Unrefined Bacuri Butter has a strong, unusual scent - kinda like the smell of forest soil - some people love it, a few don't care for it, the scent dissipates fast though. Bacuri's color varies from lighter to very dark brown and the texture can be very smooth (sometimes a little liquid-ish) to harder and crumbly.
Bacuri gives your skin a beautiful natural glow, it makes the skin's appearance more even and, with long term use, it helps to diminish the appearance of hyper-pigmention and scars. You just need to melt the butter in your hands and spread it all over, remember: a little bit goes a long way and it will stain light fabrics before it is fully absorbed.
In Brazil this butter is widely used to help with skin conditions and as a massage butter for arthritis, rheumatism and muscle pain. It is also a wonderful Summer butter with sunblock and after sun care properties.
This butter can be used for hair care, I recommend it for darker hair, it is a great butter to protect your hair against external agents and for masks.
Due to its dark color and strong scent, it is not a very easy butter to incorporate into your body and skin formulations, but you definitely should try it, Bacuri has a very high absorption rate due to its high level of tripalmitine (50 to 55%), it also has a high level of palmitoleic fatty acid compared to the other butters which makes it a fantastic emollient.
Unrefined Cupuacu Butter has a very pleasant scent - similar to cocoa butter but fresher and fruitier - the color varies from light to darker yellow and the texture can be very smooth or a bit crumbly.
Cupuacu is perfect to be used pure on skin as a daily moisturizer due to its capacity to absorb water - 240% superior of lanolin - just rub the butter in your hands until melted and spread it all over, remember: a little bit goes a long way and give it a little time to be absorbed. A great way to use it is right after the shower when your body is still a little wet.
This butter is also wonderful for hair care, it can be used as a pre-poo treatment, as conditioner and leave-in - since it ABSORBS water it works better for dry, thicker hair types- curls, kinks or straight. It is perfect for African American hair styles, helping to keep hair and scalp healthy. To be used as a conditioner or leave-in just melt a little bit in your hands, for masks or treatments melt a larger amount of it in the microwave or even in a closed container under hot water.
Cupuacu is perfect for soap making, lip, hair and skin formulations, due to its beautiful color and scent, it is very easy to use. For colder weather you can whip it to make it easier to apply.
Unrefined Murumuru Butter has a pleasant subtle nutty scent, the color varies from off white to yellow and the texture is waxy.
Even though this is a harder butter, Murumuru is perfect to be used pure on skin since it is not greasy, absorbs super fast and has a subtle scent. It is a great butter for all skin types, even sensitive and oily skin. In Brazil this butter is prized by its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties being used to help relief skin conditions like acne and psoriasis.
This butter is also wonderful for hair care, the high levels of lauric fatty acid make this butter a vegetable replacement for mineral silicone, it forms a protective film on skin and hair without harming the lipid exchange or clogging pores. Murumuru is a perfect finishing touch for fine hair prone to frizz and flyaways, it can be used as a hair glossier, a leave-in, and to protect hair from heat damage. To be used as a conditioner or leave-in just melt a little bit in your hands, for masks or treatments melt a larger amount of it on the microwave or even in a closed container under hot water.
Murumuru is good for soap making, and perfect for lip, hair and skin formulations, due to its beautiful color and scent, it is very easy to use. For colder weather you can whip it to make it easier to apply.
Unrefined Tucuma Butter has a sweet caramel/coffee/nutty scent that depending on area and season of production can be more subtle or more prominent, the color varies from light yellow to yellow and the texture is soft.
Tucuma and Murumuru butters have very similar properties, Tucuma is softer therefore easier to be applied alone on skin and hair, the feeling is little greasier. Tucuma is also a great butter for all skin types, forming a protective film on skin without clogging the pores.
Just like Murumuru, this butter is also wonderful for hair care, with the same high levels of lauric fatty acid, it can be used just like murumuru, how to choose? Tucuma is softer which makes it easier to use on cold climates, but it is also greasier and has a stronger scent.
Tucuma is good for soap making, lip, hair and skin formulations, due to its light color and nice scent, it is easily incorporated in DIY, all natural formulations.
Unrefined Ucuuba Butter has a strong scent that could be described as a "smoky beeswax", the color varies from golden brown to brown, this butter is VERY hard and it can be used as a vegan substitute for beeswax in recipes that need to be firmer - lip products, salves and balms.
This butter is too hard to be applied straight on skin or hair, it needs to be used as a blend with oils or much softer butters, a super quick recipe for body would be whipping 50% ucuuba and 50% oil, for maximun results I recommend one of my amazing oils but whatever good quality, unrefined oil you have handy in the kitchen will work too - coconut, olive or grape seed. In Brazil this butter is prized by its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and healing properties.
