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Exotic oils, butters & waxes: an array of natural materials from Asia, Africa and the Amazon provide some exciting options for formulators of skin care products.

IT'S A JUNGLE OUT THERE! The flora from Asia, Africa, the Amazons and Oceana provide renewable resources for exotic butters, oils and waxes that are finding applications in exciting skin care products. Murumuru butter, Ximenia oil, Ucuuba butter, Mongongo oil and Illipe butter are just a few such examples. Exotic butters are a group of natural fats (triglycerides) that are solid or semi-solid and the oils are liquid at ambient temperatures (Table 1).

Wax is a general term used to refer to the mixture of long-chain, non-polar lipids forming a protective coating on plant leaves, fruits and stems and also in animals (Table 2). The formulation of many of these natural ingredients in skin care products that can meet demanding consumer expectations for product performance and strict criteria for product stability pose challenges to marketers and formulators alike.

Mango butter is obtained from deshelled fruit kernels of the mango tree, Mangifera indica, native to sub-continental India and the tropics. It has emollient properties, high oxidative ability, and affects a wrinkle-reducing silky smooth skin feel. It is a soft solid with a sweet scent, and an excellent replacement for paraffin-based emollients in skin care lotions, massage creams and hair products. Kokum butter is obtained from the fruit kernel of Garcinia indica, which grows in the savanna parts of the Indian subcontinent. It has very high content of stearic-oleic-stearic triglycerides. It is one of the most stable and hardest exotic butters with a melting point of 38-40[degrees]C. Kokum butter has been used as an astringent, suitable for applications in skin, hair, and acne care products. Illipe butter is the fat obtained from the nuts of Shorea stenoptera, a wild crop in the jungles of Southeast Asia. It has recently been introduced as a cosmetic raw material and is used in various skin care preparations such as nourishing night creams, sun products, hair masks and lip balms. It is the exotic butter that comes closest to matching cocoa butter. Sal butter is obtained from the kernels of the Sal tree, Shorea robusta, a tree growing wild in the forests of north, east and central India. Sal is used locally for cooking and soap production. It is comparable to cocoa butter in physical properties and is used in some similar applications. Like mango butter, it combines good emolliency properties with superior oxidative stability. It is solid at room temperature with a melting point of 34-38[degrees]C.

It is used in skin and hair products, stick products, hair pomades and dry skin lotions. Mafura butter is often used in the manufacture of high quality soaps. Africans apply it to both the body and hair. It is used in skin creams and is useful in soothing skin irritation. This butter, rich in essential fatty acids, is nourishing and reportedly restructures the epidermis for age reversal formulations. Murumuru butter is an excellent emollient. It helps the skin to retain water by creating a protective film--ideal for dry skin. It is a unique skin barrier protector with excellent hydration proven by in-vivo efficacy tests. Due to its fatty acid composition, murumuru butter helps to restore the natural hydrolipidic layer. It promotes hair shine (proven by a glossmeter test), emolliency and hydration, and provides protection to the hair. It is highly recommended for Afro-ethnic hair care products.

Red raspberry seed, containing 83% essential fatty acids, is another new EFA. Raspberry seed oil has applications as an emollient, lubricant and conditioner and creates a lipid barrier to protect skin and improve moisture retention. This oil has UV absorptive properties in all three ranges beneficial for photoprotection. It contains high concentrations of mixed tocopherols, tocotrienols and carotenoids. The oil has a mild raspberry flavor and aroma. Sea buckthorn seed oil supports healthy skin due to its high polyunsaturated fatty acids, tocopherols, and beta-carotene content. Kalahari melon oil has moisturizing, regenerating and restructuring properties due to its high content of essential fatty acids (50-70% linoleic acid). Kalahari melon oil plays a role in the regulation of hydration and restructuring of the epidermis. Mongongo nut oil has hydrating, skin regenerating and restructuring properties. Due to the presence of eleostearic acid, mongongo nut oil forms a film over the hair fiber, protecting it from environmental aggressions. Marula oil may be used in body and hair care products. In particular it is used in baby care products and eye area treatments, emollient creams for normal and dry skin and shampoos for dry, damaged and fragile hair. When used for body massage it softens the skin.

