The bitter oil, or else known as Andiroba oil, is a very appreciated solution for skin problems. Its long tradition and recent studies support its benefits too. It’s time to check out all it can do for the hyperallergic skin and not only.
In this post, you’ll be reading about:
- The physical traits of the oil of Andiroba. Know what it should look and smell like, or what other names it has before buying.
- Its chemical composition and studies that support these beneficial effects that it has for the skin.
- Properties and uses of Andiroba oil. See what it can help improve or prevent in terms of skin and hair care.
- Simple beauty recipes to test out the oil for yourself.
- Some trivia and facts about the tree, its fruits, traditional uses and more. This’ll really cement your knowledge about a new great beauty ingredient.
- A few words about the other uses of Andiroba oil.
- Last but not least, some safety tips to know before using the oil in large quantities.
Andiroba Oil Benefits, Composition, Properties, and Recipes
Botanical name (or INCI): Carapa guianensis.
Color: light to dark yellow.
Aroma: faintly nutty.
Viscosity: liquid at room temperature or hot temperatures. Thick and pasty (butter-like) at temperatures of 15 – 18 C/ 59 – 64F.
Other names: carapa (Portuguese) oil, crab oil, crabwood oil.
Although not very known in the world of carrier oils, Andiroba is not new. This oil has a very long tradition in the Amazon basin. Locals have used it since forever to treat all sorts of skin diseases and not only.
Andiroba oil is one of the best oils for sensitive or hypersensitive skin. Of course, this makes it good for all skin types. At one point or another, every woman can get sensitive skin.
Still, for those with reactive skin, it can be very tough to find a good product. Luckily, now they have a natural alternative in Andiroba oil.
What makes this oil so unique is its chemical composition. I’m about to make it easy for you to understand how the oil works and why.
Andiroba Oil Chemical Composition
Given its history and long tradition, Andiroba received a lot of scientific attention. There’s a lot of research on the activity of this oil and its compounds. It is mostly concentrated around the limonoids found in the oil.
The Carapa guianensis oil is very rich in limonoids, which have a wide range of biological activities. They are important and useful for both medicine and agriculture.
The oil of Andiroba contains:
- Oleic acid (40 – 50%).
- Palmitic acid (20 – 25%).
- Stearic acid (12 – 22%).
- Linoleic acid (8 – 9%).
- These are very important fatty acids that help the skin face all external damage and stress.
- They can boost the skin’s collagen production to keep it firm and elastic.
- They can also keep it nourished and hydrated by preventing water loss.
- Andiroba oil can fill in fine lines and wrinkles and improve the overall aspect of the skin.
- These fatty acids can help the skin regenerate and heal faster.
- They can also soothe symptoms like itching or irritation.
The main limonoids found in Andiroba oil belong to the andirobin and gedunin groups.
- Limonoids in general, have very good antiparasitic effects.
- Limonoids have very good antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties too.
- They are also responsible for giving the oil a bitter taste.
- Also, most importantly, the presence of limonoids in Andiroba oil make it a good anti-allergenic and anti-inflammatory.
The andirobin and gedunin limonoid groups are thought to be effective against Leishmaniasis.
It is a term that describes many types of diseases caused by protozoa. Protozoa are parasites that feed on organic matter and affect millions of people worldwide.
How to Use Andiroba Oil
Andiroba is a vegetable oil. In Aromatherapy, it is also known as a carrier oil. Thus, Andiroba is not an essential oil that evaporates and needs to be diluted. It is the oil in which you dilute an essential oil before topical use.
Although at lower temperatures, Andiroba solidifies, it is not a butter either. Raw Coconut oil also solidifies and looks like a butter, but it’s not considered one.
One can use Andiroba oil as it is or mixed with other ingredients. It spreads well and easy on large surfaces, which requires the use of small amounts each time. You can blend it with any other oil-soluble ingredients, like:
- Other carrier oils.
- Melted body butter.
- Essential oils.
- Antioxidants/vitamins (A, E, etc.)
Andiroba oil can be used as:
- Moisturizing ingredient.
- Skin protector and healing booster.
- Insect repellent.
- Antifungal and antibacterial.
- Hair conditioner.
Another great way to use the oil is through a massage. Apply it pure or mixed with anti-inflammatory essential oils for muscle pain.
