Rainforest treasures; Kukui Nut oil

Kukui nut oil is the next one to be presented in my rainforest cosmetics series. The products of the rainforest do feel quite exotic to us. However, indigenous people in rainforests have always exploited kukuinut and the oil from it. At the same time, by using the natural products of the rainforests we will be able to reduce the world’s deforestation. Local people do not cut down very productive kukui trees. This is how the rainforests remain thriving and vibrant. Kukui Nut oil is an excellent ingredient in cosmetics. This story is quite interesting and It was a real pleasure to write it. Read more about the history and benefits of kukui oil in skin care.


A Kukui Nut tree

The Kukui Nut tree (Aleurites moluccanus) is a tropical rainforest tree. The Kukui Nut tree has many names. One of the most popular names is Candlenut. Indian kukui nut is also the name used.

The origin of the kukui nut tree is not fully known because the human has taken it with him everywhere he has ever moved. The first kukui nut tree was found in the tropical islands of Southeast Asia. The kukui nut tree has always been a valued plant in India as well as Hawaii. The name Kukui comes specifically from the Hawaiian language.

Kukui nut are mildly toxic. Indigenous people did not care about this and made food by roasting and steaming the nuts.

In Borneo, Malaysia, Kukui nuts, or godou in their language, have been used to make traditional tattoos.

In Hawaii, kukui nut and the oil made from them were an important product

According to tradition, kukui nut has come to Hawaii from Asia. The tree has always had a very profound and religious significance in Hawaii. In Hawaii, the kukui nut are highly valued.

Hawaiians use kukui nut to make lei (Hawaii’s famous flower wreath). Once upon a time, only masters and kings were allowed to use leis made from kukui. The chief was called Ali’l. Each island had its own Ali’l. They were respected autocrats and decided about everything. Ali’l ruled using divine power, Mana, which in other cultures is called chi or prana. Mana was a cosmic life force. The magic was originated in Mana. Mana lived in all living things. Ali’l used kukui lei to prove his position. Today, kukui nut lei is used by everyone and they are also offered to visitors when arriving to Hawaii.

In Hawaii, oil was also made from kukui nut. Kukui nut oil was used to oiling traditional boats and canoes. Kukui nut oil was also used as lamp oil. Hawaii sought to make life simple. Why squeeze oil if you can ignite the oily kukui nut yourself. The natives of Hawaii placed five kukui nut side by side and set them on fire one at a time. The flaming kukui nut were like tealights. For this reason, kukui nut oil is commonly referred to as candle oil.

There is a famous dish called poke in Hawaii that is always made from kukui nut and fish.

Kukui nut oil has always been used in natural medicine

Kukui nuts have an excellent fatty acid composition. The oil is well absorbed into the skin but still moisturizes it thoroughly. Therefore, Kukui nut oil has been used in Hawaii to moisturize the skin. The climate in Hawaii is ruthless to the skin. The sun, wind and salty seawater afflict the skin. Kukui nut oil soothes irritated skin and promotes natural skin healing.

Kukui nut oil is also used in Hawaii for eczema, acne and sunburn. The oil is also said to promote hair growth.

Fatty acid profile of Kukui nut oil (Hawaiian KukuI nut oil)

  • Linoleic acid 40%
  • Alpha-linolenic acid 27%
  • Oleic acid 15%
  • Palmitic acid 6%
  • Stearic acid 2-3%
  • Comedogenic value 2

Kukui nut oil from India and Southeast Asia contains slightly less linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid. Accordingly, there is a little more oleic acid in these oils.

The benefits of Kukui nut oil in skin care

Kukui nut oil is a natural vegetable oil. The difference between kukui nut oil and other nut oils is that it does not feel greasy. It is a light and well-absorbed oil. The secret of kukui nut oil lies in its fatty acids and high content of vitamins E and A.

