Cupuacu Butter: Brazil’s Prized Fruit - and Why We Use It

Dipping your fingers in the pearlescent, cool texture of Rehab Balm, the smell of lavender and coconut filling your senses, you restore your salty ends. The waves crash on the shore behind you, whispering “I’ll see you again soon.”  


They seem to whisper both a promise and a thank you - a thank you for using ocean-safe products that restore them; yet they simultaneously restore your ends as well - but what exactly aids in the restoration of your ends when you use a dollop of Rehab Balm?

The answer, my hoa aloha, is a tropical rainforest tree known as cupuacu.

Where’d It Come from?

Cupuacu is an arboreal fruit considered to be a pre-Colombian crop plant that, presently, can be found wild in the eastern subregion of Brazilian Amazonian. In its wild state, the cupuacu grows in high primary forests, on fertile, well-drained soils. It is commoner in the south of the state of Pará, on the banks of the Tapajós, Tocantins, Xingu, and Guama Rivers; it’s found up to the northeast of the state of Maranhao on the banks of the Turiaçu and Pindare Rivers.

Cupuacu Butter for Hair

Years ago, a Japanese company tried to trademark the name of the tree and fruit so they could sell Cupuacu as a chocolate-coffee drink throughout the world. However, Brazilians weren’t thrilled to know one of their much-loved fruits would be trademarked by another country - so to honor its place in Brazilian culture and to keep it from being trademarked, Brazil declared Cupuacu its national fruit.

For centuries, Cupuacu has been the main food source for many native groups. The fruits are about the size of melons, and their pulp is creamy white and delicious. The pulp smells like a blend of chocolate and pineapple, and you can find it added to juices, ice cream, and sweets in markets across the country.

How Do They Grow?

Native to the Amazon, cupuacu trees grow up to 19 meters. They’re widely cultivated in the tropical regions of Brazil, and grow wildly in large numbers. A medium evergreen tree ranges from 6-9 meters to 18 meters with branches that grow in groups of three. When fruiting, red-purple flowers sprout from the branches, eventually producing the green-brown fruit that is cupuacu. Their leaves range from 23-25 cm long with a dorsal surface that is dark green and smooth. Their ventral surface appears light green or pale pink and pubescent.

Cupuacu Butter for Hair

It’s possible to grow your own cupuacu tree, but due to their size, we advise you pick another fruit to cultivate unless you have a large yard. ;)

Why It’s Fantastic for Our Bodies

Where cacao beans give you desirable sweets, cupuacu is their hearty sister. Cupuacu fruit and their butter are prized for their versatility in both food and beauty products. 

Its butter is rich in healthy fats and serves as an everlasting emollient that may help restore your skin’s natural moisture barrier, and due to its melting point, cupuacu butter softens when applied to the skin, allowing for quick absorption. Its high-fat content also helps seal in moisture to rehydrate your skin, increase suppleness, and decrease signs of aging - because who doesn’t want to look young forever?

Beach Hair Conditioner

In addition, its high antioxidant content may protect your skin from harmful compounds, such as ultraviolet radiation, environmental pollutants, and cigarette smoke - it quite literally is the environmental activist for your body.

Not only is it great for your outsides, but it’s wonderful for your insides as well. Cupuacu’s richness in antioxidants and nutrients serves as great combatants for stress and disease. Its flavonoid antioxidants fight oxidative stress that links to inflammation, obesity, and many other chronic illnesses. They also serve as a great source of fiber that aid in blood sugar management - so ditch the chocolate and pick up cupuacu instead!

Why Does Surf Soap Use It?

Cupuacu is known as ‘the fruit of the Gods’ to natives in Brazil, and is considered one of Brazil’s most sustainable fruits. At Surf Soap, we aim to be as sustainable as possible while also providing our ‘ohana with skincare fit for Gods - so we use cupuacu as an ingredient in our Rehab Balm

Cupuacu is commonly used as a hydrating ingredient in hair care products. One of the major benefits of cupuacu butter for natural hair is that it helps to smooth and rejuvenate an extremely dry scalp, or brittle, frizzy hair - so cupuacu butter is part of the restoration that Rehab Balm is famously known for.

Its restorative properties come from its ability to absorb water - which makes it ideal for sealing in moisture so your hair doesn’t become brittle from the saltwater. You may have tried shea butter in the past in an attempt to seal in moisture - this is another great natural butter to try, but it can weigh down certain hair types. However, cupuacu has a lighter consistency than shea butter, so your hair won’t tend to feel weighed down. Due to its hydrophilic properties, cupuacu butter is said to be four times more effective than shea butter at sealing in moisture.

Cupuacu also helps protect your hair from the sun due to its high amount of Vitamin E - this plays a part in protecting your hair from the sun’s damaging UV-A and UV-B rays - so Rehab Balm serves as a sunscreen for your hair!

So be sure to add some sunscreen to your hair, as well as your skin, the next time you embark on a saltwater adventure. :)

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