What Is Kokum Butter? Benefits,‌ ‌Uses,‌ ‌Side‌ ‌Effects‌

Kokum butter is renowned for its hydrating properties. This butter is made from the seeds of a fruit called kokum. It is similar to shea butter and cocoa butter but better. It is packed with essential fatty acids that are said to help slow down aging. The rich nourishing properties of kokum butter moisturize, soften, and protect dry skin, hair, and lips. Learn more about the benefits of kokum butter for your health and how to use it in this article.

What Is Kokum Butter?

Kokum butter is the oil obtained from the seeds of Indian mangosteen or kokum (Garcinia indica). Kokum is a native plant of the western coastal areas of India.

These dark purple tropical fruits are spherical and have edible pulp. Each fruit contains 5 to 8 brown seeds. The seeds are rich in fats and essential fatty acids. Kokum butter is the fat contained in the kokum seed, which remains solid at room temperature.

Kokum butter varies in color from grayish-white to white with a yellowish tinge. The yellowish raw kokum butter needs to be refined to become white. When it ages or becomes rancid, it turns brown. Its scent is very faint or absent. It is mildly flavored and edible and has a shelf life of about one year.

Kokum butter is produced through a lengthy process. First, sun-dried seeds are chopped and boiled in water. Next, the oily upper layer is collected in a different container. As the fat cools, it becomes solid and is subsequently cleaned by remelting and filtering (1).

The moisturizing properties of kokum butter make it ideal for a wide range of cosmetic applications. It is also edible and is used as a butter or cocoa butter substitute. All of this is made possible by its high fatty acid content.

Check out the composition of kokum butter in the next section.

Composition Of Kokum Butter

The major fatty acids present in kokum butter are (2):

Fatty Acid Percentage (%) Content
Palmitic acid 2
Stearic acid 49
Oleic acid 49

It also contains the following fatty acids (3):

Fatty Acid Percentage (%) Content
Palmitic acid 3.25
Stearic acid 49.33
Elaidic acid 3.00
Oleic acid 34.42
Linoleic acid 5.25
Arachidic acid 1.20
Eicosenoic acid 2.25
Other fatty acids 2.30

Palmitic acid is a natural surfactant that is excellent for skin nourishment. The butter’s high oleic acid content makes it less likely to spoil so that it can be stored for longer periods (3).

These fatty acids, along with kokum butter’s antioxidant properties and vitamin E content, make it a popular ingredient in cosmetics, hair conditioners, soaps, and shampoos. Learn more about the benefits of kokum butter for your skin, hair, and health in the next section.

Potential Benefits Of Kokum Butter

1. Moisturizes The Skin

Kokum butter has excellent emollient properties. In addition, its healthy fatty acids improve the moisture barrier of the skin. Maintaining a healthy barrier on your skin is key to keeping it supple and hydrated (4).

Kokum butter is also said to protect your skin from cell damage and restore its elasticity. Hence, it is used in a variety of cosmetic products, such as lotions, creams, lip balms, and soaps (4).

2. May Heal Wounds

A study conducted in India found that applying kokum butter to cracked heels helps to heal them (5).

Kokum butter is also believed to have wound-healing properties and to be helpful in treating ulcers, fissured lips, chapped skin, and inflammatory sores (6).

3. May Reduce Inflammation

Kokum butter is regarded as a demulcent, i.e., it relieves inflammation or irritation. While there is limited scientific evidence available, it has found many applications in skin and hair products, acne products, and skin tonics (7).

4. Soothes The Skin

Kokum butter heals and soothes inflamed skin. It provides excellent relief from burns, chaffed skin, and scalds (8).

Applying this butter makes your skin soft and supple and gives it a radiant glow due to its elasticity-restoring properties. It has a light texture, and it does not clog pores, so it prevents acne. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties help maintain healthy skin (7), (8).

5. Has A High Melting Point

Compared to other kinds of butter, kokum butter has a higher melting point. Since it slightly melts at skin temperature, it is the perfect material for lipsticks and balms (8).

6. Can Be Used In Confectionery

You can substitute kokum butter for cocoa butter in recipes that call for it.

