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December 3, 2021

Moisturizing Natural Butters for Hair and Skin Guide


Plant base butters are one-ingredient alternatives to premade body products and can be conveniently used in ways that makes it an all-purpose product for complete body care.

I used shea butter, cocoa butter, and coconut oil for years and grew bored of it. By exploring my roots, I discovered more treasures and learned how they can benefit lives.

What are natural butters?

Plant derived butters originates from nuts, seeds, beans, or plants. Natural butters provide emollient properties, amongst many others, to help protect the skin's barrier and hair shaft.

How to Choose the best Butter

Before purchasing any butter, it is important to understand the supplier's resources to ensure its quality. The information can usually be found on the product package, ingredients and company website. Make sure the product you purchase passes your "Quality Check List'. 

 Key terms that show good quality

  • 100%
  • Organic
  • Wild Craft or Wild Harvested
  • Raw
  • Unrefined
  • Virgin

General Key factors
The scent, color and texture are the main factors that should be considered to determine the quality of the butter after selecting your supplier.

Scent:

The scent is distinctive trait you want to pay attention to. Most butters have a distinct nutty aroma combined with sweet or earthy notes. For example, cupuacu butter has a light earthy sweet-smelling chocolate fragrance. Bacuri butter carries a deep earthy aroma with nutty tones intermixing, creating a strong woodsy smell.

If it smells rancid, moldy, or sour-like then most likely it is not a good batch, which speaks volumes of the supplier's creditability. 

Texture

The texture of plant-derived butters can range from a buttery, crumbly, or grit consistency. Understanding its melting points helps someone determine whether its good for soap, lotion, or cream products. Ucuuba butter is very crumbly and dense, however gently melting the butter can be molded into DIY lotion sticks. 

Color

Depending on the butter, color is one of the last traits in the Quality Check List. Colors range from white and yellow to brown and black.. Kombo butter and bacuri butter are some of the richest dark pigments in all the butters. 

The Powerful ANTIOXIDANT in natural butters called polyphenols

Polyphenols are one of the largest antioxidant group found in majority of these butters. Similar to green tea, polyphenols deliver anti-aging, skin regeneration, UV (or UVB) protection, and anti-inflammatory effects when directly applied to the skin.

Types of Natural Butters

Africa

Kombo butter

Known as Otie by the Akan community of Ghana, the seeds of the Pycnanthus angolensis tree is grown in various parts of West Africa for medicinal, beauty, and spiritual purposes.

Otie is comprised of powerful phytochemicals that has been traditionally used for healing joint, arthritis, and muscle pains. It is rich in myristoleic, myristic fatty acids, and a specific compound called Oftrimyristin which is the key ingredient used in pharmaceutical products to encourage healing and manage pain with external usage. The west African nutmeg butter also contains kombic, palmitic, and oleic acids.

Benefits for hair and skin

Individuals, including infants, living with eczema, rash, skin irritations, marks, stretch marks and other skin conditions may find relief and positive results with the application of Kombo butter. Kombo butter can even appeal to coarse curly and coily hair communities for natural hair and scalp health.

The butter also has various properties that can be used in multiple ways. It has regeneration, anti-fungal, ant-inflammatory, anti-septic, anti-allergic properties that can be used alone or added to other butters.

Combined with botanical oils like avocado seed, red raspberry seed, or apricot seed oils makes therapeutic creams, liquid soaps, lip balms, and massaging butters.

Otie resembles a dark thick custard with a southern grit-like texture and spoons easily in jars. It can be messy to work with as well as staining clothes easily, so It's recommended to work with this butter away from children and handling it in old clothes for homemade DIY's.

Mafura Butter

Mafura butter is made from the trichilia emetica tree in the Southern parts of Africa. Throughout Zimbabwe and Mozambique communities, mafura literally translate to "oil" in their languages. When it solidifies it turns into butter, hence mafura 'butter'.

Benefits for hair and skin

Traditionally used for hair and skin upkeep, mafura butter is most prized for its ability to deeply moisturize dark melanin skin. Mafura butter has palmitic, oleic, linoelic, stearic, and linoleic acids that gives it regeneration abilities to heal wounds, scars, and other skin conditions. All types of natural hair may benefit from this butter. Coarse type 3 and 4 individuals can incorporate the nourishing butter for shine, lock in moisture, strengthen hair fibers, highlight shrinkage in braid, or twists outs, and more.

