Hawaii is one of the most beautiful natural wonders of our planet. From the tropical landscape, to the white sand beaches, and the majestic mountains, there's no denying the beauty and wonder this island captures all across the world. But if you dive deeper and look past the postcard-worthy landscape, you'll discover a bounty of native vegetation that offers a fortune of holistic benefits.
The kukui nut tree is one such plant that has served the people of Hawaii for centuries. It's been so impactful, in fact, that it's been named the state tree of Hawaii, offering spiritual significance of hope and renewal.
Although it's lesser-known, that doesn't make kukui nut oil any less effective. This tropical oil is packed with healthy skin benefits, like ultra-hydrating essential fatty acids, protective antioxidants, and calming anti inflammatory properties.
So, if you're a skincare and natural ingredient lover like us, you'll want to try out kukui nut oil ASAP. Read on as the experts at YUNI Beauty dive into everything you need to know before adding this miracle ingredient to your skincare routine.
What is kukui nut oil?
There is a vibrant and varied history behind the kukui tree and the oils that come from it. The plant was brought to Hawaii when the Polynesians migrated to the islands. From the beginning, the ancients revered the tree because it provided medicine, raw building materials, and light — in both a physical and spiritual sense.
"Kukui" actually means "enlightenment" or "light" in the Hawaiian language and in English translates to "candlenut" tree. Historically, oil pressed from the nut was placed in stones to create an oil lamp, or the nuts were strung together and burned like a candle. The kukui nut tree was — and still is — sacred to the Hawaiian culture, offering a symbol of enlightenment, protection, guidance, and peace. In 1959, the kukui nut tree was made the official tree for the state of Hawaii.
The most breathtaking parts of the world are often the most intense to inhabit. Living off the land of Hawaii exposed the natives to the harsh elements of the sun, wind, and sea. This is why they turned to kukui nut oil to soothe chapped and sunburned skin. The oil also provided a protective layer over skin and wounds.
Even though Hawaii has put the kukui nut tree on the map, the plant is also found in many other Southeast Asian tropical landscapes. Originally, kukui oil was made by roasting the nutty fruits and squeezing them until the oil was released. Modern processing now allows for cold-pressing or expeller pressing. Since Mother Nature is consistent, kukui nut oil still provides us the same practical uses as it did thousands of years ago. But today, the oil is known for its outstanding lightweight moisturizing and skin-beautifying properties.
Kukui oil benefits for skin and hair
Kukui nut oil (aka the candlenut tree) is an all-purpose nourishing and natural oil that provides several health benefits for skin and hair. It's rich in antioxidants, vitamins A, C, and E, and is packed with linoleic, linolenic, and oleic essential fatty acids, which your skin adores. Plus, these same fatty acids work wonders to reduce inflammation. Those with acne-prone skin, dry skin, sunburn, scars, and even skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis will relieve their skin woes with kukui nut oil.
- Moisturizes skin. Kukui nut oil's most well-known characteristic is its incredible ability to hydrate dry skin. Its rich composition of fatty acids penetrates deep into the skin cells, restoring moisture loss and preventing transepidermal water loss. And unlike heavier oils, kukui nut oil is lightweight and easily absorbs, leaving behind no greasy residue.
- Anti inflammatory properties. As we mentioned above, kukui oil is incredibly rich in linoleic acid and omega-3, which help in reducing inflammation. Because kukui nut oil is so easily absorbed, it makes an excellent massage oil to rub into sore muscles. The plant has also been found to reduce pain receptors in inflamed areas and create a numbing effect when applied to wounds and sunburns.
- Strengthens hair. Once again, linoleic fatty acids come to the rescue by boosting hair strength, moisture, and shine. When added to shampoos, conditioners, or masks, the ingredient will trap moisture, leaving your hair sleek and lustrous. A healthy and hydrated scalp and strong hair follicles can also prevent unwanted hair loss.
