Everything There is to Know About Kokum Butter

Did you know that the first cold cream recipe ever published dates all the way back to 150 A.D.?

Although the green skincare movement is relatively new, people around the world have been using natural substances to treat their skin and hair for thousands of years. One of those natural substances, kokum butter, is making a comeback in the skincare world – and you need to know all about it.

You can find kokum butter in some natural and organic skincare products or even use it to make your own DIY products. But, before you do, you’ll want to hear about what it can do for your skin and hair. Keep reading to find out.

What is Kokum Butter?

Kokum butter and oil are derived from the fruit kernels of the kokum tree. Also known by its scientific name garcinia indica, this fruit-bearing tree is found in the Western Ghats region in India. It’s part of the Guttiferaw family of trees and is sometimes called the wild mangosteen tree or the red mangosteen tree.

To make Kokum butter, kokum oil is extracted from the seeds and processed into a vegetable butter similar to cocoa or shea butter. Kokum is more firm and crumbly than other butter and is typically found in a light gray or yellowish color.

With its uniform triglyceride composition and 80% stearic-oleic-stearic (SOS), kokum butter is 1 of the most stable skincare butter you can find. Kokum butter is also harder than other butter. In fact, it remains solid at room temperature even before it’s combined with other ingredients.

The melting point of kokum butter is 90-104 degrees Fahrenheit. When it’s placed onto your skin, it melts on contact.

The result is a non-greasy and lightweight moisturizer that’s rich in vitamins and nutrients. But it can also be used as a base for skin and hair care products.

Kokum Butter Benefits

Of all the botanical butter out there, kokum butter is among the most balanced and nutrient-dense. We’ve broken down all of the benefits of kokum butter below.

Fatty Acids

Kokum butter is high in essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6 help your body sustain healthy skin cell membranes to prevent damage.

Polyunsaturated fats also contribute to a healthier and more balanced moisture barrier. A healthy natural barrier is a key component of keeping your skin plump and hydrated.

The high concentrations of fatty acids also contribute to its popularity as a cosmetic ingredient. The fatty acid content can help thicken a skin or hair care product without causing stiffness. This is because the fatty acids improve the emulsion stability of kokum butter.

Skin Cell Regeneration

Kokum butter is well known for its ability to regenerate skin cells. But did you know it also prevents the degeneration of skin cells? That means you’re fighting skin damage before it ever starts.

Because of its emollient properties, kokum butter is easily absorbed by the skin. So it’s healing properties can penetrate deep into the layers of the dermis. It can help heal ulcers as well as fissures of the lips, hands, and the soles of your feet.

And if you suffer from inflammation, kokum butter is also anti-inflammatory. It can help reduce inflamed skin regardless of the cause and prevents future inflammation by enhancing your natural skin barrier.

Sensitive Skin

As a side effects of its healing and anti-inflammatory properties, kokum butter is a great alternative for sensitive skin. If your skin tends to react to most skin care products, those made with kokum butter are more gentle and easily tolerated. You can also make your own skincare products using kokum as the base for all your other skin beneficial ingredients.

Dehydration

If you suffer from dry skin, kokum is a natural moisturizer. Your skin absorbs it quickly and easily, so there’s no leftover film, stickIness, or greasy feeling.

Vitamin E

Kokum butter is rich in vitamin E. This fat-soluble, essential nutrient is a powerful antioxidant. It not only benefits the immune system, skin health, and cell functioning, it also protects the skin against free radicals. Your skin is exposed to these environmental toxins every time you step outside.

Visible Signs of Aging

The combination of moisturizing, skin cell regeneration and antioxidant properties of kokum butter make it an excellent ingredient to combat the visible signs of aging.

Moisturizing your skin restores both softness and elasticity and protects your skin against dehydration. Antioxidants protect against environmental damage that causes discoloration and other skin issues. And regenerating skin cells means reducing the visibility of fines lines and wrinkles.

Acne Fighting

Kokum butter is an excellent alternative to other butters that are too heavy for acne-prone skin or people that live in hot and humid climates and require a different summer skincare regime. If your skin produces more oil than average, a lighter moisturizer can bring balance to your skin.

An emollient that your skin soaks up, kokum butter is non-comedogenic. Meaning it doesn’t clog pores – and clogged pores are the main contributor to breakouts and blemishes.

Beyond that, kokum butter also has anti-bacterial properties. So it’s capable of clearing the acne-causing bacteria from your pores. All while calming and soothing the skin (thanks to those anti-inflammatory properties we talked about earlier).

Long Shelf Life

Whether you’re making your product on your own or you’re buying an item with kokum butter in it, it’s going to last you a good long time. Because it has high oxidative stability which helps to stabilize emulsions, kokum butter has a shelf life of 1-2 years.

Fragrance-Free

“Fragrance” is 1 of the more shady ingredients we commonly find on an ingredients list. But what exactly is fragrance?

Over 3,000 different chemicals are reported as fragrance compounds. These can be derived from petroleum or natural raw materials. And some are linked to serious health issues such as cancer, reproductive toxicity, as well as allergies.