The fatty acids in kukui nut oil are ideal for the well-being of the skin. It is rich in linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid and low in fatty oleic acid. Therefore, kukui nut oil is classified as a non-greasy oil, meaning it does not leave a greasy feel on the skin. Kukui nut oil leaves the skin soft, moisturized and silky feeling. This is, of course, a great thing for the cosmetic user and manufacturer. There are very few easily absorbed oils.

Kukui nut oil is well suited for many needs

Kukuinut oil is an excellent base oil. It is an almost odourless and tasteless oil. Its colour is bright light, slightly yellowish. You can use Kukui nut oil as such or mix it with other oils or essential oils.

Acne skin treatment

The comedogenic value of kukui nut oil is 2. It does not clog pores very easily. For very sensitive, easily clogged skin, kukui nut oil can cause problems. The alpha-linolenic acid in kukui nut oil may dry out skin already too dry. Linoleic acid, on the other hand, is well absorbed and treats the skin deeply. The antioxidants in kukui nut oil also help prevent and treat acne scars.

Treatment of eczema skin

As a light and well-absorbed oil, kukuinut oil is well suited for treating eczema. Eczema skin benefits from the linoleic and alpha-linolenic acids contained in kukui nut oil. Often dry eczema skin is unable to receive very oleic oils.

For eye products

The skin around the eyes is very thin. Therefore, as light oils as possible are recommended near the eyes. Kukui nut oil is just such an oil. It is well absorbed and does not leave a greasy layer on the skin. Kukui nut oil contains also suitable amount of palmitic acid, which protects the skin from dryness.

Hair care

Traditionally in Hawaii, kukui nut oil has been used for hair care. And who has the most amazing hair in the world, if not Hawaiians. Sure, genome greatly affects hair quality, but natural hair care products also play a role.

Kukui nut oil is known to increase hair growth. The oil is rubbed into the scalp and left to act for about an hour. Some keep oil in their hair even overnight. There are so many different ways to do oil treatments on your hair. It is worth thinking about what would suit your own scalp. Perhaps you can try?

Massage oil

Kukui nut oil has traditionally been used for massaging. The oil’s oleic acid and linoleic acid ratio is perfect for massage oil. After the oil massage, the skin stays silky soft. The skin feels dry and not oily at all. If you wish, you can mix other oils as well as essential oils into the Kukui nut oil.

Storage of Kukui nut oil

Freshly pressed kukui nut oil lasts for about a year. However, you should always keep it in the refrigerator. Kukui nut oil is very rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, which decompose very quickly under the influence of heat, light and oxygen.

When making products from kukui nut oil, add vitamin E to the product. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that prevents oils from oxidizing too quickly.

Only obtain small amounts of oxidizable oils at a time. This will ensure that you always have access to first-class fresh cosmetics.

From where can I get Kukui nut oil?


Kukui nut oil is not yet very widely available. As the kukui nut tree grows in tropical rainforests, its availability in Europe is still poor. You can find authentic, fresh kukui nut oil in the US or India. I myself have ordered Hawaiian kukui nut oil from the Amazon online store.

There is also a vegetable butter available which is made of Kukui nut oil. It is made by hydrogenating process (so-called pseudo butter). Kukui nut butter is more easily found in shops selling cosmetics. Hydration substantially improves the shelf life of sensitive oils. Hydrogenation, of course, also changes the structure of fatty acids in a more refined direction. Hydrated oil is not the same thing on the skin as a natural, fresh oil. If you accept refined oils, you can also try hydrogenated Kukui nut butter.

Because kukui nut oil contains a large amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids, it is quite perishable. This is why manufacturers often add vitamin E and ascorbyl palmitate to the oil to improve the shelf life. Ascorbyl palmitate is called fat-soluble vitamin C. However, it is not vitamin C (ascorbic acid) but its own compound. Ascorbyl palmitate is not harmful to the skin and is in no way toxic. It is very often added to foods and skin care products to improve the shelf life of fatty products.

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