppliers. You can take a small quantity from the 16-oz. container and use it as it is, and keep the rest at room temperature without excess heat. Or you can choose the already-prepared soft (but still unadulterated) version with beeswax added.
Why use beeswax? Bees make it because this tough material, besides serving as a physical protection, keeps the hive free of contaminants.
It is used in many skin care products because it protects the skin while still letting it breathe. It locks in the moisture when you apply the salve on your skin by attracting water molecules and keeping the skin hydrated. As it is added into the product in small quantities, it serves as a stabilizing agent by increasing and holding the emollient action of the salves once they are on our skin. Beeswax also adds a solidity to the balms by preventing them from melting under slight temperature changes. It also provides anti-bacterial and antiviral properties toward treating skin irritations.
In our salves, the butters and beeswax naturally work together to provide maximum hydration and softness to our skin while continuously delivering nutrients to keep us looking awesome all day.
How about kukui nuts?
Did you know that the Kukui nut tree is Hawaii’s official state tree? It was brought to Hawaii by early Polynesian settlers and remains spiritually significant to this day. The chiefs (Alii’s) of each island, who carried divine power, wore Kukui nuts polished in kukui oil asa sign of their status. Kukui nuts are known to have healing benefits. For thousands of years Polynesians knew and used kukui for treating conditions such as sunburn, scalp conditioning, hair growth and for overall body oil to keep their skin soft. Take advantage of this wonderful oil and use it on your skin and hair.
Things to know about tamanu oil
The beautiful Tamanu tree is a native of South Pacific islands such as French Polynesia, Vanuatu and Fiji. It likes warmth and rain year-round. Locals of these islands have long used the nuts and the oil harvested from them for healing and ceremonial purposes. This miracle oil caught the attention of outsiders later in 1900 when French Polynesia started to use the oil in pharmacology. One of its first applications was on patients with leprosy who needed soothing, calming and healing. From the 1980s on Tamanu attracted the interest of the skin care industry for its specific applications. It is an expensive oil since it is very labor consuming to produce; a large amount of tamanu fruit is required to produce a small amount of tamanu oil. However, it is worth keeping a small bottle in your cabinet.
Tamanu is a dark green oil that contains a high level of fatty acids (dark green Calophyllum, a component which may help skin imperfection.
Scientific research shows that Tamanu is one of those oils that have unique ability to promote the growth of new skin tissue and healing. One of the chemicals in the oil – Beta- Glucan improves resistance to external toxic environments and helps to maintain skin health and protects against sun’s DNA damage even in small 1% concentration*.
If you prefer to use tamanu alone, make sure it is not diluted with any other oil and that it is a rich greenish-amber color. The price of it is also an indicator of the quality of the oil you are buying. More on this subject read:
*https://www.dermalinstitute.com/us/news/tag/tamaoil/ and “volcanicearth.com site from Vanuatu, a (Eur J Pharm. Sci 2007 Mar;30(3-4):203-10. Epub 2006 Nov 9).