Rub gently before or after workouts, or whenever you have a cramp or your back hurts. Keep the area warm so the oil can seep faster into the skin and reach the muscles and joints.
What is Andiroba Oil Used For? Andiroba Oil Skin Benefits
Traditionally, the Crabwood oil has many benefits. It was used to soothe muscle cramps, as it is today.
It was also used to soothe back pain, as well as to heal hematomas. Women would also use Crab oil to improve the aspect of cellulite and acne.
So, what exactly can it do today, especially after what new research reveals? Here are most of the properties of Crabwood oil:
- It is a good natural insect repellent. It can protect from tiger mosquitos and other parasites. However, it was shown that it’s not as strong and effective as DEET. It depends if you prefer natural deterrents or not.
- Great antibacterial and antifungal. You can apply Andiroba or Carapa oil on any and all wounds, as long as they’re not still open. Among its most important uses in skin care, we have its ability to soothe both psoriasis and eczema. Thus, you can use Andiroba oil to soothe your eczema flare-ups or improve the aspect of psoriasis.
- Crab oil is a very useful anti-aging product. The research found it to have great collagen-boosting effects without damaging the cells.
- Andiroba is often used to soothe muscle pain, cramps, and joint pain.
- Great against cellulite.
- Nourishing, protective and hydrating for dry, scaly and/or reactive skin types.
- Great for sensitive, irritated or allergic skin types.
The list can, of course, go on as you find new ways and situations to use it.
As I said, Crab oil is great for sensitive or hyperallergic skin types. Thus, you can take care of eczema or psoriasis with a bit of Andiroba oil. It’s easy and simple to do.
You don’t even have to add any other ingredients if you don’t want to. Though, there are some very good essential oils for eczema that you could use too.
If you’re looking for an Andiroba oil substitute, that’s a bit tricky. You’ll find other plant oils in the Meliaceae family that contain limonoids, palmitic acid, etc.
However, their chemical compositions are not the same. This means that the end results will likely be different.
How about using Crab oil for acne? One of the main traditional uses for Andiroba was to treat acne.
The oil promotes skin healing and regeneration, which helps with post-acne scars. Also, because of its strong antifungal and antibacterial effects, it can also help to prevent new acne.
Andiroba Oil Hair Benefits
We’ve talked about skin care in detail, but what are the benefits of Crab oil for hair? Because this is another area where you can use the oil to do some improvement.
The most noticeable use of Andiroba oil for hair is to get rid of lice. Of course, besides its insect repellent effects, the fatty acids in its composition can help the hair itself.
- It strengthens the hair roots and strands. This leads to less breakage and more shine.
- It’s a stimulant oil, which means that Andiroba can stimulate hair growth.
- You can apply some oil on the ends and get rid of those nasty split ends.
- One can also use Andiroba oil to tame frizzy and wild hair.
- If you suffer from dandruff, apply some Andiroba on the scalp. Warm it before use and leave it on for 30 – 60 minutes. Take it off with warm water and shampoo. That’ll nourish the scalp and kill the Malassezia fungus. It is widely responsible for that itching and dry dandruff.
Natural Beauty Recipes with Andiroba Oil
Now that you know what the oil can do for your skin and hair, it’s time to give it a try. I’ve prepared a few simple recipes for you to mix right away. Take your pick and don’t shy away from personalizing your own blends.
Warm Muscle Rub with Andiroba Oil
- Andiroba/Crabwood oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
- Lemon Eucalyptus essential oil: 3 drops
- Wintergreen essential oil: 1 drop
Give the blend a good shake before each use. Apply on the aching muscles with gentle, wide movements. Keep the area warm for a few more minutes. Use 2 – 3 times a day but never for a long period of time.
Your skin may become sensitized and cause you irritation among others. Wintergreen comes with some health warnings, so make sure you know about them in advance.
Soothing Andiroba Oil Blend for Sensitive Skin
- Andiroba oil: 2 tablespoons
- Calendula oil/macerate: 1 teaspoon
- Lavender essential oil: 1 drop
- German Chamomile essential oil: 1 drop
Shake the blend before use and apply a small amount on the irritated area, once or twice a day.
Crab Oil Hair Growth Mask
- Andiroba oil: 1 tablespoon
- Jojoba oil: 1 teaspoon
- Peppermint essential oil: 3 drops
Stir the ingredients well together, warm the blend and apply on the scalp. All the oils can increase the blood flow under the hair roots which boosts the growth.
