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Andiroba Seed Oil: What Is It And Why Is It Good For Your Skin?

Andiroba Seeds

Also known as a miracle oil in Amazon regions, the andiroba seed oil is natural oil used for centuries, primarily for medicinal treatments. However, you can also use it topically.

Andiroba oil is a dense emollient used in topical applications for its moisturising, anti-inflammatory, and insect-repellant actions. Topically, it is used to reduce signs of ageing, treat eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis, and bring pain relief caused by arthritis and rheumatism. It is also a highly effective head lice repellent. 

Let’s take a closer look at what is andiroba, the oil’s unique properties and what this exceptional oil can do for your skin. 

What is Andiroba?

Andiroba, also known as Carapa guianensis, is a tree found in Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Paraguay, Suriname and the Caribbean islands. In Brazil, it is found throughout the Amazon in dry and temporarily flooded land, along streams, rivers and mangroves. The tree grows well in diverse conditions and can reach up to 30 meters in height.

Traditionally, bark and leaves and oil from seeds and fruit are used for medicinal treatments. Indigenous people apply andiroba bark and leaf directly to the skin to treat sores, ulcers or remove ticks and skin parasites.

However, it is the andiroba seed oil that is very effective in skincare. 

What is Andiroba Seed Oil (Crab Oil)?

Andiroba seed oil is golden to dark yellow liquid with a mild earthy odour. Derived from the seed of Carapa guianensis, it is abundant in Omega 9 and Omega 6 fatty acids, vitamin E, and polyphenols, making it a well-rounded skincare ingredient.

QUICK FACTS

INCI: Carapa Guaianensis Seed Oil
Common names: Crabwood, Crab Oil
Common extraction method: Andiroba seed oil is extracted from seeds using a cold-pressed method that helps to retain bioactive compounds. 
Appearance: Colour may vary from golden to dark yellow.
Fragrance: Mild earthy aroma. To some, it might smell like walnut.
Absorption rate: The oil feels light and absorbs into the skin relatively quickly, leaving a silky smooth finish.
Recommended usage: You can use up to 100% directly on the skin or hair.
Substitute: Neem oil would make for a good substitute, as both oils have a similar properties.
Suppliers: You can find andiroba oil at Tribe Skincare. It is organic and sustainably sourced.
Uses: To mention just a few, it works great in hair masks, moisturising creams, lotions, soaps, balancing facial oils and conditioners.
Storage: Store in a cool, dark, dry container, away from the sunlight. The oil should last for up to 24 months if stored properly.

Fatty Acids: Fatty acids are essential for the maintenance of healthy skin. They play a vital role in protecting the skin’s barrier from external threats while keeping it moisturised. Andiroba seed oil is rich in oleic, palmitic, stearic acid and linoleic acid. What exactly can these acids do for your skin?

  • Oleic acid (C18:1) is a monosaturated Omega 9 fatty acid that smoothes and evens the skin surface, making it an excellent choice for dry skin. Among other functions, it acts as a penetration enhancer (allowing ingredients through the superficial skin layers), protects skin from oxidative stress and helps to decrease inflammation and soothe the skin. To read more about skin benefits of oleic acid click here.
  • Palmitic acid (C16:0), also known as Hexadecanoic acid, is an emollient, helping to protect the skin by forming a protective layer, hence lowering the TEWL (Transepidermal Water Loss). In formulations, palmitic acid stabilises emulsions.
  • Stearic acid is a saturated fatty acid known as Octadecanoic acid, derived from animal and vegetable fats and oils. In cosmetic and skincare products, stearic acid works mainly as an emulsifier, surfactant, and thickener. More about stearic acid here.
  • Linoleic acid (C18:2) is an essential fatty acid Omega 6 that helps the skin retain moisture, protect it from UV radiation, reduce hyperpigmentation and fight acne.   

