Some of the most common natural butters that people adore include shea, coconut, and more recently, hemp. They benefit our hair and skin in the most appreciated ways and since they come from fruit, beans, seeds, and leaves. They are universal in their abilities to better the health of our tresses and they also have their own unique properties that give them varied assets. One of those properties is their fatty acids.
Fatty acids are molecules that consist of long chains of lipid-carboxylic acids that can be found in fats, oils, and cell membranes. They come from animal and vegetable fats and oils and are created when fats are broken down. They are major sources of energy and most diets contain a great deal of them. Fatty acids are made up of good fats and are significant for our bodies.
We love butters and one of the reasons is for their fatty acids but do you know what each fatty acid brings to your favorite butter? Here are the most popular natural butters we seem to never get enough of, what they are comprised of, and how they bring those benefits to your strands.
Shea butter is a thick, yellowish butter that liquefies at body temperature and comes from shea-karite tree which is a native tree found in the tropics of East and West Africa. The nuts from this tree are harvested, cracked, grilled, and pounded before being boiled, allowing the fat (shea butter) to rise to the top. Shea butter is great for all hair types and is one of the reasons it is so popular and well-received.
- Palmitic acid, oleic acid, and linoleic acid allow shea butter to be an amazing moisturizer.
- The stearic acid acts as the protectant in shea butter, as it coats the hair shaft to help condition your strands and the arachidic acid give shea butter its emulsifying properties.
Tucuma is pressed from the fruit or seeds of the Astrocaryum tucuma palm tree. It is very similar in chemical composition to murumuru butter and it is a more healing butter with restructuring benefits. This butter would be ideal for individuals with high porosity strands and cannot seem to hold onto the moisture they need.
- The high levels of lauric acid hydrate and add elasticity and suppleness. According to registered nutritionist Marie Dannie, lauric acid is considered a healthier saturated fat because of its medium-chain triglyceride.
- Myristic acid is an emulsifier and great for allowing oils and water to mix homogeneously.
- The oleic and lauric acids make this such a great skin hydrator, as both fight off water loss to make the hair softer and more pliable.
This butter's composition closely resembles shea and cocoa. This butter is derived from the kernels of the mangos and found in the rain forests of the world. This butter has vitamins A and C and can combat free radicals because of the vitamin E. If you are allergic to shea butter or just do not care for the smell then this is a great alternative. With such a high concentration of oleic acid you get an ultra-moisturizing, water loss fighting butter that will also be great at protecting your strands with the stearic acid. Great for hair that needs a lot of moisture and UV protection.
Kokum butter is obtained from the fruit kernel of garcinia indica, which grows in the savanna areas in parts of the Indian subcontinent. It is one of the hardest of all natural butters but highly emollient and has regenerative properties that make it great for damaged skin. Kokum butter is great for hair elasticity and warding off breakage as it helps cell oxygenation, making nutrients readily available for scalp and skin tissues.
- The linoleic acid is great for stimulating the scalp for healthy hair growth.
- The oleic acid and palmitic acid have moisturizing properties and the stearic acid conditions and protects the hair. They are great for scalp conditions and make this a good go-to for individuals with scalp irritations or inflammations.
Murumuru butter is pressed from the fruits of the Astrocaryum murumuru tree, a tall palm tree native to Brazil and other regions of the Amazon. Murumuru butter is great for restoring moisture and elasticity to damaged strands thanks to the oleic acid. This butter functions as an emollient and adds softness to hair. Great for fighting frizz, defining curls, and promoting elasticity to ward off breakage.
- The oleic acid gives it the moisturizing properties while the myristic acid gives it lubricating properties due to its high rate of absorption by the skin.
Ucuuba butter is a natural butter cold pressed from the seeds of the ucuuba tree. Known for having anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, it is often used for relieving scalp conditions and preventing hair damage. Lauric acid has a unique set of health promoting properties and has a high affinity for hair proteins. This is another butter great for warding off breakage and aiding in scalp ailments.
One of the two major products made from the cocoa bean, cocoa butter has moisturizing and hydrating properties and is a natural emollient. This undisputed skin care ingredient is high in vitamin E and rich in mineral and vitamins. Known for being a skin healer (thanks to the linoleic acid and other properties), it is a good hair moisturizer and effective against a dry scalp. It restores your hair’s moisture without clogging your scalp’s pores (thank palmitic acid for its spreadability properties) and is key ingredient in some hair loss applications.