Buriti (Mauritia flexuosa) is a palm tree native to Brazil that normally grows in swamp regions of South America. Its fruit has a hard, red and scale like skin that covers a soft and oily pulp, with color variations ranging from dark yellow to reddish (after ripening). It is possible to extract 45 kg of buriti oil from 1000 kg of ripened fruits (1). Brazilian natives, who call the buriti tree “The Tree of Life” treat this tree as sacred because it contains the nutrients and support needed to sustain life. They use the oil to protect the skin and to treat a variety of skin conditions including burns and sunburn.
Chemical composition and benefits
The buriti oil contains high concentrations of monounsaturated fatty acids (oleic acid) which have hypocholesterolemic action (2); these concentrations (~72%) are higher than in the olive and Brazilian nut oils.
The nutraceutical fraction of the buriti oil consists of tocopherols (3) and carotenes (4), which have nutritional importance as antioxidants (vitamin E) and pro-vitamin A.
The low concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids (~4.5% of linoleic and linolenic acids) gives this oil a high oxidative stability.
Buriti is the food product showing the highest known beta-carotene concentration among the wide range of Brazilian foods already analyzed; the amount of beta-carotene can vary between 252 and 1700 mg/Kg (6,7).
Furthermore, it has been shown that topical creams and lotions, produced with buriti oil and commercial surfactants, can exert a photoprotective effect against UVA and UVB irradiation on keratinocytes and fibroblasts (8). The buriti oil emulsions could therefore be considered as potential vehicles to transport antioxidants precursors and also be used as adjuvant in sun protection, especially in after sun formulations.
Buriti oil performance on hair
Natives of Central Brazil have used buriti oil to treat dry hair (9) for a long time. Furthermore, researchers from the Natura Inovação e Tecnologia de Produtos, Brazil, evaluated the effect of different Brazilian oils (among them buriti oil) on human hair physiochemical properties (10), and the results are briefly summarized here:
When applied on dry hair, buriti oil showed the highest difference in gloss between treated and untreated hair strands. This makes this oil very good as a shine treatment for dull and faded hair.
The study also showed that the buriti oil helps in reducing the number of split ends during blow drying/styling.
When doing a combing analysis, the buriti oil treatments rendered about a 60% reduction of combing force at wet conditions. The reduction of combing forces is a combination of water wetting and the lubricant effects of the oil on the hair strands. This makes the buriti oil a very good detangler agent when used on course and curly hair. On the other hand, the application of the oil on dry hair didn’t show much combing improvement (less than 10% reduction of combing forces at dry conditions).
Mechanical properties (such as stress at break) were not influenced by the burity oil treatment. Hair strength is attributed to the cortex, which forms the bulk of the hair fiber and is responsible for mechanical properties of the strands (11). Buriti oil, being composed of high molecular weight fatty chains that are not able to penetrate through the cortex.
How to use buriti oil on hair
ON WET HAIR – excellent hydrating, conditioning and detangler agent
Add a small amount to the conditioning treatment (conditioner or hair mask);
Use it as a combing aid on wet hair (it gives great curl definition for curly hair and decrease the frizz);
Spread it through hair it as a heat protector before styling/blow drying.
ON DRY HAIR – great against dryness and as a shining treatment
The best use for dry hair is to dab at the ends of the hair for dryness and split ends.
For dull, color treated hair, add a small amount and spread it through the strands to add gloss to the hair.
Because of the contributory role in protection against UV rays, it would be good to use on dry or wet hair at the beach during the summer.
Buriti oil is one of the key ingredients in the Teadora body and hair products. Teadora is the most exotic Brazilian rainforest ingredient focused bath and body product line. They have the buriti plant as the key figure in the brand logo.
We are excited to partner with Teadora to bring these all natural, organic luxurious Brazilian products to our customers.
To learn more about Shtrands and share Dr. Q's love for hair product curation through an awesome and innovative subscription program, check out: https://www.shtrands.com
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Renata C. Martins et. all, Ethnobotany of Mauritia flexuosa (Arecaceae) in a Maroon Community in Central Brazil, in Economic Botany, 66(1), 2012, pp. 91–98, 2011, by The New York Botanical Garden Press, Bronx, NY 10458-5126 U.S.A.
Adriana Fregonesi et. all, Brazilian oils and butters: The effect of different fatty acid chain composition on human hair physiochemical properties, J. Cosmet. Sci., 60, 273–280 (March/April 2009).
C. R. Robbins, Chemical and Physical Behavior of Human Hair, 4th ed. (Springer-Verlag, New York, 2002), pp. 386–469.