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Bacaba Oil: Composition, Traditional Uses And Skincare Benefits

Bacaba oil

Native to countless plants, Amazon is one of the most biodiverse places on Earth. For thousands of years, indigenous people have been utilising rainforest resources to ensure their survival and satisfy their wellness needs. And as our western culture is leaning toward natural products, what better place to look for inspiration than the amazon rainforest? Among many appealing ingredients researched today, bacaba oil’s unique composition proves promising.

Abundant in unsaturated fatty acids, bacaba oil is a light emollient that soothes and rejuvenates the skin by forming a protective film that locks the moisture in, prevents transepidermal water loss (TEWL), and restore the skin’s natural oil levels. 

 Let’s look at bacaba oil origins, composition and how it can benefit your skin naturally. 

What Is Bacaba?   

The bacaba is a palm tree native to the Amazon rainforest that can grow from seven to twenty metres in height. It has a single trunk with a cluster of ten to fifteen large leaves at the top, spreading up to six meters in length. The tree grows wildly in Northern South America, particularly in Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, the Guyanas, and bears bacaba fruit that resembles acai berries, measuring 2cm in diameter, slightly oval and dark purple. 

Habitat: The bacaba palm tree grows slowly in sandy, acid grounds and needs moist, well-drained conditions. It does equally well in the sun as well as in the shade. 

Traditional use: The bacaba palm tree offers various uses. 

  • Bacaba fruit pulp is rich in oil, making it an essential nutrient source in the indigenous population’s diet. The local people enjoy it as a high-calorie drink called ‘chicha’ in Ecuador r, ‘vino de seje’ in Venezuela, and ‘vinho de patauá’ elsewhere. 
  • Bacaba fruit pulp makes for excellent cooking oil. Bacaba oil is known as Amazonian olive oil due to its high Olein acid content (Omega 9), similar to olive oil. 
  • Young palm leaves, “palm heart”, are enjoyed as vegetables in the Amazonian region. Although, that can lead to the death of the tree. 
  • The fruit pulp is a multi-purpose remedy against cough, bronchitis, tuberculosis, alopecia, and malaria in the medicinal application. 
  • Due to its remedial effect, the Amazonian locals have been using bacaba oil in personal care for generations. 

Interesting fact: Indigenous people of Amazon use bacaba palm’s fibre to make handcrafted tissues.

What is bacaba oil made of? 

Bacaba oil is a smooth liquid of light to dark green colour made from bacaba fruit pulp.

Bacaba Oil Composition   

Although bacaba oil isn’t well known in western countries, its unique composition of fatty acids similar to olive oil makes it attractive for the food industry and skincare formulators. Abundant in oleic, palmitic and linoleic fatty acids makes bacaba oil an excellent emollient that will leave your skin hydrated with a smooth and silky finish. 

QUICK FACTS

INCI: Oenocarpus Bacaba Fruit Oil
Common names: Bacaba oil
Common extraction method: Unrefined bacaba oil is extracted from the fleshy part of the bacaba berries using the cold-pressed method that keeps the oil safe while retaining bioactive compounds with a curative effect. 
Appearance: Colour may vary from light green to dark green.
Fragrance: Very soft, sweet, fruity notes.
Absorption rate: Light oil that absorbs easily into the skin.
Recommended usage: You can use up to 100%.
Substitute: Acai oil would make for a good substitute, with both oils having a similar composition of fatty acids.
Suppliers: Rainforest Chica. Her ingredients are sourced sustainably from local communities and of fantastic quality.
Uses: To mention just a few, it works great in hair masks, body oils, hand creams, body lotions, lip balms, cleansing oils and facial creams.
Storage: Store in a cool, dark, dry container, away from the sunlight. The oil should last for up to 24 months.

Bacaba oil is notable for its content of:

Fatty Acids Composition: 

  • Oleic acid (C18:1)Omega 9, is a monosaturated fatty acid that prevents moisture loss and is known for its anti-inflammatory effect. 
  • Linoleic acid (C18:2), Omega 6, is known for its moisturising and thickening qualities in personal care products.  Additionally, linoleic acid fights acne, reduces inflammation and is an effective moisturiser when applied topically. 
  • Palmitic acid (C16:0) is a saturated fatty acid that helps the skin restore its natural barrier structure. As an emollient, palmitic acid forms a protective layer on the skin, shielding it from external threats.     
  • Behenic acid (C22:0) is a saturated fatty acid, is an emollient with calming properties that restores the skin’s natural oils and improves hydration.   

Antioxidants are essential for maintaining our health since they prevent the formation of free radicals, which can cause diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and many other neural disorders. Based on the research, bacaba oil is a good source of alpha-tocopherol.

  • Alpha-tocopherol, a form of vitamin E, is an antioxidant that can help to protect the skin from the damage caused by free radicals.  

