For most people, Amazonian oils tend to be a little on the unknown side. Yet, they are amazing beauty ingredients! Such is the case of Tucuma butter, which softens and protects the skin and hair incredibly well. Read on to find out this butter’s secrets and how to enjoy them on your own skin.
In this article, you’ll read about:
- The physical characteristics of the butter (color, texture, aroma, etc.). This’ll help you figure out whether you’re buying the right product or not.
- What makes Tucuma butter so very good for skin and hair. Knowing the chemical composition of this butter can help you understand how it works.
- Detailed benefits of Tucuma butter for the skin and hair.
- Ways to use the butter for the best possible results.
- A few beauty recipes to help you enjoy the benefits of Tucuma.
- Facts and trivia about the tucuma trees, fruits, and extracts. Learn about its legends and traditional uses in the Amazon basin.
- Quality tips that can help you buy the best Tucuma butter for beauty purposes.
- A short comparison between Tucuma and Murumuru, its closest relative.
- Safety tips to consider before buying and/or applying the butter to your skin.
What is Tucuma Butter (Composition, Benefits, and Recipes)
Botanical name: Astrocaryum vulgare & Astrocaryum tucuma. (Synonyms: A. aculeatum, guianense, awarra, segregatum, tucumoides).
Consistency: hard, solid butter (at room temperature); becomes liquid at temperatures higher than 31 C/87.8 F.
Aroma: faint caramel latte, with hints of vegetable fat.
Color: light yellow – yellow.
Other names: Tucumá, Tucumã, Awarra palm, the palm of the savannah, Chambira palm, tucum palm, tucumã-do-amazonas (Astrocaryum tucuma or A. aculeatum) and tucumã-do-pará (Astrocaryum vulgare).
As you can see, this palm species has many names. That’s because it grows in many Amazonian areas/countries. Still, the butter can be extracted from two different palms:
- Tucumã-do-amazonas (Astrocaryum tucuma) – The fruit pulp is very dense and firm.
- Tucumã-do-pará (Astrocaryum vulgare) – It has a thick, oily, fatter fruit pulp.
The fat extracted from both palm species has similar properties and benefits. That’s why it’s okay to buy whichever one you find available.
What is Tucumã Butter Made Of?
It comes from the Amazon basin; Brazil is among the most important producers/exporters. Tucuma butter is made of pure vegetable fat.
People use tucuma fruits to extract edible oil from the pulp, and butter from the seeds or beans. These beans can yield somewhere between 30 and 50% oil or solid fat.
The best extraction method for the butter is the cold press. It preserves its properties intact, which results in very good results when you use it. This vegetable fat is made of many types of essential and non-essential fatty acids.
The essential ones are those that the body can’t produce but needs them. When the skin or hair gets these nutrients, results start showing almost immediately.
That said, here are the main fatty acids and other elements found in Tucuma butter:
- (45 – 47%) Lauric acid – this fatty acid is essential for the body and skin especially. Science shows that it has impressive antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. Applied to the skin, Tucuma butter can help with acne and scars, eczema, psoriasis, irritation, etc. Another very rich in Lauric acid is Coconut oil.
- (20 – 25%) Myristic acid – This acid gives the butter softening properties and makes it easy to penetrate deep into the skin. It also gives the butter a light touch, which makes it not feel greasy. It’s very nourishing and helps the skin regenerate and repair itself.
- (~12%) Oleic acid (Omega 9) – This is one of the non-essential acids because the body produces it non-stop. We find it everywhere because it’s part of the sebum. Nonetheless, when the sebum is removed (with water and/or soap), it’s important to give it back to the skin. Applying a bit of oleic acid can prevent the overproduction of sebum, which can clog the pores.
- (5 – 8%) Palmitic acid – This is another one of the beneficial acids for the skin. Its most noticeable function is that of softening. This means it adds up to the other softening effects, which leads to a super emollient butter.
Tucuma butter is also very rich in beta-carotene, which is a strong antioxidant.
This means that Tucuma can help to counter the damaging effects of free radicals. It also means that, with regular use, it can help you delay premature aging.
Tucuma Butter Skin Benefits and Uses
You’re probably starting to see the big picture now. Tucuma butter has many benefits and uses, and they deserve a bit more attention. So, check out what it can do for your skin to decide if this butter will be your next best friend.
- First, let’s talk about its comedogenicity level. I found the comedogenic rating of Tucuma butter to be 4. The comedogenicity scale runs from 0 (non-comedogenic) to 5 (highly comedogenic). When a product is comedogenic, it means it clogs the pores and causes acne. It’s the chemical composition that makes an oil or butter comedogenic or not. But, that composition is complex. While some fatty acids can clog the pores, the others don’t. And also, the same ones that are occlusive, are also good antibacterials and anti-inflammatory. Such is the case of Lauric acid. Coconut oil is also considered comedogenic, and it’s rated with 4. Yet, applied on some combination, acne-prone skin types, Lauric acid clears the skin and prevents acne. This is something you’ll have to test and discover for yourself.