Mafura can be used as a natural alternative to preserve and increase the shelf life of other natural products. Its anti-oxidation properties are perfect base for non-greasy, non-comedogenic formulas and is extremely gentle to those with sensitive skin. Mafura butter has a high saponification value making it useful in bar and liquid soaps. (1.)

Kpangnan Butter

Kpangnan butter is known as the African Butter Tree throughout the West African region. Its bright yellow hue gives it the name "Golden" or "Yellow" shea butter and is made from the seeds of the pentadesma butyracea.

The African butter contains a high percentage of stigmasterol, a plant sterol, that offer pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties. Kpangnan is strongly preferred over shea butter due to its fatty profile, shelf life, and overall quality.

Benefits for hair and skin:

 Its soft texture is beneficial for increasing the healing process of wounds to hydrating sensitive skin, making it an alternative to the popular shea butter. It can be mixed with avocado oil or hempseed oil to enhance coarse hair types.

Its chemical structure is made up of omega 6, oleic acid (45%), stearic acid (45%), and vitamin F & E. Due to its composition, the Golden shea butter easily melts, absorbs at a faster rate, and is less likely to become rancid with a 6+ month (on average) shelf life. Its low water content is another ingredient to preserve natural hair butters, body butters, and organic creams. (1.)

 Allanblackia Butter

Allanblackia is grown in the tropical parts of West Africa and popularly known as Kagne butter, or Mkanyi fat amongst the locals.

Benefits for skin and hair

Mkanyi fat offers strong emollient to skin softening properties that is useful in maintaining the skin's barrier and the roots of the scalp due to its non-greasy feel.

Its impressive high melting point that contains a high amount of stearic acid with traces of flavonoids, tannins, alkaloids, and saponins. Offering strong emollient properties, the fat is ideally used inDIY bars, butters, pomades, and other products. Its composition is comprised of vitamin F, oleic acid, and high amounts of stearic acid.

East African (Nilotica) Shea Butter

While shea butter is quite popular, many people are unaware of the Eastern version of the shea nut. Nilotica is grown in parts of Uganda and Sudan and while they may be similar, they have some differences that should be noted for future purchases.

Benefits for hair and skin

Vitellaria Nilotica is the Eastern version of the West Shea butter variant. Many brown complected communities prefer Nilotica shea butter due to its therapeutic properties. Nilotica has more appealing traits that doesn't go unnoticed. The shea butter has a butter frosting texture that is easily meltable compared to the West African shea butter. With greater therapeutic properties, East African shea butter possess high levels of oleic acid, fats, vitamins ( F, K, A ), and a powerful antioxidant called catechins.

Due to its fluffy nature, Nilotica shea butter can be used by itself to apply on the face or hair. It can be mixed with other butters, other moisturizing oils to apply over the body. Similar to West shea butter, it has a 6+ month (on average) life shelf and can be used to make fluffy butters, oil formulas, lip balms, baby butters, and more . 

Why we love it

Nilotica shea butter has been a holy grail product for my family and I. It spreads like butter, melts like chocolate, smells slightly sweet, and easily absorbs into our skin. It even benefits our baby. I've been using Nilotica shea butter since Little Coconut was around 2 months old. Its been used for diaper butters, body butters, gentle infant sunscreens, and natural hair formulations.

Amongst the coarse to thin curly and coily hair types, our hair responds happily compared to western shea butter. Due to it's softness, its like putting a piece of cloud on my crown. The biggest changes I've seen is shine, definition after proper hydration to maintaining healthy shrinkage without the added weight. Overall Nilotica shea butter is a quality ingredient for natural hair maintenance.


America

Bacuri Butter

Grown in Brazil, Bacuri butter comes from the seeds of Platonia Insignis and used by Amazonian communities for insect bite remedies, pain management, and beauty as apart of folk medicine.

Benefits for hair and skin

Bacuri butter has high amounts of stearic acid, oleic acid, and linoleic acid. The fat content is very similar to the African Butter while offering cell renewal, anti-aging, and would healing capabilities. Bacuri butter is rich in methionine which supports healthy hair, skin, and nails.

