Let's Explore Beauty Ingredients of Latin America!
Ungurahua (aka Rahua) Oil, scientifically known as Oenocarpus bataua, is derived from the rare ungurahua nut, found in the rain forests of Central and South America. It is commonly found between Peru, Brazil, and along the Amazonian River and is cold pressed from the seeds of the rain forest trees once the tree reaches full maturity. This essential oil is commonly used as an antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-hair fall treatment in different countries around the world. Ungurahua oil is lightweight. Its molecular structure contains small particles that are able to penetrate the hair shaft to infuse moisture from the inside out. Its fruit, approximately of 1” diameter, is edible but the most common use for rahua by the Quechua-Shuar tribes of the Amazon is as oil for cooking, healing and grooming. The women of the Quehua-Shuar tribe have a documented history of using Ungurahua oil to nourish and condition the scalp. More recently however, it has been heralded for saturating and strengthening the hair's cortex. Rahua oil’s omega-9 deeply hydrates skin. Rich in vitamin E, it has nutritional, regenerating and antioxidant benefit, helping skin retain its youthfulness.
Buriti oil, scientifically known as Mauritia flexuosa, known as the moriche palm, ité palm, ita, buriti, muriti, canangucho, or aguaje, is a palm tree. It grows in and near swamps and other wet areas in tropical South America. It has been reported from Trinidad, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. When ground and pressed, buriti fruit yields a beautiful golden-orange oil, and this substance is now being developed into a plethora of beauty products – from skin lotions and creams to hair conditioners. The oil is rich in palmitic, linoleic and arachidic acids, and it is also an excellent source of tocopherols, which provide superior antioxidant activity. Additionally, the oil is a rich source of carotenoids, which are natural pre-cursors to vitamin A. According to research conducted in various labs throughout South America, buriti oil is antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and photo-protective. The antioxidant activity of buriti oil protects the lipid membranes that surround all skin cells, keeping cells healthy longer. The anti-inflammatory activity of the oil is beneficial in cases of rough or sensitive skin, redness, rashes, and irritation. The photo-protective properties of the oil help skin cells to better withstand the potentially damaging UVA and UVB rays of the sun.
Cupuaçu, scientifically known as Theobroma grandiflorum, also spelled cupuassu, cupuazú, cupu assu, and copoasu, is a tropical rainforest tree related to cacao. The fruit of the tree, which is called by the same name, has been a primary food source for natives in the rainforest for centuries. Cupuaçu came to the attention of many westerners when a Japanese company attempted to trademark the name of the tree and fruit as well as the term ìCupulateî to sell as a chocolate coffee-like drink. Brazil finally declared Cupuaçu to be the national fruit and the name to be ineligible for trademark. It’s primary health benefit is stimulating the immune system while simultaneously supporting the body’s ability to fight disease. Cupuaçu has a caffeine-like effect, but does not contain caffeine. It is one of the few cocoa relatives that does not, yet it retains this energetic effect. Cupuaçu is also heavy with vitamins B1, B2, B3 (Niacin), fatty and amino acids, and at least nine antioxidants (including Vitamins A and C). Being from the cocoa family, Cupuaçu also has a high flavanoid content. The Cupuaçu butter is an emollient that provides, softness and smoothness to the skin and hair, enabling the recovery of moisture and natural elasticity.
Sacha Inchi, scientifically known as Plukenetia volubilis, has been cultivated in the Amazon for 3,000 years and is an incredible source of omega-3, 6 and 9, more protein than almonds, walnuts, and cashews, and rich in antioxidants. Sacha Inchi has a high essential fatty acid content (93%), 35% of which is linoleic acid. It is also abundant in iodine and vitamin A and E. When applied topically it can help balance acne-prone skin, improve moisture retention, strengthens and rebuilds the skin barrier, reduces fine lines, and protects the skin from sun damage. Sacha Inchi also relieves irritated and scaly scalps from eczema and/or psoriasis and makes hair soft and manageable.
Pracaxi oil is a translucent yellow to golden brown oil that is extracted from the seeds of the Pentaclethra macroloba tree. This tree is indigenous to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Amazon rain forest. Amazonian populations have used pracaxi oil for both medicinal and cosmetic purposes for centuries. Pracaxi oil has high levels of fatty acids, specifically oleic, linoleic, and behenic fatty acids that makes hair soft and shiny. Pracaxi oil has one of the highest concentrations of behenic acid among natural products. It is also proven to be beneficial in reducing stretch marks and skin discoloration. In addition to restoring hydration, the fatty acids in pracaxi oil have lubricant, emollient, and anti-inflammatory properties. These qualities make pracaxi oil the perfect addition to a scar treatment product because it helps to protect the skin from environmental damage.
