Illipe Butter: Characteristics, Uses, and Benefits

Illipe butter has many different functions in the cosmetic field. It's also used in medicine to treat skin conditions.
Illipe Butter: Characteristics, Uses, and Benefits
Leidy Mora Molina

Reviewed and approved by the nurse Leidy Mora Molina.

Last update: 19 October, 2022

Illipe butter may not be as popular as cocoa or shea butter, but it also contains properties to renew the skin. Its use in cosmetics is due to its advantages as an ingredient, so it’s not a bad idea to integrate it into your beauty routine.

This vegetable fat is abundant in stearic, oleic, and linoleic acids and is said to have emollient and nourishing properties. It’s commonly found as a component of sunscreens and as a long-lasting moisturizer. It’s also recommended for mature skin and damaged hair. Would you like to try it?

What is illipe butter, and what are its characteristics?

Illipe butter comes from the seeds that sprout from the species Shorea stenoptera, described in the database of “useful tropical plants” as a tree with a dense crown, ranging from conical to hemispherical in shape, with hanging branches and a height of about 30 meters. The specimen is native to the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia.

The nuts of the tree provide a fat known as “Borneo tallow,” “tangkawang,” or “illipe.” When this fruit falls from the branches, it’s usually washed in streams and dried in the sun, thus making it ready for extraction of the fat.

The seeds usually become brittle at high temperatures, which helps to crack the shell to extract and grind the contents. The process is continued in a press, where the paste is obtained for later recipes.

Shorea butter – as it’s also called – is greenish in color when it’s not refined; after this phase, it becomes light brown or white, depending on how it’s subjected to discoloration. It has a mild odor and a creamy consistency. It emulsifies easily, which simplifies its use in facial and hair care formulas.

illipe butter
Illipe butter is rich in fatty acids and antioxidants. That’s where its many skincare benefits come from.

We think you may be interested in reading this, too: Mandelic Acid: What Is It and What Are its Benefits for the Skin?

The benefits of illipe butter

The International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (Inci Beauty) details that illipe’s functions include acting as an emollient, softening, and conditioning agent. Let’s take a look at some of its other benefits:

  • It’s considered the most nourishing type of butter among its peers.
  • It adds properties for skin elasticity and suppleness.
  • It’s moisturizing par excellence, so it’s recommended to restore dry skin and dull hair.
  • It protects the hair from static and mistreatment caused by external agents. In the case of curly hair, it promotes waves and malleability.

More than 95% of the illipe butter is a lipid fusion.

Uses of illipe fat

Illipe has edible, medicinal, and cosmetic uses. As a vegetable fat, it can be incorporated into the manufacture of chocolate since it substitutes cocoa butter up to a maximum of 5%.

Its medical and cosmetic use stems from the quality it has to be absorbed by the skin. In addition, it’s also suitable for the preparation of oils, polishes, candles, and other substances with multiple benefits.

It can help improve the health of your hair

The effects of illipe on hair are probably its most outstanding goodness. To be more precise, it offers intensive hydration to hair damaged by the sun, knots, chemicals, and brittle hair.

This vegetable is abundant in fatty acids and antioxidants that penetrate the hair fiber and improve the shaft and the health of the scalp. In addition, its continued use restores hair elasticity due to the linoleic acid content, which is recommended for healthy and resistant hair.

Just mix a little of the butter with a mask or conditioner and you’ll see how it improves the appearance of the hair. Apply the preparation once a week, leave on for at least 5 minutes, and rinse with water.

Illipe butter and lip treatment

Illipe butter works on its own as a lip balm and as a remedy for healing mouth ulcers and sores. The additive can also be found in the composition of lipsticks and in colored and non-colored lip glosses. In lip cosmetics, Shorea nuts have a moisturizing quality.

It can be used for making soap

In concentrations ranging from 4 % to 8 %, illipe is used to create soaps. Bars of this plant material is suggested for dry skin; if there’s an extra skin condition, it’s advisable to consult a dermatologist before using these products.

illipe butter bars
Illipe butter is used to prepare moisturizing soaps. It’s recommended for dry and sensitive skin.

It can be used as a lotion ingredient

The density of illipe for creams and lotions ranges from 3% to 5% of the total formula. This kind of cosmetics favors the restoration and the elasticity of the cutaneous cells. The Shorea seed additive significantly enriches the body substances since it strengthens the lipid barrier and locks in moisture.

Like this article? You may also like to read: 5 Tips to Protect the Skin Against the Effects of Air Conditioning

Illipe butter versus other vegetable fats

Vegetable butters have qualities that make them unique and special depending on the purpose for which you need them. Among its many other merits, shea butter is good for exfoliating, preventing stretch marks, and protecting from the sun; cocoa butter also represents a direct transport of active ingredients to the inside of the skin, reducing irritation and dryness.

As for illipe – although it may not be as famous – it stars in the composition of many cosmetics for sensitive skin and hair care. Don’t miss the chance to try this great body butter!

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  • Shorea stenoptera. Useful Tropical Plants. https://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Shorea+stenoptera
  • Darmawan MA, Muhammad BZ, Harahap AFP, Ramadhan MYA, Sahlan M, Haryuni, Supriyadi T, Abd-Aziz S, Gozan M. Reduction of the acidity and peroxide numbers of tengkawang butter (Shorea stenoptera) using thermal and acid activated bentonites. Heliyon. 2020 Dec 17;6(12):e05742. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2020.e05742. PMID: 33364505; PMCID: PMC7750560.
  • Darmawan, Muhammad & Curie, Catia & Yusuf, Muhammad & Ramadhan, Muhammad & Harahap, Andre & Harahap, Perdana & Gozan, Misri. (2021). Preparation and Characterisation of Indigenous Tengkawang (Shorea Stenoptera) Butter for Food and Cosmetics Material. Hunan Daxue Xuebao/Journal of Hunan University Natural Sciences. 48. 156 – 165.
  • Shorea stenoptera seed butter. INCI Beauty. Francia. https://incibeauty.com/ingredients/6898-shorea-stenoptera-seed-butter
  • Hidayat, N.S., Darmawan, M.A., Intan, N., & Gozan, M. (2019). Refining and Physicochemical Test of Tengkawang oil Shorea stenoptera Origin Sintang District West Kalimantan. IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering, 543.