Meet - Babassu Oil
Babassu is a palm tree found in a region called Mata dos Cocais, a transitional zone between the Amazon Rainforest and the Northeast of Brazil, including parts of Maranhão, Piauí, Ceará, Pará and Tocantins. It occurs in dense palm groves where it is usually predominant, but other palm species also occur. Babaçu has enormous economic potential for local communities, providing straw to cover houses, wood for rural buildings and an inestimable amount of fruit from which oil, flour and biomass are obtained.
When the fruits are detached from the bunches, they are harvested by “breakers”, a group of local women who extract the nuts by hand, removing them whole from the inside of the endocarp. This manual work ensures that the oil present in the nuts is not exposed to air, thus avoiding its oxidation. The fact that this is traditionally an activity performed by woman enhances the social and economic relevance of babaçu in the predominantly poor rural regions where it occurs.
Features and Benefits
Babassu oil is extracted by cold pressing the nuts of the species Orbignya oleifera. The oil has a strong skin hydration capacity as it decreases transepidermal water loss. This effect makes the skin softer, increases the lipid barrier and assists in the water retention mechanism. Babassu oil is used in a wide range of products such as soaps, detergents and cosmetics.
Babassu oil has a composition similar to coconut oil (Cocos nucifera), with high content of lauric and myristic acids and a similar aroma and physical properties.
Just like coconut oil, babassu oil becomes solid at room temperature, with a soft and smooth consistency.