Bacuri's unique composition makes it suitable for all skin types and can easily absorb into the skin due to its high tripalmitin content. Lysine is an amino acid found in bacuri butter, contributing to external healing benefits. It has been reported that products containing lysine may be used to control herpes outbreaks and eczema symptoms. And that's not all...

Natural hair will greatly benefit from this butter due to its high stearic acid and oleic acid content.

Even though it is gritty-like, it is still very soft and can be used by itself or mixed with hempseed oil for a quick moisturizer to mixing it with clay for a homemade mask.

Why we love it 

Bacuri butter has a chocolate appearance that naturally smells like an earthy moss, buttery, and melted easily by the hand. We've been using the butter for almost a year now and the benefits it packs is quite telling. Since bacuri can firm, tighten, and remove dead skin cells, I've personally used bacuri butter in face masks and body scrubs to promote cellular regeneration. I also use it by itself to making stretch mark butters, baby butter, infant UV booster butter, body butters and hair butters.

Cupuacu Butter

Cupuacu Butter, scientific name Theobroma grandiflorum, is the cousin to cocoa butter and native to the Amazon regions. Used as a vegan alternative to lanolin, cupuacu butter has the presence of oleic, stearic, arachidic, palmitic, and linoleic acids.

Benefits for hair and skin

It is a great source of phytosterol. Similar to other butters previously mentioned, it has the ability to retain moisture like nilotica shea butter. Cupuaucu butter has the capacity to be a key ingredient for plumping and skin hydration due to its unique hydrophilic properties. This is also ideal to add to infant skin care products since infants quickly loose moisture.(1)

Thick hair types benefit from the hydrophilic properties as well. When the hair is damp with some moisture, cupuacu can be applied to seal and soften the strands. Cupuacu is the perfect twist, or braid-out butter that keeps the hair soft, hydrated, and protected. Due to its SPF protection traits, it benefits infant scalps from the sun. 

How to use

Cupuacu butter easily melts between the hands. Once melted, the butter is best applied on damp skin or hair to activate it's hydration benefits. Cupaucu mixes well with ximenia oil, red raspberry seed, and avocado oil.  

Why we love it

Cupuacu butter is one of my favorite add-on and single butters to use throughout my family. It has a high phytosterol content that makes it great for my SPF/UV protection butters and creams. The consistency is a bit harder than nilotica shea butter, but softer than cocoa butter. It smells like earthy sweet chocolate and melts easily by the hand. This was one of the first butters I used to keep my skin soft and the start of my homemade butter recipes throughout my post-partum, stretch mark journey. Outside of moisturizing my skin, its an effective butter to add to bacuri butter to boost the SPF content. My baby and I's hair did have a great response to cupuacu butter as well. Overall I love using this butter in combo with East African shea butter for an all purpose butter.

Murumuru Butter

Murumuru butter comes from the seeds of Astrocaryum murumuru, an Amazon version of the palm tree. With a similar fatty acid profile to cocoa butter, its benefits offer astringents, UV protection, venotonic (reduces the appearance of dark veins), and skin firming effects that can improve skin texture, skin barrier, and hair shaft.

Benefits for hair and skin

Packed with myristic and lauric acids, murumuru butter offers hydrating abilities that can maintain the skins barrier and penetrate the hair shaft. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-dandruff properties to conditioning properties. This makes it a natural healthier alternative to wax due to its silicone properties (1).

Tucuma Butter

Tucuma butter is another butter grown within the Amazon forests. Made from the Astrocaryum tucuma seeds, tucuma butter is considered a cousin to murumuru based off its fat composition; Lauric acid, myristic acid, palmitic acid, oleic acids.

Benefits for hair and skin

Tucuma butter is rich in antioxidants polyphenols moisturizing fatty acids. Tucuma is another plant base silicon, like the murumuru butter. It has high beta-carotene content that offers UV protection properties and regulates melanin production when applied to the skin. Tucuma butter is non comedogenic as well which makes it useful in getting the anti-aging properties without clogging the pores. Due to its silicon property and pectin content, it's useful to add in natural hair products that'll improve shrinkage, encourage growth, and offer shine.