Bioactive compounds: Andiroba oil has gained popularity in the cosmetic industry, thanks to its multiple remedial properties. Notably, its content of: 

  • Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) is a powerful, oil-soluble skin antioxidant, which can protect your skin against premature ageing and free radicals.  
  • Limonoids that exhibit anti-inflammatory, insect repellent and anti-tumoral properties
  • Meliacines, a group of substances that give a bitter taste to the oil, possessing antimalarial and antiparasitic properties
  • Terpenes, natural compounds found in plants that seem to have great potential for use as skin penetration enhancers
  • Tannins strengthen the walls of veins improving circulation, thus preventing cellulite from forming. Tannins also help in the treatment of rheumatic type joint pain.

Andiroba Oil (Crab Oil) Skincare Benefits   

Our skin protects our bodies against external dangers such as ultraviolet (UV) irradiation, injuries, or bacterial infection. There are many factors required to keep our skin healthy, and nutrition is one of them. Lack of micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, can impair the skin’s structural integrity and biological function, resulting in a weakened skin barrier. 

So what can andiroba seed oil do for your skin? 

It is naturally moisturising

Dry, dehydrated skin is a common sign of ageing, but it can also affect younger users of skincare products. The use of harsh cleansing products, over-cleansing, and a lack of sufficient hydration can harm the skin’s natural ability to retain moisture. 

Andiroba oil is a moisturising agent and can help prevent moisture loss, leading to excessive dryness, irritation, and itching by creating a thin film on the skin. The oil locks in moisture, keeping the dry skin at bay. 

It is anti-inflammatory

The Amazonian indigenous people have been using andiroba oil for centuries for its anti-inflammatory properties. The oil is said to be effective:

– in the treatment of eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis. Fatty acids found in the andiroba oil might be helping improve the skin’s functions. At the same time, its anti-inflammatory properties may soothe irritation, calm the redness and discomfort caused by these skin conditions.

– in minimising the effects of chronic joint pain and bringing pain relief caused by arthritis and rheumatism. 

It can help reduce signs of ageing

Ageing is an inevitable process. That’s a fact. Breakdown of collagen, elastin and the other structural components of the skin leads to wrinkles, sagging, age spots and other signs of ageing. That’s another fact. However, that does not mean you can’t do anything to fight the signs of ageing. 

Andiroba oil has been used in the Amazon region for centuries as a natural way to plump and smooth skin, improving firmness while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. 

Abundant in essential fatty acid (Omega 6 & Omega 9) and vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant), the oil can help slow down the ageing process by stimulating collagen production in the skin, fighting free radicals, preventing skin dehydration and improving elasticity to keep things looking youthful and vibrant. 

May prevents the appearance of cellulite

Cellulite can be the most annoying predicament that can get in the way of achieving that perfect summer body. It makes many of us feel uncomfortable and self-conscious. To make matters worse, it seems to get worse with age. 

The tannins in andiroba seed oil can possibly strengthen veins’ walls, improve circulation, and prevent cellulite formation, reducing the appearance of cellulite while also protecting the skin and helping it retain moisture. 

Improves hair growth

Andiroba oil benefits hair in many ways, from improving circulation to the scalp, reducing hair loss, providing shine, and improving hair elasticity. It works by balancing the scalp’s moisture, preventing hair loss and promoting deep and lasting hydration. 

Effective natural mosquito repellent

The Comparative study of the Andiroba oil’s topical effectiveness demonstrated Andiroba oil to have a subtle repellent effect against mosquito bites.

Head lice repellent

Andiroba oil is an emollient used in head lice treatment for its insecticidal actions. Abundant in terpenes, it is a highly effective natural insect repellent that can help you get rid of head lice and maintain healthy hair and scalp. Use of andiroba oil rapidly and significantly decreased the symptoms associated with a lice infestation, such as itch, scalp dryness and flakiness.