- Tucuma butter is also considered to be a healthy alternative to synthetic silicone. The butter is thermally stable. Once applied, it doesn’t let water pass by. It does that
by formingtight seals on the surface, which prevent water loss. In other words, Tucuma butter is a great moisturizer and emollient that keeps the skin hydrated for longer.
- Bacteria cannot grow in silicone. If you add the butter’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties to that silicone-like effect, you get a good anti-acne face butter.
- Tucuma is very nourishing and hydrating. It can restore the superior layers of the skin.
- It is also very softening and absorbs easily, without leaving a greasy film behind.
- A very good property of Tucuma butter is that it can activate, maintain, and prolong the skin tan. This is because of a good amount of beta-carotene that is found in its composition.
With proper testing in advance, Tucuma butter can be used on all skin types. It is also a good alternative to Coconut oil, which has similar properties and effects. Tucuma butter can also be a good substitute for Cocoa butter.
Tucuma Butter for Hair (Benefits and Uses)
When it comes to natural hair care, there are many good products that can help. Yet, only a few have such a great affinity for the hair strand like Tucuma butter.
A few other examples are Coconut and Murumuru oils. Tucuma and Murumuru are very closely related though.
Here is what Tucuma can do to make your hair look beautiful and healthy:
- This Brazilian beauty butter can help restore, repair, nourish, and strengthen the hair. It penetrates the hair all the way deep into the cortex. The hair cortex dictates how the hair will look.
- Tucuma butter is a great hair conditioner that softens and tames frizz.
- Good quality (fresh, unrefined, and nondeodorized) Tucuma butter has a very nice smell. Thus, it can add a subtle scent to your hair every time you use it.
- It gives shine to the hair and makes it easy to comb and style. A Tucuma oil mask can make it feel very light and luxurious.
- The butter can also protect the hair from sun damage, chlorine, and salt. This means the butter should be in your vacation bag all the time.
- Tucuma butter can also prevent water loss and maintain the hair elastic and flexible until you wash it again.
In short, one product can help you feel spoiled from head to toes. As a butter, Tucuma feels luxurious to touch, which increases the feel-good sensation.
How to Use Tucuma Butter for Beauty Purposes
Vegetable butters are solid, thus, they aren’t very messy. A carrier oil, for example, can drip from your fingers or palms onto fabrics, furniture, etc.
Tucuma butter won’t do that unless you keep large lumps in your palms and it starts to melt.
- You can apply Tucuma directly to the skin, without prior blending or diluting.
- You can mix it with other ingredients to enhance its effects. Butters and oils are a good blending base for essential oils, for instance.
So, if you feel adventurous, you can make a recipe with Tucuma butter and other butters, oils, vitamins, etc.
If you’re not into elaborate beauty rituals, or simply want to get it done fast, you can apply only Tucuma butter. The results will be so amazing, you won’t probably miss the absence of other ingredients.
Here are all the ways in which you can use Tucuma butter for beauty purposes:
- Lotions or balms that can be applied during or after sun exposure.
- Skin care creams to stimulate and maintain your tan.
- Creams and lotions to soften the skin.
- DIY lip balms and lipsticks.
- Homemade soaps.
- Liquid masks for hair care.
- Smoothing and conditioning hair products.
- Serums to improve and prevent split ends.
A general guide of percentages to use in your homemade recipes:
- Hair conditioners (1 – 5%)
- Lotions and creams (1 – 10%)
- Balms (5 – 80%)
- Soaps (1 – 15%)
Of course, these are just to give you an idea of how much butter would go in each type of DIY. But usually, you’ll have a recipe to follow, so these percentages will probably change.
How do you use Tucuma butter in your beauty routine?
- As it is, directly to your skin, scalp, and hair.
- Mixed with essential oils, vitamins, carrier oils or other body butters.
- Added to your usual creams and lotions.
- As hot oil mask for hair.
- Added to shampoos and/or conditioners.
- Added to anti-frizz serums.
Basically, you can use this beauty butter any way you like. It’s not messy and it’s easy to apply everywhere on the body, including the face.
Tucuma Butter Beauty Recipes
It’s time to get to the practical part. I’ve prepared a few simple recipes with Tucuma butter for various purposes. Choose whichever you like and give it a try.
If you don’t have all the ingredients, you can use something else with similar properties. You can also choose not to add anything in their place, but the result will not be exactly the same.
Nourishing Oil Mask for Hair Shine & Smoothness
- Tucuma butter: 2 – 4 tablespoons (depending on hair length)
- Grapefruit essential oil: 5 – 8 drops
- Rosemary essential oil: 1 – 3 drops
Melt the butter over a double boiler but do not overheat it! This is very important because the essential oil drops can catch fire. They all have their own different flashpoint (temperature at which they will catch fire).