Ucuuba Butter

Scientifically called Virola surinamensis, ucuuba butter resides in the regions of Central and South America, and literally translate to "fat tree". Primarily of lauric, palmitic, and myristic acids, Ucuuba butter is very high in fats to maintain healthy skin and thick hair.

Benefits for hair and skin

It is essentially beneficial in cell development and regulate the immune system through the skin while offering healing properties similar to the previous butters. Like bacuri butter, this is another effective butter that provides healing to arthritis and rheumatic symptoms. Ucuuba butter is rich in vitamin A and C, and contains anti-inflammatory, emollient, antiseptic, and anti-aging properties. 

Ucuuba butter contain a large amount of trimyristin which can explain why it has a waxy velvety-like texture and can offer great benefits for those who have eczema or issue with their skin retaining water. It can be used in soaps, diaper butters for infants, body butters, DIY winter hair butters, and more (1)

Why we love it

Ucuuba butter is our go-to butter for protective, winter butters for the hair and skin to being the perfect butter to use in balms, or sticks. It is very crumbly however when pressed between the fingers you get a waxy. 

Asia

Kokum Butter

Kokum butter, otherwise known as Goa butter comes from the plant Garcinia indica. Found throughout the tropical regions of India, kokum butter is valued for its ability to retain moisture.

Benefits for hair and skin

Goa butter is rich in fat, particularly lauric acid while containing large amounts of vitamin E. It is another great butter that is non-comedogenic making it easy to be absorbed by the skin though being dense. Goa butter is another replacement for cocoa butter, and can be used in lotions, creams, and oils once melted.

Sal Butter

Madhuca Latifolia is the scientific name of the fruit kernal of sal. Sal butter mainly contains Stearic, oleic, and linoleic acids. Similar to cocoa butter in physical properties, it is known to regenerate skin cells, contain plant beta sitosterols (prevents dry skin), provide low levels UV protection, and offer oxidative properties from high levels of uniform triglycerides. Its fatty acid composition and squalene content makes it useful in moisturizing balms, lotions, and soap formulas.

Illipe butter

Illipe butter is produced from shorea stenoptera nuts. Produced in Southern Asia, illipe butter's fatty acid content is palmitic, linoleic, oleic, and stearic acid to high amounts of Vitamins A & E. Its composition being similar to cacao butter can be used as an alternative in butter and cream formulas. Its benefits make it perfect for all skin types; sensitive, dry, or oily. Coily and coarse curly hair may use illipe butter to improve a faster bounce rate (elasticity) and strengthen scalp barriers.

Mowrah Butter

Located in India, Mowrah butter is produced from the fruit of the Madhuca Latifolia tree. Mowrah butter contains tocopherol (a type of vitamin E) and Phytosterols ( UV protection) making it excellent to combine with SPF, gentle sun block products for hair and skin. It is said it's comparable to extra virgin olive oil with it's emollient, moisturizing to anti-aging anti-radical properties (1)

Dhupa Butter

Dhupa butter (Vateria indica) is a newer butter on the market and is showing some outstanding benefits that may needs more attention. Originating from India, the butter is high in stearic, palmitic, oleic acids.

Phulwara Butter

Phulwara comes from the seeds of the cherui tree, located in the Northern parts of India. Great for exfoliating skin, it is prized for its emollient and perfect oxidative ability. 

Best Brands


3cayg

rainforestchica


References coming soon...


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Mysess


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    1. I know right! Im going to visit your site. Do you write about skin/hair care? If so, I’d love to read your review; expectations, experience, and results.

  1. This is a very informative post. I have never heard of any of these different butters, before. I think that I’m going to try the Kombo butter first, and see how my skin and body takes to it.

    1. Thank you! It truly is. I’ve only had the chance to try 3 out the list! But I can’t wait to get my hands on all of them lol. I did not mention, but Etsy is another market that sells quality kombo butter as well. I’d just double check to make sure its not a greedy businessman (or woman).

      Glad that you like it!

  2. Thank you for this comprehensive list of butters! I’m always looking for natural alternatives for my hair and skin, so it’s very helpful to have a guide like this to turn to.

  3. Dhupa this is the butter I want.
    I’m intrested in sharing this with my family… like ooh baby you ain’t up on this in my Kayne voice.

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