How to Use Andiroba Seed Oil

Andiroba oil is a highly versatile natural ingredient that can be used in many ways. Here are just a few ways you can use the oil to your advantage. You can use it as a:

Moisturiser

Cold-presses andiroba oil is a nourishing oil with a naturally rich, velvety texture. Its high content in skin conditioning vitamin E and fatty acids helps protect the skin from free radical damage, protect and repair the skin’s barrier and moisturise. To apply, pour a few drops of andiroba on your hands after a shower and gently massage it into the skin. 

Facial cleansing oil

Andiroba oil is a natural cleansing oil that is gentle and safe enough for everyday use, even for sensitive skin. Add some drops of andiroba to your dry skin, wet a clean towel with warm water, and rub it gently on the face. The oil will dissolve dirt and make-up, leaving the skin clean and soft.  

Massage oil to relieve pain

In addition to its moisturising benefits, andiroba oil naturally relieves aches and pains too. Its dense texture, excellent penetrating qualities and exceptional anti-inflammatory activity make it a perfect massage oil that penetrates the skin to ease tension, moisturise and heal. 

To relieve muscle tension, you can try adding andiroba oil to baths. To relieve joint pain, rub a few drops of andiroba oil into the skin to ease muscle tension and arthritis, rheumatism and other joint pain. Let the oil disperse before getting into the tub. This Brazilian rainforest oil will make an exotic addition to your skincare kit with its sweet and earthy aroma and unique skin feel.

Aftershave oil

Andiroba benefits for the skin don’t stop at moisturisation. The oil can also be used as an all-natural aftershave moisturiser to alleviate dryness and irritation caused by shaving. 

To strengthen your hair

You can add strength, shine and lustre to your hair by introducing hair oil into your hair care routine. Applying oil to your hair and scalp has many benefits. It can protect the hair from external factors such as heat and surfactants, strength the hair shaft, and even reduce hair fall. 

To apply, pour a small amount of the oil into your hands and, using a circular motion, massage it into your scalp. Massage any leftover oil on your palms to your hair and leave it on overnight. Shampoo and rinse the following day thoroughly. Condition as usual or use a few drops of the oil instead before styling. 

Summary

Andiroba seed oil is a nourishing and moisturising ingredient that has been used for centuries by the Brazilian Amazonian Indians. Due to its ability to strengthen skin, repair damaged cells, restore moisture and elasticity in the skin, andiroba oil is included in a wide range of cosmetic products. Whether you use it as a cream, lotion, shampoo, andiroba oil makes a fantastic well-rounded addition to your skincare and haircare routine!

F&Q

What is andiroba oil comedogenic rating?

On the comedogenic scale from zero to five, zero being the least likely to clog pores and five being the most likely to clog pores, andiroba seed oil scores 2. Meaning it can potentially cause acne breakouts. The oil suits best dry, irritated and mature skin.

What natural skincare products incorporate andiroba oil in their formulations? 

Due to its ability to strengthen skin, repair damaged cells, restore moisture and elasticity in the skin, andiroba oil is included in hair oils, moisturising skin creams and lotions, bath and body oils, massage blends, balancing facial oils, natural insect repellents and soaps. 

References:

  1. Fruit trees and useful plants in Amazonian life
  2. The lipidome, genotoxicity, hematotoxicity and antioxidant properties of andiroba oil from the Brazilian Amazon
  3. The Therapeutic Properties of Carapa guianensis
  4. Experimental Evaluation of Ethanolic Extract of Carapa guianensis L. Leaf for Its Wound Healing Activity Using Three Wound Models
  5. Andiroba 
  6. Assessment of the Efficacy and Safety of a New Treatment for Head Lice
  7. Limonoids from andiroba oil and Cedrela fissilis and their insecticidal activity
  8. Plant-based insect repellents: a review of their efficacy, development and testing
  9. Skin anti-ageing strategies
  10. Skin Aging and Photoaging Alter Fatty Acids Composition, Including 11,14,17-eicosatrienoic Acid, in the Epidermis of Human Skin

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