Coconut, Candlenut and Tamanu Oil
Exotic oils from far-flung tropical locales have become increasingly popular ingredients in skin care products. Of these, the best known is coconut oil, which seems to be enjoying its moment as “miracle oil” du jour — touted for its nutritional and beauty benefits. Coconut oil regularly appears on the list of many celebrities’ “must have” beauty products list and with good reason — it’s versatile and truly does have amazing skin care and health properties. Other tropical oils include candlenut, aka kukui oil, and tamanu oil — both of which have been revered in their lands of origin for their healing properties.
The coconut is a source of healthful juice, flesh and oil. Nourishing coconut oil is highly saturated (over 90 percent), which earned it the disapprobation of nutritionists in earlier, more benighted times. Nowadays, coconut oil’s medium chain fatty acids, most notably lauric acid, are highly valued for their health and skin saving benefits. Lauric acid has antimicrobial, antibacterial and antifungal properties and is excellent for treating skin infections. The molecular structure of coconut oil allows it to deeply hydrate the skin. Coconut oil is also an effective hair conditioner; Indian and Tahitian women have traditionally relied on coconut oil for their lustrous locks.
Coconut nut oil is economical — you can use the same cold pressed oil on your skin and hair. I love using it as an eye makeup remover. And don’t forget, it’s one of the healthiest (and most delicious) cooking oils around.
You can purchase coconut oil at your local health food store or online at www.nutiva.com
Some products containing coconut oil to try:
- Organic Fiji Body Lotion ($25.00) www.organicfiji.com
- RMS Beauty — all-natural makeup made with healthy ingredients including a generous dose of coconut oil www.rmsbeauty.com
Candlenut (Kukui) Oil
Most of us are more familiar with candlenut’s more famous cousin, the macadamia nut. Like the macadamia, the candlenut is edible; it appears in Indonesian, Malaysian and native Hawaiian cuisine.
Candlenut oil is beneficial to the skin — it contains beneficial polyphenols and essential fatty acids that sooth and soften the skin. It has traditionally been used to treat eczema and psoriasis. Like coconut oil, it is an excellent hair and scalp conditioner and is known for increasing hair growth and controlling dandruff.
Candlenut oil is effective for sunburn relief, stretch mark reduction and treating acne.
You can find candlenut oil in products by Juara, which specializes in traditional Indonesian skin care ingredients. Try the Candlenut Body Crème ($35.00) www.juaraskincare.com. Hawaiian Bath and Body offers deliciously scented kukui nut oil ($18.00) www.hawaiianbathbody.com
Indigenous to Southeast Asia, Madagascar and Polynesia, the tamanu tree is known for its remarkable healing properties. The dark green oil has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and has been used for centuries to ease pain from sunburn, eczema and even sciatica and shingles. In addition to a rare compound called calophyllolide, tamanu also contains three types of lipids — neutral lipids, glycolipids and phosholipids — which give it superior moisturizing properties.
Tamanu oil is a superb wrinkle smoother and acne scar reducer. It also can be used to treat burns and wounds; it promotes the growth of new tissue and prevents scarring.
Is it any wonder that the South Pacific islanders once thought that the gods dwelled in the branches of the tamanu tree?
You can purchase pure tamanu oil at Mountain Rose Herbs ($12 for 4 ounces) www.mountainroseherbs.com
Tamanu oil is a key ingredient in Aveda’s Outer Peace Acne Spot Treatment ($29.50) www.aveda.com