As a natural substance, kokum butter has absolutely no fragrance. Not only does that mean no chemicals are being absorbed by your skin, but if your sensitive to smells, it won’t cause any irritation. In the case you desire scent, it easily combines with your favorite essential oil.

High Stearic Acid Content

The high stearic acid content of kokum butter allows it to act as a thickening agent for lotions, conditioners, and other homemade products. With 40-45% stearic acid, it can also firm up balms and soaps.

How To Use Kokum Butter

Kokum butter is a versatile ingredient. It can be used to make soaps, lotions, scrubs, and more.

Cold Process Soap

Make cold processed soap with kokum butter

When used in soap, kokum butter can cause the soap to trace if not used in the right proportions. For that reason, it should only be used up to 10%. Using 5% will ensure you get a firm soap without losing any of the benefits.

Consider adding your favorite essential oils to a cold process kokum soap. You can also add other botanical ingredients like pumpkin seeds or dried flowers or herbs to infuse the soap with benefits particular to your needs.

Scalp Treatment

Kokum butter can be used to treat the scalp and promote healthy hair growth. For those who are combating hair loss as a result of chemical hair treatments, kokum butter is strong enough to help restore the hair by bringing nutrients to the hair follicle.

Kokum butter is gentle and lightweight enough to be used as a nightly scalp treatment. It’s less greasy than other butters and doesn’t leave any fragrance behind. It can be blended with camellia and coconut oil for added benefits.

Lotion/Conditioner

It’s the high stearic acid concentration of kokum butter that makes it an excellent option for making conditioners or lotions. But if you use too much, those high concentrations can thicken the formula beyond what’s desired. So be sure to use between 1 and 3% and your product should turn out perfectly.

Balms

You can use kokum butter as a balm without doing anything to it. Raw kokum is safe to use directly on the skin surface. But because of its hard texture, it’s rather firm and inflexible.

For a softer texture, use a 1:1:1 balm recipe with equal parts wax, butter, and oil. The best waxes for pairing with kokum are beeswax, candelilla wax, and cera bellina wax. When it comes to essential oils, look for moisturizing and soothing options like avocado, chia seed, or sweet almond oil.

Body Butter

To make kokum butter into a body butter, it needs to be melted and whipped. Because of its firmness, it’s too thick to be used as a body butter all on its own. Instead, use a higher than 5% concentration and combine it with something soft and soothing such as shea or avocado butter. Then, mix in some essential oils to help make it spreadable and even more skin-beneficial.

Scrubs

You won’t be able to make an exfoliating scrub with kokum butter. This is mostly due to the fact that you can’t mix it with an exfoliating agent because it’s too thick. However, you can mix it with exfoliating oils for a moisturizing scrub that’s gentle enough for everyday use.

Bath Bombs

Kokum is a nutrient-rich ingredient that can benefit your skin when released from a bath bomb. But it can also help you hold your bath bombs together. If you’re making your own bath bomb, don’t use any more than 0.5 oz of kokum butter per 1.5 cups of the fizzy mixture. You can add more later if you’re looking for a wetter bomb.

Recommended Usage

Kokum butter can be used in the following cosmetics, skin and hair care products:

  • moisturizers
  • body butter
  • conditioners
  • make-up foundation
  • lipstick
  • toiletries & pharmaceutical industry as creams
  • acne products
  • balms
  • skin tonics
  • lotions
  • shaving cream
  • bar soaps

If using kokum butter in your own DIY skincare projects, you should know the recommended usage percentage. These percentages act as basic guidelines depending on what you’re making. Exceeding the amounts, or using too little, can result in a product that doesn’t deliver the benefits of the kokum butter and other ingredients.

For lotions and creams, you should be using no more than 1-3% kokum butter. The same percentages can be used for hair conditioners.

You can use anywhere from 5-100% kokum butter when making a balm. For bar soaps, use between 2 and 5% kokum butter in your formula.

Caring for Kokum Butter

When you’re working with raw kokum butter, you need to take care of it or you might compromise the quality of this essential ingredient. That means handling it and storing it with the same care that you’d have for any other fragile material.

Keep in mind that heat can damage the quality of your kokum butter. Avoid excessive and/or repeated exposure to heat.

This is why any brand using kokum in their formula should use heat and pour method for packaging or shipping. Instead, kokum should come in a scraped, shaved, or scooped form. Although that can affect the condition they arrive in and make the package appear like it’s missing some product, it doesn’t affect either the quality or the volume you’re receiving.

Making Your Own Skincare?

Kokum butter is a skin and haircare ingredient that hydrates, heals, and protects your hair and skin. Filled with essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and other nutrients, kokum butter is both a treatment and preventative measure for a large number of skin concerns. Mostly found in lotions, conditioners, balms, and butter, it can also be used on its own.

If you’re a DIY’er that loves making your own skincare, have we got news for you. Check out our blog for tips and ideas on treating your skin with the care it demands.