Meet Kokum Butter, Our New Favorite Beauty Ingredient (Plus A Recipe For DIY Lip Balm)

Meet the skin superstar that hydrates your face, hands, feet—even your hair.

November 13, 2017
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kokum butter
Photograph courtesy of Mountain Rose Herbs

There’s a new butter on the block: Kokum butter (pronounced coke-um). Extracted from the seeds of the kokum tree (Garcinia indica), a fruit-bearing tree also known as the red mangosteen that grows in India, the seeds are both sun dried and expeller pressed to make kokum butter.

Long used in Ayurveda to treat dry skin, cracked lips, and stretch marks, the white-colored oil is loaded with fatty acids, namely stearic acid, oleic acid and glycerides, that lock in moisture, repair the skin barrier, and help restore that youthful glow.

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Related: 5 Best Essential Oils To Repair, Soothe, And Heal Your Skin

“I love how Kokum butter is emollient and easily absorbed by the skin and hair,” says Holly Green, esthetician and founder of Norabloom Botanicals. “Nutritious and regenerative, it softens the skin, regenerates skin cells, heals, protects, and hydrates.”

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The hard and soft of it

Like its buddies shea, cocoa, and mango butter, kokum butter is deeply nourishing (it's closest to cocoa butter in texture and fat composition), but kokum is a standout on its own. Come to think of it, calling it a butter is a little misleading since it’s dry and flaky by nature, has a non-greasy feel on the skin, and won’t clog pores. Then there’s its high melting point (39-40°C or 102-104°F). The hardest of the exotic butters, it’s solid at room temperature, so it won’t melt in the bottom of your purse if you use it in a lip balm. 

Related: How To Dry Brush For Healthy, Glowing Skin

“I love all butters, but kokum butter has more of a mild smell, making it a great base for clean beauty products,” says Green, who uses it in her Organic Kokum Butter Hair + Scalp Treatment. As well as a skin moisturizer and emollient, it can also add firmness to DIY bar soaps, body butters, balms, lipsticks, lotions, and hair conditioners, but because of its dense consistency, it works best blended with other ingredients.


Below, you can follow our easy recipe to make your own DIY kokum butter lip balm. 

Like making DIY beauty recipes? Watch the video below to learn how to make your own soothing calendula chamomile lotion, too.  

DIY Kokum Butter Lip Balm 

Makes about 10 tubes

3 tablespoons kokum butter
2 tablespoon beeswax pastilles
1 tablespoon olive oil
8-10 drops chamomile (or other) essential oil
8-10 drops tangerine (or other) essential oil 
10 empty lip balm tubes

1. Melt the kokum butter and beeswax in a double boiler over medium heat (a glass measuring cup with a spout works great), stirring until melted.

2. Remove from heat. Add the olive oil (here are our favorite olive oils) and essentials oils and stir to combine. 

3. Carefully pour a small amount of liquid into the lip balm tube until full (if you don’t have a spouted cup, a pipette or dropper also works to fill the tubes). 

4. Let cool for about an hour before capping.