Babassu oil

What is it? Babassu oil is a soft carrier oil from the kernels of the Babassu palm that grows in Brazil. I find it to be indistinguishable from coconut oil, making it a great potential alternative for anyone with a coconut allergy or sensitivity.
INCI Orbignya Oleifera Seed Oil
Appearance Solid white fat.
Usage rate Up to 100%
Texture Fast-melting with a thin, silky skin feel.
Scent Slightly fat-like
Absorbency Speed Average
Approximate Melting Point 24°C (76°F)
Solubility Oil
Why do we use it in recipes? I tend to use babassu oil as an alternative to coconut oil. I like it in massage products, where its oily feel gives long-lasting slip.
Do you need it? No; it is so similar to coconut oil that you only need one, and coconut oil is less expensive.
Refined or unrefined? I’ve only worked with refined, and it’s nice.
Strengths Babassu oil is a flawless replacement for coconut oil.
Weaknesses If you already have coconut oil you might as well use it instead.
Alternatives & Substitutions I find babassu oil to be indistinguishable from refined coconut oil, so they make excellent substitutions for one another.
How to Work with It Include babassu oil in the oil phase of your formulations. It can be hot or cold processed as needed.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, babassu oil should last at least two years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Try swapping coconut oil for babassu oil anywhere coconut oil is called for.
Recommended starter amount 100g (3.5oz)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Some Recipes that Use Babassu Oil

Murumuru Butter

What is it? Murumuru Butter is the butter extracted from the seeds of the Murumuru palm that grow in the Amazon rainforest. It is comprised primarily of lauric and myristic fatty acids.
INCI Astrocaryum Murumuru Seed Butter
Appearance Solid cream-coloured butter.
Usage rate Up to 100%
Texture Smooth, soft butter.
Scent Low
Absorbency Speed Average
Approximate Melting Point 33°C (91.4°F)
Solubility Oil
Why do we use it in recipes? Murumuru Butter’s soft, rich consistency makes it a great choice for use in body butters as one of the primary butters.
Do you need it? No, but it is a really lovely mid-way point in terms of hardness—it’s softer than mango and shea butters, but much harder than coconut oil.
Refined or unrefined? My only experience has been with the refined butter, which is lovely.
Strengths The soft, rich, creamy consistency is stunning in body butters.
Weaknesses It is harder to find that some other soft butters, and can be more expensive.
Alternatives & Substitutions Mango butter would probably be my top choice—you might try using 90% mango butter and 10% liquid oil to try to match the softer consistency of the murumuru butter.
How to Work with It Include it in the oil phase of your recipe. It can be hot or cold processed depending on what the recipe instructions call for.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, murumuru butter should last at least two years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Murumuru Butter can contain up to 5% free glycerol.
Recommended starter amount 100g (3.5oz)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Some Recipes that Use Murumuru Butter

Tallow (beef)

What is it? Beef tallow is rendered beef (cow) fat.
INCI Tallow
Appearance White solid
Usage rate Up to 100%
Texture Creamy, thick fat
Scent It varies with how clean/processed it is; it can smell strongly beefy all the way to having almost no scent.
Absorbency Speed Slow
Approximate Melting Point 35–40°C (95–104ºF)
Solubility Oil
Why do we use it in recipes? I primarily use tallow in soap, where it functions as my primary “hard” fat, creating a bar of soap that ages relatively quickly to create a firm bar that lasts a long time once wet.

Tallow can also be used in skin care products; I’ve seen it used in both commercial and DIY crunchy anti-aging products.

Do you need it? It is an absolute soaping staple for me, but there are alternatives.
Refined or unrefined? This is a personal choice. You can definitely render your own at home, but it is a lot of work and leaves your house smelling very meaty. I have rendered my own tallow in the past but I now purchase a pre-processed version which is much easier, and the end product smells much less meaty.
Strengths Beef tallow is an inexpensive, easily accessible (locally!) fat for soap making, and is a sustainable alternative to palm oil.
Weaknesses It isn’t vegan and some people think using it is gross.
Alternatives & Substitutions Lard is an easily accessible alternative, especially in soap. Read this for more information.
How to Work with It For soap, melt it with your other oils (or follow any specific instructions associated with the specific recipe you’re following). If you’re making a balm or butter it can be cold processed—it whips/mashes very nicely.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, tallow should last up to two years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Even though I’m vegetarian, I am very passionate about using beef tallow in my soap—you can read more about that here.
Recommended starter amount For soap making I’d purchase at least 1kg (2lbs). For skincare 100g (3oz) would likely be more than sufficient.
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Some Recipes that Use Beef Tallow