For a simple and fast lip or cuticle protective balm melt 70% ucuuba with 30% oils.
This butter is also wonderful for hair and scalp care, but again, it needs to be blended.
Ucuuba is perfect for soap making for its properties and beautiful color, it is ideal for shampoo bars. In Brazil it is widely used in the production of artisanal candles. Soaps and creams made with ucuuba show a proven anti-inflammatory effect, and have healing and anti-septic properties.
Roughly translated from Roberto Akira's page, Akira is a 65 year old Brazilian Chemist who after retiring started sharing the knowledge he accumulated in 40 years of working with chemistry.
"Cold Process Soaps are beautiful and easy to make but the process has its drawbacks. All the components added to the soap go through saponification, this strong alkaline environment spares almost nothing, it literally destroys many active ingredients of all components. There is a mistaken belief that things added at trace will be spared since most of the lye is gone. But in reality at trace only about 10% of the lye has been consumed to form the emulsion (trace), the rest remains there and will react the same to anything that is added. The idea that superfatting at trace will protect that particular oil, usually a noble oil, doesn't quite work like that. The superfat will still be just a mix of the oils and fats in the recipe, not the one added at trace.
Therefore it does not make much sense to advertise the efficacy of CP therapeutic soaps made with medicinal oils such as Neem, Andiroba and Copaiba. The therapeutic components of these oils no longer exist after the saponification, there will be the sodium salts of the fatty acids palmitic, stearic, oleic and linoleic, that are components of Neem oil, for example, but the active ingredients that make Neem a fantastic fungicide, antibacterial, antiviral and insecticide oil, are gone.
One could argue, for example, that in the case of Neem that certain components do not react with the soda and still remain intact, but this lacks scientific evidence, more so as the unsaponifiable content of Neem is zero.
In the HP the additives, including the superfat, are added at the end of the saponification process therefore protecting the properties of that specific oil or butter."
"An oil is any neutral, non-polar chemical substance that is a viscous liquid at room temperatures and is both hydrophobic (does not mix with water, literally "water fearing") and lipophilic (mixes well with other oils, literally "fat loving")."
Butters vs. Oils
The right term for what we call "butters" is "fats" - Physically, oils are liquid at room temperature, and fats are solid. Chemically, both fats and oils are composed of triglycerides.
Some vendors sell the "butter" version of some oils, those are just a blend, mostly a mix of Shea butter and the oil advertised. Oils and Butters come in just one form, what gives them the texture they have is their chemical composition, we can't "magically" turn an oil into a butter or vice-versa.
In my shop you will find Tucuma butter and Tucuma oil - the butter comes from the seeds and the oil comes from the pulp of the tucuma fruit, they are two different products chemically and physically.
Essential vs. Carrier Oils
Carrier Oils or base oils - characteristically, carrier oils are rather bland and viscous (thick in consistency), with little to no aroma. The good quality ones are mechanically extracted from fruits, seeds and nuts (take a look at "cold processing").
Essential Oils or volatile oils are aromatic and derived directly from various plants through a distillation process. The distillation process is usually with water or steam and makes use of the petals, leaves, bark, stem, and even roots of various plants. Essential oils are not fragrances or perfumes.
Mineral, Vegetable or Animal
Oils can come from 3 sources: Mineral - a distilled from petroleum, Animal - extracted from animal fat tissues and Vegetable, extracted from plants, most commonly the seeds and nuts but also from leaves and pulps of some plants.
Expeller pressed vs. Solvent Extracted Vegetable Oils
Oils and butters can be extracted mechanically, by a presser, the ideal way of extracting them is mechanically under controlled temperature. When mechanically extracting an oil, the friction generates heat, the harder the part of the plant is being pressed, the more heat it produces. In order not to change the oil's properties, this process is done inside cold rooms resulting in the products we call "cold pressed".
There are no chemical residues in oil that has been expeller pressed resulting in a cleaner, more pure oil, higher in natural colors and flavors.
Oils can also be extracted chemically, which is easier, cheaper and extracts more oil but produces an oil extremely inferior in quality and that can still carry microscopic particles of chemicals.
Unfortunately mass market oils, however, are not required to be labeled as solvent extracted.
Refined vs. Unrefined Oils
An oil that has been refined has passed through a series of processes such as neutralizing (to remove FFA), bleaching (to remove color) and deodorizing (to remove odor and taste). These processes are done chemically and by high heat and besides leaving chemical particles behind, they also strip all the good properties from the oils.