It’s best to add them when the butter has cooled off, before it starts hardening. If that happens though, gently heat it back again.
This hair mask needs to be warm enough (not hot!) when you apply it. Heat will help the pores open up and absorb more ingredients.
Apply the mask on the scalp and roots and the whole hair length. Keep it on for 30 – 60 minutes, ideally under a shower cap to keep the heat and moisture in. Wash the oils off with shampoo or homemade soap, as many times as necessary.
Your hair will look very shiny, will feel soft, and it’ll be very easy to comb and style.
Whipped Tucuma Body Butter for Firmness and a Nice Tan
- Tucuma butter: 4 tablespoons
- Olive oil: 2 teaspoons
- Buriti oil: 3 teaspoons
After you’ve melted the butter, mix all the ingredients together and whisk well. Put it in the fridge until it hardens, then whip the butter with a hand mixer until it becomes fluffy. Apply daily or whenever your skin needs it.
Tucuma Butter Face Serum for Sensitive Skin
- Tucuma butter: 2 tablespoons
- Lavender essential oil: 5 drops
Slightly melt the butter, then add the Lavender and mix well. Let it harden and scoop out small amounts when you apply it on the face. Let it start to melt on your fingers before applying it.
Tucumã Butter, Tree, Extracts (Trivia & Facts), Safety and Quality Tips
You’ve already read about the properties and benefits of the butter. Now, this next section will probably make for interesting and light reading.
While researching, I discovered many nice and interesting things about the tucuma tree. Check them out if you’re curious too.
- Tucuma trees are palms that love high and hard, yet well-drained soils.
- They grow in many areas around the Amazon. You’ll find Tucuma palms in Brazil, French Guiana, and Guyana, Ecuador, and Suriname. This is the reason why it has so many names.
- Astrocaryum vulgare and A. tucuma belong to the Arecaceae family. Tucuma is a very close relative of Murumuru.
- It’s a palm species that grow fast, almost aggressively so.
- Each fruit weighs about one ounce (30 grams). Its seeds are found inside a hard black shell and are white and fatty. They are covered by an orange fatty pulp. That is why people extract two types of oils from the tucuma fruit. Oil from the pulp and butter from the seeds/beans.
- A single tree can make 100 – 200 orange fruits.
- French Guianans make a dough from tucuma fruits called awara, which is then used to make Awara broth.
- The black shell of the fruits is traditionally used to make all sorts of rings.
Tucuma Butter vs. Murumuru Butter
While they are from the same plant family, there are noticeable differences between tucuma and murumuru palms. Still, the butter extracted from their fruits do share many similar properties.
They’re both high in beta-carotene, which helps with sun protection. They’re also high in Lauric acid, which makes them great for all skin types.
Of course, they are similar up to a point, because no oil is identical to other family members. You can use Murumuru instead of Tucuma butter, and vice-versa. But some recipes ask for a particular butter for well-established purposes.
Both butters though offer great firmness in homemade products. They also add texture, which makes things easier.
There aren’t many known interactions of Tucuma butter with medications. It can still, however, cause allergic reactions in some people.
- If you are allergic to nuts and seeds, this butter could harm your health. You should talk to a medic about using it.
- Also, everyone should test their products (natural or not) before using them more often. Apply a small amount on the inside of your forearm and massage it in. Wait until the next day before using it. That should be enough time to give the body the chance to respond.
- Ask the doctor before applying Tucuma butter to babies and toddlers.
Quality and Buying Tips
Tucuma butter is the kind of product that you’ll find easier online than in stores. Once you’ve bought it and you’ve made sure it’s good quality, store it in proper conditions.
It needs to stay in dark, dry, and cool places. Direct sunlight, heat, and humidity can shorten the shelf life of the product. These factors can also alter its composition, thus its benefits too.
How can you tell if your butter is good quality or not? Luckily, there are a few things that can tell you that:
- Make sure the butter has its Latin name and country of origin specified on its label.
- The extraction method needs to be cold press. It must not be refined or mixed with other ingredients.
- Aim only for raw Tucuma butter to enjoy all its benefits.
- The smell should be faint, of fat and/or caramel, cafe au lait. If it’s rancid, it’ll smell quite nasty.
- The texture of the oil should be smooth and not grainy, even if it’s a hard butter.
If you’ve got doubts, you can ask the seller for the GC/MS report of the butter. You’ll get there all the test and analysis results for the product.
Using Tucuma in your daily beauty routine is easy. Everything is easy with this product, and the results you get after using it are well worth the investment.
If you think about it, even though it may seem expensive, it’s not. A jar of Tucuma butter can last you well over 6 months, no matter how often you use it.
Do you think Tucuma is what your skin or hair needs? Are you going to use it simple or in a recipe, and if so, which one? I would very much like to know how you felt or looked after using it. So, don’t be shy and leave me a comment. I look forward to reading them.