Why We Love Cacay Oil: Major Skin Benefits, Sustainability & More

At Wabi-Sabi Botanicals, we love to use new and exciting, sustainable ingredients. We especially love when we come across an ingredient that's still somewhat of a local secret and hasn't yet flooded the green beauty world (though this one will - trust!) Cacay Oil, from the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, is one of those ingredients.

Pure, unrefined Cacay oil is the perfect example of a hero ingredient. It doesn't compromise on sustainability, skin benefits, or user experience. It's one of the most sustainable ingredients in the world and it contains 3x the anti-aging retinoids of famous Rosehip Seed oil. Not to mention, it's practically odorless, incredibly light-weight, and easily absorbs into the skin. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Read on to learn more about why we love this humble nut (and why it just might save the Amazonian rainforest!)


The Cacay tree is native and endemic to the Amazon rainforest where it grows across multiple countries in South America. (Our pure, unrefined Cacay oil is sourced in the Brazilian Amazon.) The Amazon rainforest is home to nearly half of the world's plant and animal species. It one of the world's most valuable natural assets. Yet sadly, it is being destroyed by deforestation and other unsustainable human activity. This precious ecosystem, which produces over 20% of the world's oxygen, is in grave danger. It is our responsibility, as the stewards of this planet, to seek out sustainable alternatives and solutions for the damage and destruction our species has caused. The Cacay nut and the industry surrounding it is one of those solutions.

Cacay oil sustainability

The Cacay industry rates high on the sustainability scale because nothing harvested goes to waste. Every part of the Cacay nut is used, from it's outer shell to its meat and everything in between. Locals have long harvested Cacay nuts, using the dried meat to create Cacay flour or Cacay nut milk for use in cooking. The inner peels of the nuts are traditionally used as animal feed or fertilizer, and the outer shells are traditionally burned as fuel for heating and cooking. While locals have long used homemade Cacay oil to nourish, soften, and protect their skin, it's only recently that local manufacturers have begun cold-pressing nuts to extract the oil for commercial use.

This new industry, the Cacay oil industry, has the potential to reverse some of the damage caused by human activity on the Amazon rainforest. In fact, it's not drastic to say that this humble nut could save the most precious ecosystem in the world. The Cacay oil industry has the potential to do this in three ways:

  1. Reforestation - One of the major players in the destruction of the Amazon rainforest is deforestation. Both governments and individuals have contributed to this destructive chain by destroying mass areas of rainforest to build roadways, for personal use, etc. More recently, the Brazilian government has put policies in place to protect what's left of the rainforest. This is an important step in preventing further deforestation but does little to rebuild what's already been destroyed. The Cacay tree is uniquely suited to promote reforestation because it continuously adds nutrients back into the soil after cultivation. This improves the overall quality of the soil in these regions, promoting the growth of other species.
  2. Protection of Biodiversity - As the Cacay oil industry has grown, it has become a viable income alternative to logging. Where local families would normally resort to logging in order to earn a sustainable income, they can now harvest Cacay nuts (something many local families are already accustomed to doing) and earn a living wage. Some families are now choosing to farm Cacay trees, along with other food and income-producing species thanks to the shade produced by the Cacay trees and the fertile soil created by the cultivation of the Cacay nuts.
  3. Biofuel - The outer shells of the Cacay nuts may be burned to produce activated carbon, and then processed as a fuel alternative to coal thereby reducing harmful pollution.

As the demand for Cacay oil goes up, the potential for positive impact will continue to rise with it. As we consumers choose products that are sustainable not only in the way they are packaged but in the way that their very contents are sourced, entire ecosystems - like the Amazon rainforest - will benefit. The people who call those ecosystems and this planet home will benefit. And, in this case, your skin will definitely benefit.

Skin Benefits

Cacay oil, in it's pure and unrefined state, offers a wealth of benefits for your skin. It contains over 68% Linoleic acid, an Omega-6 fatty acid. Linoleic-rich oils are non-comedogenic, meaning that Cacay oil, while easily absorbed, won't cause breakouts. In fact, linoleic acid (which cannot be produced by our bodies and therefore, must be supplemented) plays a vital role in your skin barrier's function. Studies have shown that those with acne have abnormally low levels of linoleic acid (omega-6's) in their skin, while oily skin also indicates a linoleic acid deficiency. The benefits of topically applying linoleic acid to oily and acne-prone skin have been long proven by scientific research. One such study saw a 25% reduction in microcomedones (clogged pores) after just one month of treatment. 

Perhaps more importantly, linoleic acid easily permeates the skin barrier and, therefore, helps facilitate the penetration of other active components like the ones we're about to explore!

Cacay oil's skin benefits go well beyond the anti-inflammatory and clarifying functions of linoleic acid. Cacay oil is precious because it contains extraordinarily high levels of naturally-occurring Retinol, or Vitamin A. This infamous active has been proven to reduce wrinkles, boost collagen production, and regenerate the skin. Cacay contains Retinol in the form of all-trans retinoic acid, a well-known antioxidant that aids in activating the skin's natural renewal process, rebuilding and replenishing skin tissue, and visibly reducing the appearance of wrinkles. In fact, Cacay oil is 3x more powerful than famous Rosehip (Rosa Canina) oil. Not only does it contain 3x the amount of naturally-occurring Retinol as Rosehip oil, it contains the molecules in a more stable and non-irritating form, making it suitable for all skin types. 

Lastly, Cacay oil contains high levels of antioxidant vitamin E, which helps to naturally repair, protect and replenish moisture levels in the skin.

Pure, unrefined Cacay oil sourced in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest is one of three ingredients in our concentrated Age Gracefully treatment serum. Shop for a youth-inspired complexion here.