Is there an iconic Cameroonian beauty aid?
If there's one cure-all for everything from scratches to dry patches, it's palm oil. I have memories of my grandmother using it on me when I was very little.
Which part of the palm tree is the oil from?
The kind that's good for skin comes from the kernel, which you mash after removing it from the middle of the fruit.
Have you found palm oil in the States?
The pure oil is harder to find, though it's added to some beauty products. But since arriving here, I've mostly switched to olive oil. While similar, it's lighter and less oily -- and you can use it on cuticles, scalp, hair, and limbs for all-over softness.
Are there times when you still have to use your palm oil?
In the dead of winter, when you're more scales than skin, there's nothing better.
Avon ANEW Ultimate Age Repair Cream Cleanser Gets its rich feel from palm oil that's sourced through GreenPalm, a program that supports demonstrably sustainable palm growers. (avon.com)
Alaffia Red Palm and Shea Nurturing Body Soap sources its hand-pressed red palm oil from small, sustainable organic farms in Togo, and forgoes any refining. (alaffia.com)
Ojon Damage Reverse Restorative Hair Treatment Plus uses a different -- but similarly hydrating -- kind of palm oil: sustainably harvested, Central American Ojon oil, whose ability to resurrect hair is legendary. (ojon.com)
Read More About Palm Oil
"Pure palm oil is very moisturizing," says Lisa Yuan, director of the Botanica Spa at the Westcliff hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa. "But it's so rich, you may sometimes want a lighter-blended product." The question of which product is a tricky one, however: Palm oil cultivation is one of the world's worst causes of deforestation and habitat destruction, but several companies are making serious efforts to reverse the trend and source the crop sustainably. Though the Rainforest Alliance just certified its first palm plantation, the industry still has a long way to go, so in the meantime, look for brands that make specific sustainability statements: