Babassu Oil

Babassu oil is becoming more and popular as a carrier oil used in making soap, including Goat Milk Soap, hair care products, cosmetics, aromatherapy treatments and more.  There are certainly many good reasons for its increasing recognition.  Not only is it a superior emollient that moisturizes skin without leaving an oily sheen, the story of its production is an inspiring one.

Babassu oil is expressed from the kernels of babassu palm trees.  These trees are native to areas along the Amazon River in Central America, particularly Brazil.  One small state there called Marahao has always had babassu trees widely growing.  For over four centuries the women there have gathered the small, coconut type nuts for use in sustaining their homes and families.  In fact, these people dubbed the tree the “tree of life”, and for good reason.  They harvested every portion of the tree for a useful purpose.  The fruits were used to make flour, animal feed, medicines and beverages.  The palms not only provided shade, but were also turned into thatch for roofing and woven into mats used to construct the walls of houses.  Branches were used for timber and the nuts turned into charcoal to burn in their fires.  The babassu tree indeed served many purposes for the people of Marahao.

In the 1970’s, however, the Marahao people’s way of life was threatened.  Cattle ranchers had come to the area and did not appreciate the benefits of the many trees crowding the land.  They began burning and destroying the forests so they could use the land for grazing cattle.  At the same time, they were destroying the main crop of the Marahao people.  The natives were then forced to “rent” the trees from the cattle ranchers if they wanted to take advantage of the babassu trees’ generous offerings.

The nut breaker women, as they were called, fought back against the wealthy cattle ranchers.  After sending away their children and the men of the area to protect them, they bravely formed a human chain and prevented the destruction of more of their precious babassu trees.  They organized and lobbied and eventually won the right to gather babassu nuts and continue their means of survival.  The Free Nut Law was enacted thanks to these courageous and inspiring women, who now can continue providing for their families.

Marahao women, like other Brazilian women, have always been noted for their beauty.  One of the main reasons they often have such soft, supple skin is babassu oil.  This clear, light yellow oil is both non-drying and high in lauric and myristic acids, which means its melting point is near that of the human body temperature.  When used as a butter, babassu oil provides a cooling sensation as it melts against the skin.

Babassu oil is very like coconut oil and is often substituted for it in many products.  It is respected for its ability to preserve the skin’s elasticity and to prevent stretch marks, so it is highly recommended for pregnant women to rub their abdomens with babassu oil or a crème containing it.  It is also used to soothe the itch and irritation of eczema and psoriasis.   Babassu oil is an excellent choice regardless of whether your skin is dry or oily.

There are many ways to put the power of babassu oil to use for your own benefit.  Soaps containing babassu oil are particularly kind to skin.   Overall, babassu oil is an excellent choice to add to almost any of your homemade skin or hair care products.  It truly is a product of the “tree of life”.