Unfortunately big corporations need their products to look the same every time, they also want them to have very little taste, color and odor as these are also considered "impurities" by modern consumers (silly consumers), so refined oils are more popular than ever. There are two kinds of Refining:
Chemical Refining - the Vegetable Oil is treated with caustic lye for separation of free fatty acids from oil. This is a conventional process that can be applied to all oils. The waste-water from refinery requires extensive treatment, resuming - it creates a poor quality oil and leaves a mess behind.
Physical Refining - In Physical Refining, Vegetable Oil is subject to distillation to remove free fatty acids. This reduces the amount of waste water therefore pollution. This process is becoming more popular but it is also more time consuming and expensive resulting in a more expensive oil.
Unrefined Oils (also called Virgin, Extra-Virgin or "Raw") preserve their odor, taste and color, these can change depending on the producer, area and time of the year the oil is produced. Unrefined oils can also carry some impurities and can go rancid faster. But when comes to skin and hair care you should choose unrefined oils as they keep their medicinal and cosmetic properties intact. They may be more expensive and some of them may have a stronger scent, harder to mix with essential and fragrance oils. So it really depends on your goals for the final product.
We see all these health "buzzwords" everywhere, but what do they mean?
"Wild harvested" or "Wildcrafted" is the practice of collecting plants in the wilderness, on their natural habitat. They are not farmed therefore they are not modified in any way and usually do not have the presence of any chemicals. "Wild-harvest" is usually a "Sustainable" practice: generally only the fruit, flowers, seeds or branches from plants are taken and the living plant is left, or if it is necessary to take the whole plant, seeds of the plant are placed in the empty hole from which the plant was taken. Care is taken to remove only a few plants, flowers, or branches, so plenty remains to continue the supply.
The USDA defines "Organic" products that "are produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation."
"Responsibly Sourced" is a term used freely to say that your products come from sustainable and/or fair trade practices. It is used from diamonds that come from non-conflict areas to sea food and basically means that a product is not damaging the planet and the people on it any further.
In the oil industry it became popular after the deforestation the palm oil farms are causing came to light, most products that use it now say theirs is "Responsibly Sourced Palm Oil".
"Fair Trade" in Brazil refers to products that were harvested, farmed and produced by people who are being offered good working conditions and being paid fairly and in currency not by bartering (bartering gives an advantage to the "big city" people - the buyers - who usually have the upper hand when dealing with harvesters and farmers.)
In the US Fair Trade Certified Products "were made with respect to people and planet. Our rigorous social, environmental and economic standards work to promote safe, healthy working conditions, protect the environment, enable transparency, and empower communities to build strong, thriving businesses. When you choose products with the Fair Trade label, your day-to-day purchases can improve an entire community’s day-to-day lives."
This is the map of Brazil, I marked with arrows my hometown of Rio de Janeiro and up north, Belem, the place I usually visit when I go to the Amazon forest. They are about 1500 miles apart - about the distance from Miami to Maine.
Even though I was born in a big city and raised to be a beach girl, my parents would always take me to the beautiful forests of Rio (we have the largest urban forest in the world) where I learned to appreciate every aspect of being in contact with Nature, even the bugs.
In 2010 I decided to stop in Manaus, a Brazilian city in the heart of the Amazon forest, for a couple of days on my way to Rio. It was in this trip a street vendor offered me Pracaxi Oil, I was having a horrible melasma at the time and trying all sorts of chemical treatments. Four weeks after starting with the Pracaxi I decided I had to, somehow, share the many amazing Amazon products with more people. And five years later Rainforest Chica is doing just that! It is extremely exciting and rewarding!
Capoeira - an Afro-Brazilian fight style. The slaves brought to Brazil weren't allowed to train fighting. But since there is a solution for every problem, they incorporated dancing and music to their fight moves, tricking their owners into thinking they were just dancing. As cool and peaceful as it looks, Capoeira can be deadly in a street fight, just imagine one of these kicks hitting someone in the face.
Most capoeira schools do street demonstrations and it always amazes me the moves they can do inside a small circle without hitting anyone watching.
When buying an exotic oil (or butter) our first instinct is choosing by the price. Unfortunately, even if you are on a budget, you definitely should be more careful with this choice. Most of our exotic fats come from parts of the world that have little to no regulation on this market. And the FDA knows very little and is way too busy to be really effective. As long as it says "vegetable oil" and "for external use only" chances are, the product is entering the country. The FDA isn't even regulating the whole "organic" thing for cosmetics. Anyone can slap an "organic" on the description of a product and charge you a couple more bucks.