Lanolin

What is it? The refined waxy substance removed from sheep’s wool.
INCI Lanolin
Appearance Thick, yellow ointment-like (semi-transluscent) pastey goo.
Usage rate Up to 100%
Texture Thick, greasy, sticky
Scent Heavy, oily, sort of musty—typically described as “characteristic”
Absorbency Speed Slow
Approximate Melting Point 40°C (104°F)
Solubility Oil
Why do we use it in recipes? Lanolin is a wonderful skin protectant, moisturizer, softener, and occlusive. I enjoy including it in products where an ointment-y consistency is needed.
Do you need it? No
Refined or unrefined? You’ll typically find Lanolin Anhydrous USP (United States Pharmacopeia grade), and that stuff is great.
Strengths It’s an excellent moisturizer and helps boost skin barrier repair.
Weaknesses The smell can be unpleasant, it isn’t vegan, it can be sticky.
Alternatives & Substitutions Hydrogenated castor oil has a similar consistency and would probably be my first choice for a substitute; otherwise, a soft butter would be a decent alternative.
How to Work with It Include in your heated oil phase or cold blend into anhydrous products—it does not need to be melted, but can be.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, it should last 1.5–2 years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks It can hold up to 50% its weight in water!
Recommended starter amount  100g (3.3oz) or less (think about how much you like greasy stuff!)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Some Recipes that Use Lanolin

Mango Butter

What is it? The butter pressed from the mango seeds.
Appearance Soft solid white butter.
Texture Rich, creamy, and a soft solid.
Scent Nothing too noticeable.
Absorbency Speed Fast and lovely, with a dry finish.
Solubility Oil
Why do we use it in recipes? It gives a wonderful dry finish to anything you use it in, making it awesome in body butters and other 100% oil based concoctions.
Approximate Melting Point 36°C / 98°F
Do you need it? If you like butters, but don’t like the greasy finish something like shea butter leaves, you need mango butter. It’s amazing.
Refined or unrefined? I’ve only ever used (or found) refined, and I like it.
Strengths It has a fantastic dry feel that helps oil based things feel less greasy.
Weaknesses It’s one of the pricier butters.
Alternatives & Substitutions Cupuacu butter and shea butter are similar in terms of melting point and texture, but they are much slower to absorb—especially the shea butter.
How to Work with It It’s great in pretty much anything, though I love it in body butters, balms, and salves.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, mango butter should last at least one year.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Try replacing shea butter with mango butter in recipes you find to be too greasy.
Recommended starter amount 250g (0.5lb)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Some Recipes that Use Mango Butter

Monoi de Tahiti

What is it? Coconut oil that has been macerated with the Gardenia Tahitensis (Tiare) flowers of Tahiti.
Appearance It looks exactly like coconut oil.
Texture Smooth, thin, fast-melting oil.
Scent Strongly sweet and floral, with coconutty undertones.
Absorbency Speed Average
Approximate Melting Point 24°C
Solubility Oil
Why do we use it in recipes? Usually for fragrance; it’s so potent that you likely won’t want to use enough of it to get any other benefits (which are otherwise identical to coconut oil).
Do you need it? No
Strengths It has a very strong, tropical, floral scent. Natural floral scents are usually very expensive, so it’s a great way to get a floral scent without spending a fortune on essential oils or using artificial fragrances.
Weaknesses The scent is so strong it can be overwhelming, and fakes are abundant, so be sure you’re buying the real thing.
Alternatives & Substitutions Coconut oil can be used instead of Monoi de Tahiti in any recipe, but it will obviously be lacking the Monoi de Tahiti scent. The feel of the final product will be identical, though.
How to Work with It Include small amounts in recipes for a sweet, floral scent; if the recipe contains coconut oil just swap out a gram or two of the coconut oil for some Monoi de Tahiti.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, Monoi de Tahiti should last at least two years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks When purchasing Monoi de Tahiti, ensure the ingredients are only Cocos Nucifera Oil and Gardenia Tahitensis Flowers—there should be no added fragrances.
Recommended starter amount 100mL (3.3fl oz)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Some Recipes that Use Monoi de Tahiti

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