Sumac wax, called Urushi wax in Japan, is extracted from the fruit peel of Sumac verniciflua. The wax has excellent smoothness and cohesiveness characteristics. Chinese tree wax is a vegetable lipid extracted from the fruit of Chinese tallow tree. Rice Wax is a vegetable wax extracted from rice bran while extracting rice bran oil. As a by product of rice bran oil refinement, it is an important wax resource in East Asia where rice is one of the most important crops. This wax has no odor and can be bleached to a light color. It is mainly composed of [C.sub.22-24]. DSC (differential scanning calorimeter) testing indicates that when the rice wax melts, the peak of each part is very steep; indicating that rice wax possesses a high degree of crystallization. Sugarcane wax is the by-product extracted from sugarcane in the sugar refining industry. The wax exists on the surface of the sugarcane stem and can be easily extracted. After proper refining, it is comparable to carnauba wax with a high retentiveness on skin.

This article offers practical solutions for formulating exotic natural butters, oils and waxes in skin care products that do not feel oily and provide consumer appreciated sensory and functional benefits. These formulation guidelines are also applicable in general for other popular butters, oils and waxes (Table 3) in topical products. It is anticipated that other exotic oils that may become available in the near future (Table 4) may utilize these formulation guidelines. Manufacturers and suppliers of exotic oils should pursue these opportunities as well. The Jamun tree, for example, is a very common, yet beautiful, large evergreen tree of the Indian subcontinent. Its habitat starts from Myanmar and extends to Afghanistan. It is generally cultivated as a roadside avenue tree as well. It tends to grow an umbrella-like crown with dense foliage. The jamun fruit is called Indian blackberry in English. The seed, as well as the bark, have several applications in Ayurveda, Unani and Chinese medicine. The seed oil has not been commercialized yet. Sitaphal, another exotic fruit, is known by many names such as ata, sharifa, seethaphalam, custard apple, cherimoya and sugar apple. It is the most famous of the annonas family of fruits that grows in India, China, Mexico and the west coast of the U.S.

The fruit is brown or green in color with small, yellowish eye-like bulges. The pulp is juicy and creamy, and has a delicate buttery flavor. The fruit has black seeds that yield oil. Jackfruit, another exotic tree, originated in the rain forests of the Western Ghats of India. Now it can be found in Southeast Asia, the East Indies and the Philippines. It is also planted in central and eastern Africa and is fairly popular in Brazil, Surinam and Hawaii. Jackfruit is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world, reaching 80 pounds in weight and is up to 36 inches long and 20 inches in diameter. The seed is 3/4 to 1-1/2 inches long and 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick and is white and crisp within. There may be 100-500 seeds in a single fruit that contain some oil.

Natural oils, butters, and waxes contain a mixture of triglycerides or esters of fatty acids that typically range from a chain of 6-40 carbon atoms with 0-3 double bonds. The carbon chain range from 12-22 is most prevalent. The formulation of these ingredients in emulsions requires skill, emulsifiers and technology. As a general rule, the higher the amount of oil, butter and wax in the formulation, the greater the material requirement for emulsifiers. Formulating emulsions containing 20-40% of natural oils and butters with popular emulsifiers; for example glyceryl stearate or PEG-100 stearate, may require 5-15% of such emulsifiers. This complicates the consumer perception of resulting formulations in most cases, as increased amounts of emulsifiers thus utilized also tend to alter skin feel attributes significantly. Formulators want to use increasing amounts of such natural ingredients. Consumers want quick absorption and a non-oily skin feel. This becomes an oxymoron-marketing dilemma, as both natural oils and emulsifiers tend to render an oily skin feel. The quest for new emulsifiers that can perform their function in very small amounts has recently resulted in new innovations, for example, Inulin lauryl carbamate. 3

Inutec SP 1(INCI: Inulin lauryl carbamate), an emulsifier and emulsion stabilizer obtained from bonding inulin (chicory root) and lauryl alcohol moieties via a carbamate linkage, can emulsify high amounts of natural oils, butters and waxes either alone or in complex mixtures in typically less than 1% quantity. Another advantage in that the pH does not need adjustment in order to be activated. Popular emulsi tiers, such as sodium stearyl phthalamate, acrylates/[C.sub.10-30] alkyl acrylate crosspolymer and carbomer require such pH adjustment. Microemulsions can be readily obtained, which provide both improved skin feel and faster absorption through stratum corneum. (3)

Formulation guidelines with Inutec SP1 can be summarized as follows:

* No pre-hydration;

* Require small quantity (0.2-1%);

* No pH adjustment;

* Effective at pH4-9;

* High liphophile loading, including silicones;

* Electrolyte (salt) tolerant;

* No effect on emulsion viscosity;

* Rheology modifier compatible;

* Cold processable;

* Co-emulsifier compatible and

* Not sensitive to heat.

