I’ve always had super sensitive skin… Always prone to some form of reaction from insect bites, to certain plants, some products and so on. If there was some kind of contamination in water or the like, you bet my skin would flare up in hives or some form of reaction.
When I moved back to Nigeria, it became a constant battle trying to keep allergic reactions at bay, and discovering/rediscovering new ones… This is probably one major reason why I’m so OCD. During one of such flare ups, my mother advised me to use palm oil on the affected part every night for a few days. Being all “modernised and western”, I kind of brushed this off as some old folks tale, and settled for some western made product. After seeing no signs of improvement, I got desperate and tried the palm oil.
…I was completely amazed!… Not only did my hives completely clear off in about 3 days, but my skin was so beautifully moisturised, soft, supple and smooth like no other product has ever been able to do before. So being me, I started to research on this miraculous cure and its other benefits, and this is what I discovered:
Red Palm Oil Benefits on Skin
Red palm oil is an edible vegetable oil that has long been used for cooking in Africa (as well as Southeast Asia and parts of Brazil); as well as one of the main ingredients used in the African black soap (Dudu Osun), and some other commercialized soaps, cosmetics, shampoos and conditioners.
It is made from the flesh of the fruit of the oil palms primarily found in Africa, Southeast Asia and some parts of South America. It is a very rich source of Vitamin A & Vitamin E, and is high in saturated fats, which causes it to solidify at room temperature (that’s an air conditioned room in these parts of Africa… lol).
Its Vitamin A is gotten from carotenes, especially beta-carotene, which gives it dark reddish colour. This is the same thing that gives tomatoes and carrots their colour, but palm oil contains a lot more beta-carotene than either one of these foods. It contains 2 forms of Vitamin E, tocopherols and tocotrienols. The red palm oil should not be mistaken for Palm kernel oil, which is gotten from the kernel seed of the oil palm, and does not have as many health benefits.
Apart from the numerous benefits palm oil has on your health, it is great for your skin and hair. Its many of such benefits include:
Its deep moisturising properties leaves skin feeling soft, smooth and supple, so it’s especially great for those with dry skin. It contains re-fattening agents that help to restore hair and skin’s natural oils. It is also great for the treatment of skin ailments such as psoriasis, eczema, stretch marks and scars.
It fights against skin aging, by protecting the skin from free radicals, toxins and harmful UV radiation that cause fine lines and wrinkles.
It’s great for acne (…yeah, I know… sounds unthinkable if you have oily acne-prone skin). Apparently it contains antibacterial that fights acne causing bacteria.
It is found in shampoos and soaps for their cleansing ability to remove oil and dirt from hair and skin.
Its vitamin A & E content make it ideal for nourishing hair roots and maintaining healthy scalp, and is especially great for those with dry scalp problems.
It contains tocotrientol, which has been linked to hair regrowth and thickening by replenishing and protecting the actual hair follicle. It softens hair, helps to improve its elasticity and adds shine to dry, dull hair.
How to Use It:
In my opinion, and from my experience, the best way to get the benefits of red palm oil topically on your skin is to apply it on affected areas, or all over your body (wherever you need its benefit) at night.
Be careful with clothing and sheets, as it leaves a reddish-orange tint on everything it touches (don’t worry, this can be washed off, but might be difficult with clothing). I usually place old ankara fabric (a type of African fabric) or any old sheets, over my bed sheets and pillow cases to avoid them getting stained when I sleep. Let it sit overnight (…Yes, it might feel gross).
Wash it off in the morning with your regular shower, and be amazed at how lovely and supple your skin feels. If you are using it to treat some form of skin allergy or ailment, allow for a few days to see results. I usually start seeing results immediately, with my hives practically cleared by day 3.
Because of its thick, hard-to-wash-off consistency, it is best to use red palm oil as a pre-poo (pre-shampoo). For mine, I mix equal quantities palm oil and Jamaican black castor oil, with about 5 drops of tea-tree oil. I saturate my scalp and hair with it, and leave under a shower cap for at least an hour (sometimes overnight).
I wash my hair as normal with a sulphate-free shampoo, or moisturising shampoo (if clarifying), and follow up with a deep conditioner.
This method is great especially for those with dry scalp that flakes. It leaves my hair soft and shiny, and my scalp feels clean and moisturised (no need for oiling).
I love this oil! One beauty secret here to stay; my only con to palm oil is that it can feel gross and uncomfortable… Then again, I’m slightly OCD J. The benefits though by far trump this downside, and it’s not something I use every day, so I will get used to it.