These three tropical butters are the perfect way to quench winter-dry skin
These natural, plant-derived butters from the tropics are good enough to eat, but they nourish from the outside, too. Rich in fatty acids and natural vitamins, they work to smooth, heal, hydrate, and renew skin. Give chapped, dry skin a little TLC and bring the warmth of the tropics to winter with these three stand-outs.
Cupuaçu seed butter
Cupuaçu seed butter (Theobroma grandiflorum) pronounced “coo-poo-wa-soo,” played an important role in the history of Amazon cultures. The name translates to “food for the gods” or “divine food.” The fruit looks like a cross between a papaya and a coconut, and has been described as tasting like a combination of chocolate, bananas, and passion fruit—not surprising since the cupuaçu tree is related to the cocoa plant. If eaten raw, the fruit may taste slightly sour.
In its native Brazil, cupuaçu is used to help heal various skin conditions; fight fatigue and boost energy; relieve abdominal pain and other digestive concerns; and increase libido and fertility. Cupuaçu is currently being studied for its potential to strengthen the cardiovascular system by reducing high blood pressure and cholesterol. And research continues on its use as a natural therapy for cancer—the seed has shown promise for its ability to fight cancer cells.
In beauty products, cupuaçu seeds are cold pressed to create a creamy, moisturizing butter with a remarkable capacity to absorb water and lock in moisture. Cupuaçu seed butter is rich in essential fatty acids, phytonutrients, and vitamins A, B, and C, as well as minerals such as calcium and selenium. Used in face and body lotions, cupuaçu quickly absorbs, soothes and smoothes dry skin, reduces fine lines and wrinkles, and increases elasticity. Hair products also contain cupuaçu fruit extract, butter, and oils, all of which help to strengthen and moisturize dry, brittle, or damaged hair.
Shea butter boasts exceptional hydrating properties that nourish and heal skin and hair “Shea butter is the skin’s best friend,” according to the American Shea Butter Institute (ASBI). Pure, unrefined shea butter is an all-natural cream that heals as it moisturizes, improving blemishes, wrinkles, eczema, and dermatitis. It also helps treat skin allergies, insect bites, sunburn, frostbite, and dry, brittle hair.
Shea’s healing properties come from vitamins A and E, fatty acids, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. According to the ASBI, unrefined shea butter also contains cinnamic acid, an ingredient that acts as a natural sunscreen. Closely related to cinnamon, cinnamic acid loses its natural sunscreen properties if it sits on the shelf too long or is mixed with other additives.
Avoid pure white shea butter—this is a sign that the product has been highly refined and stripped of nutrients. The color should be buttery to reflect shea’s natural vitamin A content.
Another edible oil great for topical use, cocoa butter is the natural fat extracted from the cacao bean. With a very faint chocolate aroma and deep yellow color, this luxe butter is loaded with healing antioxidants and deeply moisturizes dry, chapped skin. It’s frequently used in cosmetics, shampoos, and soaps, and it is ideal for lotions and balms because it is ultra-smooth, “melts” easily, and softens and hydrates skin, hair, and lips. It’s been shown to increase skin elasticity so it is frequently used to help prevent stretch marks.
Turn Up Your Holiday Glow
Key nutrients for your best skin ever
Creams and lotions tackle dryness and wrinkles from without, but beautiful skin is also an inside job. Nutrients that fight inflammation in the body are crucial, says Nicholas Perricone, MD, author of The Wrinkle Cure. His favorite anti-inflammatory supplements include DMAE, alpha-lipoic acid, astaxanthin, CoQ10, glutathione tocotrienols, and vitamin C.
Collagen is another powerful weapon in your beauty arsenal.
Research shows that supplements of hydrolyzed types I and III collagen increase collagen levels in the skin. This is important because when collagen is lost, skin loses plumpness, causing lines and sagging. Certain nutrients, primarily silicon, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin C, help promote healthy collagen formation, and are good to take along with a collagen supplement. Also, eating foods rich in vitamin C, such as red bell peppers, kiwi fruit, strawberries, cantaloupe, broccoli, and citrus fruits, can help support collagen production.
Try it!NeoCellBeauty Bursts Gourmet Collagen Soft Chews in Super Fruit Punch flavor promote collagen formation in the skin with types I and III collagen, plus hyaluronic acid and vitamin C.
NOURISH ORGANIC Lightweight Moisturizing Organic Face Lotion lets skin breathe, yet is ultra nourishing and moisturizing. Enriched with cupuaçu and shea butters, it keeps skin hydrated all day, improves elasticity, and helps to even tone.
OUT OF AFRICA Apricot Exfoliating Bar cleanses without stripping moisture thanks to pure unrefined shea butter and finely ground apricot kernels that gently scrub away impurities.
ONE WITH NATURE Shea Butter Body Wash has a sweet and soothing scent and thick, rich lather. Shea butter and natural minerals, muds, and salt from the Dead Sea Basin moisturize skin and leave it feeling clean and rejuvenated.
ANDALOU NATURALS Avo Cocoa Skin Food Mask is a yummy blend of hydrating avocado oil and cocoa butter, plus superfruit antioxidants and amino acids. Apply to face for 10 minutes to deeply nourish dry, depleted skin and stimulate healthy cell renewal.
ACURE ORGANICS Ultra-Hyrdating Body Lotion Cocoa Butter + CoQ10 rescues rough, dry skin with a super moisturizing complex of fair trade organic olive oil, cocoa butter, evening primrose, and CoQ10.