Butters and solid oils are an important part of cosmetic ingredients. Here are some of the most known and used ones that you can greatly benefit from.
This post is part of the Cosmetic basics series that will consist of 3 posts:
Part 2: Butters for skincare products (you are here)
Part 3: Other ingredients for skincare products (coming soon)
Butters are sorted by alphabetical order:
Avocado butter is obtained from the avocado tree, like avocado oil. It’s in fact created from the oil of the avocado fruit through hydrogenation process. This butter has great melting properties and is, therefore, great for skin care products. It can be used in soapmaking and products for moisturizing and softening of the dry skin. Especially in soaps, it’s great for superfatting.
Usage: lotions and creams (3-5%), soaps (3-6%), balms (5-100%), hair conditioner (2-5%)
Shelf life: 3 years
Babassu butter is a solid oil, just like coconut oil/butter. Learn more here.
Cocoa butter is extracted from the kernels of the cocoa tree. It makes skin care products thicker and harder, for example, balms (with or without beeswax). It has softening and moisturizing properties and can be used on dry or normal skin. Pure cocoa butter has cocoa scent and flavour, but for cosmetic purposes, some is deodorised. It’s quite an expensive ingredient, so many substitute it with shea, illipe, sal nut and mango butter.
- cocoa scent and flavour (it’s the main ingredients in chocolate!)
- stability (prevents rancidity)
- gives silky texture
- emollient properties
- make products thicker and harder
- melts at body temperature
- believed to prevent and heal stretch marks, for chapped and burned skin and as a daily moisturizer
Usage: lotions and creams (3-5%), soaps (3-10%), balms (5-100%)
Shelf life: 1-2 years
Coconut butter is a solid oil, so find out more about it here.
Usage: lotions and creams (1-15%), soaps (5-30%), balms (5-40%), hair conditioner (2-5%)in soaps it can also be used up to 100% + 20% superfatting
*in soaps it can also be used up to 100% + 20% superfatting
Cupuacu butter is a less known butter extracted from the tropical rainforest tree. It’s related to cocoa tree and is used similarly. It’s especially useful as a vegan alternative to lanolin. Cupuacu butter is a nourishing emollient and it easily absorbs water (absorbs 240% more than lanolin). In emulsions it acts as a stabilizer.
- for dry, damaged skin
- fights free radicals
- fatty acids protect and moisturize
- heals, improves skin’s barrier
- improves elasticity
- absorbs UVA/UVB rays (natural sun protection; it’s not recognized as an SPF)
Usage: lotions and creams (2-5%), balms (2-20%), body butters (2-10%), conditioners (1-3%)
Shelf life: 2 years
Special tip: cupuacu butter contains stearic acid so that you can sbstitute it in recipes.
Illipe butter (also known as Illipe oil) is one of the less known butters, but a very useful one. It’s extracted from the nuts of the Borneo trees. Its properties are very similar to cocoa butter, but illipe butter has a higher melting point.It can be used in many cosmetic products, especially in those that supposed to have a higher melting point (sticks, soaps, lip balms, lipsticks, etc.). It’s also recommended for healing mouth ulcers and for creating the lipidic barrier on the skin.
- very similar to cocoa butter
- great for winter skin care (for hair and skin)
- can be used on its own on lips
- great moisturizing properties
- restores skin elasticity
Color: pale yellow
Usage: hair products (2-5%)
Shelf life: 12-24 months
Macadamia butter is extracted from the seeds of Macadamia tree that originate in Australia. It’s rich in palmitic acid that is naturally found in sebaceous glands (part of skin where sebum is created). This acid decreases with aging and that’s why macadamia butter is best for preventing signs of aging. It’s very moisturizing and softening and doesn’t leave a greasy feeling on the skin.
- stability (resistant to rancidity) due to high vitamin E content
- fast absorption
- very moisturizing
Usage: lotions and creams, balms, soaps
Shelf life: (information not found)
Mango butter is obtained from the seeds of the mango fruit. This butter is very firm and has excellent moisturizing properties. Due to being rich and luxurious, it’s a great addition to all balms and creams. It’s usually not the only ingredients, but rather mixed with others. It melts at skin temperature, just like coconut and shea butter that are both very similar to mango butter, and is ,therefore, great for massage bars. Mango butter especially excels at softening without a greasy feeling. When it substitutes shea butter, it’s easier to whip into body butter, since mango butter doesn’t crystalize like shea butter does.