Here's one way to use Inutec in a body butter formula:
Skin Smoothing Body Butter Formula

Ingredients: % wt.

Phase A

Deionized water to 100
Inutec SP1 0.8
Polyglycerol-10 laurate 0.2
Polyglycerol-10 stearate 0.1
Glycerin 3.0
Magnesium aluminun silicate 10.0
 (as 5% in deionized water)
Xanthan gum 0.15
Preservative (Phenochem) 0.7

Phase B

Cyclopentasiloxane cyclohexasiloxane 9.0
Shea butter 12.0
Olive butter 10.0
Isopropyl palmitate 6.0
Pentaerythrityl tetracaprylate/caprate 1.5
Rice wax 0.4
Cetearyl alcohol 4.0
Glyceryl stearate PEG-100 stearate 2.0

Phase C

Fragrance 0.3

Phase D

Marantha starch 5.0


Mix phase A and heat at 80-90[degrees]C. Mix and heat Phase B at 80-90[degrees]C. Add B into A with mixing at 80-90[degrees]C. Homogenize with standard homogenizer. Cool slowly to 35-40[degrees]C. Add C and D and mix.


Synthetic emollient ingredients (8, 11, and 12) can be replaced with other natural oils and butters. It is advised that the stability of such modified formulations should be checked. For additional custom formulation concepts, please contact the authors,


(1.) Shyam Gupta, Ph.D., Bioderm Research, 5221 E. Windrose Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85254, USA. Phone: (602) 996-9700. E-mail:

(2.) Karl Booten, Business Manager, Orafti-Bio Based Chemicals, Aandorenstraat 1, 3300 Tienen, Belgium. Phone: 32 16 801 275. Fax: 32 16 801 496. E-mail: USA Distributor Contact: Sharon Martin, Enhancers, LLC, 9 Storm Road, Lincroft, NJ 07738. Phone 732-212-1763. Fax 732-212-0563. E-mail:

(3.) S. Gupta and K. Booten, Nature Based Emulsifiers from Inulin and their Applications in Cosmetic & Personal Care Products, Happi, 66 (March 2004); C.V. Stevens et al., Polymeric Surfactants based on Inulin, a Polysaccharide Extracted from Chicory.
Table 1: Exotic Natural Butters and Oils

Common Name INCI or Botanical Name

Albarakka oil Nigella Sativa Seed Oil
Andiroba oil Carapa Guaianensis Seed Oil
Argane Oil Argania spinosa
Artemisia Oil Artemisia sphaerocephala
Baobab seed oil Adansonia digitata
Black Currant Seed oil Ribes nigrum
Brazil Nut oil Bertholletia excelsa
Buriti oil Mauritia Flexuosa
Camelina oil Camelina sativa
Chaulmoogra Oil Theobroma cacao
Coffee Butter Coffea arabica
Copaiba oil Copaifera Officinalis
Cranberry Seed Oil Vaccinium Macroparpon
 (Cranberry) Seed Oil
Cupua butter Theobroma grandiflorum
Dhupa butter Vateria Indica
Echium Seed Oil Echium plantagineum
Elderberry Seed oil Sambucus Nigra Seed Oil
Illipe butter Shorea Stenoptera Seed Butter
Kalahari melon oil Citrillus Lanatus
 (Kalahari Melon) Seed Oil
Kokum buter Garcinia Indica Seed Butter
Mafura butter Trichilia Emetica (Mafura Fruit) Butter
Mango Esters Mangifera Indica (Mango) Esters
Mango butter Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter
Manketti Nut Oil Ricinodendron rautanenii
Maracuja (Passion Fruit) oil Passiflora edulis
Marula oil Sclerocarya birrea (Marula) Kernel Oil
Mongongo oil Schinziophyton Rautanentii
 (Mongongo) Seed Oil
Moringa Oil Moringa pterygosperma
Morinda (Noni) oil Morinda Citrifolia (Noni) Seed Oil
Mowrah butter Madhuca Latifolia Seed Butter
Murumuru butter Astrocaryum Murumuru Butter
Neem Esters Melia azadirachta
Ngali Nut Oil Canarium spp.
Ootanga Oil Citrullus vulgaris
Papaya Seed Oil Carica papaya
Parinari oil Parinari Curatellifolia
 (Parinari) Seed Oil
Phulwara butter Madhuca Butyraceae
Raspberry Seed Oil Rubus idaeus
Sal butter Shorea Robusta Seed Butter
Seabuckthorn Oil Hippophae rhamnoides
Sisymbrium Irio Oil Sisymbrium irio
Shorea Robusta Butter Shorea robusta
Tamanu oil Calophyllum inophyllum
Ucu butter Virola surinamensis
Ximenia oil Ximenia Americana (Ximenia) Seed Oil