Andiroba seed oil, harvested from the seeds of the South American Andiroba Tree, scientifically known as Carapa guianensis, is a golden oil that possesses a unique combination of essential fatty acids and anti-inflammatory compounds. The fatty acid content includes Palmitic acid, Stearic acid, Oleic acid, and Linoleic acid; making Andiroba seed oil a highly emollient oil that is effective at moisturizing dry cracked skin and is used in products intended to heal eczema and psoriasis. Andiroba seed oil is also rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, proteins and minerals which help reduce wrinkles, dark spots and hyper-pigmentation of the skin. It helps moisturize and promote hair growth without leaving a greasy feel or a look of greasiness. When applied to your scalp slightly warmed, andiroba oil stimulates better blood flow, which is a strong factor in growing healthier hair that’s more resilient to breakage, split ends, and dehydration.
Maracuja oil, biological name Passiflora edulis, is extracted from an Amazonian passion fruit seeds. Maracuja oil was used in Aztec civilization as a sedative to treat insomnia and nervousness. Native Americans were said to have applied passion flower topically to boils, and they also drank infusions of it in order to improve liver health and as a blood tonic. Research published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition showed that Maracuja oil is rich in linoleic acid, one of the essential fatty acids which plays a key role in supporting skin health. In fact, it contains 72.6 percent linoleic acid, which makes it one of the best sources of the essential fatty acid on the planet. Nutrients like lycopene, as well as linoleic acid helps to aid the skin in recovering from that sun-induced damage and promote collagen production. Maracuja oil also has a high antioxidant, Vitamin C, calcium, and phosphorus content. It deeply penetrates pores to deliver essential moisture for a softer smooth complexion that is also protected against environmental damage. Maracuja is so light it can be reliably used to hydrate acne prone skin without greasy residue or irritation. The high content of essential fatty acids and light texture of Maracuja helps to balance the moisture in skin, and it conditions hair well. Applying Maracuja Oil to the scalp is reported to help a variety of concerns from dandruff, itchy scalp, dry scalp and dry, damaged hair.
Cocoa Butter is made from the fat of the cocoa bean. Cocoa butter is a pure fat (stearic, oleic, palmitic, and linoleic acids and Omega’s 3 and 6) so it doesn’t contain a varied nutritional profile. The only vitamins that it contains are vitamins E and K. Cocoa butter is a great moisturizer, is easily absorbed by the skin, and can heal dry, cracked skin. It is full of a type of antioxidant called polyphenols which diminish the signs of aging. It has a higher concentration of antioxidants than most of the anti-ageing foods. Cocoa butter can penetrate to the deep layers of the skin and nourish it from within. The skin appears more plump and hydrated. Cocoa butter is also useful in skin concerns like eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis and other skin irritations. It also has a reputation for fading away scars and stretch marks. Cocoa butter not only provides moisture to your skin, but it also provides moisture to your hair. It improves the strength and health of your hair, reduces hair loss, makes hair more manageable, and prevents further damage.
Camu Camu, scientifically known as Myrciaria dubia, has 30 times more Vitamin C than oranges, which can protect and brighten the skin as well as lessen the signs of skin aging. It is also one of the highest, broad spectrum antioxidants on the planet, which further helps your skin stay young, firm, and healthy by evening out your skin tone and even repairing damage caused by environmental stress. Camu Camu fruit contains vitamins and minerals like niacin, iron, phosphorus, and potassium which all benefit our skin. Flavonoids and ellagic acid act to neutralize free radicals. It’s an anti-fungal and anti-bacterial which, particularly in tandem with it’s high levels of Vitamin C, help to boost the immune system.
So what do you think? Which of these ingredients are you most excited to try? Learning about all of these ingredients has made us want to plan many more trips to Latin American countries to see more of them first hand.
Banov D, Banov F, Bassani AS. Case series: the effectiveness of Fatty acids from pracaxi oil in a topical silicone base for scar and wound therapy. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2014;4(2):259-69.