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You Don’t Know What Is Ucuuba Butter? It’s Time To Find Out.

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If you haven’t heard of ucuuba butter, you are in for a treat. This natural butter originates in the Amazon rain forest and has been used in skin care for hundreds of years by the natives. Although it is a newcomer to the Western market, I think it will earn a solid place in the skincare space. Why?

Ucuuba butter is a natural hard, brown butter with an earthy aroma. Extracted from the nuts of the Virola surinamensis tree, it is valued for its moisturising properties and range of cosmetic applications. Abundant in fatty acids and phytosterols, ucuuba butter is ideal for creating body butter, creams, lotions, soaps and hair care products. 

Now that you have a rough idea about what ucuuba butter, scroll down to find out more about its composition, the benefits and how you can use it.

What Is Virola Surinamensis (Ucuuba)?

Virola Surinamensis, commonly also known as ucuuba, ucuhuba or chalviande, is an evergreen tree native to the Amazon rainforest that belongs to the Myristicaceae family. It can grow up to 30m tall, producing small red fruit. Its natural habitat is humid, swampy forests on clay soils. With its compound leaves and aerial roots, the ucuuba can survive flooding. The fully grown tree can produce about 30 to 50kg of seeds per year. Abundant in fats, the seeds can yield up to 50% of butter from each kilo of dry weight. 

Indigenous people have used the Virola Surinamensis tree for various medicinal purposes. Traditionally, the bark is helpful in the treatment of haemorrhoids. The leaves infusion are beneficial in treating stomach ailments. Besides that, the tree is significant economically for its wood, used to build furniture and other household items.

Ucuuba Butter Composition

QUICK FACTS

INCI: Virola Surinamensis Seed Butter
Common Names: Ucuhuba, Baboonwood, Chalviande
Common extraction method: Cold-pressed from the seeds of Virola Surinamensis, an evergreen tree native to the Amazon region.
Appearance: It is a hard dark golden brown butter.
Fragrance: Woody scent.
Absorption rate: Absorbs slowly to the skin, leaving a protective layer behind.
Recommended usage: It is a hard butter, so it is best to be mixed with softer butter or oils.
Substitute: You could try tucuma butter.
Storage: Store in a cool, dry container, away from the sunlight.

Deeply moisturising and emollient, ucuuba butter is rich in saturated, long-chain fatty acids crucial for the skin’s health. Known for their occlusive effect, they can protect the skin from external threats, prevent moisture loss while keeping the skin soft and supple. 

Let’s take a look at some of the notable compounds found in ucuuba butter:

Fatty acids: Myristic, lauric and palmitic fatty acids are the primary fatty acids found in the ucuuba butter. While myristic acid has anti-inflammatory properties, lauric acid helps in moisturising and conditioning the skin. Monolaurin, derived from lauric acid, is believed to have antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties effective against several harmful microorganisms. Palmitic fatty acid helps protect the skin from bacteria and allergens, improve the texture of cosmetic products and, just like its counterparts, can help to prevent moisture loss.

Bioactive compounds: Phytosterols are naturally occurring steroids found in plants that can do wonders for the skin’s health. They can help reduce inflammation, repair moisture barriers, protect the skin from damaging free radicals, and assist in synthesising collagen. They are commonly used in cosmetics as emollients, providing a hydrating effect on the skin.

Ucuuba Butter Skin Benefits

Ucuuba Butter Infographic

Good body butter doesn’t just make your skin supple; it also smoothens the skin by ironing out fine lines, wrinkles and unevenness. Besides this, good body butter is an excellent moisturiser that helps the skin retain moisture. Creating a thin film on the top layer of the skin acts as a barrier that prevents water from escaping. 

So, if you are looking for a good moisturiser, ucuuba butter is it. Abundant in saturated fatty acids and phytosterols, this exotic butter offers several skin benefits:

It is a natural moisturiser

Does your skin always feel dehydrated? Are your lips constantly dry? Then, ucuuba butter is your best friend. The skin on your face, neck and hands is sensitive to environmental changes and are prone to dryness. To protect them, you need to use moisturisers that are rich in natural oils. 

Saturated fatty acids and phytosterols found in ucuuba butter are some of the best moisturisers you can find. They can help repair the skin’s moisture barriers and retain the moisture by creating a protective film to prevent water loss, keeping the skin soft and supple.

Smoothens the complexion by ironing out fine lines and wrinkles

As we age, our skin loses elasticity. Fine lines and wrinkles become more prominent. Even though ageing is inevitable, you can do a thing or two to slow it down. Ucuuba butter helps prevent fine lines and wrinkles by providing moisture to the skin, keeping the skin supple, and reducing fine line and wrinkles. 

Can protect the skin from microorganisms

Our skin acts as a protective shield that fulfils many functions. It protects the body from UV radiation and harmful bacteria; it regulates the body temperature by controlling perspiration and waterproof. 

