Beauty Skincare

The Cool Spice


HAIR helps you beat the post-monsoon with the cooling goodness of kokum.

The sun is warm, the sands are powder soft, the waters are blue, and lure is irresistible. Stretches of pristine palm-fringed beaches along the Konkan coastline and Goa present a prize catch. Adding to the sea vistas are undulating slopes covered with kokum and cashew groves. And capturing a whiff of this beautiful land are food and drink specialities flavoured with kokum as well as skin products made with kokum butter.

Wellness from Within
Native to the Western Ghats—both coastal and inland—kokum is a slender evergreen tree, with branches thick with leaves. The tree bears flowers from November to February, and come summer it bears round green fruit that ripens to a deep pink-purple colour, sour taste and a bundle of goodness, specially vitamin C.

Kokum has cooling properties, which makes it an ideal ingredient for sol kadi, a pink soup-like preparation of coconut milk and kokum; kokum sherbet; and adding it to curries especially in the hot months. Kokum has many health benefits as it contains vitamin C. It contains the active ingredient garcinol that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, is high on fibre, is low on sugar and has no cholesterol.

“Centuries before the spice became a staple in Konkani cuisine, Ayurvedic physicians used it to treat sores and prevent infections, improve digestion, stop diarrhea and constipation, soothe the sore joints of rheumatoid arthritis, cure ear infections, and heal ulcers. It is also a folk remedy for fever and skin rashes,” writes Dr. Bharat B. Aggarwal, in Healing Spices. Recent research indicates that kokum aids weight loss.


Topical Application
“On processing the kernels of kokum seeds they yield between 33-44% edible oil, which when kept at ambient temperatures has a tendency to remain in a solid state. The fat is called kokum butter and is one of the most stable vegetable butters,” says Rutam Rane, Proprietor, Keynote International, a company that manufactures raw and refined kokum butter, from kokum seeds gathered from naturally growing trees.

Kokum butter is available in two forms: raw kokum that is unrefined, non-deodorized, unbleached and does not contain chemicals, and refined kokum butter that consists of solidified oil that has been extracted with the use of solvents. “Refined kokum butter is neutralized, bleached, and deodorized to eliminate any natural colour and smell. Those who insist on using all natural ingredients in their wellness regimen prefer unrefined kokum butter. Unrefined kokum butter has an earthy and nutty smell which adds to the novelty of the butter,” explains Rutam. Manufacturers prefer using refined kokum butter as it blends itself seamlessly into their commercial skincare formulations. Both variants offer similar benefits when applied topically.

Rutam explains that kokum butter has many benefits for the skin. “Kokum butter has medicinal and antioxidant properties. It contains oleic, palmitic, and stearic acid fatty acids, well known for their emollient and regenerative properties. On application, kokum butter helps prevent dryness; helps heal ulcers and fissures; heals, softens and soothes the skin; regenerates skin cells and reduces degeneration of skin cells; and restores skin elasticity. It is particularly efficacious in formulations created to heal scarred and damaged skin. As it is non-comodegenic it can be used without fear of pores being clogged by it.”

Kokum butter’s high oxidative resistance means it can be stored for long periods without it losing it healing properties; so reach out and enjoy a gift of a beautiful land for healthy skin!

About the author

Brinda Gill