Things that can go wrong with exotic fats:
they can be mixed with cheaper oils or butters.
they can be produced by other methods than cold pressing, losing a lot of their properties.
they can be contaminated with undesirable stuff - eww!
they can be using slave-like working conditions.
their plantations can be destroying forests and animals.
their plantations may use a BUNCH of chemicals, stuff we sell to other countries because they are illegal here.
When buying a new oil or butter contact the shop, ask questions. Make sure they sound like they know what they are talking about. It doesn't matter if you are buying 1 oz. or 10 kgs. Ask where the product comes from, how it is produced, how it is harvested, if it is cold pressed, unrefined. If not wild harvested, if it is organic. Ask questions, wait for the answers, then make your decision!
It is your body, you only get one. Be very kind to it!
This post is also on my FORUM, please check it out and share your ideas and experiences with us!
The Ver-o-Peso Market is located in Belém, capital city of the state of Pará, in the north area of Brazil. It is considered the largest open-air market of Latin America and supplies the city with various types of food and medicinal herbs from the interior of the Amazon forest, mainly provided through the river.
It is called "Ver-o-Peso" following a colonial era tradition, since the tax collector's main post was located there, which was called "Casa do Haver-o-peso" ("Have-the-Weight House"). It was there that the taxes over goods brought from the Amazon forests, rivers and countryside should be paid to the Portuguese crown, but only after their weight was measured, hence the name, which later suffered a contraction. It is one of the oldest markets in Brazil.
I was reading a few bad reviews on Trip Advisor, and I can't deny it, they are right, the place does smell, it is loud, not too pretty, very crowded at times, no one speaks English and if you don't pay attention and follow the usual "traveling to South America" rules, you will lose your wallet. Still, one of the coolest places I have ever been, and all the gringos I met there, agreed with me (strangely enough, most of the bad reviews came from Brazilians).
The market is located in the old part of the town, by the port and besides a big old warehouse, it is open air covered by big fixed tents. There you can find: fruits, veggies, herbs, oils, cures, candles, folk medicine, dried meats and fresh fish, jewelry and crafts and a bunch of little kiosks selling quick food and drinks: croquettes, beer, juices, sandwiches and the local favorite, their staple food: fried fish an acai.
They usually serve a fish called "filhote" which literally translates to "tiny son" but, ironically, is a huge fresh water fish that can reach up to 600 lbs. They eat it pan fried with a light flour coat. Their acai is just the pulp blended with water. As I was sitting there eating it for the first time, the locals were trying to teach me how to eat it, asking questions and cheering me on.
Mangoes, starfruit, cupuacu and passion fruit pulp (in the yellow bags).
I had never seen quite a few fruits and veggies they sold there, while they do have the southern imported apples, grapes, watermelon and oranges, and some local known ones, like passion-fruit, guava, mangoes, soursop, the most fun part is walking around checking out all their exotic goodness. I felt like a kid in a toy shop, I asked questions, touched everything and, of course, bought a bunch of different stuff. I have videos of me trying some of them on my YouTube channel. While most of them are quite good, I don't recommend that amount of exotic fruits in one sitting... It may cause a week long war in your belly (caused in mine, and by then I was in Rio for Carnaval! I had no time for that!)
Pupunha, a little fruit that needs to be cooked and tastes like potatoes and the locals like to eat for breakfast with black coffee, local boys selling fruits.
Separating Cupuacu's pulp from its seeds is hard task and needs to be done with scissors - Bacuri. was quite interesting, strong smell and taste, not bad, just like nothing I have had before. A lot of the fruits from the north have thick, strong skins and white pulps strongly attached to the seeds.
Dried meat and fresh fish. The meat comes from the south of the country, the fish is locally caught and sold daily at the market and to restaurants. They don't use fridges for their fish, they lay them on a counter and use a thin layer of ice on top. It gets less weird the longer you visit, and by the third time you eat fish there, you don't worry about it anymore...
Tons of Brazil-nut and cashews, seeing these usually expensive snacks being sold for the price of peanuts, makes you go a little overboard. I was walking around with 5 kg bags. Grapes and apples brought from the south of the country and the local guava usually cultivated in community farms.
Their jewelry are made from seeds, fish scales and leather. They are colorful and either made by indigenous tribes or inspired by them.
Me, in white, probably bugging that bacuri vendor with a thousand questions.
The market has the, mostly commercial, old part of the town on one side, the river on the other, little bay with the boats that bring their goods on one end and the main historical port on the other.
It is an amazing place for the open minded and I hope to, one day, plan a Rainforest Chica group trip to Belem with friends and customers!