SKIN | What the hell is cacay oil?

cacay oil

It seems every six months the beauty media is gushing about yet another ‘miracle oil’ that everyone must try. Lately there are murmurings of cacay oil being ~the one~, better than argan oil or rosehip oil or whatever the last trendy oil was. The important question, however (and one that we should be asking ourselves about every new magical product people are on about) is what it’s made up of, and whether cacay oil’s components are really going to do anything for your skin.

What is cacay oil made from?

Cacay oil is extracted from the nut of the caryodendron orinocense, or cacay tree. The tree is found in South America, largely around the base of the Andes mountains, but the oil I have (from Pure Nature*) is sourced from Brazil.

Cacay trees are mostly wild and, although the nut has traditional medicinal uses, the trees are only beginning to be grown commercially. Growing cacay trees for oil has a lot of promise for social and environmental impact in South America (think employment and reforestation), but it’s a bit of a catch-22. As it’s a slow-growing tree with a relatively small yield, this means there’s not a whole lot of cacay oil available right now, so it’s hard to demonstrate its value to the global beauty market—so it’s hard to establish cacay within the industry.

Cacay oil skincare

So why would someone choose cacay oil over any other facial oil? It’s lightweight and absorbs fast, to start off with, but there’s some more solid science behind it as well.

Linoleic acid

Linoleic acid is an Omega-6 fatty acid. It’s suggested that skin that’s prone to acne could be low in linoleic acid. The flipside to that is that linoleic acid can help reduce acne symptoms. Cacay oil has a higher linoleic acid content than rosehip oil and argan oil.

Vitamin E (Tocopherol)

This is an antioxidant and blah blah antioxidants are good for your skin, and there’s lots of it in cacay oil. It’s not the powerhouse ingredient it’s often touted as, but it’s good for combating free radicals and can minimise the damage UV rays do to your skin. Sweet!

Vitamin A (Retinol)

This is the good stuff! I’ve talked about retinol before. It’s naturally occurring in a lot of oils, including (duh) cacay oil. The vitamin A content in cacay oil is higher, again, than rosehip oil—almost three times as much. It kind of hadn’t occurred to me that retinol was an ingredient you could get from ‘natural’ oils as well as more complex cosmetic formulations.

Okay so on paper it sounds like cacay oil’s pretty dope, but what is it like in practice?

I find it very light and comfortable on the skin; pleasant and plumping rather than pooling on the surface. I still mostly stick to oils at night (holla Luna) but on a makeup-less day this doesn’t make my skin look slick. I haven’t been using it long enough to comment on whether it makes an improvement to my skin, but I can at least say that it doesn’t break me out.

As a bonus, it works really nicely as a massage oil (which is usually the way oils that don’t work on my face get used in my house, although I’m almost reluctant to ‘waste’ this on my body).

Have you heard of cacay oil? Will you be seeking it out?

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  • Lucie_EB

    First I’ve heard of it, though I may have to seek some out now!

  • I always learn about new beauty trends through you haha. To be fair the employment and reforestation thing sounds good, hopefully it takes off more so there can be more of that? Cool that there’s retinol in it, sounds super moisturising x

  • Have you still been using this? I’d be interested to know how it’s working out for you! Rosehip isn’t quite cutting it for me these days but tbh I’m kinda trying to go down any path that isn’t back on BC for my acne.

    • Yess I’m really into it! If you like an oil and are finding yourself a bit spotty I’d def say give it a go!

  • Susan Buchanan

    There is no such thing as a CaCay Tree….where is the study that says this oil has more Vit A then Rosehip?

    • Hi Susan, what makes you say there is no such thing as a cacay tree? Its botanical name is Caryodendron Orinocense and may go by other names or variations of ‘cacay’ in other languages.
      The information about its make-up comes from a study done by Derma Consult for Kahai Oil, a company manufacturing and distributing cacay oil: http://www.in-cosmetics.com/__novadocuments/224022?v=635931761169930000

      • Alberto Jaramillo

        Hello Morgan,
        Great article!. I am glad that you already know about us.
        I am one of the founders of Kahai SAS and we are the first company in the world to commercialize Cacay Oil. Most product you find in the market are our customers but not all of them sell it pure. You may read more about Cacay Oil properties and the efficacy of our product in http://www.kahai.co, where you can also buy 100% pure Cacay Oil under our brand Kahai Oil.
        Also there is a great article in bloomberg about the Cacay industry we are developing.
        https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-14/in-jungle-long-known-for-cocaine-a-rare-nut-is-now-all-the-rage
        Since the volume of Cacay Oil is very scarse we have been looking for suppliers in different places, but have not found real Cacay Oil in Brazil. Only in Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador.
        We also domesticated the specie to cultivate it and now we have 400 hectares in development to increase supply and make the oil more afordable in the future. In addition we are doing social programs with small peasants and indigenous communities, benefiting more than 500 families in conflict zones in Colombia.
        Since you want to experience the benefits of real 100% Cacay Oil, please write us at [email protected] to send you all the studies and technical information and arrange to send you a free product so you can compare and live the Kahai experience!