Cupuaçu butter is a soft and nourishing emollient, which easily absorbs water. It stabilises emulsions, protects and moisturises the skin and hair. Thanks to all these properties and its low melting point, it is often used as a vegan alternative to lanolin.
The cupuaçu (pronounced coo-poo-assoo) is a tropical tree native to the Amazon rainforest. A relative to the cacao tree, its butter is sometimes used to make white chocolate. The trees can grow to heights of 20 metres, producing large and heavy oval fruits. These contain sweet and sour edible pulp and rows of nutritious seeds. Cupuaçu butter is obtained by cold-pressing these seeds.
The butter is made up of a variety of beneficial fatty acids, including omega 9 oleic acid, which conditions the skin and hair. A combination of palmitic and stearic acids also serves as a natural emulsifier, which means that it allows water and oil-based ingredients to bind in a formula.
The plant polyphenols in cupuaçu butter act as antioxidants, which help destroy the atoms, or groups of atoms commonly referred to as free radicals that occur as a result of normal human metabolism and exposure to sunlight, pollution and cigarette smoke. Free radicals are highly reactive and can start a damaging chain reaction in our cells, the results of which have been linked with ageing and various cancers.
The cupuaçu fruits used to make the butter in Lush products are farmed by a cooperative made up of a Japanese community that came to Tomé-açu in Brazil in 1929. They use an agroforestry system to improve their production, increase family income and help regenerate the forest. Their motto is “Stay sustainable! Go along with biodiversity.”