Lately on Instagram, I’ve seen lots of posts for hair products containing Babassu oil. After what seemed to be the millionth photo, I realized I had absolutely no idea about the benefits of babassu oil for hair health. I’ve always stressed how important learning and understanding ingredients is to achieving healthy hair so following my own advice I decided to find out what the whoopla is over this newly popular oil.
Babassu oil is a vegetable oil extracting from the kernel of a palm, the Attalea speciosa, just as coconut oil is extracted from the kernel of the coconut. It also is solid at room temperature and melts when applied to the hair and skin.
So what makes babassu oil different, and possibly better than coconut oil? They are both primarily comprised of lauric acid, which is a medium (12 carbon) chain fatty acid. This is significant because medium chain fatty acids are able to penetrate the hair shaft, unlike most oils. However babassu oil is 50% lauric acid and 20% mystric acid (14 carbon), both medium chain fatty acids whereas coconut oil is only 48% lauric and 16% mystric acids. That may be a bit overly technical but the bottom line is babassu oil is comprised of smaller fatty chains than coconut oil and therefore can penetrate the hair shaft more easily.
Other Benefits of Babassu Oil for Hair:
- Lightweight, absorbs more quickly and completely than coconut oil
- Less distinctive smell than coconut oil
Aside from the benefits, there are also some major cons to forgoing coconut for babassu oil. For one, the babassu palm is native to Brazil and the Brazilian rainforest is rapidly being destroyed. I can only assume that if the demand for babassu oil skyrockets it will contribute to this environmental problem rather than help. Babassu oil also isn’t easily accessible, I can find pure coconut oil at practically every retail store whereas babassu oil is mostly ordered online. Also, there is not as much research proving the benefits of babassu oil for hair as there is for coconut oil, which has been demonstrated to prevent hair breakage and damage.
There are two main deep conditioners that include babassu oil as a primary ingredient, Obia Naturals and Mielle Organics for those who may not want to purchase pure babassu oil. I have not tried either product, but hear nothing but good things!