At the same time, they’ll also feed the scalp and hair the nutrients it needs to grow strong and shiny. Apply the mask warm and rinse with warm water and shampoo. You’ll know it’s clean when the hair squeaks.
Trivia and Facts about Andiroba Oil, Other Uses, and Safety Tips
I’ve done a lot of research to find out all about Andiroba. So, I’ve got plenty of nice and interesting things to share. From the tree itself to the end products we get out of it, check them all out below:
- Carapa guianensis is the Latin/botanical name of the andiroba tree. Also called crab or crabwood, it belongs to the Meliaceae family. Here we also have the mahogany tree and the cedar. Just like the mahogany, the wood of the andiroba is also precious.
- Crabwood is related to Neem trees too. However, neem grows in India while andiroba grows in the Amazon basin. It likes wet, marshy land but it can grow on harder soil too. It grows naturally in the Amazon basin, but also in Central America, and the Caribbean.
- Its fruits ripen in mid-winter – early spring. The fruits look like chestnuts. One chestnut-like fruit may contain between 4 and 12 seeds. Thus the oil production may vary between 11 and 441 pounds (5 – 200 kilos) for each tree. A hundred kilos (220 pounds) of andiroba seeds give approximately 18 liters (4.75 gallons) of oil.
- The simplest way to extract the oil is by mechanical pressing. The seeds are first boiled and then crushed and pressed in a cylinder called “
- The name of Andiroba comes from “
nhandi” + “rob”, which means bitter oil.
- The andiroba tree grows fast and it can reach heights of 30 meters/98 feet. It has a rich crown of long leaves. Depending on the type, the flowers of this tree can be white, yellow or red.
- There is another variety of Carapa tree, called C. procera. From the fruits of this tree, we get the Touloucouna oil. It grows in Northern Brazil, as well as in Western Africa. Its fruits are a bit bigger than those of the andiroba. The oil of Touloucouna is also bitter and smells nutty and earthy. It’s very nourishing and emollient and often used in cosmetics, just like Andiroba oil. Also, just like Crab oil, Touloucouna oil can be used to soothe lots of ailments. From muscle pain to acne and insect repelling, it’s very effective. Touloucouna oil is very popular in Senegal.
Other Andiroba Oil Uses
Before concluding the article with the safety tips, here is more about the oil’s possible uses.
- Over the years, locals have used it to clean and lengthen the life of their furniture.
- The oil can also protect the wood from various mites that feed on it.
- Also, more recent research shows very good anti-parasitic effects. Thus, vets are using or recommending the use of Andiroba oil for pet care. Still, it can be used as a complementary treatment, not to replace the prescribed one.
- Good against ear mites in cats and dogs. Andiroba gives the best results when used as a complementary treatment.
- It also keeps various flies away from pets.
Safety Tips and Cons for Andiroba Oil
Generally speaking, there are no known serious side effects or interactions for this oil. It is a very good anti-allergenic product. Yet, this doesn’t mean that it can’t trigger sensitization or irritation on its own.
- That’s why it’s always best to test any new oil on a small skin area. Leave it on until the next day to see how the skin and body accept it.
- Also, avoid using it for too long because there is a risk of sensitization. Once sensitized, the skin will always react to that oil or other similar ones.
- Some Andiroba oil varieties may smell too earthy and nutty, almost rancid. This is usually a sign of it going bad, but only if it doesn’t change soon after opening the bottle. Otherwise, if the first whiff smells a bit off, it’s normal.
- Below 18 degrees Celsius/64 F, Andiroba oil becomes solid. If you need it then, melt it slowly on a double boiler. Don’t ever place an oil or butter straight on the heat source. Heat will destroy many of their benefits.
- Avoid using it on babies without consulting with the doctor first.
At one point, we all get sensitive skin. We either exaggerate with the skincare routine or we use inappropriate products. Whichever the case, we have Andiroba oil to apply and get rid of the discomfort.
It can speed up healing, prevent infections, and soothe any unnerving itching. It’s always good to have a calming, natural oil around. Any damaged skin is sensitive, especially at first.
What do you think of Crab oil so far? Does it seem like something you’ll be using in the future? Please share your opinions on the product below, together with any beauty tips you might have discovered. I’m constantly curious about such things.