- Anti aging benefits. When the body becomes overloaded with free radicals, it causes oxidative stress, one of the primary contributors of premature aging. Unfortunately, your skin is the most vulnerable to environmental stressors. But, antioxidant-packed kukui nut oil helps fight off free radical damage. There's also evidence that kukui oil boosts collagen production and new skin cell growth when applied to wrinkles and crow's feet.
- Wound healing. The lipids found in the oil provide a protective barrier over minor scrapes and wounds, which can speed healing. At the same time, the natural anti inflammatory properties in kukui nut oil ease the swelling of bruises and offer burn relief, including those caused by painful sunburns.
- Calms breakouts. Kukui nut oil has been believed to have antimicrobial properties for centuries, making it an effective and gentle solution for acne-prone skin. In addition, research has shown that acne sufferers tend to have a lower amount of linoleic acids on their skin's surface. Since kukui nut oil is rich in this essential fatty acid, it's been found to reduce breakouts.
- Eczema relief. Although kukui nut oil hasn't been shown to cure skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis, the moisturizing and anti inflammatory properties will help soothe and calm dry, flakey, and itchy eczema symptoms.
How to use kukui nut oil
Now that you've learned about kukui nut oil's benefits, here are some ways to incorporate it into your beauty and wellness routines.
- Essential oil carrier. We can't live without our essential oils and the endless ways they improve our daily lives. They help us when we are traveling and on the go or relaxing into a deep savasana in our yoga practice. But essential oils are too concentrated to be applied directly to the skin — that's why it's critical to have a carrier oil. So, why not choose one that also nourishes dry skin? If you're not making your own formulas, check out YUNI's My Om World Essential Oil Body Mist or our Pocket Savasana Aromatherapy Roll-On, both of which use kukui nut oil as their base.
- Massage oil.There are several natural ways to reduce muscle soreness, but massage certainly wins as our favorite, especially if it includes products that work to ease the pain. During a therapeutic massage, Kukui nut oil naturally calms inflamed muscles while hydrating dry skin.
- Moisturizer. Because kukui nut oil restores moisture loss and lessens fine lines, keep your eye out for night or eye creams with the ingredient. Your skin will crave a body lotion or after-sun care treatment containing the tropical oil after too much time in the sun. Prevent free radical damage and soothe skin when it needs it most with our kukui nut oil infused Gliding Light Multipurpose Beauty Balm.
- DIY hair mask. You can find pure kukui nut oil online and at health food stores to create a DIY hydrating hair mask at home. Start with a 4oz bottle and fill it halfway with kukui nut oil. Next, mix equal parts coconut oil, sweet almond oil, and mafura oil until the bottle is full. Add about five drops of vitamin E oil and shake to combine. Apply to the length of your hair and massage into the scalp for an added scalp treatment. Leave in as an overnight hair mask, or wash out after a few hours with shampoo.
Is kukui oil right for me?
Kukui oil may not be a trending ingredient like hyaluronic acid, for example, but it has been a skincare staple in Hawaiian culture for centuries. The completely natural ingredient soothes irritated skin, heals wounds, and moisturizes better than the most cutting-edge formulas. Of course, we are not surprised because we know that Mother Nature knows (and creates) the best here at YUNI Beauty.
As one would expect, you'll need to test it at home, but kukui nut oil has been shown to be beneficial for all skin types, even sensitive skin. First off, make sure to do a patch test to ensure you aren't allergic — this is especially important for those with nut allergies.If all goes well, even those with oily skin can benefit from this natural oil. It is lightweight enough that it won't clog pores like other heavier oils, such as coconut oil. However, those with dry and aging skin will likely benefit the most from kukui nut oil due to its incredible nourishing and hydrating characteristics.
The benefits of kukui nut go beyond skin health. Because of the oil's high vitamin content (vitamin E and vitamin C), it can boost the immune system when rubbed into the dry skin of the hands and feet. And like we mentioned earlier, it works to improve hair strength and is an excellent carrier for essential oils.
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