Kokum butter: Lesser known techniques for skin-lightening

23 April,2024 01:00 PM IST |  Mumbai  |  Ainie Rizvi

Adding to the list of natural skincare ingredients is a lesser-known marvel: the Kokum fruit. Apart from being a common kitchen item, Kokum serves as an excellent emollient that shields the skin from oxidative stress and environmental aggressors, shares Namrata Naik, a Mumbai-based skin expert and National Technical Educator at Biosoft

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Although the current fad over 0-toxin skincare may seem modern, it extends way back in time. For ages, our ancestors have sworn by the use of natural ingredients like turmeric, aloe vera and rice water for skin care.

Adding to the list of natural skincare ingredients is a lesser-known marvel: the Kokum fruit. Nestled in the dense foliage of India's Western Ghats, this fruit is a kitchen-staple for Mumbaikars. Emerging from the Garcinia Indica tree, this deep purple globular fruit also serves as an excellent emollient that shields the skin from oxidative stress and environmental aggressors.

Take it from skincare gurus: Kokum is a hidden elixir for reducing skin tan and boosting collagen levels. Delving into the benefits of using Kokum for skincare, Midday Online spoke to a city-based skincare expert Namrata Naik, the National Technical Educator at Biosoft. Here is what she recommends:

Is Kokum Butter really a thing?

Naik dives into the chemistry of Kokums and tells us that "its high antioxidant content shields the skin from oxidative stress, thus fighting premature aging and preserving youthful skin. By neutralising free radicals, kokum effectively combats environmental aggressors like UV radiation and pollution, which can cause fine lines, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone."

Not only this, its anti-inflammatory properties work wonders in calming irritated skin, reducing redness, and alleviating swelling, thereby promoting an even skin tone, she informs.

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Additionally, kokum's antibacterial properties play a crucial role in maintaining skin health by fending off acne-causing bacteria and related infections. Its rich reserves of Vitamin C further contribute to skin lightening by stimulating collagen production, which enhances skin elasticity and firmness.

Moreover, kokum's moisturising prowess cannot be overstated. The fatty acids present in kokum butter or oil deliver deep hydration to the skin, improving moisture retention and preventing dryness.

How to use it?

Naik lists 6 potent skin-lightening balms using kokum butter as the star ingredient:

Kokum butter brightening balm:
Melt kokum butter and blend it with a few drops of rosehip seed oil (skin-rejuvenating agent).
Add a pinch of licorice root powder (inhibits melanin production).
Apply this balm nightly to dark spots and areas of uneven pigmentation to gradually lighten and brighten the skin.

Kokum infusion elixir:
Heat kokum oil gently and infuse it with crushed mulberry leaves, (skin-lightening agent).
Allow the mixture to steep for several hours, then strain and store in a dark glass bottle.
Apply this infusion to cleansed skin before bedtime to fade dark spots and promote a more even complexion.

Kokum glow mask:
Combine kokum powder with a tablespoon of raw honey (hydrating and exfoliating agent).
Add a splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice (rich in Vitamin C).
Apply this mask to clean skin, let it sit for 15 minutes, then rinse off with warm water.
Use weekly to visibly reduce dark spots and reveal a brighter, more even skin tone.

Kokum soothing serum:
Blend kokum oil with a few drops of chamomile essential oil (anti-inflammatory agent).
Add a drop of lavender essential oil (skin-calming agent).
Apply this serum to irritated or inflamed areas to reduce redness and promote skin healing.

Kokum radiance scrub:
Mix melted kokum butter with sugar and a splash of lemon juice (natural exfoliant).
Gently massage this scrub onto damp skin in circular motions, then rinse off with warm water for a clearer skin.

Kokum herbal toner:
Steep dried chamomile flowers and green tea leaves in hot water until fully infused, then strain the mixture and let it cool.
Add a few drops of kokum extract to the cooled herbal infusion.
Transfer the toner to a spray bottle and spritz onto clean skin or apply with a cotton pad after cleansing to tighten pores and enhance skin brightness.

To what does Kokum owe its skin-protective properties?
Kokum, scientifically known as Garcinia indica, has been traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine and culinary practices for its numerous health benefits, including its skin-protective properties.

Hydroxycitric Acid (HCA): Kokum is rich in HCA, a compound known for its antioxidant properties. Antioxidants combat free radicals, protecting skin from oxidative stress and premature aging while promoting a healthier, more radiant complexion. They help neutralise damage caused by environmental factors such as UV radiation and pollution

Garcinol: These are polyisoprenyl benzophenones found in kokum, known for their anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. They help soothe irritated skin and prevent bacterial infections.

Vitamin C: The fruit contains a good amount of vitamin C, which is essential for collagen production. Collagen is crucial for maintaining skin elasticity and preventing sagging and wrinkles.

B-complex Vitamins: It also contains various B-complex vitamins like niacin, riboflavin, and thiamine, which contribute to overall skin health and function.
Vitamin E: Kokum is a good source of vitamin E, a potent antioxidant that helps nourish and protect the skin from damage caused by environmental factors like UV radiation and pollution.

Essential fatty acids: The fruit's oil contains essential fatty acids like omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9, which help maintain the skin's lipid barrier, preventing moisture loss and keeping the skin hydrated.

(Disclaimer: This information does not replace professional medical advice. Consult a qualified specialist or your physician for personalised guidance.)

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