Butters from hydrogenated oils or admixtures excluded.

Table 2: Exotic Natural Waxes

Common Name INCI or Botanical Name

Apple wax Pyrus malus
Bayberry (Myrtle) wax Myrica cerifera
Chinese wax Fraxinus chinensis
Chinese Tallow wax Sapium sebiferum
Esparto wax Stipa tenacissim
Ilex Wax Ilex paraguariensis
Japan wax Cotinus Coggygria
Orange Peel wax Citrus Aurantium Dulcis
 (Orange) Peel Wax
Ouricouri wax Syagrus coronata
Rice Bran wax Oryza sativa
Sugar Cane wax Saccharum spp.
Sumac wax Sumac Verniciflua

Does not include hydrogenated or admixed compositions.

Table 3: Popular Natural Butters and Oils

Common Name INCI or Botanical Name

Apricot Kernel oil Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil
Avocado oil Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil
BabaHu oil Orbignya Oleifera (Babassu) Seed Oil
Borage oil Borago Officinalis (Borage) Seed Oil
Cashew Nut oil Anacardium occidentale
Castor oil Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil
Cocoa Butter Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter
Corn oil Zea Mays (Corn) Oil
Coconut oil Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil
Cotonseed oil Gossypium Herbaceum (Cotton) Seed Oil
Evening Primrose oil Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter
Grapeseed oil Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil
Hemp oil Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) Seed Oil
Jojoba oil Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil
Kiwi Seed oil Actinidia Chinensis (Kiwi) Seed Oil
Kukui Nut oil Aleurites Moluccana Seed Oil
Neem oil Melia Azadirachta (Neem) Oil
Palm oil Elaeis guinensis
Passionfruit Seed oil Passiflora Edulis
 (Passionfruit) Seed Oil
Olive Oil Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil
Peanut oil Arachis hypogaea (Peanut) Oil
Pecan Nut oil Carya illinoensis
Plum Kernel oil Prunus domestica
Pistachio Nut oil Pistacia Vera Seed Oil
Poppy Seed oil Papaver Orientale (Poppy) Seed Oil
Pumpkin Seed oil Cucurbita Pepo (Pumpkin) Seed Oil
Macadamia Nut oil Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil
Meadowfoam oil Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil
Shea Butter Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter)
Safflower oil Carthamus Tinctorius
 (Safflower) Seed Oil
Sweet Almond oil Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis
 (Sweet Almond) Oil
Sesame Seed oil Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil
Walnut Oil Juglans Regia (Walnut) Oil
Beeswax Beeswax (Cera Alba)
Shellac wax Shellac
Candelilla wax Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax
Carnauba wax Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax

Table 4: Future Exotic Natural Oils

Common Name INCI or Botanical Name

Litchi (Lychee) Seed oil Nephelium litchi
Lotus Seed oil Nelumbo nucifera
Jamun Seed oil Eugenia jambolana
Cherimoya Seed oil Annona cherimola
Jackfruit Seed oil Artocarpus heterophyllus
Loquat Seed oil Eriobotrya japonica
Magnolia Seed oil Magnolia soulangiana
Sapote Seed oil Calocarpum (Pouteria) zapota
Watermelon Seed oil Citrullus vulgaris
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Author:Gupta, Shyam; Booten, Karl
Publication:Household & Personal Products Industry
Date:Aug 1, 2005
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