Maintaining the skin’s natural protective function is crucial for its health. Ucuuba butter is prized for its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. It can help protect the skin against the growth of microorganisms on the skin. 

It reduces redness

If you are prone to rashes and blemishes, ucuuba butter is an excellent option to prevent them from happening. A high concentration of fatty acids can give you the needed moisture to protect the skin from irritation and soothe irritated spots. This butter can also help reduce inflammation in the skin, which is one of the leading causes of acne. 

Relieves chapped and cracked skin

Chapped and cracked skin can be a painful nightmare. In well-hydrated skin, natural oils prevent the skin from drying out by retaining moisture. However, if your skin is deficient in its natural oil, it loses moisture. That can make your skin dry out and shrink, which can lead to your skin feeling tight, looking dull but also cracking. The good news is that ucuuba butter is here to help. Ucuuba butter does a great job at keeping your skin moisturised, offering softness and hydration that lasts.

Combats acne by regulating sebum secretion 

Acne is one of the most prevalent skin problems that many people experience. In fact, acne occurs when oil glands within the skin become blocked with dead skin cells and bacteria. When this happens, the body produces excess oil, which leads to clogged pores. The skin becomes inflamed and red, which is where pimples form. Ucuuba butter is known to regulate the skin’s oil production and reduces acne by preventing sebum secretion.

How To Use Ucuuba Butter  

Although ucuuba butter isn’t typically used on its own, it works well in combination with other oils and butter. There are two reasons for that. One, it is a hard butter; two, some might find ucuuba’s earthy notes overpowering. Now that’s said, you can get creative with ucuuba butter and choose all sorts of different ingredients to mix it with to create your own unique products. 

Let’s take a look at simple ways of incorporating ucuuba butter into your skincare. 

Body butter

Prolonged cold and wet winters can cause skin dryness, or what is commonly called “winter itch”, which can be caused by the cold and the lack of moisture in the air. A good moisturiser will create a film on top of the skin that traps moisture and creates a protective barrier that shields the skin from harsh weather. For nourishing body butter, combine ucuuba butter with cupuacu or shea butter; both are excellent moisturisers. 

Use it in your salt or sugar scrubs

The skin renews itself every 28 days, and this process is known as cellular turnover. In this process, skin sheds dead skin cells and reveals soft baby-like skin. As this process slows down over time, dead skin cells build up over time. Body scrubs help to remove impurities but also smooth and polish the skin. They are a great exfoliant, especially when mixed with natural oils and butter-like ucuuba butter. You will find a fabulous ucuuba salt scrub recipe here

Lotion bars

Suppose your skin is dry, and you are in need of a luxurious moisturiser. In that case, you can make your own nourishing and soothing lotion bars using ucuuba butter. Lotion bars applied to dry patches will take care of the dryness.

Soaps 

Due to its high melting point and richness of fatty acids, ucuuba butter is excellent in soaps. It makes a great ingredient for cold- and hot-processed soaps. The butter will provide a protective layer on your skin and lock in moisture. For an ucuuba butter soap recipe, click here

Takeaway

Although ucuuba butter might not be everyone’s cup of tea, I recommend everyone to try it. It is a high-quality butter with excellent skin benefits. Not only it is a great moisturiser, but it can also help to reduce the skin’s inflammation, repair moisture barriers and take care of your skin’s general health. And as a bonus – it has great colour! 

F&Q

Is ucuuba butter good for hair?

Ucuuba butter is a great ingredient to use in hair care. Known for its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic effect, it’s helpful when dealing with scalp conditions like dandruff and eczema. Fatty acids found in Ucuuba butter can help prevent hair breakage, improve hair’s shine and elasticity, and smooth the hair. 

What is ucuuba butter shelf life?

Ucuuba butter is a staple ingredient rich in short-chain fatty acids, making it resistant to adverse conditions. According to suppliers guidelines, it can stay fresh for up to two years without going rancid. To keep it fresh for longer, store the butter in a cool and dry place in an airtight container. 

Where to buy ucuuba butter?

The demand for ucuuba butter has been steadily increasing, reflected by the number of suppliers stocking this ingredient. My favourite supplier at the moment is Rainforest Chica. Her products are excellent and sourced sustainably from Amazon communities. Her customers rave about the quality of her products.

References:

  1. Supercritical CO 2 extraction of ucuúba ( Virola surinamensis ) seed oil: global yield, kinetic data, fatty acid profile, and antimicrobial activities
  2. Antimicrobial property of lauric acid against Propionibacterium acnes: its therapeutic potential for inflammatory acne vulgaris
  3. Topical application of vitamins, phytosterols and ceramides. Protection against the increased expression of interstitial collagenase and reduced collagen-I expression after a single exposure to UVA irradiation

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