Bacaba Oil In Skincare

Cold-pressed oils are becoming wildly popular in cosmetic products, not only for their curative qualities but also for their versatile applications in personal care products. Including natural oil, such as bacaba oil, into your daily skin and hair care can undoubtedly improve your skin’s appearance. 

Let’s look at how bacaba oil can benefit your skin and hair. 

  • Absorbs readily – Bacaba oil is a smooth and silky fluid of dark green colour that absorbs readily without leaving a heavy residue.
  • Effective moisturiser – a unique composition of fatty acids makes the oil an excellent moisturiser. Bacaba oil is particularly suited for dry, chapped skin. To make the most of the oil, you can incorporate it into hand cream to soften your skin. 
  • Improves the skin’s appearance – The combination of vitamins and flavonoids found in the bacaba oil protects the skin against the free radicals’ effect while keeping it well hydrated.
  • Reduces Trans-Epidermal Water Loss (TEWL) – Oleic and linoleic acid are among the skin’s lipid components, reducing trans-epidermal water loss and keeping the skin hydrated.
  • Revives dry skin – rich in fatty acids, bacaba oil enhances skin hydration and relieves dry skin. In addition, it keeps your skin soft and smooth.
  • Reduces hair loss, dandruff and helps to restore hair. Fatty acids found in bacaba oil can revitalise the scalp – improve circulation, strengthen the hair follicles, stimulate hair growth and decrease dryness and dandruff. 

How To Use Bacaba Oil?

You can make the most out of the bacaba oil by adding it to the lotions, hand creams, restorative lip balms, or soothing cleansing oil. In addition, if you wish to apply bacaba oil into your skincare routine, you can use it as:

  • Body oil moisturiser: You can either apply it directly to your skin or mix it with other carrier oil or butter. Apply the oil within three minutes of getting out of the shower while your skin is still moist. Gently pat your skin dry, pour a small amount of bacaba oil into your palms, rub them together to activate the oil and gently massage in the emollient. 
  • Facial oil: Oil cleansing is a great way to remove the makeup without stripping the skin of its moisture. Massage a small amount of the oil gently into your face for a minute or two, and wipe off any excess with a nice warm towel. Don’t let the towel get too hot, as you might burn yourself. The oil will remove cosmetics residue without stripping the skin of its natural moisture.
  • Hair Mask: Apply the oil to dry hair and massage it into your hair from the root down to the ends. If your hair is oily, focus mainly on the ends. Leave the hair mask on for 15 to 30minutes, shampoo and rinse.

Tip: If you are prone to acne but would like to try exotic Amazonian oils, you might want to pick a lighter alternative, such as guava seed oil. 

Things To Consider Before Purchasing Bacaba Oil

  1. If you are prone to acne, bacaba oil is high in oleic acid, and it can clog pores, leading to acne breakouts. Always wipe off any excess oil given you’d like to give it a go.
  2. If you’d like to use the oil in your facial or skincare routine, I’d highly recommend you do your research and choose an unrefined, cold-pressed oil. 
  3. Natural cold-pressed oils can be pricy. Exposure to excess air, sunlight and heat can make them go rancid. To make the most out of them, store carrier oils in a dry, cool place and preferably in a dark coloured bottle. 

Summary

Bacaba oil is an exciting oil to use. Highly moisturising, with a light texture, bacaba oil can help restore the skin’s natural moisture, restore skin’s elasticity and improve overall hydration. 

F&Q

How is bacaba oil extracted?

Indigenous people of the amazon have been extracting bacaba oil using a cold-press method for centuries. Using mechanical extraction at low temperature [below 120°F (49°C)], oils extracted this way are safe, retain the purity and bioactive compounds with therapeutic effect. 

Can you keep bacaba oil on overnight?

If your skin is dry and you’d like to use bacaba oil as a hydrating agent, then yes. For the best results, massage a few drops into your skin and leave it overnight. Yet, if your skin is oily or you are using the oil as a cleanser, don’t leave it on for too long, 20-30 minutes at most. 

What natural skincare products incorporate bacaba oil in their formulations? 

Easily absorbed, bacaba oil is an effective moisturiser with the ability to revive skin, restore its moisture and elasticity; and bring hair back to life makes it a valuable cosmetic ingredient. Bacaba oil therapeutical properties are utilised in rejuvenating facial creams, moisturising skin creams and lotions, hydrating oils, hair masks or natural soaps. 

References:

  1. Minor components in oils obtained from Amazonian palm fruits
  2. Extraction of bacaba (Oenocarpus bacaba) oil with supercritical CO2: Global yield isotherms, fatty acid composition, functional quality, oxidative stability, spectroscopic profile and antioxidant activity   

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