- prevents wrinkles
- moisturizes dry skin
- regenerates skin cells
- helps restore skin elasticity
- protects from sun damage
- prevents stretch marks
- for relieving skin allergy rashes
- helps treat blemishes, sunburns, and psoriasis
Usage: lotions and creams (3-5&), soaps (3-8%), balms (5-100%)
Shelf life: 1 year
Murumuru butter originates in Amazon rainforest where this butter is extracted from the seeds. It’s highly emollient and moisturizing and therefore very useful for hair care. It restores softness and improves the flexibility of hair. When applied to wet hair it creates a barrier to prevent moisture loss.
- resistant to rancidity
- tasteless and odorless
- provides a firmer consistency in warmer environments
- when combined with Ucuuba butter it creates a protection layer on the skin (similar to silicones, but doesn’t clog pores)
- in hair products: helps maintain curls, nourishes and strengthens roots
- seals moisture (when applied to wet hair)
- fortifies hair
- boosts hair’s shine
- can be substituted with coconut oil or Tucuma butter
Usage: shampoos (0,5-1%), deodorants (0,5-8%), creams and lotions (2-20%), soaps (3-12%), lip products (5-10%), hair conditioners (1-5%)
Shelf life: 12-24 months
Olive butter is derived from olive oil and has a rich and soft buttery texture. It’s easier for application than olive oil and is because of this great for massage. True olive butter doesn’t contain any hydrogenated oils and preferably virgin olive oil.
- moisturizes and conditions dry skin
- rich in vitamins Α, Β1, Β2, C, D, E, Κ, and iron
- helps delay aging and prevent irritations
- rich in fatty acids
Color: pale green
Usage: lotions and creams (5-20%), soaps (5-20%), balms (5-100%), hair conditioners (2-5%)
Shelf life: 1 year
Shea butter (also known as Karite or African butter) is extracted from the seeds of the karite tree. It’s best for treating dry skin because it melts at skin temperature and is easy to massage into skin. It’s ideal for lip balms and body butters and in soaps it creates a silky feel.
Usage: lotions and creams (3-5%), soaps (3-10%), balms (5-100%), hair conditioner (2-5%)
Shelf life:1 year
Ucuuba butter is extracted from the seeds of and Amazonian tree. It’s been used for many years in home medicine for rheumatism, arthritis, ulcers and hemorrhoids. It’s also useful for anti-inflammatory and sensitive/irritated skin. It has the potential to be substitute instead of tallow used in soaps due to its saponification value (higher than tallow).
- for treating acne, eczema and dry/irritated skin
- anti-aging (rich in fatty acids)
- vegan alternative for tallow used in soaps
- rich in vitamins C and A, unsaturated fatty acids
- scent: similar to beeswax, earthy
- hard butter, needs another oil/butter to be melted
- rich in Lauric, myristic and palmitic acids: important for cell development and healthy skin and hair
- vegan alternative for beeswax
Color: light brown with dark spots
Usage: creams and butters (3-13%), soaps (5-20%), balms (5-20%)
Shelf life: 1 year
These are some of the most known and popular butters. Do you know any that haven’t been described here? Tell me in the comments and I’ll be happy to find more about those!
I’m planning to try some new ingredients and my favorites are Murumuru, Ucuuba, and Illipe butter. Currently, I adore Shea butter (that really fits into any product!) and babassu oil/butter that gives a silky feeling. As you’ve probably noticed, I also use coconut oil a lot. 😀
Tell me what’s your favorite ingredient for DIY skincare products!
Sources & interesting links:
- Aussie soap supplies: http://www.aussiesoapsupplies.com.au/properties-of-oils-and-butters.html
- Wikipedia-Cupuacu: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cupua%C3%A7u
- Wikipedia-Cocoa butter: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cocoa_butter
- Wikipedia-Murumuru butter: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astrocaryum_murumuru
- Mosskincare: What is Ucuuba butter?
- Rainforest chica-Ucuuba butter