It’s summer, and that means that we all deserve some type of tropical getaway, whether it’s laying out on the beach or hiking through a rainforest — or even a tropical themed product. While many of us may not have the time to get away, we here’s a summer treat that will surely relax and rejuvenate your skin. Tree Hut, a cosmetic company based in Texas, offers Shea Body Butter with Hawaiian Kukui (20.97 for three, amazon.com) which combines shea butter, kukui, and safflower oil to hydrate and repair skin, reduce signs of aging, improve elasticity, and protect against irritants. Aside from being paraben- and DMDM-free, Tree Hut’s Shea Body Butter with Hawaiian Kekui is a great moisturizing lotion that will surely bring out your skin’s beauty with tropical flair.
Safflower Seed Oil : Acne, Free Radicals and Dry Skin Don’t Stand a Chance
Free radicals, skin discoloration, acne, inflammation — safflower seed heals it all. In a 2008 study from Neurochemical Research, safflower extract demonstrated itself as powerful against DPPH, superoxide, and hydroxyl radicals, among others — which are some of the more damaging free radicals that can affect cells.
When free radicals begin to mix with oxygen it can tamper with our DNA, cell membranes, or even induce cell death, which can lead to cells misfunctioning in a variety of ways. In many instances, these free radicals begin a domino-effect of cellular damage that can harm skin cells to such an extent that they markedly diminish skin’s appearance. It is important to seek moisturizers, cleansers, and exfoliators that will not only clean the skin, but also search out popular antioxidants such as green tea, safflower seed oil and vitamin C.
A separate study from the Journal of the Korean Chemical Society focused on safflower extract’s efficacy against acne when used for two months in a cosmetic soap. Aside from being a strong anti-oxidizing and anti-aging agent, safflower’s polyphenols were exceptional in fighting against bacterial activity. Moreover, the extract scored very low on a toxicity scale and demonstrated high cell viability (overall cell health and cell life).
After the two months trial, subjects’ acne was remarkably improved, especially can near the hairline. Researchers theorized that coupled with its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial traits, safflower may have been an effective acne agent because it penetrated pores and improved blood circulation, so that cell could be given their proper nutrients.
As if safflower wasn’t great enough already, this plant extract also has strong hydrating properties. Safflower contains linoleic acid, which is necessary for ceramide production. Ceramides are found in the cell membranes of epidermal skin cells, and are responsible for cell protection and improving water retention/absorption. Plus, safflower extract coats the stratum corneum (outmost layer of skin), which helps in reducing transepidermal water loss (Dr. Leslie Baumann M.D. – Skin and Allergy News). Numerous studies have also pinpointed safflower seed oil’s efficacy in treating ailments such as vitiligo, acne rosacea, psoriasis, and erythema nodosum, or inflammation of fat cells (Safflower).
Kukui Oil: A Great Moisturizer and Wound-Healer from Hawaii
Kukui oil is derived from the candlenuts of the kukui tree in Hawaii, and they often are used to make leis. But decoration aside, kukui does lots of awesome things for the skin. To start, it creates a layer of lipids, saturated and unsaturated fatty acids in the outer layers of skin, making it a great moisturizer. This barrier lets in fewer dirt and bacteria, and release less moisture so that your skin can replenish its moisture naturally (Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists).
A 2005 study in the International Journal of Dermatology focused on kukui’s effect on mild plaque psoriasis. Patients topically applied the kukui or its placebo for 12 weeks, with specific lesions being measured every two weeks by a nurse using a series of tests, as well as self-reporting. While the kukui had no adverse effects on users, 80% of patients did not show improved condition compared with the placebo mineral oil. However, researchers credited the small sample sized with perhaps delivering skewed results.
Hawaiians often used kukui oil to combat wound healing and general infection — it has been proven to be effective against staphyloccocous aureus and pseudomonas aeruginosa. Coupling kukui’s forming a protective, hydrating layer in skin with its strong antibacterial properties, it only makes sense that kukui is good for wound healing (Journal of Ethnopharmacology).
There is a patent claiming that an extract from kukui nutshells may be equally useful in fighting off diseases and viral infection. When topically applied on a lesion or wound, this extract is said to combat diseases like herpes simplex, chicken pox, and genital warts, or at least relieve some of the symptoms. The extract could also be taken orally or injected, depending on the ailment being treated, and taken one to three times daily (Manikas et al. U.S. Patent). Unfortunately, there is not adequate research on kukui to fully describe its topical benefit.
[If you would like to read more on Kukui, check out Dr. Hanan Taha’s Spotlight on Kukui.]
Shea Butter: Ultra Luxurious Moisture
Shea butter is of particular interest to those who suffer from nut allergies, as it contains low levels of the water and salt soluble proteins that often lead to allergic reactions in users. However, there have been no reports of shea butter inducing allergic reactions, and is considered safe for the general population to use (The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology). If you are exceptionally sensitive to treat nuts, consult with your physician before using a product containing shea butter.
Shea butter is most renowned for its moisturizing properties. In one study, participants were asked to apply either 15% or pure shea butter. However, about 75% reported that their skin felt noticeably smoother and had significantly reduced wrinkles. Seventy percent of patients reported healing for scars, hand dermatitis, and sunburns. Separate research also lauds shea butter as a daily moisturizer, with hydration peaking after one hour but remaining for up to eight hours after application (Pobeda and Sousselier).
Several studies have also explored shea butter’s anti-inflammatory properties for rheumatism and nasal congestion (Pobeda and Sousselier). It has also been shown to reduce the skin’s reaction to topical irritants (British Journal of Dermatology). Konning et al. found that shea butter reduced the size of crystalline particles, and ensured a quicker and broader delivery of the active substances contained in a shea butter ointment (PubMed.gov).
Shea butter also markedly improved the appearance of eczema by evening skin texture. However, this study has a small sample size; more research is needed to officially deem shea butter an effective smoothing and healing agent for eczema (The Journal of Allergy an Clinical Immunology).
Personal Use and Opinion
I can’t describe just how much I love Tree Hut’s Shea Body Butter with Hawaiian Kukui – it’s absolutely delightful and is one of my favorite products. The scent is a calming fusion of tropical citrus, coconut, and vanilla — reminiscent of a lazy days spent on a beach. The one downfall about the cream is that the scent is very strong, and definitely would overpower or conflict with perfumes or other heavily-fragranced products.
You only need a nickel-sized amount to cover both of your hands and ensure day-long moisture. The combination of kukui, safflower and shea butter provides a fabulous hydrating trio, but any more lotion and your hands will leave traces of residue everywhere, even if you vigorously rub it. It made my hands exceptionally smooth, and even the cracked skin on my elbows and knees is now perfectly moisturized and soft-to-the-touch. Moreover, the skin in these areas also feels more firm and elastic. Overall, Tree Hut’s Shea Body Butter Shea Body Butter with Hawaiian Kukui gets a 10/10 for its hydration, protection, and elasticity.
Tree Hut’s Shea Body Butter with Hawaiian Kukui combines three super-ingredients — kukui oil, safflower seed oil, and shea butter — to deliver deep hydration to your skin. Kukui is particularly useful for wound healing and moisturizing; safflower eliminates free radicals and acne, and improves water retention; and shea butter offers a thorough skin hydration while reducing the appearance of wrinkles, scarring and dry skin. The cream is very heavy and durable, so you only need a nickel-sized amount to keep your skin soft and supple throughout the day. Plus, it has a very lovely tropical scent. Tree Hut’s body butter is perhaps one of my favorite moisturizing and repairing creams for the summer, but it’s probably even better for people who live in arid climates or who experience exceptionally dry weather.