Kukui Oil for your Skin and Hair
You may have first heard of this natural oil from Hawaii when the young starlet of Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave shared some of the secrets of her beauty with Glamour. Up until that point, we are guessing that few people were aware of kukui oil. But as is the norm when a beautiful star shares their beauty secrets, it does not take long for the general public to take heed.
You may remember that the popularity of apple cider vinegar multiplied when Scarlett Johansson told us that she used it to beautify her skin. Well, now Lupita Nyong’o may have stimulated similar interest in this little known Hawaiian oil.
What is Kukui Oil?
While the rest of the world has only just been made aware of kukui oil, the same cannot be said for the Hawaiians who have been using it for centuries. The oil is produced by cold pressing the oil out of the kukui nut tree which is also called the candlenut tree and known scientifically as Aleurites Moluccans – the State tree of Hawaii.
It is a rich source of nutrients including fatty acids, various minerals, vitamins and natural antioxidants that can help soothe irritated skin and even heal wounds.
Kukui oil is not the only product derived from the tree, in fact, the seeds have been traditionally utilized for a wide variety of different purposes. Oil from the seeds was pressed to make oil for lamps while the seeds themselves have been strung up and set alight for use as torches.
The oil has also been mixed together with soot to create a form of paint and also added to various other ingredients to help the drying process for varnishes and paints. The seeds can also be eaten so long as they are cooked first. The uncooked seed is slightly toxic to humans so the Hawaiians have typically roasted them and combined them with seaweed to produce a condiment.
Getting back to the kukui oil, it is a pale, clear oil that can also be a light yellow color. It should be stored in a cool place and not exposed to sunlight or heat. If it is stored properly, the shelf life is around a year or slightly longer.
Why Kukui Oil is Good for the Skin
Kukui oil contains some important, healthy fatty acids including linolenic acid and linoleic acid that are also present in certain other oils like coconut. While it is great for the skin in its most pure form, it is often combined with other ingredients to produce cosmetic products. Vitamin C and D are often added to the oil with Vitamin E acting as an effective preservative.
Kukui oil also makes for a wonderful, skin-friendly carrier oil for your favorite essential oils. Combined with the medicinal properties of your chosen essential oil, kukui oil makes for an ideal topical skin remedy and a pleasing body massage oil that will not leave you feeling greasy.
According to studies, kukui nut oil has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Many people use it to treat some of the most common, chronic skin complaints such as eczema and psoriasis while it can also be applied to burns or minor wounds to speed up healing.
1) For Glowing, Healthy Looking Skin
Kukui oil is easily able to penetrate the skin leaving it feeling smooth and silky and looking more attractive and healthy. Unlike many oils, kukui oil will not leave your skin feeling uncomfortably greasy. It contains many important minerals as well as antioxidant nutrients like vitamins A and C and E. These well-known antioxidants have a very beneficial effect on the skin.
They help protect against cell damage done by environmental free radicals and basically perform an anti-aging function. Not only does it help you achieve a healthier complexion, but kukui oil can be applied to wrinkles, crow’s feet and other skin blemishes to diminish their appearance.
2) For Chronic Skin Complaints
There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that kukui oil can help treat common chronic skin conditions including psoriasis, eczema, and acne. Unfortunately, there is not a great deal of scientific evidence to back up these individual reports. The only small study done on the effects of kukui oil on psoriasis failed to yield especially positive results.
However, the comments by the researchers explain that many psoriasis patients experience a great deal of relief from the oil. (1) Until we get more solid evidence, the jury remains out on its potential effects.
Despite the lack of concrete proof, there is an interesting theory that kukui oil may well be effective against complaints like eczema and psoriasis. This stems from the fact that the oil is very high in linolenic acid, linoleic acid and is very high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 is known to reduce skin inflammation while the other acids can help moisturize the skin.
It may also help to explain the fact that applying kukui oil to the skin leaves you feeling silky rather than greasy and uncomfortable.
Given that the oil does contain so many essential fatty acids and other nutrients, we definitely feel it is worth trying.
3) For Stretch Marks
There are no studies available regarding the effects of kukui oil on stretch marks. However, given that the oil has superior moisturizing qualities, there is certainly good reason to believe that it can help diminish the appearance of these unsightly marks. It is certainly worth giving it a go but do not expect immediate results.
Getting rid of your stretch marks or even diminishing their appearance is likely to take many months of work but your skin will benefit massively from applying this wonderful, nutritious oil.
4) To Protect Against Sunburn
Kukui oil gets absorbed very easily into the skin, even into its very deepest layers. When it does this, it helps to form a vital protective barrier which then helps protect the skin from sun damage and other types of environmental damage. It is often used to protect against sunburn on the island of Hawaii and can also protect your skin against windburn and chapped skin.
5) To Treat Wounds
Kukui oil can also be used to help heal minor wounds, burns, and bites. One study found that the bark of the tree helped stimulate healing from burn damage to rats. The same study demonstrated that the extract could expedite healing time and also appears to promote the production of collagen. (2)
6) Antimicrobial Effects
Several studies have also demonstrated that kukui tree extracts have antimicrobial effects against various bacteria and fungi including Staphylococcus aureus. This can also help speed up wound healing while protecting against the spread of bacteria.
7) For The Hair
While kukui nut oil is best known for its skin benefits, it is also a popular hair treatment, especially in its native Hawaii. The locals use the oil as a treatment for dry hair especially hair damaged by exposure to the dry and hot elements.
The healthy fatty acids and amino acids present in the oil easily penetrate the shafts of the hair to keep it looking and feeling moisturized, nourished and healthy. Because of its healthy nutrient makeup, kukui oil is an excellent remedy for a dry, itchy scalp and also for dandruff.
It essentially has the same regenerative benefits for the scalp as it has on your skin. According to various online articles, the linoleic acid in the oil makes it a very handy and effective leave-in conditioner for the hair capable of restoring moisture and imparting more gloss and shine.
The Bottom Line
Despite the dearth of scientific evidence, there is enough anecdotal evidence to make us excited about the potential of kukui oil. It is natural and nutritious and is likely a great tonic for the skin. If you have ever used this oil and agree or disagree with the points made, we would love to hear from you.