The Benefits of Kukui Nut Oil

About Kukui Nut Oil

Kukui nut oil is a semi-clear to light yellow oil that is cold pressed from seeds of the Aleurites Moluccans tree, often referred to as the candlenut tree. The State Tree of Hawaii, it also grows in other areas of Polynesia. The oil has a shelf life of 12-14 months, and should not be exposed to heat.

Kukui seeds have traditionally been used for a variety of purposes. Seeds themselves were often strung and lit on fire to use as torches, and oil pressed from the seeds was used in lamps. The oil has been mixed with soot to produce a type of paint, and another process turned it into an ingredient that aided the drying ability of paints and varnishes. Uncooked seeds are somewhat toxic, but Hawaiians have roasted the kernels and mixed them with seaweed to make a peanut-like condiment.

Kukui Nut Oil for the Skin

Kukui nut oil is beneficial to the skin, soothing and softening it without leaving a greasy film. It has been used to treat wounds and burns, and some people feel it is beneficial for the symptoms of eczema and psoriasis. The oil is an excellent choice for massage and offers glide without excess slip. When added to soap formulations, kukui nut oil increases the creaminess of lather and enhances its conditioning abilities.

Other popular uses of kukui nut oil:

  • Hair and scalp conditioner; bath oil
  • Relief for sunburned skin; may have slight sunscreen capabilities
  • Some hospitals and cancer centers in Hawaii are using kukui nut oil to help relieve the pain of burns caused by radiation therapy
  • Beneficial for dry skin and skin affected by acne
  • Nut meat can be mixed with other ingredients and used as an exfoliant
  • Has been used for stretch marks and cellulite reduction, but with mixed results

Kukui nut oil contains essential fatty acids (linoleic and linolenic). In addition to being effective in its pure form, kukui nut oil is used in multi-ingredient skin products. Vitamins C, D, and E are often added to the oil (vitamin E acts as a preservative). When compounding skin care products, kukui nut oil should not be added until all steps requiring heat are complete.

Essential oils can be mixed with kukui nut oil to enhance the oil’s fragrance and therapeutic actions. Popular additions include:

  • Lavender, often called the “universal” oil for skin care
  • Calendula, for healing wounds
  • Helichrysum, to help combat inflammation
  • German chamomile, to soothe and reduce inflammation

Use up to 12 drops of (therapeutic) essential oil per ounce of kukui nut oil.

A light application of kukui nut oil is all that’s required. Avoid eye contact and keep the oil away from clothing, as it can stain.

I first became interested in kukui nut oil while experiencing a rash that no one could diagnose, and found that it was one of the few products that soothed the rash and did not create new issues. I began using several skin and hair products that contained the oil, with good results. No one ingredient is a good choice for everyone, but after doing a bit of research and talking with many people who have used kukui nut oil, it does seem to be a product that’s universally beneficial.

© Janet Wickell