It has been reported that kokum butter can be used instead of cocoa butter in chocolates. Various proportions of kokum fat are added to dark and milk chocolate formulations in place of cocoa butter. As kokum fat is added to chocolate, its hardness increases. A high level of fatty acid concentration, combined with its solidification properties, makes it a perfect confectionary fat (9).

Since kokum butter has a high melting point (40°C), it can be used to increase chocolate’s heat resistance and hardness in combination with cocoa butter. In countries with hot climates, it helps prevent chocolate from becoming soft and losing its consistency due to heat (9).

7. Traditional Medicine

Kokum butter is traditionally used as a medicine in treating dysentery, diarrhea, tuberculosis, and scorbutic (scurvy-related) diseases (5).

It is not widely known what health benefits kokum butter offers due to its limited availability. It is typically used as a potent moisturizer with wound-healing properties. So, let’s check out how to make the most of this nourishing plant butter.

How To Use Kokum Butter

1. Hair

Hair treatments with kokum butter may help strengthen the hair follicles and encourage healthy hair growth.

How To Use

  1. Hair Mask: Massage your scalp in a circular motion with a small amount of kokum butter after sectioning off your hair.
  2. Pre-shampoo Treatment: Brush kokum butter through your hair and leaveit on for about an hour before shampooing.

You can use kokum butter as a nightly scalp treatment. For additional benefits, blend it with coconut oil or any oil of your choice.

2. Skin

Kokum butter is a lightweight and non-comedogenic moisturizer that works wonders on dry, chapped, and irritated skin.

How To Use

  1. Body Butter: Melt 3 tablespoons of kokum butter and whip it. Add a few drops of jojoba or apricot oil and apply it to the skin.
  2. Face Mask: Mix 2 tablespoons of kokum butter (melted and whipped), aloe vera gel, and any carrier oil of your choice. Apply it on the face and neck and wash it off after 15 minutes.
  3. Chapped Lips: Apply a little dab of kokum butter twice a day to maintain the softness and smoothness of your lips.

You can also use kokum butter to make soap, lotion, and conditioner at home. However, don’t use more than 5% of kokum butter in your formulations.

3. Food

Kokum butter is a great substitute for cocoa butter. It has no distinct taste and aroma, so it can be added to any confectionery without overpowering it.

The uses of kokum butter are similar to those of cocoa butter and shea butter. Shea butter provides a similar range of benefits as kokum butter. So, which one is better, shea butter or kokum butter? Find out in the next section.

Kokum Butter Vs. Shea Butter

  • DIY-friendly: Kokum butter is odorless, has a higher melting point, and is firmer than shea butter. As a result, you can use it to make DIY cosmetics, such as balms and soaps, more easily than shea butter.
  • Scientifically Backed: Although both kinds of butter offer similar benefits, shea butter’s properties are supported by scientific research. The benefits of kokum butter are still being studied.
  • Nutrient Profile: Kokum butter is not as nutrient-dense as shea butter.
  • Availability: Shea butter is much cheaper and easier to obtain than kokum butter.

When taking all the above points into account, shea butter has a slight edge over kokum butter.

Side Effects Of Kokum Butter

There are no known side effects of applying kokum butter to the skin. However, it is recommended that you conduct a patch test on your arm before applying it to your face.

The Bottom Line

Kokum butter is the fat extracted from the seeds of the tropical Indian fruit, kokum. Wound healing and intense hydration are the two best reasons for using kokum butter. It can also treat dry skin, hair, and scalp issues. It works similarly to other plant-based fats, such as cocoa butter and shea butter. While kokum butter is safe to use for most people, consult your healthcare provider before you start using it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is kokum butter better than cocoa butter?

No, it is similar to cocoa butter.

How do you melt down kokum butter?

The melting point of kokum butter is 90-104°F. It melts on contact with your skin. You can use a ban-marie (heated water bath) to melt kokum butter.

What is a good substitute for kokum butter?

Cocoa butter and shea butter are good substitutes for kokum butter.

Does kokum butter get grainy?

No, kokum butter does not get grainy.

Key Takeaways

  • Kokum butter is majorly composed of palmitic acid, stearic acid, and oleic acid.
  • This plant butter moisturizes and soothes the skin and reduces inflammation.
  • Kokum butter has a high melting point, making it a good substitute for cocoa butter while making chocolate and other confectionary items.